The Opposite of Shoplifting

December 29, 2007

It might be wrong, but I find the concept of “shopdropping” to be hilarious.  Here’s a definition:

“To covertly place merchandise on display in a store. A form of “culture jamming” s. reverse shoplift, droplift”

Also, check out this NY Times article on the subject.  Yes, some of it is a little juvenile, but even the fact that this exists speaks to the ridiculous consumerism that goes on, particularly around this time of the year.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

December 22, 2007

May all your wishes come true!

Have you heard of the “State of the Village Report”?  If you haven’t, in it professor Donella Meadows examines what the world would be like if everything was distilled down to a village of 1000 people (circa 2000).

If the world were a village of 1000 people:

584 would be Asians

123 would be Africans

95 would be East and West Europeans

84 Latin Americans

55 Soviets (still including for the moment Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, etc.)

52 North Americans

6 Australians and New Zealanders

And then it goes into language, resources, and so on.  It has recently been updated by Miniature Earth – check out this video illustrating the stats.  Kind of puts things in perspective.

Thanks to JP Rangaswami for pointing out the video.

“America the Unwelcoming”

December 16, 2007

It’s been announced that the United States is the only major country to which travel has declined in 2006.  Why?  Because well, we’re not exactly greeting foreign visitors with open arms, according to “America the Unwelcoming“, a recent Newsweek article.

“According to the Commerce Department, the United States is the only major country in the world to which travel has declined in the midst of a global tourism boom. And this is not about Arabs or Muslims. The number of Japanese visiting the United States declined from 5 million in 2000 to 3.6 million last year. The numbers have begun to increase, but by 2010 they’re still projected to be 19 percent below 2000 levels. During this same span (2000–2010), global tourism is expected to grow by 44 percent.”

The litany of indignities and worse suffered by visitors is ridiculous; however, the fact that “no one wants to be the person who lets in the next terrorist” is given as the main reason for this problem.  Yes, terrorism is awful and horrible, but is locking our doors and throwing away the key really the answer to the problem?  Yet another brilliant tactic from our fear-mongering Department of Homeland Security.

If you’re in the mood for some unintentional comedy, check out the comments section.  Say what you will about new media, but at least it’s democratic – even Newsweek has to deal with trolls.

The Power of Word of Mouth

December 13, 2007

This article from Newswise suggests that good old-fashioned word of mouth might be more valuable than previously thought, especially on the web.

It’s not surprising of an idea, really:

“It’s always been this way. What’s changed is that digital media makes it so easy for everyone to forward messages to contacts within their social networks. For most everyone, digital media just extends a very human desire to help others.”

I think that last sentence applies especially well to bloggers.  After all, while dedicated bloggers may indeed make money or otherwise gain from their blogs, I have a feeling that many got started in order to share their knowledge, skills, or simply to entertain others. 

The New York Times has a list of 2008’s “it” destinations.  Laos tops the list, because you know, Cambodia and Vietnam are so 2007.  Seriously, though, it’s a decent list of global hotspots and definitely inspiring if you love to travel, although a little heavy on the luxury side of things.

rimini-italy.jpg

*Picture of Rimini, Italy – one of the destinations on the list (taken by Wayne Walton/Lonely Planet Images).

Is anyone else a little confused by Detroit’s inclusion on the list?  Seriously, I grew up there and I can’t imagine anyone chosing it as a vacation spot.

Now I’m not especially skillful in the kitchen, but I think this website is pretty cool.  Cookthink helps you figure out the perfect meal and discover new dishes through their Recipe Mapping Project – from their website:

“When you’re craving something to eat, what is it that you really want? Do you want a specific ingredient? Do you want a particular dish or the flavors of a certain cuisine? Do you want to feel a certain way?

Every recipe is made up of all these things. At Cookthink, we created the Recipe Mapping Project to figure out all the little bits and pieces that go into making a good recipe.

We break down the components of each recipe, analyzing dozens of characteristics about what goes into a dish — what it tastes like, smells like, feels like, and how it makes you feel to eat it.

You can tap into this process when you use the “cookthink it” tool to search by ingredient (pork chop, zucchini), dish type (salad, burrito) cuisine (Italian, Thai) and mood (exuberant, summery). When you “cookthink it,” we take what you’re craving and compare it to all of our recipes, returning the one recipe that best fits what you’re looking for.”

They also have an excellent blog and a newsletter, the Root Source, that examines a particular ingredient closely and offers a variety of recipes that use it.  My two favorite things about the site?  For one, they haven’t fallen into that overly precious trap that many foodie sites do – it is very accessible even if you’re not exactly a gourmet.  Second, they have lots of different suggestions from a variety of global cuisines (why not travel the world at your table?).  So check it out – and hey, who knows, you may end up cooking more and/or better food.

Travel Pod has hit on an awesome way to market their site – by creating a fun game/Facebook app that is strangely addictive (especially if you’re kind of a nerd like me), they’ve managed to get a decent amount of publicity and links.

The premise of the game?  You get a map of the world (or of a specific continent) and you have to click on the spot where a particular city, building, or natural landmark is located.  The closer you are to the actual location, the more points you get.  Also, you have to earn a set level of points to advance to the next round, and you can believe that certain people (me again, cough cough) will keep playing until they get to the highest level.  You can also play a version with photos of various destinations instead of names. 

Of course, the places get more difficult as you go along.  The first rounds consist of well known cities like Paris and major monuments, like the Egyptian pyramids.  However, as you go along, the cues start getting tougher, naming cities like Ouagadougou and Belo Horizonte

Granted, it’s kind of a time suck, but at least it’s an educational one!