Category Archives: Education

Enough said

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Quote for today…

“…when you don’t try to impose, you only try to go with the flow, Bingo! you got it…”*
– Chef Jose Andrès

*please note this sounds even better when Jose says it with his own accent and inflection.

WANTED: Penguin 75

I’ve been in enamored with Penguin since I was little and used to peruse them in the local bookstore.  Even as I child I appreciated the simplicity of their designs and, of course, the penguin which has, to this day, a sophisticated playfulness that draws you in.  The book Penguin 75: Designers, Authors, Commentary (the Good, the Bad…) takes an in depth look at 75 of some of Penguin’s most successful books and includes interviews with not only the writers but the designers as well (yea!).

Below is a taste of what’s included.  This is definitely making my Xmas list.

Darren Haggar, Art Director:
One of the many beige covers that didn’t get approved in paperback. This was originally meant to be a total repackage from the hardcover, but nothing seemed to work. After months of pursuing alternative ideas – even commissioning a photo shoot (which I thought went really well) – I like to think the publisher took pity on me and went back to the hardcover design, tweaking the colors (removing the beige).

Moustafa Bayoumi, Author:
At first, the Arabic was all wrong. Needless to say, it didn’t endear me to the design. The text on the cover read from left to right, but Arabic is written from right to left. Arabic is cursive, as if the letters are holding hands in a chain, but here the letters were all separated, like lonely people afraid even to look at each other. And it took a while to realise this was supposed to be my book’s title in my mother tongue. The translation was entirely literal, the equivalent of the bad English found on signs in distant countries: Please don’t leave your values unattended.

Movember: Mo’ Charity

I was strolling around over at Creative Review and came across this wonderful  little project from Huw David,

“During Movember (the month formerly known as November) the Huw David Design team once again will be growing Mo’s (moustaches). That’s right we’ll be putting the Mo back on the face of male fashion in aid of The Prostate Cancer Charity and we need your support.”

It’s nice to see the little guys not only making an effort but also getting attention.  Too often, especially in the last 10yrs or so, small causes or cases are overlooked by the media as well as the individual.  But I’ve seen a resurgence in people going to extra mile and the internet has truly become a useful and successful tool to promote large, small, local, or global issues.

Take Aidan’s story, the beginning is something that we’ve seen before.  Continue reading

This is your brain on Technology

There are an increasing amount of studies being done to explore how our brains are adapting to the more and more ever present technologies in our lives.  Personally I find this exploration to be incredibly fascinating not only because I’d be the first to admit I have a growing tech addiction but also as it truly shows evolution in action.

There generally seems to be some negativity surrounding how we’re adapting to the technology and I do have to agree in some instances like this article, Technology and the death of handwriting which discusses surveys results like, “One in three children struggle with their handwriting and almost one in five slip into text message language when they do put pen to paper…”  I find this to be something that is abhorrent to hear.  Penmanship was something I and my brother struggled with as children.  For me, I was living in the UK during my elementary eduction, my school actually had me take additional penmanship tutoring to make sure my handwriting was not only clear and legible but elegant.  My brother, who had his elementary education in the US and also struggled with a learning disability, never had that much effort put into his handwriting,  Though it was mentioned in his school reviews and my mother worked with him to improve it was never pushed as something that was inherent to the learning process.  Yet as the article goes on to discuss with another interviewee, “Professor Rhona Stainthorp, who is conducting research into children’s writing abilities, says there is growing evidence those who write faster and more legibly get better marks.” Obviously this is an area where we need to place more of our attention on.  Lamebook has easily illustrated this.

Yet I do feel that some people are pushing the idea a little far claiming that technology is temporarily or permanently damaging our mental faculties such as focus and attention.  Such as this article Changing the way we think where one of the interviewees actually, “likens himself to HAL, the computer in Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, reverting to child-like singing as its memory banks are disconnected by astronaut Dave Bowman.”  Don’t mistake me I do agree with points made in the article like Susan Greenfield who”…argues that the visual stimulus we get from screen-based information and entertainment differs so markedly from that available to previous generations that certain areas of the brain, specifically those areas that are older in evolutionary terms and retain the capacity to alter as a result of experience, may be affected in ways that express themselves a changes to personality and behavior.”  This is really evolution in practice but to think that immediately this is a bad thing is faulty logic.  Will some people get left behind by evolution?  Absolutely.  But this is a reality that we all have to come to terms with, not everyone is going to want to come along for the ride.  Just look at the rise in religious fundamentalists which as Karen Armstrong argues in her book The Battle for God, is inexplicably linked to these people’s reaction to modernism.

Yet what is the answer to this new development?  Personally I believe that some people will simply have more of the right brain structure to properly adapt to the influx of mental stimuli.  But I do think that it is very important for everyone to find ways to disconnect from this constant barrage, evolution doesn’t happen overnight.  For example some scientists are exploring the impact nature has at restoring cognitive function.  In this article from the NYTimes, Your brain on computers, a reporter follows along for a hiking and rafting trip with 5 neuroscientists as they disconnect from the technological world.  I really found this article to be quite fascinating especially their discussion about urgency, “It is a debate that has become increasingly common as technology has redefined the notion of what is ‘urgent.’  How soon do people need to get information and respond to it? The believers in the group say the drumbeat of incoming data has created a false sense of urgency that can affect people’s ability to focus.”  But even more interesting is the affect a natural vs. urban setting can have on the brain, “The study indicates that learning centers in the brain become taxed when asked to process information, even during the relatively passive experience of taking in an urban setting.”  Even going on to discuss the 3rd day syndrome which is when people actually begin to relax on vacation.  But for this team there relaxation turns into productivity as they spend their time talking instead of ‘teching’.
“Two scientists packing their tents discuss which imaging techniques may best show the effects of digital overload on the brain. The full group tosses around ways to measure the release of brain chemicals into the bloodstream. A pair paddling the big raft talk about how to apply neuroeconomics — measuring how the brain values information — to understand compulsive texting by teenagers.”

But while I would agree that their natural surrounding did play a huge role in their relaxation, focus, and productivity, studies in classrooms have already shown children to be more productive and focused in classrooms with natural sunlight, I do think that it is the group itself and it’s ability for everyone to contribute on their terms that really makes sessions like this truly work.  As the video below discusses, motivation is greatly dependent on a person’s surroundings and ability to dictate how they would like to work.  And for me, brainstorming over frosty beverage while watching the sun set couldn’t sound better.

Vintage Public Health Posters


Came across this awesome little slideshow on BBC about how health officials have tried to affect behaviors such as safe sex, nutrition, and addiction.

A lot of the posters are really cool but the narrator, Dr. Laragh Gollogly of the WHO, talks mostly about the actual marketing angle for the different campaigns.  Very interesting to see how mentalities can changed in as little as a decade.

I included a bunch but be sure to check out the full show on BBC here.

Continue reading

Apparently this bug’s s#%! don’t stink.

Found this fun little gem on BBC news, a ‘poo-powered car’ on the streets of Bristol.  The locals are checking out the actual feasibility of utilizing the local sewage plant to create methane to power cars.  They’ve already modified one VW bug to run on methane and hope that the positive results will spur the locals to consider the option of turning to a methane powered car (and the infrastructure to go with it).

Not only is the fuel renewable in the best sense of the word.  This stuff, unlike the current bio diesel which many say smells like what it last fried, has little odor at all.

My parent’s constantly rip into stuff like this and the while I myself have some qualms about sitting in a carriage fulls of extremely flammable pressurized gas I’m also reading things like this,
22.1 MPG:
The peak fuel economy of the average passenger car, which was reached in 1987. The EPA estimates that 2006 average fuel economy, despite two decades of improvements in automobile technology, is 21 mpg.

Courtesy Planet Green

Seriously, when I read stuff like all I can say is, ‘Thank you for trying to fix this problem, even if what you’re giving me is s#%!’