Friday, February 25, 2011

One of the World's Most Amazing Treehouse Restaurants

40 meters off of the ground, the Redwoods Treehouse is an amazing sight. Located in New Zealand and built in part from sustainably-harvested pine, it is one of the most celebrated restaurants that most of the world has never heard of. Truly awe-inspiring architecture.

Asia has been at the forefront of sustainable, eco-friendly design for years now. Malaysia, China, and even the United Arab Emirates. Great work. So this restaurant in New Zealand should come as no surprise. I just wish we could do this sort of project on a mass scale in the United States. There have been sporadic projects, but I'm looking for a big push.

I figured my readers might enjoy this. It's a feast for the eyes...and for the environment!

Photos Courtesy of Modern Architecture and Design News

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Coca Cola, and that "Secret Recipe"

Photo Courtesy of Coca Cola

It's been a week since I started hearing stories about how someone supposedly cracked Coca Cola's secret recipe. I posted a few articles about it on my social media accounts, and I had a few conversations about it. After all, this is big news because the ingredients are one of the world's most closely guarded secrets. But let's be honest: Coca Cola is not worried.

Why, you ask?

Because Coca Coca isn't selling its ingredients to consumers...its selling refreshment, a lifestyle. In fact, I would argue that it has some of the best marketing of any company in the world. It's a worldwide brand because of its iconic and well-known print ads and TV commercials.

So no one at Coca Cola is particularly losing sleep over this. Yes, the story has been a headline grabber: "Coca Cola's secret recipe revealed". But even if its true, they would never admit it. To them, the ingredients pale in comparison to what the contents of the bottle represent to consumers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Obama-Clinton Partnership

I am pleasantly surprised at how well President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have worked together. Like everyone in this country, I remember the bitterness of the 2008 primaries and caucuses. Obama's coalition politics versus Clinton's identity politics. But the two have placed their differences aside for the good of the country, and the world.

To be sure, there are serious problems with our engagement in Pakistan, and there are still question marks regarding Iran and North Korea. Moreover, most U.S. citizens want an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But overall, the Obama-Clinton partnership has produced some good foreign policy results.

No one can tell me that their measured approach didn't impact the uprisings taking place in the Middle East right now. Listening to the endless political spin and commentary on cable and network news, you hear reporters and pundits calling for the Obama Administration to "get mad" and to "take a side immediately". But the calm demeanor and cautious diplomacy angle is winning the day.

Simply put, Team Obama-Clinton is making waves. There will always be some heavy lifting to do on international issues. Always. And there still could be a crisis that might actually test their skills like never before. But I see nothing wrong with reflecting on what some (mistakenly) said would never happen: that two former rivals would have a productive relationship and shine together on the world stage.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Liza Donnelly on the Use of Humor to Empower Women

This is a fantastic, six minute TEDTalk from cartoonist Liza Donnelly. One of the best I've seen this year. She shares some of her great work and discusses how the use of humor can greatly empower women. Very impressive presentation. You'll love this video.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Carla Moreno Rocks (and Tweets) to the Beat of the World

This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Impact Section.

Carla Moreno is one fascinating woman. A prolific writer, videographer, and humanitarian, she has traveled the world on a continuous quest for cross-cultural exchange. This has provided an amazing opportunity to document and enrich her understanding of musical traditions from every corner of the world.

When you talk with her, you can tell she has an unshakable passion for world music. Not simply because music often does bring us together. That's only part of it. For Moreno, it's about digging deeper, and looking at how music serves different functions, saves lives, and effects social change. Not to mention the interesting stories behind the music makers themselves.

As a resident of Seattle, she is keenly aware of the area's rich musical heritage. From Native Americans to Jimi Hendrix to the infectious energy of the grunge era, she understands the many genres -- rock, jazz, hip-hop, classical -- that connect powerfully with international sounds and styles. This is part of what she teaches in music classes to homeless and immigrant families -- an amazing job made possible through the nonprofit youth organization Arts Corp and the Low Income Housing Institute.

With Jordan's Queen Rania
(Photo Courtesy of Queen Rania's Media Dept.)

In an African Fishing Village
(Photo Courtesy of Sherri)

In the Brazilian Rainforest with the Satare Maue Tribe
(Photo Courtesy of Augusto Queiroz)

In fact, her love of music, culture and education won her a one-week trip to the country of Jordan last Fall. It was made possible through Queen Rania's popular and well-publicized Twisit Jordan Contest. Visiting the country was an eye-opening experience that shattered some stereotypes, inspired greater curiosity, and deepened her love of humanity even more.

I know this because I talked with her before and after she came back from Jordan. I have never traveled internationally, so I look forward to her stories about kayaking, hiking, and soaking up the eye-popping geography on continent after continent. She is never without her camera and her megawatt smile. Indeed, I know what Marcel Proust meant when he said, "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."

Yes, Carla Moreno rocks, and makes an impact wherever she goes. Her stories are written with a great respect for the culture she's documenting, and her actions give rhythm to her rich, expansive worldview. This is an immensely creative person living an extraordinary story, and the world is a great place because of it.

Moreno and her students
(Photo Courtesy of Zahara)

To find out more about Carla Moreno, follow her on her Twitter feed and connect with her through her website.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NASA and a Future Trip to Mars

This, and all photos courtesy of NASA

Recently, I had a great discussion with a friend of mine who works for the Federal Government. He's a serious NASA geek who follows every shuttle launch and amazing discovery of new planets. He might even be on one of the trips into space by Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson's "commercial space exploration" firm . And like me, he grew up on the Star Wars and Star Trek movies, and, has an ongoing fascination with the planet Mars.

Yes, Mars.

We both blame Ray Bradbury's award winning The Martian Chronicles, which fed our rich imaginations, and gave dimension to a seemingly inhabitable planet. Fast forwarding decades later, with all of the advances in technology, we can safely say, "It is a matter of when astronauts will be going there, not if." Though I don't expect to be making the 9 month trip to Mars from Earth, I will continue to be excited by the images.

The picture above is a prime example, and, its a powerful metaphor. It shows the Mars Rover Opportunity looking back on its tracks. And taking a look back, we can view the pictures of the Viking1 and Viking2 trips to Mars in 1976:

Picture from Viking1

Picture from Viking 2

Though regarded by many at the time as uninspiring, these images provided a great foundation upon which the the two Mars Rovers - Spirit and Opportunity - have soared. NASA has done an amazing job with both rovers. In fact, they didn't think they would still be around seven years later. Check out NASA's great webpage with updated info, and awesome pictures - both color and black & white.

Mars is truly fascinating. I wish I could go to explore every inch of its landscape. I guess I'll just keep living through those who know way more about it than I do.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Huffingtonpost's Blockbuster Merger with AOL

I'm sure by now you've heard the news: the Huffingtonpost is being acquired by America Online (AOL). This is a huge deal. With the merger, both companies will have a combined 117 million unique visitors in the United States, and 250 million around the world. Yes, many more people will read the work of the thousands of bloggers who contribute to the Huffingtonpost. Very exciting, to say the least.

This announcement was made yesterday during the Super Bowl. Below is an interview with Huffingtonpost founder and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington, and the CEO of AOL. It lays out the vision that this merger hopes to accomplish.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

The New Batman Sequel

Christian Bale as Batman

I am very excited that Christian Bale will return as the cape crusader in The Dark Knight Rises, the upcoming sequel in the Batman franchise. Though it won't be released until next year, there is plenty for comic book geeks and movie enthusiasts to be happy about. For starters, director Christopher Nolan is returning. He cemented his place as a great director with the last Batman sequel, The Dark Knight. More crime drama than super hero flick, it was thick with tension, and with the sordid humor that only a villain like the Joker can deliver. It was more like Heat than X-Men.

I was not a huge fan of the casting of Heath Ledger as the Joker, but his performance was devilishly good. So I'm wondering if Ann Hathaway, who was casts as The Catwoman for the upcoming movie, will exceed expectations too. I wanted Angelina Jolie to get it because nobody plays the vixen like her. Nobody. Apparently, Bane, one of Batman's greatest foes, will also be in the next installment.

The best news is that The Riddler won't be appearing...yet. No, not because I'm not a fan. But, because this gives me time to continue campaigning for Stephen Colbert to play him. I wrote a piece in the Huffingtonpost back in September of 2009, urging Warner Brothers to select him. Sources said Johnny Depp was being considered. Who knows what happened. Maybe this means there is still time to get Colbert the role that I believe he was born to play.

But first, I look forward to another great, buzz-worthy performance from Christian Bale. Can't wait.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Revolution IS Being Tweeted

Picture courtesy of AP/Getty Images

I read Malcolm Gladwell's recent New Yorker essay regarding Twitter's impact on the Egyptian uprising. And I completely disagree with his assertions. It's along the lines of his now famous post (last October) dismissing the power of social media in global activism. To be clear, Twitter and Facebook have been to the protestors what photos became to the American Civil War: a way of personalizing the struggle for the masses.

But Gladwell is unimpressed with the use of social networks in this manner. I've always been a fan of his work. He has a grasp of history and he's an exceptional thinker. I just see Twitter and Facebook's impact from a different angle. Here's his view:
People protested and brought down governments before Facebook was invented. They did it before the Internet came along. Barely anyone in East Germany in the nineteen-eighties had a phone...and in the French Revolution the crowd in the streets spoke to one another with that strange, today largely unknown instrument known as the human voice.
He ends his piece claiming that "how" people communicate their problems is less important than "why". This is a curious way of looking at the Egyptian uprising. We all want to know "why", but should that stop us from asking "how"? As a journalist, I ask all the questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how.

And the "how" involves social media. (Check out Douglas Idugboe's post today for a great analysis).

Yes, dictatorships and regimes were defeated and toppled before the internet and mobile phones were created. But that is not the story. Like any conflict, organizing is key. Twitter and Facebook have helped in the regard, which is why the governments of Tunisia and Egypt were completely caught off guard. It's hard to crush an uprising that you never saw coming. You tweet it Seattle and its in Singapore within seconds. This is the "how" in the Egyptian uprising, and it is just as important - and powerful - as the "why".

The revolution isn't being tweeted? Really? The great mind's behind Google's Speak to Tweet effort would beg to differ.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

SWEEEET! Ben & Jerry's to Convert Ice Cream Waste into Energy

Image courtesy of Paques

For green advocates like me, this is exciting news. Unilever is doing big things for its Ben & Jerry's factory in the Netherlands. It has begun the construction of a bio-digester. When its complete later this year, waste products will be turned into energy. In fact, it is believed that the process will provide 40 percent of the factory's energy requirements. Amazing!

I am immensely happy for all of the countries taking giant, environmental steps in the right direction. China cretainly deserves major kudos. They're outpacing everyone. I just wish more corporations in the United States could do this on a grand scale. We shouldn't have to wait until the next decade to start engaging the green technologies that could be saving the planet right now.

Bravo to Ben & Jerry's for being both visionary and responsible. To learn more about this project, click here.