reblogging kinky coffee

Renato Bialetti, the Italian businessman who turned an aluminum coffee pot into a classic global design, died last week at the age of 93. In accordance with his and his family’s wishes, his ashes were interred in an urn shaped like a large version of a Moka pot, the stovetop coffee maker he introduced to the world…

Bialetti didn’t invent the Moka. He just made it famous. A man namedLuigi di Ponti designed the appliance in 1933 and sold the patent to Renato’s father Alfonso Bialetti, an aluminum vendor. It works like this (via Alborzagros):

Moka_Animation

Sales lagged under the elder Bialetti, but Renato had bigger, coffee-scented dreams when he took over the business in the 1940s. He spearheaded a massive marketing campaign across Italy for the pots, which were branded with a charmingly mustachioed caricature—based either on himself or his father, depending on the legend you read.L’omino con i baffi, the little man with a mustache, remains a widely-recognized symbol in Italy today.
 

An estimated 330 million Moka pots have since been sold around the world. Bialetti’s Moka-shaped urn now lies in the family plot in Omegna, Italy.

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tourism as an indicator of tragedy

The Kathmandu post recently published a short article on the dramatic downfall of tourism arrivals in Nepal.

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the science business

It may very well be confirmation bias, which would be telling, a strange loop or bootstrapping kinda phenomenon rather than some real change out there, but the science business hanky panky finally seems to be getting more attention in mainstream media. It’s been a fancy of mine for quite a while. Until recently my impression was that this particular example of my general meta-obsession was largely ignored by science popularizers and journalists. But retractions, replicability, p-hacking, open data and other, what always felt like arcane, subjects, make it into the broader public domain.  Until recently I used to file it all under publication bias, but that is a synecdochic label. The trouble is widespread, way beyond publication bias.

This post serves to document my intention to spend some more time on this fancy and try to bring its various strands together into one picture.

By way of intro, I share a short video with one of the researchers who managed to get broad coverage for her particular strand:

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running movies

One of the trends in the trailrunning scene (to keep up a tradition I should do a 2015 piece but have too much on my plate at the moment) is the abundance of (short) videos being released. Even just a couple of years ago, it wasn’t difficult to keep track of what became available, but that has dramatically changed.

As with much in life, quantity comes with repetition of a couple of standard formats. But even an aficionado like myself can only stomach so many beautiful landscapes, listen to so many similar narratives, and the tendency to watch declines rapidly.

So let me share a couple that did get to me. You may notice that many would not label them ‘running movies’ but for me they are. Very much so. Enjoy.

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razor sharp

The day he turns 87 is as good as any other to share some recent words of a sharp mind. I think his views are sometimes too certain about shit being intentional  and planned, or at least predictable. The world’s too messy, too big, too intricate an orchestra for any planner, be it crook or saint, to conduct. Because we all tend toward conspiracy thinking, our mental machinery is hardwired to do so,  those of us, like him, who actively investigate the dark sides of power, cannot but go overboard sometimes. So I don’t blame him. And that tendency to grant power too much, well, power, doesn’t diminish the awe I feel when listening to this granddaddy of the critical intellectual class.

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running the blocks of my neighborhood

The scale of Shanghai is both immense and very manageable. It is very hip to these days to explore one’s immediate neighborhood, walking the block, as Alexandra Horowitz does so eloquently in On Looking.


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biggest Shanghai redevelopment zone I’ve come across so far

When I went out yesterday for an exploratory walk (air quality to bad for a long run) I had expected the last bit of it, on the Pudong side, to be the most boring. I was curious about the ferry – as crossing the Huangpu, wherever one does it , makes for an interesting experience, so that was the reason to cross, but from there…

click on image to go to everytrail where you can zoom in/ot. Make sure to use satellite view without labels for the correct placement of the track on the imagery. Chinese government censorship ensures tracks are approx 250 meters off-mark when using google maps

click on image to go to everytrail where you can zoom in/ot. Make sure to use satellite view without labels for the correct placement of the track on the imagery. Chinese government censorship ensures tracks are approx 250 meters off-mark when using google maps

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cityscape esthetics

I’ve rambled quite a lot about urban environments as natural habitats, ecosystems, cityscapes, and on it goes, but high-fly verbiage is a poor tool for helping anyone see. Australian photographer Ben Thomas, of Tiny Tokyo fame, has much better tools:

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city of art

Looking for a destination for my recovery run on the only day this week that is predicted to be dry I decided upon the Power Station of Art. Had seen the building several times already and ran past it during last Sunday’s marathon, but never entered.

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coloured cities, city colours, and the wonders of rain

One of the biggest joys of having time on my hand is the opportunity to wander through cyberspace as if it were a book store or a library, on the look out for finds. When work is calling I (have to) downsize time spend on this, but so far, the way I have organized access to the cyberspace seems to work for me.  Time: I scan all, no time, I have no trouble picking out the essentials. Here I want to share some art finds,  all about colour, as different as they come, and still to me intimately connected through their cityscape focus.

The first shows what a bit a colour can do to a Mexican slum:

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the rock star of data nerds

Didn’t know Hans Rosling, whom I greatly admire, had acquired rock star status but according to the data nerds organizing this ODI event he has. Although I do not share all of his opinions, I find it very difficult to watch his performances critically, they’re just such shows of wit, unexpected but very down-to-earth perspectives, and persuasive skill.

No one but a Rosling fan, or a too-much-time-to-kill loafer like me would ever watch a 1.5 hour lecture video, so I know it’s ridiculous to post it, but just in case anyone out there is silly enough, that alone will make it worthwhile. Don’t skip the introduction because the ODI staff remarks about data quality are important, crucially important, to imbibe. And if you’re at it anyway, follow it up with the Q&A follow up to the lecture, which has interesting views on the aging of world population and on inequality.

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Shanghai marathon, age-grading and minimal shoes

Ran the Shanghai marathon today.

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Shanghai Dutch town

As a Dutch expat in Shanghai I can be expected to write about Dutch town, part of the one city, nine towns project. However, although I had read about the project and intended to visit a couple of them,  I wasn’t aware of a Dutch town among them and happened across it purely by chance.

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Running Shanghai: a great route through old industrial neighborhoods, upper middle class residential areas and the financial district

By now, I have logged quite a few Shanghai routes on my everytrail page. So its time to start sharing a couple more ( for others: check out this category tag) on my blog. Specifically routes that substantiate in various ways my claim that this city is eminently runnable, and great to explore running.

This half marathon length route, starting in ‘green city’ (Pudong, Jinqiao), the upmarket residential area that I live, takes a faster and more diverse route to the great Huangpu river than the big Pudong circuit that I posted earlier, and more of the fascinating old industrial neighborhoods at the Puxi side (Yangpu).

click on the image to link to the everytrail site where this track is posted for zoom in/out possibilities. Make sure to use satellite view without labels (see upper right hand corner ). Chinese government censorship displaces GPS tracks approx. 250 meters when projected onto maps.

click on the image to link to the everytrail site where this track is posted for zoom in/out possibilities. Make sure to use satellite view without labels (see upper right hand corner ). Chinese government censorship displaces GPS tracks approx. 250 meters when projected onto maps.

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Going for green and off-pavement running in Shanghai’s Pudong district

Finding green spaces and non-paved surfaces in Shanghai is a challenge. I live across the river (Pudong, East of the Pu river) from the old city (Puxi ,West…) and even there, in what was fields among villages only a bit more than two decades ago, one needs to explore to find optimal routes.

click on the image to link to the everytrail site where this track is posted for zoom in/out possibilities. Make sure to use satellite view without labels (see upper right hand corner ). Chinese government censorship displaces GPS tracks approx. 250 meters when projected onto maps.

click on the image to link to the everytrail site where this track is posted for zoom in/out possibilities. Make sure to use satellite view without labels (see upper right hand corner ). Chinese government censorship displaces GPS tracks approx. 250 meters when projected onto maps.

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biggest Shanghai circuit so far

Went out to see how long a long city run/walk can be. Left the house at 9AM and returned by 6PM. I think I got the distance just about right, but have to conclude that an even earlier start would help because it would make for more time to walk, more time for short stops for pics or to have a quick look at something special. It is amazing to see how small the slice of the city is that this approx. 64k route takes in. There are many worthwhile things not included. But this circuit does have enough of everything to give you a good feel for what Shanghai has to offer. It includes as many parks on the way as possible (if one counts the Huangpu river quai as parks, 17 in total and I didn’t even enter Century park), lots and lots of residential compounds and Shikumen neighborhoods, street markets, the main shopping streets of central Puxi and the skyscrapers of Lujiazhui financial district, Platane-lined French Concession streets, and narrow alleys of (old) Chinese Shanghai, several ferry crossings, plenty of iconic architectural highlights and many other delights .

Click on the image to go to the everytrail site to which I uploaded the GPS track. There one can zoom in at liberty and see much more detail. But use the satellite view and disable labels (map) because Chinese authorities misplace the track on the map by about 250m.

Click on the image to go to the everytrail site to which I uploaded the GPS track. There one can zoom in at liberty and see much more detail. But use the satellite view and disable labels (map) because Chinese authorities misplace the track on the map by about 250m.

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ever heard of Saad Lamjarred?

I hadn’t. And I probably never would have were it not for staying somewhat in touch with MENA news since leaving Cairo. It’s a weird ambition, trying to ‘stay in touch’. But I find that scanning newspaper headlines, staying subscribed to some newsletters from organizations that struck me as interesting when I came across them living somewhere, and/or staying in touch with friends still in situ, is a great and easy way to remain aware of the very small slice of reality that dominates the media landscape of any particular locale. Not that I have illusions that reading Dutch, Chinese, Nepalese newspapers and otherwise staying in touch with Egypt/MENA, Cambodia and India is a real antidote. It’s just a constant reminder of how little I know about what goes on anywhere, and how distorted impressions must be that I have. If I have any at all that is because large parts of the globe are just an impenetrable blur to me. All that I know and pursue is purely driven by my personal history, and the urge to keep the joy I experienced in these places alive by exposing myself to sounds, images, and remember smells and tastes. Pretensions to knowledge on that basis would be absurd.

Anyways, this morning Your Middle East‘s newsletter introduced Moroccan popstar Saad Lamjarred.  He managed 31 million youtube views in one month, tops the regional charts and is reported to have an impressive social media following. Enjoy:

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China, foreign pundits, can it be otherwise? reblogging James Palmer

When I read the below opinion piece by historian James Palmer, currently an editor of the Global Times in Bejing, it struck me as refreshingly different, a meta-journalistic reflection, nothing particularly innovative, but a welcome reminder of a truism that we, I for sure, need regular reminders of. Else, being taken in by rhetoric is assured.

The big question it raises is if it could be otherwise. Because awareness is a preventative, not a curative; it doesn’t suddenly reveal an unbiased ‘reality’, it just points out the biases. Stripping away the familiar blinds opens up a trove of possibilities, it cleanses perception of its habituated tendencies, but what appears then is just as much a mirage.

May I appropriate a work by Chen Zhen that I just saw in the Rockbund and that is not meant to visualize the above but that it can in itself proves my point.

Chen Zhen / Purification Room / Found objects, clay / 850 x 1100 x 450 cm / 2000 / Private Collection, Paris Courtesy GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins © Chen Zhen / ADAGP, Paris - SACK, Seoul, 2015 Photo Sebastiano Pellion di Persano source: http://www.rockbundartmuseum.org/en/exhibition/overview/acfjsB

Chen Zhen / Purification Room / Found objects, clay / 850 x 1100 x 450 cm / 2000 / Private Collection, Paris Courtesy GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins © Chen Zhen / ADAGP, Paris – SACK, Seoul, 2015 Photo Sebastiano Pellion di Persano
source: http://www.rockbundartmuseum.org/en/exhibition/overview/acfjsB

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Shanghai through the lens of Tim Franco and others

Forgot where I came across a Tim Franco reference/link but it must have been about his Metamorpolis project in which he documents the rise of Chongqing, the world’s fastest growing and least known metropolis. Mr. Franco is based in Shanghai, and has a history of a decade engaging with the country.

He seems to have found his niche. And does well, as the commercial work on his site shows. Well enough to have time to pursue his personal interests. I liked his older Shanghai work a lot. His videos that is. Time lapse that adds to the visual experience rather than just displaying slick technique, and ensuring a soundscape that you’ll remember. Both of the below are 5 years old.

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reblogging Kunda Dixit on disaster journalism

German mountaineer, journalist and Miss Hawley’s Himalayan Database assistant Billie Bierling‘s update on Kathmandu, one month on, linked to the below very insightful piece by Nepali Times publisher and editor Kunda Dixit. After Joris Luyendijk’s Het zijn net mensen on his insights about international journalism based on five years in the Middle East as a foreign correspondent, nothing in Kunda’s description and argument is really unexpected. It’s a variation on a depressing theme, but one that needs constant reminders to keep me alert. The link between media reporting and the ability to build up a somewhat realistic impression of what is going on is tenuous to say the least. Recap: I shouldn’t label this depressing. It just is.

Nepal earthquake: Why truth was a casualty in rush to formulaic coverage
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thinking your way out is not possible

there is a site out there, which I discovered a while back, that does something similar to what I try to do but with way bigger, grandiose ambitions: Brain Pickings. If the wikipedia article on the author of the site is to be believed that makes for a life style that sounds utterly frightening. However that may be, it was through her weekly newsletter that I learned about David Foster Wallace. I’m not an avid reader of fiction and had never heard of him but he has a dedicated following. Marjan just brought his magnum opus Infinite Jest from her library, all of its 981 pages plus 97 pages of notes and errata. No idea if it will appeal to me, if its style and subject matter take me in. His commencement address to  the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College that Brain Pickings brought to my attention did. Very much so.

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how not to help Nepal

Quartz just published this very sensible guidance on what NOT to do to help Nepal:

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visualizing Nepal’s earthquake disaster: reblogs & links

Nepal earthquake on the radar

On 25 April, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, claiming over 5000 lives and affecting millions of people. Satellite images are being used to support emergency aid organisations, while geo-scientists are using satellite measurements to analyse the effects of the earthquake on the land.

Radar imagery from the Sentinel-1A satellite shows that the maximum land deformation is only 17 km from Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, which explains the extremely high damage experienced in this area.

By combining Sentinel-1A imagery acquired before and after the quake, changes on the ground that occurred between the two acquisition dates lead to rainbow-coloured interference patterns in the combined image, known as an ‘interferogram’, enabling scientists to quantify the ground movement.

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smartphone life in China

There are plenty of short videos around about the effects of smartphone addiction on behavior. But nothing much yet from China (on youtube that is). Film maker Xie Chenglin,  is a student at the Chinese Central Academy of Fine Arts and is a very obvious talent.

Thanks to this article in the NRC, one of my two Dutch daylies (contains links to some other videos on the same theme).

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trailrunning base in Hangzhou

One month after participating in the Hangzhou Mountain Marathon, an informal small numbers foreigners dominated event organized as a training opportunity for those living in this part of China and preparing for the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 100k I returned to Hangzhou for some more walking and running.

Running Hangzhou hills West and South of West Lake Use satellite view without labels to get a correct picture of the track

Running Hangzhou hills West and South of West Lake
Use satellite view without labels to get a correct picture of the track

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