Sunday, June 22, 2008

Warren Ellis on Creativity

Warren Ellis has a great little rant up about his experience of creativity:

I still get asked with appalling regularity “where my ideas come from.”

Here’s the deal. I flood my poor ageing head with information. Any information. Lots of it. And I let it all slosh around in the back of my brain, in the part normal people use for remembering bills, thinking about sex and making appointments to wash the dishes.

Eventually, you get a critical mass of information. Datum 1 plugs into Datum 2 which connects to Datum 3 and Data 4 and 5 stick to it and you’ve got a chain reaction. A bunch of stuff knits together and lights up and you’ve got what’s called “an idea”.

And for that brief moment where it’s all flaring and welding together, you are Holy. You can’t be touched. Something impossible and brilliant has happened and suddenly you understand what it would be like if Einstein’s brain was placed into the body of a young tyrannosaur, stuffed full of amphetamines and suffused with Sex Radiation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Love and Marriage, American Style

So this past weekend, Jes and I attended the wedding of one of her childhood friends. Perhaps you can tell from the photo above, it was a little non-traditional.
Still, it was the most beautiful ceremony I have ever seen.
The ceremony was a mish-mash of Wiccan and Native American rituals, which was surprisingly poignant and non-New Age-y.
With the recent developments in California about gay marriage, I feel like I should share some deep sociological and spiritual insight, but really I have none.
I mean, I am about to have a child with the most amazing person I've ever known, who also refuses to marry me. Perhaps that shows her good sense, or perhaps it only attracts me to her more, in the Groucho philosophy of not wanting to be a member of any club which would have me.
Jes throws out a lot of varying reasons for not wanting to get married. At this point, I'd like to have the symbolism of the ritual, and to celebrate our love with friends and family, but it would ultimately be merely symbolic.
I guess I have reached the point where I think that the gay marriage issue boils down to a church and state issue. If a certain religion doesn't want to marry gays, well they don't have to. But their views shouldn't influence the state's stance on the matter. And ultimately it is in societies best interest to allow gays to marry to raise children. I think that by the end of this century this will be as self-evident to the average person, as the stupidity of segregation and racism was at the end of the last.
All I know is, I have a daughter on the way, and my deepest hope for her is that she can be as strong, intelligent, brave, and caring as the women I met this weekend, both gay and straight. And that if/when she finds another soul with whom she wants to share her life, well I'll be fortunate enough to witness a ceremony as touching as this.

Oh, and I hope she rides off on a Vespa, like these two brides did... (hey, we all have our prejudices.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Why the USA is Losing the Energy Race

Unless we get our act together, the US is going to find itself left behind in the 21st century. There is no denying the current energy crunch, and those who would rather debate the possibility of global warming, rather than seek solutions are short-sided and irresponsible. Yet as this perfect storm of an energy crisis is ravaging the pocket books of average Americans, our leaders are cutting spending on research into alternative energies and public transportation.
At one time we could have been world leaders in renewable energy, now we will be lucky if we start playing catch up. At this point it seems more likely, that we will soon be consumers of renewable energy technologies, rather than also being innovators and purveyors. Some nation or nations will reap considerable economic windfalls from developing and marketing these technologies. Too bad, it won't be us...

Portugal, without its own oil, coal or gas and with no expertise in nuclear power, is pitching to lead Europe's clean-tech revolution with some of the most ambitious targets and timetables for renewables. Its intention, the economics minister, Manuel Pinho, said, is to wean itself off oil and within a decade set up a low carbon economy in response to high oil prices and climate change.

"We have to reduce our dependence on oil and gas," said Pinho. "What seemed extravagant in 2004 when we decided to go for renewables now seems to have been a very good decision."

He expects Portugal to generate 31% of all its energy from clean sources by 2020. This means lifting its renewable electricity share from 20% in 2005 to 60% in 2020, compared with Britain's target of 15% of all energy by 2020. Having passed its target for 2010 it could soon top the EU renewables league.


It is the start of a potentially giant global industry with Portuguese firm Enersis planning to invest more than £1bn in a series of farms that together would power 450,000 homes.

Pinho dismisses nuclear power. "When you have a programme like this there is no need for nuclear power. Wind and water are our nuclear power. The relative price of renewables is now much lower, so the incentives are there to invest. My advice to countries like the UK is to move as fast as they can to renewables. With climate change and the increase in oil prices, renewables will become more and more important.

"Countries that do not invest in renewables will pay a high price in future. The cost of inaction is very high indeed. The perception that renewable energy is very expensive is changing every day as the oil price goes up."

He added: "Energy and environment are the biggest challenge of our generation. We need to develop a low-carbon model for the world economy. The present situation is dangerous."

Steampunk Recumbent Trike

Proving that personal vehicle experimenters are just a hair away from Steampunk mad-scientists is this gorgeous trike, complete with leather trunk. Lots more drool-worthy photos over at Jake Von Slatt's blog.

Man, love those white tires, nothing says turn of the century like skinny white rubber!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Coast to Coast on MP3 500s

Jess, of Modern Vespa fame, is reporting that two retirees in their 70s are about to tour from San Francisco to the Big Apple on MP3 500s:

Rosenbaum and riding partner Chase met on a motorcycle trip in the late 1990s and have since tamed blistering deserts and the world’s tallest mountains in 40 countries. Buddy, a retired clinical psychologist and academic and Bob, a semi-retired industrial business leader, don’t just have passports that rival those of international diplomats, they have the energy and fitness factor required to log thousands of miles and challenging terrain annually. As they approached their 70s, however, their heavy sport touring bikes became a bit tougher to handle. Enter the innovative Piaggio MP3 500, the only three-wheeled machine on the market that gets a rider’s adrenaline into high-rev mode while delivering utility, such as cargo space, and long-distance riding comfort.

In addition to the MP3 500’s sporty character, Rosenbaum and Chase chose the maxi scooter for its unparalleled stability. The MP3’s innovative parallelogram front suspension technology is unlike anything else available in the market – it provides category-leading stability and impeccable road holding, while large 240 mm triple steel disk brakes ensure fast stopping power. The MP3 requires 20% less braking distance than best-in-class two-wheel scooters. Best of all for sport bike enthusiasts like Buddy and Bob, the MP3’s 40-degree wheel lean angle gives riders that same ear to ear grin that comes with carving a motorcycle through a turn.

“Growing old doesn’t mean you have to abandon your passions – you just need to be creative and find smart new ways of enjoying your favorite recreation or sport,” says Paolo Timoni, President and CEO, Piaggio Group Americas, Inc. “The MP3 is the ideal solution for anyone who wants the pulse-pounding thrill of riding a motorcycle, with all the ease-of-riding benefits of a scooter.”

The Route: Geoblogs and Adventures from “America’s Main Street”
Following the June 13th, 12:00 Noon PST send-off across San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, the team will begin their journey through 14 states, 128 counties and 500 cities – a trek that literally all eyes around the world are invited to experience and track around the clock, thanks to the team’s daily “geoblogs” posted to Using the latest interactive Google® Map technology from Geotegic, a company founded by transcontinental driving record holder Alex Roy, real-time reports and images from the road are pinpointed within the route map and continually updated as the riders journey eastward. Check in often – the No Limits Ride content debuts at Noon PST, June 13.

In addition, fans are invited to meet the team in person at scheduled appearances along the route, including Vespa Provo, Orem, UT (June 17); Vespa Greenwood Village, Greenwood Village, CO (June 24); Vespa Chicago Motoworks, Chicago, IL (July 4); Vespa Pittsburgh East, North Huntingdon, PA (July 9) and Vespa Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA (July 12). Buddy and Bob are scheduled to arrive at 42nd Street and Broadway, the highway’s eastern terminus, on July 14.

We finally got an MP3 500 in at the store, and it sold before we had it completely uncrated.