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Archive for September, 2008

Cheap, Abundant, Snarky

At Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative Conference today, Al Gore basically encouraged civil disobedience over “clean coal”.  Which made me remember this awesome ad (about coal, not civil disobedience).  Too subtle?  Watch it again.  Then again and again and again – there are many layers in this satirical onion.

From the Village Voice (the only site GoogleNews is showing this story on)

Then Al came out, looking dapper if a little lumpy around the face, and full of tightly- but barely-controlled anger toward coal companies, comparing them to sub-prime lenders who thought that “somehow if you lumped [bad mortgages] together and securitized them, magically you dissolved the risk,” which he called “an assumption whose time has passed, that assumption just went splat.” Now, he said, was the time to prevent a “much worse catastrophe” than this one. “The world has several trillion dollars of subprime carbon assets, based on the assumption that it is perfectly alright to put 70 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every 24 hours.” Al warned that since last CGI, “things have gotten much worse… this is a rout.”

The crowd got very quiet as Gore warmed to his jeremiad. He referred to many harbingers and looming cataclysms — a study showing that for every one degree increase in temperature we achieve, there will be a ten percent rise in the number of lightning strikes “all over the surface of this planet… the strength of the storms, the depth of the drought, the movement of tropical diseases into areas that never experienced them before — this is the result of a dysfunctional, insane global system pattern that we have to change.”

He said we had to stop burning coal (applause) and scoffed at industry claims that they were working on “clean coal.” “Clean coal is like healthy cigarettes,” said Gore. “It could theoretically exist, but the only demonstration plant was cancelled. How many such plants are there? Zero.” He even suggested that companies that made such claims should be investigated by state District Attorneys for “a form of stock fraud.”

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190 Bowery

See that giant building?  That’s the former Germania Bank at 190 Bowery in New York, built in 1898.  But since 1966, it’s been a single-family home. Jay Maisel, a professional photographer, bought it for just over $100,000 – this New York Magazine story includes current-value estimates from realtors from $30-70 million.  But will he sell?  “I fantasize about never having to worry about money again,” Maisel muses.

“It would be great to take the money and run. But let’s face it, where are we going to go? A three-room apartment?”

It’s a pretty short article, but worth clicking on for the slideshow if nothing else.  Here’s one of my favorite sections –

There’s only one elevator, the original copper cage from 1898. It’s gleamingly clean and in excellent working order, though it’s gotten stuck once or twice. “You know what a sign of love is, in this family? It’s if you come home and the elevator is on the ground floor,” says Linda. “Because that means whoever came home before you walked up twelve flights of stairs.”

Maisel uses the first, second, and third floors as gallery spaces for his photography and art projects. (This magazine’s first cover was a Maisel photograph.) The fourth floor, which Maisel once rented out to Roy Lichtenstein, is a work-in-progress. The fifth has various workshops, like the Mylar-window-shade room.

But there have been no major changes to the interior. It’s essentially unchanged from the Germania Bank that architect Robert Maynicke designed for the then-bourgeois neighborhood (it cost $200,000 to build). The original safe-deposit vault, still in the basement, is the size of a generous studio apartment; the marks on the main floor where the teller booths once stood are still clearly visible.

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Home Away from Home

I was entrusted with keys to an office this week (after an extensive vetting process, I assume), so now I have a back-up place to look empty and sad.   No, I don’t have two computers.  I have a laptop with extra monitor, hooked up so that I can use them together as one giiiiiiant double-wide monitor (which is even better than two computers).  I’m far and away the computer-geekiest person in the hallway of offices (and that’s before they know about LaTeX and R).

I have a Keep Calm and Carry On poster (British propaganda from WWII) on the way from across the pond, and I’m trying to decide which of these WPA posters I want to order.

I don’t know who these other people are.  Ghosts?  They weren’t there when I took the pictures.

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It tolls for thee

Quick update – Grandpa just e-mailed me some pictures of the clock, which is finished and chiming away in his dining room (and check out the built-in buffet and exposed ceiling beams – neato!)

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