Why no le Pen or Farage at Davos?

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Paloma Faith opened her set at Google’s Davos jamboree by shouting - with no apparent sense of irony, as the vintage Bollinger flowed - "let’s spread the 1%".

What she meant, presumably, was "let’s find a way to redistribute some of the almost-50% of the world’s wealth controlled by the richest 1%" - who undoubtedly include Paloma Faith.

The World Economic Forum at Davis isn’t thronged by the best-heeled 1% of course. It’s in effect the annual general meeting of the top 0.01% - the super elite of the wealthy and the powerful.

It is where billionaires and business leaders buy access to world leaders and top central bankers. It is where, over coffee and cake in the day, and champagne and canapés at night, what would once have been called the ruling class get together to share their cares.

And it wasn’t just Paloma Faith who apparently thinks her financial rewards aren’t fair. This year I was challenged to find a plutocrat who wasn’t fretting about the widening gap between rich and poor - an inequality gap in the world’s biggest economy, the US, which is now back to where it was in the 1920s.

Part of the super-wealthy’s angst may be survival instinct. Because all over the world millions of people left behind by globalisation, whose living standards have been squeezed, have been voting for populist, and often nationalist, parties - which promote policies frequently inimical to the material interests of the rich.

And the popularity of the likes of Syriza In Greece and France’s Front National is - to state the blindingly obvious - inimical to the interests of the mainstream parties.

Davos Man and Davos Woman have a horrified fascination with the anti-austerity new left of Spain and Greece, whose Syriza may triumph in Sunday’s election.

And they appear bewildered and anxious about the rise and rise of anti-immigration, eurosceptic UKIP in Britain and the Front National in France.

For the Davos set, the rise and rise of the Front National’s Marine le Pen - who wants a return to protectionism and also nationalisation of France’s most important companies - is especially troubling.

Senior French politicians concede she is formidable. Having interviewed her recently, it is hard to disagree.

And they have no very compelling strategy to check her advance, other than a hope that there will still be enough liberals and moderates in France by the time of the 2017 presidential election to vote in an anyone-but-Marine, centre-ground candidate.

The hope at Davos is that as and when leaders of the populist parties scent real power, when the realities of governing dawn on them, they will drop their more extreme ideas and be co-opted into the mainstream. And the softening of Syriza’s previous hostility to remaining in the euro may support that optimism.

But a le Pen and a Nigel Farage of UKIP more-or-less define themselves as the antithesis of Davos person. So the idea that the populists could ever want to join the Davos gang seems naive.

It is striking and important that at a time when populist parties pose an arguably existential threat to European Union and eurozone, there is not a single representative of any them at the summit of the Swiss mountain (or at least not that I could spot).

But if Farage, le Pen and Tsipras aren’t here, Davos risks being seen as too removed from the big political and economic debates of our time, or at least those who excite a growing number of citizens.

Today Davos, as it did after the 2008 banking debacle, feels a club of the existentially challenged, ancien regime, perhaps.

Davos and the World Economic Forum will be around for many years yet. But it’s habitués risk defenestration, loss of their licence to govern, if they’re unable to respond effectively to the new demagogues’ charge that they are not saving the world, as they claim, but only their own precious privileges.

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Leatherman’s New Tread Bracelet Puts 25 Tools on Your Wrist

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This summer, Leatherman will debut Tread: a multi-tool that can be worn on the wrist. The Tread bracelet is crafted of high strength, corrosion-resistant 17-4 stainless steel links that include two to three functional tools each, making a…

The post Leatherman’s New Tread Bracelet Puts 25 Tools on Your Wrist appeared first on Highsnobiety.

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Artek revives Alvar Aalto products for latest furniture collection

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Maison&Objet 2015: Finnish brand Artek has delved into its archives to reintroduce wooden furniture and homeware designs by its co-founder, Modernist architect Alvar Aalto. (more…)

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Adidas’ revolutionary Ultra Boost shoe is a tribute to urban running

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In the race amongst sports brands to claim they have the ultimate running shoe in their arsenal, Adidas has made a daring move ahead with its latest creation, Ultra Boost, which promises to deliver the greatest run ever. The culmination of two years of intensive research and development, the design is backed by some of the most cutting-edge technology, gleaned from the sports world and beyond.

Ben Hearth, Adidas’ vice president of design, running explains, ‘We set out to create the greatest running shoe ever, which was a little bit daunting for a designer as a brief, but we kept going back to "How does this make you feel?" We really challenged ourselves to make each part [of the shoe] take on a greater role.’

Building upon its Boost running shoe that launched in 2013, Ultra Boost offers even more support, stability and comfort than its predecessor. Working with Aramis, an optical 3D deformation analysis system more typically used by companies like Nasa and Boeing to understand materials’ reactions under strain, Adidas has tracked how the body moves while running in unparalleled detail. A runner’s foot can expand up to 10mm or more in width and when not properly catered for this can result in injury, friction and other discomforts.

‘We could see where the foot expanded and contracted, where the skin stretched or moved, and we could reflect that exactly in the design,’ continues Hearth. ‘When you try it on, the shoe really feels natural, like an extension of yourself. That’s what we are going back to.’

The Ultra Boost achieves all this with Adidas’ ‘Primeknit’ body that accommodates the natural expansion of any foot shape. A revolutionary new construction of the heel, which sees the heel counter placed on the exterior of the shoe, supports the Achilles tendon without restricting it. Topped off with Adidas’ Boost sole, made from over 3,000 individual thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) capsules (20% more than its first Boost shoe), Ultra Boost returns energy to the runner for a more springy and reactive feel. A stretch web outsole also distributes pressure while adapting to different foot strikes.

Launched in just one colourway, a rich medley of dark blues and black, Ultra Boost is just as easy on the eyes. The shoe is a tribute to urban running: ‘More people are running in cities and we see the increasing urbanisation of sport,’ adds Hearth. ‘We looked to the most energising moments of the day: sunrise and sunset. We wanted to capture these times, which are also when a lot of people are running as well. The colour of the sky just when it’s changing from day to night is what we wanted to reflect here.’

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A Most Violent Year review | Peter Bradshaw’s film of the week

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In JC Chandor’s intense, 80s-set drama, an ambitious wheeler-dealer on New York’s perilous waterfront tries to detoxify his business

Like Frank Sinatra in his famous song, the hero of this severe and sinewy drama-thriller likes weighing up the years. 1975 was a very good year. Other years, such as 1971 and 1979, glimpsed on the sides of cardboard boxes filled with dodgy paperwork and crooked accounting, not so much. And 1981, the year in which the movie takes place, is the toughest of all. This is when smart and ambitious businessman Abel Morales is to make his move into the big time, decisively upping his game in the New York heating oil distribution business. Director JC Chandor allows us to savour this asset’s metaphorical properties: murky, pricey, inflammable.

This film-maker is taking his cue from Coppola, De Palma and Scorsese with their immigrants upwardly mobile within a gangland version of the American dream, inhabiting a violent world, warily and woundedly aware of the ethnic pecking order. When the exasperated Abel says, “I spent my whole life trying not to become a gangster”‚ it is almost a conscious inversion of the opening line of Goodfellas. And like Paul Thomas Anderson in another context, Chandor reminds us that where there is oil, there will be blood.

Continue reading…

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Ex Machina review – elegant but limited artificial intelligence thriller

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Alex Garland’s AI thriller feels a bit like a decent short story bulked out to movie length, but it’s done with confidence

Screenwriter and novelist Alex Garland upgrades to full auteur status, directing his own original script. It’s a futurist thriller with classic generic antecedents, all about artificial intelligence becoming creepily indistinguishable from the human kind. Ex Machina feels like an elegant SF short story with a droll twist that has been pumped up and sexed up into an over-bulky feature film. But it’s managed with confidence.

Domhnall Gleeson is Caleb, the geeky coder working for a software giant called Bluebook (like Google, but bigger and more important); imagine Caleb’s excitement and fear when he wins an in-house competition to spend a week alone with the firm’s reclusive, scarily Kurtzian founder, Nathan (bullishly played by Oscar Isaac), in his gigantic fortress of solitude on a private island – it looks like the one where they built Jurassic Park. The mindgames begin when Nathan tells Caleb his job is to interview the state-of-the-art female AI robot he has invented and see if he can detect any artificiality in her intelligence. This is the eerily gentle and beautiful Ava, played by Alicia Vikander in a techno-raunchy exoskeleton. With great pathos, like the savage John in Aldous Huxley’s great novel, Ava yearns dimly for a brave new world outside the compound. She is lonely. So is Caleb. Could it be that they are falling in love? Ex Machina has something of I, Robot and the Siri-fantasy Her, and also a little of that gamey 70s classic Westworld. The interview scenes between Ava and Caleb are perhaps not as cerebral and involved as they could have been, the film’s emphasis being more on a pornified robot-sexiness – whose thunder has perhaps been stolen by Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. With a sly dreaminess, Vikander steals the movie from the two males.

Continue reading…

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A lucky chancellor

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Maybe George Osborne will be seen as a lucky chancellor, because the fall in oil prices and the rate of inflation has happened at the most perfect time for the Tories - and presumably the Liberal Democrats too - in relation to the electoral cycle.

But there is a caveat, to which I will return.

Here is his bliss. The spending power of businesses and households has been significantly increased by tumbling oil prices.

In fact the Bank of England’s minutes released today suggest that the halving in the oil price could add a full percentage point to global GDP or income growth within a year.

Here is one way of seeing the windfall to consumers. Private sector pay rose 2.1% in the three months to November. Inflation was just 0.5% in December.

But what makes all this even better for our spending power is that the descent of inflation towards zero has - almost certainly - delayed the day when the Bank of England raises its interest rate.

In fact market interest rates, including mortgage rates, have already fallen, in the expectation that the rate at which the Bank of England lends to banks will not increase until the end of this year or even next year.

There is no chance of an interest rate rise wiping the smile or smirk off George Osborne’s face before May’s general election.

That has been guaranteed by the decision a few days ago of the two hawks on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee to stop pressing for an immediate interest rate hike and to join the rest of the committee in voting to maintain the policy rate at 0.5%.

So Mr and Mrs Feelgood-Factor may - perhaps to everyone’s surprise - be casting their votes in May.

Which is not to say that ministers can rationally claim credit for the oil-linked windfall. But they’ll try - and if voters have a bulge in their wallets, they may feel better disposed towards the government.

Ah, but what about that caveat?

Well the Bank of England points out that 40% of pay settlements will be agreed in April, around the time when the Bank expects inflation to be a big fat nought, nothing, zilcherama.

And the Bank says there is a better than evens chance that inflation will turn negative after that.

So there is a danger, the Bank says, that companies could use the absence of inflation to award miserly pay rises.

And that could do two things: it could turn our current benign low inflation into demand-crushing deflation, where falling prices precipitate lower spending and growth; and it could keep Mr and Mrs Feelgood locked indoors, a long way from the polling booths.

In fact the reason the two Bank of England hawks have abandoned their demand for higher interest rates is that they don’t want to encourage employers to go for deflationary pay settlements.

But the balance of probabilities is that millions of British people will feel a bit more prosperous in the spring.

That said, the bill after the election may turn out to be steeper than we hitherto thought.

Because, with the unemployment rate now 5.8% and still falling, albeit at a reduced rate, spare capacity in the economy is disappearing.

So, as the Bank warns, after oil and energy prices have stabilised, domestic prices and inflation could bounce pretty fast.

The return to a world where inflation is a greater danger than deflation could be nearer than we think.

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The Public Domain Project Makes 10,000 Film Clips, 64,000 Images & 100s of Audio Files Free to Use

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Sure, we love the internet for how it makes freely available so many cultural artifacts. And sure, we also love the internet for how it allows us to disseminate our own work. But the internet gets the most interesting, I would submit, when it makes freely available cultural artifacts with the express purpose of letting […]

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Bonhams explains the bright new designs innovations to its auction catalogue

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Bella Cucina: 8 Italian Kitchen Systems

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Here’s a look at the latest modular kitchen systems from Italy: practical, precisely engineered, and, yes, pricey. The advantages? Modular systems offer the entire package, with an all-of-a-piece design so you don’t have to cobble together elements from different sources (cabinets from here, counters from there). And most of the companies featured here have been in the business for decades and cater to a worldwide market. The drawbacks? You sacrifice a certain amount of aesthetic control, and most of these designs are pricey. Interested? Here are eight good examples of Italian kitchen ingenuity:

Alpes Inox


Alpes Inox Kitchen System | Remodelista

Above: Alpes Inox’s freestanding, stainless-steel kitchen systems are multifunctional and made to come with you should you move—none are built-ins, so they can be rearranged as needed, and most designs are available on wheels. See Race-Car Style Appliances for Compact Kitchens.

Based in Bassano del Grappa, Italy, Alpes Inox is a family-run business; it’s been fabricating kitchen equipment since 1954 using high-nickel stainless, which has a durable, bright, white shine. For more information and prices, see Alpes Inox, and contact Mr. Passalacqua in the company’s export department at commerciale@alpesinox.com.

Arclinea


Arclinea Kitchen, Remodelista

Above: Arclinea’s Convivium Kitchen System is an open-living design, a "true center for rapport between the cook and the others." 

Arclinea was founded in 1925 in Caldogna, Italy, where it’s still based. Since 1986, Italian architect and industrial designer Antonia Citterio has directed the company’s designs. There are 13 Arclinea Distributors in North America, including Arclinea showrooms in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington, DC. 

Boffi


Boffi Kitchen, Remodelista

Above: The Boffi Aprile Kitchen, designed by Piero Lissoni, integrates rustic materials in the design: Its cabinet doors are made using wood staves of varying widths and thicknesses. 

Situated north of Milan and in business since 1934, Boffi has a worldwide presence, including Boffi North American Studios in Washington, DC, New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. In addition to kitchens, it offers bathrooms, storage systems, and a range of interior items, such as lamps. The company’s long list of contributing designers ranges from Marcel Wanders to Claudio Silvestrin. 

Dada


Dada Kitchen, Remodelista

Above: Dada’s INDada Kitchen System, designed by Nicola Gallizia.


Dada Kitchen, Remodelista

Above: Dada recently introduced the linear Vela Kitchen System.

The region around Milan is home to several notable kitchen system manufacturers, including Dada (which has been part of the high-end furnishings group Moldeni since 1980). Dada offers seven kitchen system designs, all of which are on view in the company’s New York and Miami flagship stores, and at In-Ex in Los Angeles. 

Poliform


Poliform Kitchen, Remodelista

Above: Poliform’s Artex Kitchen offers ample work surfaces.


Poliform Kitchen, Remodelista

Above: Storage details in a cabinet from Poliform.

Poliform started in 1942 with a focus on bookshelves, wardrobes, and other home furnishings. Situated in the Brianza region of Italy and still family-run, it added kitchens to its repertoire in 1996 through the acquisition of the Varenna brand and now offers nine kitchen system designs. Poliform’s North America Network includes more than 40 dealers, and there are dedicated Poliform stores in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Miami.

Rossana


Rossana Linear Kitchen | Remodelista

Above: The TK38 Linear Kitchen was designed by architect Massimo Castagna is outfitted for professional-level cooking.

Rossana has been in the kitchen design business for more than half a century and has collaborated with big names like Michele De Lucchi, Rodolfo Dordoni, and Vincenzo De Cotiis (his burnished brass DC10 kitchen can be seen in the Milan apartment of Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci of Studio Dimore).

Schiffini


Schiffini Kitchen, Remodelista

Above: The Cinqueterre, the first all-aluminum kitchen, was designed in 2000 by Vico Magistretti for Schiffini. Photograph via DesignSpace London.

Schiffini was established in the 1920s to supply nautical fittings to the Italian Navy dockyard in La Spezia and later specialized in the furnishings of military and civil ships. In the 1950s, Schiffini reoriented itself to kitchen furniture design, and claims to be the first Italian company to produce a series of modular offerings. Still located near La Spezia (think Italian Riviera), Schiffini is available in the US through McDuffee Design in Chicago.

Valcucine 


Valcucine Logica Kitchen, Remodelista

Above: The fully equipped back section of the Valcucine Logica System Kitchen comes in aluminum or stainless steel, and can be fitted against a wall or used in an island. Clutter averse? The unit can be fully enclosed with cabinet fronts. 


Valcucine SineTempore Wood Kitchen | Remodelista

Above: The Sine Tempore system features a modern farmhouse spirit; see more at Modern Italian Rusticity from Valcucine.

Coming Soon


Binova Regula Ad Kitchen, Remodelista

Above: Coming next? Binova is an Italian to watch. We’re hoping its kitchens, including the Regula Ad design, shown here, will soon be available on the US market. 

The youngest of the Italian companies in our lineup, 35-year-old Valcucine is known for revolutionizing kitchen ergonomics with its 1996 Logica Kitchen (picture wall units with lift-up doors and cabinets with removable drawers). The Logica was updated recently and remains one of the more technologically advanced modular systems available. If you are looking for something with less drive, Valcucine offers several other kitchen systems, too. Valcucine US Dealers are located in New York, Minneapolis, Tulsa, Chicago, and Dallas.

For more on modular kitchens and kitchen cabinetry see: 

For more Italian kitchen design inspiration, see: 

More Stories from Remodelista

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Teenage Engineering and Cheap Monday launch a line of pocket operators

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po-16_wideTeenage Engineering and Cheap Monday launch a line of pocket operators – micro synthesizers that fit in your pocket and a line of matching gear. The launch takes place simultaneously instore and online at Colette, Paris and the NAMM trade show in Los Angeles. Teenage Engineering’s new line of musical instruments is called pocket operators and […]

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Kim Fowley, Runaways producer and svengali, dies aged 75

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Fowley had been battling bladder cancer for several years

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Pope Francis gives freedom of speech a cruel punch

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Attention All Smart, Cheap Bastards!

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Starting Note: The other day I mentioned there are some ideas that, by their nature, can’t be communicated. Today’s post will be a good example of an exception that proves the rule. In today’s post I will embrace a risk of embarrassment that folks with a normal sense of shame would avoid. By the end of this post, three-quarters of you will have a new reason to dislike me. But I didn’t know a better way to convey some potentially useful information. Luckily, I lost my sense of shame years ago. So here you go. The embarrassing parts are at the end.

Now to the actual post…

[You can skip most of this if you have read my latest book]

I know my readers. You’re smart and you see no reason to buy a hardcover book that will be less expensive in a year when the paperback is released. After all, it’s not as if you will run out of books to read between now and then. (That’s almost exactly what many of you told me.)

You were also cautious about a book from me on a topic that is way out of my normal strike zone. That caution was smart too.

And when you heard that the book included one chapter each on diet and fitness, you probably wondered what I could possibly add to that conversation. So you took a wait-and-see attitude. That was exactly the right play. I would have done the same.

Your waiting also allowed you to see all the reviews from early readers. If you haven’t seen the reviews, these are some quotes from Amazon reviewers, organized by type:

People Who Are Surprised I Don’t Suck:

    This book might surprise some people … It is probably the best use of time and money I can think of right now.

    This book inspired me to do new things. I was not expecting this from Scott Adams.

    This book was so much more than I expected … Readable, enjoyable, inspirational, informative, practical,
    educational and most importantly entertaining!

    I read The Dilbert Principle some years ago and found it very entertaining. I was expecting the same from this          book and was surprised at how good it actually is

    Full of lots of surprisingly great insight and advice, written by a witty writer who has failed his way to success!

    I bought the book because I like his writing, and I even ended up learning some things, too!

     I bought it because I enjoyed Dilbert, but have found it a lot more useful than I expected a cartoonist’s
    book on success would be.

    …fantastic book. much MUCH better than I expected, frankly… chock full of wisdom and wit. Will be
    having my clients read!

    Don’t judge a book by its type! …really feel like reading this book has already begun to change my life!

    I think when I bought it I was really expecting some kind of goofy, comedic type of work. But it turned
    out to have some prescient information about achieving success in life.

    The book packed in more info than I was expecting and so I am off to read it again as it was so valuable.

People Who Found It Useful

    Keep your highlighter handy for this one!

    I’m not given to outlining books with a bullet list to consult later, but I did with this book. Excellent!

    I enjoyed this book so much that I might read it again and take some notes.

    This is going in the library and the “give to a client in need” box.

    The most useful book I’ve read for a long time.

    I learned so many common sense things that my life would have been a little easier if I had
    this book 20 years ago.

    This book has become a part of my permanent collection. I have read it twice, partly because
    of the information and partly because of its message of encouragement.

People Who Think It is Best of Breed

    This is my favorite book in the self-help/business philosophy section.

    The best book I read this year. Strongly recommended!

    Absolutely the best business/work self-help book I have ever read.

You will benefit greatly from reading this book. It’s the best book I’ve read in a long time.

    I’ve read a lot of success books and this is really the top.

    I’m an avid reader of business books and this is one of the easiest and most informative
    books of this kind
I’ve read in a while.

    I’ve read a lot of self-help books but this is just about the best one ever.

    Solid advice, and woven into a far better narrative than other self-help books can offer.

    I’d give it six stars if possible - the extra star for how well - and humorously - it’s written

    This has to be the best self-help book I have read. Frank, forthright and practical, it simply
    tells you what to do and what to realistically expect.

    This is one of the best books I have read in years. There is so much information to improve
    your life and career that if you glean just a smidgen it will be worth you reading.

    … the best book of this year so far

    This is now in my all-time list of useful books.

People Who Want to Give it as a Gift

    This is one of those books I’ll be buying all my business buddies.

    It will be my new gift to give to my friends.

    I have purchased 3 copies of this book, one for my 21 year old son and another for a good friend.

    I’m sending gift copies to a slew of friends.

    I would like to say I will give this as a gift to young people as a guide for living their lives, but
    presently the people who come to my mind who could use it the most are middle-aged.

    Wish I had read something like it fifty years ago. It could have given me a much better road map
    for my life. Plan to give a copy to my son and grandson.

…bought it for myself, read it, and then bought it for my brother.

    This is my new graduation or entering senior year gift for anyone I would normally buy that type of gift for.

    I have agreed to purchase this book for my three children and my six grandchildren. It should be a
    required reading in all schools-seriously!

People Who Were Changed by It

    You will surely be a different person after you read it … thanks Scott for a nice book …
    One of my favorites for this year

    This might be one of the strangest, yet at the same time most helpful, books that I have ever read.

    To me, the great achievement of “How to Fail at Almost Everything” is the sly and gradual undermining
    of traditional view of “success”.

    Some books have a great impact. This one came at the right time for me.

    This book changed my life, my diet, and inspired me to hack my routine even more!

    I’m definitely re-reading the book. I have already put some of his theories … to the test and
    am happy with the results so far.

    For me it was a paradigm shift. [I almost didn’t use this on because of “paradigm” — Scott]

    Really great book. Made me think about things differently.

    Thanks to your clever strategy of not buying the hardcover version of the book, you now see
    that two-thirds of readers gave the book five-stars reviews and found it useful. It earned the
    best reviews of anything I have produced in any field.

 And the paperback version just landed.

If you feel tempted to read it, this is a good time to see what all the fuss is about and save some money. Your wait-and-see strategy worked. Well played.

I have one more piece of unfinished business, and this comes with personal risk. In my view - and I hope you agree - any authors talking about diet and fitness should show their work. And so I will show mine. Here is a selfie of me at age 57, taken the other day. I cropped off my head because that’s the ugly part.

 
I got this way gradually, over about ten years, by replacing willpower (which always failed) with knowledge. Now I eat everything I want whenever I want. I lost 28 pounds over time by eliminating my cravings in a simple, systematic way. The reason I can eat anything I want is that I no longer crave bad food. And healthy food is self-regulating in the sense that you rarely eat too much broccoli even if you like it.

None of this gain was possible even five years ago because science had so many things wrong about diet. I did what science told me to do twenty years ago and I slowly gained from about 135 pounds to 168 lbs. Once science started to get things right (I assume), I once again followed their lead and my body transformed back to about 140 pounds but with higher muscle content. I never looked remotely like this at a younger age. And it was effortless in the sense that I didn’t suffer and I didn’t need any real willpower.

I work out, obviously. But I never overdo it, which is an important part of my system as explained in the book. I do thirty minutes of light weights and thirty minutes of light cardio at most. I attempt to exercise daily and succeed about six days a week. Sometimes the exercise is just a long walk. I mix it up. I’ve never had a personal trainer.

In the old days I had to muster a lot of willpower to exercise. But thanks to my knowledge about the science of habits, I trained myself like Pavlov’s dogs to look forward to it. I only exercise enough to feel good. Then I reward myself with a tasty protein shake and some downtime. If you don’t look forward to exercise, you might be interested in how to rewire yourself in a similar fashion over time. It isn’t much harder than hearing some new things for the first time. The change happens almost on its own.

Just to be crystal clear, I have no reason to believe my system will work for you. We’re all different, and that’s why I don’t believe in generic broadcasting of “advice.” But I guarantee my approach is different from what you have been exposed to. If what you are doing isn’t working, you might want to include my system on your short list of what to try next.

Back to my original point about information that can’t be communicated - I didn’t think I could make a credible point about diet and exercise systems without showing my work. And doing so in this context is uber-douche-baggy and lives forever on the Internet. I’ll take that hit because the people who have read my book think it’s worth sharing and I agree. I’m comfortable with how the photo looks but I realize many will judge me for showing it. The Internet is unkind to old guys without shirts. Whatever.

Thanks for putting up with me. I mean well.

Here’s a link to the paperback of How to Fail Almost Everything And Still Win Big

————-

Scott AdamsCo-founder of CalendarTree.com
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily
Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

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7 Ways to Stop Terrorism

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How to Stop Terrorism: 7 Ways to Drain the Swamp In the wake of the barbaric Paris terror attack, everyone is debating how to stop further terrorism. Some say we need more war against Islamic countries … or more spying … or more crackdowns on our liberties. But – despite what the talking heads may…Read More

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Table for one: the best places for solo dining in London

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Table for one: the best places for solo dining in London

Posted at 10:15 am, January 16, 2015 in

I did it at Longjii and Canton, and came away a very happy man. Another of our food team did it at Copita del Mercado and had a great time. What were we doing? Nothing more illicit than eating a restaurant meal on our own, with no human companionship. For some people this seems like an admission of tragic failure – ‘what, you couldn’t find anyone to have dinner with?’ For others it’s a deep pleasure, a chance to enjoy food while reading a good book or just watching one’s fellow customers flirting, arguing, or pouting. And so, we’ve assembled a list of our favourite places for solo dining. If you’re a fan, tell us where you go – and why you like it. And if you think we’re saddos, tell us that, too. ByRichard Ehrlich

Find more good restaurants for dining alone in London

diningeatingfoodrestaurant

Nine great places to celebrate Burns Night 2015 in London

Posted at 8:00 am, January 16, 2015 in

This year Robert Burns’ birthday (January 25, aka Burns Night) is on a Sunday, meaning you’ve got the whole day to sup whisky, play the bagpipes, eat haggis and revel in all those other wonderfully Scottish activities. It tends to be celebrated with traditional food, songs and drink. Here’s our guide to what London has to offer.

burns nightcelebrationeventfoodgreen’shaggisJapanesekilt, scotland, Scottish, supper

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Managing those Magazines

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Magazines appeal to almost everyone; every home I enter has magazines laying around. Magazines racks can be a good way to keep current magazines visible (rather than buried under piles of papers or whatever) so they actually get read.

The Strata magazine rack from Headsprung is a nice example of a basic magazine rack which could sit on the floor or on a flat surface such as a desktop. It has two sections and can hold up to 12 magazines; the divider helps ensure magazines will stay upright even if the rack isn’t full. If the Strata is being used on the desk, the front panel could also serve as a magnetic board. It has four anti-slip feet, too.

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The Float magazine rack from J-Me, which also holds 12 magazines, makes it super easy to see what’s being stored. The users can remove one magazine without disturbing the others, which isn’t possible with many other racks.

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The Sprung magazine rack from Liv’it (designed by Michael Sodeau) keeps the magazines in a stack. This reduces the visibility of the magazines, which is a significant concern—but it does allow the rack to hold a lot of them. It’s also super easy to just toss one more magazine onto the pile.

(more…)

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A Concrete Okinawan Home Built for Bad Weather

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An ultra-modern three-storey home from rhythmdesign, the House in Tomigusuku goes in heavy with the concrete whilst retaining its low-key status in a residential area of Okinawa, Japan. Designed first and foremost to combat tough weather…

The post A Concrete Okinawan Home Built for Bad Weather appeared first on Selectism.

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How we achieved 24/7 support without compromising our culture (too much)

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It’s been a big year for our support team here at Basecamp, as Noah wrote last week. We’ve gone through lots of change and added several more people to the team.

Back in 2012, a few of us began working swing shifts to help clear the queue for the morning staff. Emily also started working Sundays to make Monday easier on the team and clear out some older cases from Friday night and Saturday. While the majority of our emails come in during traditional US business hours, we all know that work doesn’t necessarily happen between nine and five (for example, I’m writing this at 9pm PST). When we saw how well the Sunday and swing-shifts worked, we hired Jim to answer emails in Manchester, UK. That covered our butts from 2am-9pm CST, leaving only 5 hours of unanswered emails Monday through Friday. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but five hours can feel like an eternity if you’re locked out of your account or have a worrisome billing question. Shortly after we hired Jim, we decided to grow the team to include Natalie in Berlin and Chris, also in Manchester.

Fast forward six months to a few weeks after we launched our phone verification feature, when DHH was traveling and didn’t have cell reception on a Saturday. He was essentially locked out of his own app. Saturday, however, was the one day we didn’t have someone answering support emails. When DHH couldn’t log in to Basecamp on a Saturday in a timezone far from HQ, he felt the pain lots of our customers have felt. We decided to make a change to how support works.

I wanted to hire four new people to cover the world around, but DHH wanted me to hire no one and finagle the schedule with our existing staff [insert trollface here]. We settled on a compromise: If we hired four newbies, then we had to also implement phone support, such that we wouldn’t just have a big surge in employees (from 8 to 12: a 50% increase) without also expanding the scope of work. We opened four new positions: US Saturday-Wednesday, EU Saturday-Wednesday, Asia/Pacific Monday-Friday, and Asia/Pacific Saturday-Wednesday. While we searched for these four candidates, the existing team took turns trading one full day of work for a 4-hour Saturday shift. After an exhaustive search, we found our newbies: JorDanée in Florida, James in Berlin, Tony in Sydney, and Sylvia in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Noah, our self-described (and self-deprecating) Data Monkey, built a simple call-back platform for our Support page. We started slowly and worked through a lot of in-house anxiety and assumptions around phone support: people get angry, people interrupt, people express frustration more easily, people yell. At first, Noah and I were the only people taking calls, and the call option was only available to account owners and administrators. Then, the rest of the team joined us. We started opening the call-back option to more and more users. Now, any logged-in user has the option to request a call from us Monday through Friday from 5am until 5pm CST, with the occasional wee hour and weekend option. (For the record, our users are as sweet as freshly grated palm sugar and super happy that we call them back within a couple of minutes, so that in-house anxiety has mostly subsided.)

You can check out Noah’s comprehensive summary of the support stats here, but I’d like to point out some stats to celebrate. We made a huge dent in email-response times this year, with the median time to response across the entire year falling to three minutes. For comparison, back in 2011 and 2012 our median response time for email cases was over two hours. Additionally, we’re now answering emails on weekends within six minutes on average, whereas customers would wait upwards of eight hours for a response before 24/7 email was implemented. In our first year of phone support, we averaged about 250 calls per month despite having millions of customers. The median call-back time is under three minutes.

Not a call center.

Many of us have been working together for nearly four years now, so we’re a close-knit group of diverse weirdos. The major anxieties that cropped up during these proposed changes were based in the fear of culture shifts; we did not want to lose the senses of freedom or autonomy that come along with remote work, and growing the team 50% meant introducing more (potentially not weirdo) people to our existing, comfortable culture. Every time you introduce a new person to a culture, the culture shifts a bit. While we’re happy to include more people on our team, we also know that we want to remain relatively small.

The biggest cultural shift was with phone support. We were a team used to writing emails to customers all day, not speaking with them on the phone. We all identify as writers and introverts, so the idea that we’d have to speak to people on the phone felt icky. There were lots of “I was hired to write, not to speak” and “I’m not comfortable on the phone” and “I refuse to work at a call center.” Once everyone started taking calls, those anxieties wore away for most of the team. (I now compare talking on the phone with my days teaching university English: it’s all a performance.) Yet, we still had to navigate working with people in a new, real-time format. People are complicated. They do get mad, interrupt, and yell. Those calls are hard. They make us feel helpless in a position where we’re meant to be helpful. After a rough call or email, our team is still here to support each other. We encourage each other to debrief those rough interactions and step away from work for a few minutes.

Phone support also inhibits some freedoms of remote work. While many of us work from our homes, there are times when we get stir crazy and want to venture off to a coffeeshop to work. We all know that it’s rude to take calls at a coffeeshop, so we cover for each other if someone wants to get out of the house just like we would if someone were sick or on vacation or having an off-day. A huge part of working a customer support job is supporting each other, and we’re getting better and better at that with each new challenge we introduce to our workflow.

We may still be a small team, but our culture has grown significantly this year. From a Jiu-jitsu’ing cat lover in Oregon, to a working Paleo mom who likes to #liveriveted, to a car-obsessed deadlifting vegemite-eating Aussie – we know that our small team still means everyone knows each other, gets each other’s jokes, understands each other’s work ethics, and most of all, trusts each other wholeheartedly.

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Iceage announce UK and Ireland tour dates

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Band hit the road in April and May in support of latest album

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Artist Richard Long to stage first show in his native Bristol in 15 years

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Exhibition Time and Space, opening in July at Arnolfini, includes a drawing made in mud collected from the Avon river

The silty water of the river Avon flowing a few yards from the front door of Bristol’s Arnolfini gallery is supplying some of the materials for works of art by Richard Long, the seminal land artist staging the first show in his native city in 15 years.

Time and Space will include new pieces and recreations of earlier work including Ireland, concentric circles made on a beach when he was a student, washed away without trace – like most of his land art pieces – more than half a century ago.

Continue reading…

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Why Enemy is the one film you should watch this week – video review

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Jake Gyllenhaal plays against himself in Enemy, a doppelgänger thriller about Adam (Gyllenhaal), a depressed university lecturer who sets out to find his double (Gyllenhaal) after seeing him in a bit part in a B-movie. Denis Villeneuve’s film is tense, absorbing and nightmarishly bizarre, says Peter Bradshaw Continue reading…

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Attention All Smart, Cheap Bastards!

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Starting Note: The other day I mentioned there are some ideas that, by their nature, can’t be communicated. Today’s post will be a good example of an exception that proves the rule. In today’s post I will embrace a risk of embarrassment that folks with a normal sense of shame would avoid. By the end of this post, three-quarters of you will have a new reason to dislike me. But I didn’t know a better way to convey some potentially useful information. Luckily, I lost my sense of shame years ago. So here you go. The embarrassing parts are at the end.

Now to the actual post…

[You can skip most of this if you have read my latest book]

I know my readers. You’re smart and you see no reason to buy a hardcover book that will be less expensive in a year when the paperback is released. After all, it’s not as if you will run out of books to read between now and then. (That’s almost exactly what many of you told me.)

You were also cautious about a book from me on a topic that is way out of my normal strike zone. That caution was smart too.

And when you heard that the book included one chapter each on diet and fitness, you probably wondered what I could possibly add to that conversation. So you took a wait-and-see attitude. That was exactly the right play. I would have done the same.

Your waiting also allowed you to see all the reviews from early readers. If you haven’t seen the reviews, these are some quotes from Amazon reviewers, organized by type:

People Who Are Surprised I Don’t Suck:

    This book might surprise some people … It is probably the best use of time and money I can think of right now.

    This book inspired me to do new things. I was not expecting this from Scott Adams.

    This book was so much more than I expected … Readable, enjoyable, inspirational, informative, practical,
    educational and most importantly entertaining!

    I read The Dilbert Principle some years ago and found it very entertaining. I was expecting the same from this          book and was surprised at how good it actually is

    Full of lots of surprisingly great insight and advice, written by a witty writer who has failed his way to success!

    I bought the book because I like his writing, and I even ended up learning some things, too!

     I bought it because I enjoyed Dilbert, but have found it a lot more useful than I expected a cartoonist’s
    book on success would be.

    …fantastic book. much MUCH better than I expected, frankly… chock full of wisdom and wit. Will be
    having my clients read!

    Don’t judge a book by its type! …really feel like reading this book has already begun to change my life!

    I think when I bought it I was really expecting some kind of goofy, comedic type of work. But it turned
    out to have some prescient information about achieving success in life.

    The book packed in more info than I was expecting and so I am off to read it again as it was so valuable.

People Who Found It Useful

    Keep your highlighter handy for this one!

    I’m not given to outlining books with a bullet list to consult later, but I did with this book. Excellent!

    I enjoyed this book so much that I might read it again and take some notes.

    This is going in the library and the "give to a client in need" box.

    The most useful book I’ve read for a long time.

    I learned so many common sense things that my life would have been a little easier if I had
    this book 20 years ago.

    This book has become a part of my permanent collection. I have read it twice, partly because
    of the information and partly because of its message of encouragement.

People Who Think It is Best of Breed

    This is my favorite book in the self-help/business philosophy section.

    The best book I read this year. Strongly recommended!

    Absolutely the best business/work self-help book I have ever read.

    You will benefit greatly from reading this book. It’s the best book I’ve read in a long time.

    I’ve read a lot of success books and this is really the top.

    I’m an avid reader of business books and this is one of the easiest and most informative
    books of this kind
I’ve read in a while.

    I’ve read a lot of self-help books but this is just about the best one ever.

    Solid advice, and woven into a far better narrative than other self-help books can offer.

    I’d give it six stars if possible - the extra star for how well - and humorously - it’s written

    This has to be the best self-help book I have read. Frank, forthright and practical, it simply
    tells you what to do and what to realistically expect.

    This is one of the best books I have read in years. There is so much information to improve
    your life and career that if you glean just a smidgen it will be worth you reading.

    … the best book of this year so far

    This is now in my all-time list of useful books.

People Who Want to Give it as a Gift

    This is one of those books I’ll be buying all my business buddies.

    It will be my new gift to give to my friends.

    I have purchased 3 copies of this book, one for my 21 year old son and another for a good friend.

    I’m sending gift copies to a slew of friends.

    I would like to say I will give this as a gift to young people as a guide for living their lives, but
    presently the people who come to my mind who could use it the most are middle-aged.

    Wish I had read something like it fifty years ago. It could have given me a much better road map
    for my life. Plan to give a copy to my son and grandson.

    …bought it for myself, read it, and then bought it for my brother.

    This is my new graduation or entering senior year gift for anyone I would normally buy that type of gift for.

    I have agreed to purchase this book for my three children and my six grandchildren. It should be a
    required reading in all schools-seriously!

People Who Were Changed by It

    You will surely be a different person after you read it … thanks Scott for a nice book …
    One of my favorites for this year

    This might be one of the strangest, yet at the same time most helpful, books that I have ever read.

    To me, the great achievement of "How to Fail at Almost Everything" is the sly and gradual undermining
    of traditional view of "success".

    Some books have a great impact. This one came at the right time for me.

    This book changed my life, my diet, and inspired me to hack my routine even more!

    I’m definitely re-reading the book. I have already put some of his theories … to the test and
    am happy with the results so far.

    For me it was a paradigm shift. [I almost didn’t use this on because of "paradigm" — Scott]

    Really great book. Made me think about things differently.

    Thanks to your clever strategy of not buying the hardcover version of the book, you now see
    that two-thirds of readers gave the book five-stars reviews and found it useful. It earned the
    best reviews of anything I have produced in any field.

 And the paperback version just landed.

If you feel tempted to read it, this is a good time to see what all the fuss is about and save some money. Your wait-and-see strategy worked. Well played.

I have one more piece of unfinished business, and this comes with personal risk. In my view - and I hope you agree - any authors talking about diet and fitness should show their work. And so I will show mine. Here is a selfie of me at age 57, taken the other day. I cropped off my head because that’s the ugly part.

 
I got this way gradually, over about ten years, by replacing willpower (which always failed) with knowledge. Now I eat everything I want whenever I want. I lost 28 pounds over time by eliminating my cravings in a simple, systematic way. The reason I can eat anything I want is that I no longer crave bad food. And healthy food is self-regulating in the sense that you rarely eat too much broccoli even if you like it.

None of this gain was possible even five years ago because science had so many things wrong about diet. I did what science told me to do twenty years ago and I slowly gained from about 135 pounds to 168 lbs. Once science started to get things right (I assume), I once again followed their lead and my body transformed back to about 140 pounds but with higher muscle content. I never looked remotely like this at a younger age. And it was effortless in the sense that I didn’t suffer and I didn’t need any real willpower.

I work out, obviously. But I never overdo it, which is an important part of my system as explained in the book. I do thirty minutes of light weights and thirty minutes of light cardio at most. I attempt to exercise daily and succeed about six days a week. Sometimes the exercise is just a long walk. I mix it up. I’ve never had a personal trainer.

In the old days I had to muster a lot of willpower to exercise. But thanks to my knowledge about the science of habits, I trained myself like Pavlov’s dogs to look forward to it. I only exercise enough to feel good. Then I reward myself with a tasty protein shake and some downtime. If you don’t look forward to exercise, you might be interested in how to rewire yourself in a similar fashion over time. It isn’t much harder than hearing some new things for the first time. The change happens almost on its own.

Just to be crystal clear, I have no reason to believe my system will work for you. We’re all different, and that’s why I don’t believe in generic broadcasting of "advice." But I guarantee my approach is different from what you have been exposed to. If what you are doing isn’t working, you might want to include my system on your short list of what to try next.

Back to my original point about information that can’t be communicated - I didn’t think I could make a credible point about diet and exercise systems without showing my work. And doing so in this context is uber-douche-baggy and lives forever on the Internet. I’ll take that hit because the people who have read my book think it’s worth sharing and I agree. I’m comfortable with how the photo looks but I realize many will judge me for showing it. The Internet is unkind to old guys without shirts. Whatever.

Thanks for putting up with me. I mean well.

Here’s a link to the paperback of How to Fail Almost Everything And Still Win Big

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     

Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

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The Urbantrout Diaries: Year of mending urban rivers

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After a few months’ break, our Urbantrout Diaries series returned to Flyfishing.co.uk just before Christmas… … with a blockbuster mini-series reviewing all the great urban river restoration projects that took place across the UK in 2014: Part 1: Weir removal, fish passage and remeandering on the Wandle Part 2: Community engagement, WFD compliance and Wild […]

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Nike Debuts Metcon 1 Cross-Training Sneaker

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Nike debuts its latest cross-training sneaker, with the Metcon 1 joining the sportswear leviathan’s ever-expanding lineup of athletic footwear. The bright volt tone present on so many of Nike’s sportier models is combined with a…

The post Nike Debuts Metcon 1 Cross-Training Sneaker appeared first on Highsnobiety.

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Incredibly Easy E-Ink Keyboard

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ACNE Launches Curater – The World’s First Digital Art Exhibition System

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Many of you will remember the digital pictures frames that came up many years ago. It felt like a new age at the time, nevertheless nobody really wanted them at home and if we look around ourselves now, probably more …

The post ACNE Launches Curater – The World’s First Digital Art Exhibition System appeared first on Highsnobiety.

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YOU HAVE TOO MUCH SHIT: Designer Writes Self Help Book Rallying Against Excessive Consumerism

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There’s sometimes an uncomfortable paradox in the condition of the industrial designer—whilst making a living with the imagineering of consumable products, we’re also often amongst the most aware and troubled by the many problems associated with rampant consumerism.

London-based designer Chris Thomas—"educated in the depths of the recession" at Goldsmiths—has penned a short book(let) YOU HAVE TOO MUCH SHIT, part self-help book, part propaganda pamphlet, unapologetically rallying against our excessive consumerist lifestyles, apparently "the culmination of quite a few years of inner raging".

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Available for download free in iBook, ePUB or PDF—and also available to buy physically if you can handle the irony— Chris’s book offers a range of practical anti-consumerism advice from first defining "shit" to then outlining lists of "shit" you probably don’t need in your life to the final chapter on "Now You Know You Have Too Much Shit, Here’s How To Get Rid of It".

(more…)

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Rip It Up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds (The Spotify Complete Booktrack)

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Post Status: WordPress 4.1, “Dinah”

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WordPress 4.1, “Dinah”, has just been released. WordPress 4.1 is the result of months of work and includes a number of excellent new features.

WordPress 4.1 was led by John Blackbourn, who did an outstanding job. Two hundred and eighty three contributors were part of WordPress 4.1, which Matt Mullenweg states is a new high.

Here are some of the new features.

Persistent Distraction-free Writing

I must begin with the new persistent Distraction-free Writing feature, as I’m using it to write this very post. We’ve had Distraction-free Writing since 2011, with the release of WordPress 3.2. However, it’s always been a single-experience decision. You hit the button to enter distraction free mode, and you utilize it for a single writing session.

Now, the button itself is persistent, and the experience of writing distraction free doesn’t enter a new screen, but rather fade away the distractions of the default editor.

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The left admin seamlessly floats away, as do the metaboxes to the right of and below the editor. The editor itself remains, versus using a modified editor like before.

When you update to WordPress 4.1, you are triggered with a note about Distraction-free Writing, and now that it’s a decision you only have to make once, I think this feature will finally get the broad use it deserves. It really is much more pleasant to write without everything else around you, to be lost in your thoughts as they make their way to the editor.

Twenty Fifteen theme

http://ift.tt/1wniiwt

The Twenty Fifteen theme is the finest work I’ve seen yet of the default theme team. A blogging, and personal, theme — Twenty Fifteen is simple, with beautiful typography, and capable of showcasing blog posts of any format with poise.

Twenty Fifteen comes in six base color schemes: default (light), dark, yellow, ping, purple, and blue. It also supports WordPress’ background and header image features, and allows you to customize colors from your base selection; Twenty Fifteen can be as quirky as you are.

http://ift.tt/1GvUqcS

Here’s a link to the default theme demo, as well as it’s new page on WordPress.org.

Dozens of languages, available any time

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WordPress has made tremendous progress for non-English speaking users in the past few releases. With WordPress 4.0, you could choose a language on installation, whereas before it required many more steps. Now the team has gone a step further, so that language can be changed at any time, right from WordPress’ general settings page.

Given that a third of WordPress installs are non-English (and if I recall correctly half of new downloads are non-English now), this change further reduces the barrier of language in publishing software, and is an excellent move for the progression of the platform across the world.

Recommended plugins

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I believe recommended plugins is probably the most controversial feature in WordPress 4.1, though it is not without precedent. “Featured” themes have been in the WordPress dashboard for a while now. But with a tab for recommended plugins, now users can see plugin recommendations based on plugins already installed and plugins other sites have installed.

Recommended plugins are replacing the former popular plugins tab, and is mostly a change in the underlying API for showing the plugins themselves. Since it’s not a manual recommendation, I think this is a good change, and will more accurately help folks find relevant plugins than just listing the most popular plugins in the directory.

New template tags and theming tools

I’m really looking forward to using some of the new template tags introduced in WordPress 4.1.

My favorite is get_the_archive_title(). Themers out there all know about the big blob of conditionals in most theme archive templates to spit out the right string based on which archive template it is. Now, there’s a function for that, and it’s fully filterable to boot.

Descriptions of the new title functions, some new pagination functions, and some particularly nice body class assignment enhancements are well described on this Make WordPress post by Konstantin Obenland. There’s also a post about adding theme support to let WordPress handle title tags, which is a handy thing.

Log out from anywhere

A relatively small but nice security feature is the new ability to log out of all installs from a single location. WordPress uses cookies to keep you logged into your install for a period of time. Well, if you ever leave yourself logged in on a computer you don’t trust, you can now log out of all instances easily, from your profile page on an install.

There is a new button that says “Log Out of All Other Sessions,” and also tells you if you are logged in at more than one location.

More improvements to queries

I love how much progress has been made on the WordPress query tools in the last couple of years. WordPress 4.1 introduces the ability for a nested query syntax, which makes more complex queries possible for WP_Tax_Query, WP_Date_Query, and WP_Meta_Query. I don’t often call out single individual’s work on something, but Boone Georges really slayed it with the nested queries work. He wrote about it on his blog in detail.

More under the hood

WordPress 4.1 includes many other under the hood features you should check out on the Codex page about the release.

More excellent progress for WordPress

WordPress is better than ever, and hundreds (or thousands) of people make it so. Great job everyone. Now, go download WordPress 4.1.

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Peter Bradshaw’s top 50 films of the demi-decade

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We are now midway through the 2010s. So what trends are emerging in cinema? Peter Bradshaw takes a look – and picks his top 50 films of the demi-decade

As far as actors are concerned, the first five years of the 2010s proved that you can’t make it big unless you’re prepared to get into the Lycra and stride around in front of the greenscreen. This has been the demi-decade of the superhero, coming alongside genres like sci-fi and fantasy. Perhaps it’s surprising that it didn’t happen long ago and that, until very recently, only three or four A-list superheroes were being consistently reinvented in franchise properties. Now there are dozens, with the Marvel stable a powerhouse of profitable movies.

In the past five years, we have also seen the emergence of a recognisable new genre, young adult, drawn from colossal multi-volume bestsellers targeted at teens: these fanbases are formidably loyal, intelligent, opinionated, with a sense of self and identity; the product driven by social media. The authors reach out to the fans through Twitter; the fans amass considerable followings of their own; they go on fan-fiction sites, self-publish and some become players themselves. And the movie studios have to react like lightning to a big new product before its fans outgrow it, but they have to be careful to bring the fans along with them, with visits to Comic Con and the like. YA has assumed distinctive characteristics in stories like Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent and Maze Runner: the heroes and heroines are smart, essentially celibate or pre-sexual but intensely romantic, not interested in smart-ass irony, burdened with a sense of apartness and destiny.

Continue reading…

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Matt: Jetpack Speed

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Over on the BruteProtect blog they have a look at the Jetpack Bloat Myth, and find that counter-intuitively even though Jetpack has more comprehensive functionality it’s faster than using individual plugins to do the same things. There are economies of scale to Jetpack’s approach, and it doesn’t even include the impact of doing things more advanced and complex like Related Posts. There’s a reason why some web hosts like WP Engine ban most related post plugins but encourage the use of Jetpack.

The performance of the plugin code, though still faster, is still a small difference when compared to the benefit of offloading certain tasks like image resizing, related posts, stats, video transcoding, and more in the future to the WordPress.com cloud (which is now across 11 datacenters worldwide).

Of course if you don’t need the functionality at all it’s always faster to have nothing, but that’s a shrinking minority. There are still more optimizations to be had, and in line with a performance focus in 2015 look for more improvements to come in the future. In the meantime, check out the Jetpack benchmarks.

via WordPress Planet http://ma.tt/?p=44562

Inside the Open Plan Fujigaoka Apartment

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While not the smallest space we’ve featured in our home tours, the Fujigaoka apartment in Yokohama, Japan still falls within the category of ‘compact living’ with its clever open plan design. Sinato architects took 64 square metres…

The post Inside the Open Plan Fujigaoka Apartment appeared first on Selectism.

via Selectism http://ift.tt/1I4cwBT

MP3 At 3PM: The Blank Tapes

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California outfit the Blank Tapes play a stoned brand of psych rock and ready for the release of their new album, Geodesic Dome Piece, out January 13. As only fitting of their musical and aesthetic style, they release the hilariously named song “Way Too Stoned” for free download. The track’s title fits perfectly as the […]

via Magnet Magazine http://ift.tt/1xytR68

Enemy review – a thrilling take on the doppelganger theme

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Jake Gyllenhaal gives a doubly good performance in Denis Villeneuve’s tale of a history lecturer who finds an unexpected alter ego

Richard Ayoade last year showed how to extract dark comedy from the doppelganger theme in his version of Dostoyevsky’s The Double; Canadian film-maker Denis Villeneuve’s emphasis is on neurosis and fear with this adaptation of José Saramago’s 2002 novel O Homem Duplicado: The Duplicated Man. He brings a formidable atmosphere and control to this intriguing, disquieting film: the double theme is a notorious film-school cliche, and using the same actor in two roles can be a lazy shortcut to the uncanny. But Villeneuve’s film earns its anxiety. Jake Gyllenhaal gives the dual performance: a depressed history lecturer in Toronto who one night watches a movie and glimpses an actor who appears to be his exact duplicate. He seeks out this mirror image; their encounter gives rise to hostility, terror, a kind of mutually agreed nervous breakdown, but a thrilling sense of possibility, an escape from the prison house of individuality. There is something of David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers here – maybe even a touch of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train. There are coolly effective moments when Villeneuve declines to make it clear which double we are watching and whose memories and fears we are experiencing. The final shot is bizarre. This could be Villeneuve’s most accomplished film so far.

Continue reading…

via Peter Bradshaw | The Guardian http://ift.tt/1ycnPbc

Ed Cooke, Grandmaster of Memory, on Mental Performance, Imagination, and Productive Mischief

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One tiny favor for 2014! If you’re enjoying the podcast, could you please take 30 seconds now to leave a brief review on iTunes? Just click “View in iTunes” under my pic here. If I pass 2,000 reviews before Jan 1 (a goal of mine for 2014!), I will reciprocate by writing a massive, behind-the-scenes post […]

via The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss » Blog http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/12/30/ed-cooke/

Do Successful People have Goals?

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James Altucher has a great summary of his many interviews with successful people (including me). Do successful people talk about their personal goals? Not so much. That has been my observation as well. Great read.

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Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     
Author of this book 

Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

via Dilbert.com Blog http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/do_successful_people_have_goals/

Patrick Modiano: in and out of silence

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Modiano’s oeuvre – upward of twenty novels, plus poetry, plays and children’s fiction – acts as commentary and analysis of the French post-war experience. Interviewed about his Nobel win, he says: ‘I have the impression of writing the same book for forty-five years’. That book could be said to be a study of the disruption of the Nazi Occupation and its effects on identity in France, and an investigation into – as the Nobel Committee hints – the construction of memory and, indeed, of fiction itself.
West Camel on Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano.

via 3:AM Magazine http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/patrick-modiano-in-and-out-of-silence/

WPTavern: Top 15 Free WordPress Themes Released in 2014

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Looking back on the theme landscape of 2014, a clear design trend emerged that highlights WordPress’ roots as a blogging platform. Minimalist, content-centric themes took center stage in the official WordPress Themes Directory, outpacing their more visually-bloated commercial counterparts.

This past year saw a major renaissance in themes for the personal blogger, particularly designs that showcase large, featured images. Many theme designers opted to hide navigation menus and sidebars behind a slideout menu, which also works well for mobile displays.

WordPress’ newest default theme, Twenty Fifteen, is the culmination of this trend towards simplicity. The vast majority of our top picks from 2014 were designed for personal blogs. For years, technology experts have been eager to declare that the blog medium is dead, but the steady growth of economic activity surrounding themes continues to grow in tandem with WordPress’ marketshare.

The spirit of independent publishing is growing stronger, and free WordPress themes are a crucial entry point for writers, photographers, and other creatives who are new to self-publishing. All of the outstanding selections featured here are available in the official WordPress Themes Directory.

Editor

editor

Demo | Download

Fukasawa

fukasawa

Demo | Download

Saga

saga

Demo | Download

Eighties

eighties

Demo | Download

Rams

rams

Demo | Download

Sorbet

sorbet

Demo | Download

Tracks

tracks

Demo | Download

Hemingway

hemingway

Demo | Download

Clear Tranquil

clear-tranquil

Demo | Download

JustWrite

justwrite

Demo | Download

Intergalactic

intergalactic

Demo | Download

Wilson

wilson

Demo | Download

Nulis

Nulis-screenshot

Demo | Download

Edin

edin-grid-page

Demo | Download

Twenty Fifteen

twenty-fifteen

Demo | Download

via WordPress Planet http://wptavern.com/?p=36361

Mp3 Downloads: Christmas Gift:  A superb seasonal offering from Soliti Records

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The wonderful Soliti Records have kindly instructed us to pass on 12 golden smackers to you lovely people.

via Artrocker http://ift.tt/1CuaPMT