Last weekend I spent a few hours at the Geneva Motor Show. For a number of years, it was an annual pilgrimage for me, but it’s been a year or two since the last time I went. I hadn’t planned to do a post about this, but I saw a few things that I thought were interesting enough to share.
Overall I didn’t notice many changes at the show. The hall was quite crowded on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I thought there was less of a throng downstairs around the professional stands for accessories and tools than in years past, but PalExpo seems to have changed the traffic flow, so it was difficult to tell if there were fewer people there or if they were just entering the hall at a different place.
I had expected to see some interesting tech following the press from this year’s CES where automotive solutions were one of the big stories of the show. Although some of that technology was on display, it was relegated to a supporting role.
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My schedule has become almost impossible, but despite my lack of time, there’s no escaping news of the ominous situation unfolding in Ukraine.
The story so far in 100 words or less: Ukrainians take to the streets to protest President Viktor Yanukovych’s decisions on foreign relations, chase him from power and provoke a world crisis as Russian President Vladimir Putin refuses to accept the outcome and occupies strategic sites in the country, drawing Western Europe and the US, NATO, into a standoff.
Watching the morning news on Euronews last week, I was struck by how clearly the balance of power has changed. We look on as in country after country people band together in apparently spontaneous demonstrations with far-reaching consequences.
It’s hard to believe it’s just a coincidence that all these uprisings are occurring now. In fact, it seems more likely that some sort of contagion is infecting societies one by one and that technology is a major factor both as a vector of ideological contamination and as a tactical resource that tips the balance by giving everyday people the information they need to coordinate their efforts.
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Something amazing happened today. I stumbled upon an unanswered question I first puzzled over a long time ago.
Oddly enough, I remember vividly the first time I explained it to my best friend. I think we had just started High School. We used to hang out together at her house and we were both kind of nerdy so we talked about science and things we saw on Cosmos and all sorts of other nerdy things. I thought she was smarter than I was, so I was a little disappointed that she didn’t seem interested in discussing my question.
Later on in college I mentioned my question to a few of my professors, most of whom told me they were impressed that I wondered about these things when I was so young, but no one had any answers for me.
Today, in Steven Pinker’s How The Mind Works, I was amazed to see my question among the list of some of the hardest unanswered questions in neuroscience:
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I stopped going to Medium regularly a long time ago. I had the impression that there was quite a lot of click bait there and it seemed like many contributors were simply using the hype around the platform to advertise their primary blogging sites. I kept my email subscription to weekly top stories summary, and from time to time a headline catches my interest and I click through. I’m usually disappointed.
Today was different. Today’s email included a piece entitled “Book Culture: Why required reading is hurting America.” It was listed as a 3-minute read. I clicked, but I wasn’t just disappointed, I was annoyed.
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We don’t need photographs documenting how people take pictures and videos with tablets anymore, but I liked this one so much I asked for a copy. It was taken at the Timkat celebration of Epiphany in Addis Ababa, and I was struck by the contrast between technology and tradition.
Filming A Wedding With A Tablet? Hell Yeah!
Posted in Technology
I really like this fruit bowl. It’s filled with real fruit (or at least what looks and tastes like real fruit), not the impossibly perfect-looking kind you find at the supermarket that disappoints you on the first bite with its watery blandness.
The juice from these oranges is divine. The pears are juicy and sweet.
I won’t buy perfect fruit anymore. Who wants that?
Earlier this week, I noticed that some of the Christmas lights in Lausanne were still up.
As I was walking down the Rue St. Laurent I realized that the brightly colored cubes weren’t just lights, but were part of an audio-visual display. As I passed under each one I heard a chime, and the cube changed colors.
I suppose the camera detects people moving under the cube, which triggers the chime.
I hadn’t noticed this before the holidays, but there were so many people in the streets that it was probably lost in the noise.
According to the Lausanne Festival des Lumières website this work is called “Over The Rainbow” and was created by Alexandre Hurzeler.
I enjoy the website Letters of Note, which is full of gems such as this letter from Albert Camus to his school teacher, written just after Camus had been awarded the Nobel Prize. French speakers can find the original in French here.
Every time I read one of these letters, it occurs to me that now that most of our correspondence is locked up in personal email or Facebook accounts, letters like these will be lost to our descendants and to future generations.
I’m not one to cling to old ways or lament the loss of traditional practices in the face of technological progress, but that is a sad thing.
I don’t often go downtown on the way to work these days, but I had an errand to do this morning. On my way to catch the bus, I passed a young man sleeping at the entrance to the pedestrian underpass in the center of town. He had propped up a sign behind a cup for donations, but I didn’t stop to read it. I noticed that he was lucky to have a thick sleeping bag and a full backpack and duffle bag. Probably a tourist, I thought, but still it was near freezing last night and he didn’t have a warm place to stay.
I had some fruit in my bag, so I pulled out two mandarin oranges and doubled back. As I got closer I saw that others had also left him something for breakfast, on top of the backpack hidden behind the sign–an apple, a strawberry Linzer tart and something from the bakery.
As I placed my two oranges on the backpack and turned to go, something strange happened: I felt tears starting to well up in my eyes. I don’t know why, because I wasn’t thinking anything in particular, but something about having placed two oranges beside this sleeping man stirred something inside me.