Month: March 2014

2 Monitor Screens & Connected Isolation

Curated by CLAI

CONNECTED ISOLATION: One of the paradoxes of technology is that it connects us and isolates us at the same time. We get more, faster, but cannot help wondering if that is always better. We have more to read and more to watch, more to learn and more to transact, more friends and more followers — and yet we can somehow feel less satisfied.

The teenage quest for a car has been replaced with the need for a smartphone. It is easier to communicate via smartphone than to get in a car to drive somewhere to actually talk to someone in person.

Dual Monitor

Dual Monitor (Peter DaSilva, NYTIMES)

DUAL MONITORS: In a switch that amounts to heresy among some techies, I turned off the extra screen on my desktop computer. With a single screen that couldn’t accommodate too many simultaneous stimuli, a screen just large enough for a single word processor or browser window, I found something increasingly elusive in our multiscreen world: focus.

  • For years, techies have argued that getting an extra monitor or two for your desktop computer is an especially effective way to increase personal productivity. The logic seemed airtight: Two (or more) computer monitors means more room on your virtual desktop, which means more room to do your work. And more room to work would seem to mean faster work.
  • Most people have their email up on the second screen, and of course, when anything comes in, it’s a great source of distraction.

18 West v. East Graphics & 28 Must-Eat Int’l Sandwiches

Curated by CLAI

WEST V. EAST: Germans queue up; Chinese just overcrowd you. German tan is beautiful, Chinese tan not so much.

How to Stand in Line - German v. Chinese

How to Stand in Line – German v. Chinese (Yang Liu)

Noise at a Restaurant

Noise at a Restaurant (Yang Liu)

Animals - Alive or Dead

Animals – Alive or Dead (Yang Liu)


  • Döner Kebab, Turkey
    • What’s in it: As you’ve probably annihilated one of these from a street cart late night, you know that Döner is meat (beef, chicken, lamb, or veal) cooked on a vertical spit, enveloped in a pita hug, and supplemented with onions, pickled cucumber, lettuce, and tomatoes.
    • Fun fact: Döner Kebab (which literally means turning meat) was reportedly invented in Berlin in 1971 by a Turkish immigrant, Mahmut Aygünin (aka. “kebab king”).
  • Vegemite Sandwich, Australia
    • What’s in it: Why is the dude in Men At Work’s “Down Under” smiling when he “gives you a bite of his Vegemite sandwich”? Probably because he’s giving you toast smeared with brown paste made from leftover yeast extract, a by-product of beer-making. Which some Aussies eat with cheese for breakfast. No wonder so many Aussies leave home to travel the world.
    • Fun fact: Vegemite is one of the richest known sources of vitamin B. And, not surprisingly, only one jar is sold internationally for every 30 jars sold in Australia.
  • Katsu-sando, Japan
    • What’s in it: Breaded pork on white bread, Asianified with cabbage. Much like Japanese culture, it convinces with its minimalism.
    • Fun fact: We thought that looked like a schnitzel. Invented in Tokyo in 1899 at a restaurant called Rengatei, the sandwich was originally considered a type of yoshoku — a Western dish with local influences.
Doner Kebab

Doner Kebab (Alex Kehr)

Game Over: Flappy Bird and Really Cool Bike Gadgets

Curated by CLAI

ADDICTIVE GAME FAILURE: Difficult games are popular in defiance of any expectation that people have an appetite for easy entertainment, and against the march of the medium’s own history. The popularity of video games is proof that people enjoy having problems. Apparently life isn’t tough enough for those of us who seek amusement in failure’s premiere form of entertainment.

Like many games, dating back to Tetris or Pac-Man, there was no way to win Flappy Bird. Success was measured by delaying failure, in staying alive as long as possible. Flappy Bird was so tough that a standard session would last little longer than a bull ride.

Hovding Airbag for Cyclist

Hovding Airbag for Cyclist (Hovding)

COOL BIKE GADGETS: The most common mistake new cyclists make is not riding predictably. People who are afraid of getting hit from behind by a car will often do things like ride on the sidewalk or ride against traffic, which actually increases the danger that they will get hit by a motorist who doesn’t see them. Fear is a cyclist’s worst enemy.

  • Loud Bicycle sounds like a two-toned car horn and, at 112 decibels, is about as loud.  “It’s embarrassing to get honked at. But it’s more embarrassing to get honked at by a bicycle.”
  • Xfire Bike Lane light is equipped with two high-visibility red lasers that project two three-foot lines onto the road, creating an ad hoc bike lane.
  • Hovding, an inflatable bike helmet, works much like an automobile air bag. The device, worn around the neck like a quite fashionable scarf, detects the impact of a crash and inflates a sort of instant helmet around the cyclist’s head and neck.
  • BikeSpike, affixed to the frame, allows you to track its location on a smartphone, so you can find a stolen bike or just keep track of family and friends on the road

Sexism, Trafficking, and Attraction

Curated by CLAI

SEXISM – Middle East v. Latin America: The veil, for many, is a symbol of female oppression; the right to wear a bikini, one of liberation. But underneath the sartorial differences, the Middle East and Latin America’s most famously immodest country both impose their own burdens on women with the way they are treated and perceived.

  • About every two hours a woman is murdered in Brazil, a country with the seventh highest rate of violence against women in the world. Brazilian women are seen in a sexist way, in a more sexualized way because she was used as a sexual object for so long
  • Women’s activists often target the Middle East for its policies towards women. But as living in Brazil has taught me, for women, even having all the freedom in the world can be its own cage.

On the left: Women wearing burqas walk by the Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan in 2006. Right: Women in bikinis visit a beach in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. (Marco Di Fabio and Nelson Almeida/Getty Images)

SEX TRAFFICKING ECONOMY: Atlanta’s underground sex market was the most lucrative, raking in $290 million in 2007. Money spend on illicit sex in DC and Miami went down between 2003 and 2007, to $103 and $235 million respectively, while more than doubling in Seattle to $112 million.

ATTRACTION: When men become fathers, their testosterone levels drop, thus reducing their sex drive. There’s some evidence that it’s the smell of their own infants (but not other people’s infants) that sets this off.

Women, meanwhile, have different tastes at different times in their cycles. During ovulation, according to some research, they prefer ruggedly handsome and risky men, while at other times they are more drawn to pleasant-looking, nice men.

Old Wisdom and Teenage Sleep

Curated by CLAI

WISDOM: Wisdom consists of three key components: cognition, reflection and compassion. While younger people were faster in tests of cognitive performance, older people showed “greater sensitivity to fine-grained differences. One must take time to gain insights and perspectives from one’s cognitive knowledge to be wise (the reflective dimension). Then one can use those insights to understand and help others (the compassionate dimension). Wise people are able to accept reality as it is, with equanimity. If things are really bad, it’s good to be wise.

True personal wisdom involves five elements: They are self-insight; the ability to demonstrate personal growth; self-awareness in terms of your historical era and your family history; understanding that priorities and values, including your own, are not absolute; and an awareness of life’s ambiguities.

Old Armenian Women with Gun

A 106-year-old woman sits in front of her home guarding it with a rifle in Armenia. (UN Photo/Armineh Johannes)

TEENAGERS SLEEP IN: A movement to start high schools later has gained momentum, bolstered by a growing body of research on the adolescent body clock. Many schools are pushing to start the first class at 9 AM instead of as early as 7:20 AM.