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11th December 2014
Cows Creamery opens in Beijing.
Cows, the Prince Edward Island ice cream and T-shirt chain, recently opened its first shop outside Canada in Beijing. They shipped 12,000 tubs of ice cream to China to do it, and even had P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz at the opening.
The video is basically a commercial, but one with absurdly cute kids in cow costumes.
The ice cream isn't cheap, at 35 RMB ($5.66) for a single scoop and 59 RMB ($9.54) for a double, but you're paying for both shipping from Canada and for pricey real estate in Sanlitun.
1-103 Shimao Gongsan
Chaoyang District (across the street from Heaven Supermarket)
Tel: 8212 6911
Metro: Tuanjiehu (Line 10)
BuzzFeed's takedown of Brandy Melville's idea of "one size fits all".
Refinery29 did : a post
about what happened when BuzzFeed found five women of varying sizes to try on seven pieces from Brandy Melville
[W]hile A&F has seen its fair share of controversy, Brandy Melville perpetuated a contentious concept Abercrombie has not: one-size-fits-all clothing. With almost 50 stores worldwide and a booming e-commerce site, the Italian-based retailer has popularized the “Brandy Girl” image. She’s the high-school popular girl with long hair and even longer legs, and she's attended Coachella for the last five years. She is also, it seems, probably between a size 00 and 2. At last, BuzzFeed decided to call the all-American retailer on its narrow definition of "all."
I like that BuzzFeed found women with a wide variety of body shapes to try pieces on, apparently without having to go beyond their own staff. Their reactions are occasionally surprising and often hilarious.
Kristen had what I thought was the best one-sentence summary: "I don’t think these clothes are so much ‘one size fits all’ as much as they are ‘one size fits a mystery size, to be revealed when you actually try it on.’"
10th December 2014
Quick attempt to compile a list of old cities with large numbers of transit stops.
A couple of notes on this compilation: :
- I used Wikipedia. It has its limitations, but I wanted something I could put together fast.
- Specifically, I started from Wikipedia's List of metro systems, because it has an easily sortable list.
- I chose number of stations, not system length, or ridership, or even opening date, because the particular item of interest in this map is the station names.
- To get city founding dates, I looked at the Wikipedia page "History of (city)" where there is one, the city page if not. Again, limitations. But again, fast.
Here's the list of all cities with a hundred or more metro stations, with the total number. Where there are multiple systems operating, I give the total of all systems listed under that city name in the Wikipedia list.
New York City: 456 (including the New York City Subway, Staten Island Railway, and PATH)
Seoul: 377 (all operators, but not including Incheon)
London: 315 (including DLR, which the preceding map
does not include)
Tokyo: 293 (including Tokyo Metro, Toei Subway, and Rinkai Line, but not Yokohama)
Mexico City: 195
Of these, only eleven were in existence as a city in 1014, although not necessarily under their current names: Seoul, London, Paris, Madrid, Beijing, Barcelona, Delhi, Guangzhou, Osaka, Vienna, and Milan.
A number of fairly old cities just fail to make the cut: Oslo, founded around 1000 CE, has 97 stations. Nanjing, founded in 495 BCE, has 92 stations. It'll likely have eight more built within a couple of years. Chongqing is also eight stations shy of a hundred, and is also likely to break a hundred soon. Hamburg has 91. It was repeatedly destroyed between 810 and 993 CE (and later, for that matter), but evidence exists to support it having been around before 1014.
Founding dates for many cities are just estimates, so the cutoff is quite arbitrary. So is the cutoff of a hundred stations. Finally, just what constitutes a metro system is something endlessly debated on the list's talk page. (Seriously. The list has eighteen pages of talk archives.)
(Edited for slightly more clarity, I hope.)
Flicking the Bean
Bitch Magazine's Facebook feed has been really great lately. Earlier today they sent a piece on "Queering Geek Culture". And now : this really cute comic showed up
Obviously, it's NSFW.
9th December 2014
The Medieval Tube Map.
is neat! I'd love to see it done with other cities with long histories and extensive urban rail systems. (There aren't as many as I'd have thought.)Thanks to orichalcum for the pointer!
8th December 2014
This video came to my feed via Meow Space ( : http://meowspace.mysinablog.com/
a cat shelter in Macau.
The Australian Bat Clinic has its own page (http://australianbatclinic.com.au/).
It's fun when you can identify the exact location of a wire service photo. Reuters photographer Brian Snyder shot this one, then The Guardian used it for this piece
Reuters used a slightly later photo--I'm guessing it's later because the car on the right has moved in front of the Interstate sign--in this story
7th December 2014
There are a lot of reasons to like Iceland.
One of the more obscure reasons is that they like coming up with wacky phrase guides. I remember frotz and tb showing me about one that included English to Icelandic translations of phrases like "I am a Viking!" and "You are cute!" :
This post from Iceland Magazine came out a few months ago, but is still worth a look if you haven't seen it:10 Useless Icelandic phrases you should not bother to learn
While visiting Iceland it's useful to know some key phrases in Icelandic, like góðan dag/good day, takk fyrir/thank you and matseðilinn takk/the menu please. Then you have some you should not bother with. Here are ten.
It then lists the phrases, first in Icelandic, then in English. Each has an explanation of why the phrase is useless. Finally, there is a Mixcloud audio clip you can play to perfect your pronunciation of phrases you are not supposed to bother learning
This is a particular kind of droll Icelandic humor I really appreciate.
dELiA*s has filed for bankruptcy. Abercrombie & Fitch/Hollister is in trouble.
A comment thread about Zara in rednikki's LJ reminded me that I'd been putting together a post about fast fashion chains like H&M and Forever 21 pushing specialty teen clothing retailers out of business. :
From The New York Times' Dealbook blog
Unable to find a buyer or arrange a financial lifeline, Delia’s said on Friday that it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and seek to close all its stores and distribution centers. The company said it would aim to run going-out-of-business sales.
On Friday, Delia’s warned its shareholders that it “does not anticipate any value will remain from the bankruptcy estate.”
From The Wall Street Journal
Delia’s news followed the bankruptcy filing Thursday by Deb Shops, whose 300 stores also were booming in the 1990s.
“When there’s one of these guys that’s kind of sick, it tends to infect all these guys,” Paul Lejuez, a Wells Fargo Securities analyst, said of the hypercompetitive environment teen retail environment.
Teen retailers like Delia’s have struggled to compete with fast fashion players like H&M and pure online retailers that cater to millennial shoppers who increasingly do all their buying on the Web.
And from Business Insider
But Eric Beder, specialty apparel analyst at Wunderlich Securities, said he believes Abercrombie is running out of options.
"What is going to turn the tide?" Beder asked in a note to clients. "Frankly, we have no idea."
Beder notes that Abercrombie has already exhausted numerous turnaround strategies, to no avail.
"Abercrombie has already aggressively closed domestic locations, cut back on inventories, shifted away from logo products, and cut costs," Beder writes.
The once-leading teen retailer has struggled to stay relevant since the surge in demand for fast-fashion brands like Forever 21 and H&M.
One of my fraternity siblings in Manhattan has a roommate who's in the industry and claims that "everything is fast fashion now". My friend and I agree this is hyperbole but there is clearly a sense in which fast fashion is setting the pace.
It's just a thought, but an overdose of fast fashion may be one driver behind the rise of vintage.
5th December 2014
I have created an account on Telegram Messenger.
was created by "Nikolai and Pavel Durov, the founders of VK, Russia's largest social network." Some background on this is available in this CNBC story
Then the Kremlin tightened its grip over the Internet and President Vladimir V. Putin's allies took control of VKontakte. Mr. Durov eventually sold his remaining stake for millions and fled Russia in April, after resisting government pressure to release the data of Ukrainian protest leaders.
As the tensions in Russia play out, Mr. Durov says he is focused on Telegram, which he started last year. There will be no outside investors, he says, no ads and no marketing, and it is available free, though he is likely to eventually charge for additional services. He says he has about 50 million users, almost entirely outside Russia.
Telegram is competing in a crowded field of messaging apps that promise varying degrees of security. Telegram has its fans and detractors, but it was rated respectably in a recent evaluation by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The Telegram company, based in Berlin, has a deliberately complex structure of scattered global shell companies intended to keep it a step ahead of subpoenas from any one government.
I have no connection with Telegram other than the fact that I just signed up for an account. As usual, I did so partly to camp out on my username (@Randomness).
4th December 2014
A rant. Separately: a conversation about Asian kids raised in white families.
Well-meaning white people genuinely irritate me. :
Yes, the country you live in is racist. How nice of you to notice. I have been living here all of my life. Where have you been?
Oh, that's right. In your white bubble you don't see race. Because we don't exist there in your nice, upper-middle class suburban life.
This isn't the only time race has been a problem in this country. It won't be the last. But I'm sure next time I'll hear the same shock and dismay from well-meaning white people who will, after a decent interval, go back to living their lives, not seeing race. That's what's happened every other time, and it won't be the last time, either.
Meanwhile, I'll go on living in the same place I've been living all my life.
Background: There was an acquaintance at the annual quasi-reunion I go to after Thanksgiving. I was talking with a group of friends when the subject of race and kids growing up came up. I started to mention how I was really glad I started school in New Jersey when he butted into the group I was talking with and cracked a joke about that, to which I said, "No, really, and I'll tell you why: The school I went to in New Jersey was mixed-race, and I basically never got crap about race when I was there. When I got to the all-white school system in Connecticut I spent from 3rd to 9th grade getting crap all the time. But what that New Jersey school taught me was that all the racists in my school in Connecticut were crazy, not me."
At that, he winced, turned away, and didn't talk to me for the rest of the party.
I have no doubt he was well-meaning. He tends to be, but he also tends not to deal well with unwelcome news, particularly that which tweaks his white straight male privilege. I imagine he feels like I was unfairly hostile or something.
One of the other people in the conversation then asked me what kinds of things happened to me at school. So I told her. She went to the same school I did when I was being harassed, but apparently managed not to see any of it when it was happening.
She didn't seem very happy she'd asked, either.
All that said, I did have a good conversation with one of my other classmates who I hadn't seen in ages. She'd come out (which I'd heard about from her brother some years ago) started a partnership with her then SO over a decade ago and adopted two Chinese daughters (one from Kunming, and one from a small town in Anhui province). The relationship had broken up a few years later, leaving her a single mother with two kids and a pediatrics practice.
Making the best of things she encouraged her daughters to learn about their country of origin, and took them on a trip to China organized by other Asian adoptees. We talked about China, learning Mandarin, and identity for Asian kids raised in white families. Her daughters were really encouraged to learn Mandarin by the trip, as they were unable to speak to people who had been in their lives before their adoption unless they had an interpreter.
One point she observed is that Asian children raised in a white family have one identity when everyone knows them as part of their family; they are treated in a particular way by people who know who they are and that they're part of a white family. Once they leave that context, however, they get treated like any other Asian person, and this can require adjustment.
This is obviously not an adjustment I have ever had to make, so it was intriguing to hear about.
That conversation also reminded me just how many friends I have who are either raising children of a different race or are children who are of a different race from the rest of their families.
27th November 2014
Filling the tank on the way home from the family Thanksgiving will be that much cheaper.
OPEC : decided not to cut production
. Key sentence in their press release
Accordingly, in the interest of restoring market equilibrium, the Conference decided to maintain the production level of 30.0 mb/d, as was agreed in December 2011.
The market reacted immediately:
There are any number of interesting consequences that follow from this. For example, it's bad for oil producers which depend on a high price per barrel to meet their budgets. This is yet another problem for the Russian economy, for one thing. It's not good news for Nigeria or Venezuela, either.
The Chinese are continuing to take advantage of lower prices to fill their strategic reserve. This may be one reason the price hasn't yet collapsed.
26th November 2014
ISIS are gold bugs.
Image from Iraqi News.
Prof. Craig Pirrong, in a blog post
One last gold item. ISIS are gold bugs. They have announced the creation of a currency, based on circulating gold, silver, and copper coins. They really believe the gold bug stuff. They are aficionados of ZH [Zero Hedge] and currency warrior James Rickards (whose mug pops up everywhere, including on mainstream media websites like WaPo, in advertisements for his buy gold, buy a bunker, for the end is nigh book).
I was particularly amused by this:
The gold and silver purchases are strange enough, he said. “But what is striking is how elements of the organization have seized power transmission cables and other copper components,” Obeidi said. The fighters are burning the insulation off the cables and harvesting the copper [to fashion into coins], he said.So they’ll have metallic coins but no electricity. Which may be OK with them, given how much they want to live a 7th century lifestyle.
This is great news. If a shambolic Iraqi military can’t destroy the Islamic State, economic mismanagement based on wacko gold bug theories might achieve that result instead. I suggest that the CIA carry out a mission to translate Rickards’ Currency Wars into Arabic, and clandestinely distribute it in ISIS-controlled lands. A very cheap, but very effective, form of subversion.
There's not much more than an inch of glop* outside. This will probably freeze to something unpleasant overnight. But as far as snowstorms go, it never really got going around here. What's falling now is a misty substance that I'm not sure is even frozen. :
We went out a few hours ago. The roads were messy when we went out, but by the time we came back an hour or two later they improved significantly as the rain had washed away some of what had stuck to the ground earlier.
*A technical term, encompassing wet, sloppy mixed precipitation. It can be described as "icky".
Tony Blair's reputation in Britain is not what it is in America.
The current row over the Save the Children's US branch's award to Tony Blair is a reflection of the difference in reputation the former PM has in the US compared with that in his home country. In America, he's more or less thought of as a loyal friend who brought Britain in to help the United States topple Saddam Hussein, whereas in the UK he's thought of as America's bloody-handed lying stooge who got Britain into a war of America's choosing. :
Both of those opinions can be right at the same time, of course.
Save the Children is facing a furious backlash from its own staff for presenting Tony Blair with a “global legacy award”, amid claims the “morally reprehensible” gesture has endangered the charity’s credibility because of continued controversy over the Iraq War.
A glittering ceremony in New York last week saw Mr Blair take the prize for his leadership on international development issues during his time as Prime Minister, but the award has been fiercely opposed by some of the charity’s staff.
Questions of impartiality have also been raised. The charity’s UK chief executive, Justin Forsyth, was a special adviser to Mr Blair for three years, while Jonathan Powell, Mr Blair’s former chief of staff, is currently on its UK board.
A letter signed by almost 200 staff members, which began circulating last weekend, demanded a review of the charity’s decision-making process and insisted on distancing themselves from the prize.
“We consider this award inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values. Management staff in the region were not consulted about the award and were caught by surprise with this decision,” it said.
Since bringing Britain into the US-led war in Iraq in 2003 despite fierce opposition in parliament and among the public, Mr Blair has been accused of war crimes by peace campaigners. He is expected to be strongly criticised in the report of the Government-appointed Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, which is due to be published next year.
A spokeswoman for Save the Children stressed that the award was the decision of the charity’s US arm. “Our staff have strong views on a whole range of issues and people and we respect that diversity of views,” she added.
An online petition calling for the charity to revoke the award had gathered more than 87,000 signatures. It said many saw Mr Blair “as the cause of the deaths of countless children”.
Mr Blair was given the award by the charity’s US branch in recognition of his “leadership on international development”, with particular reference to his work on debt relief and the Make Poverty History campaign at the G8 in 2005.
It only takes a very short period of having cable news inflicted on me to remind me why I am glad that I have never paid a cable bill.
Ferguson burns, South Africa simmers: Why America is but a matchstick away
Richard Poplak, writing in : The Daily Maverick
, a South African online daily. He was interviewed on PRI's The World today.
Like America, South Africa is enjoying its post-racial moment. Like America, South Africa’s post-racial moment describes a veneer, an invention of Brand South Africa ad hacks. Barack Obama was installed in the White House on the back of a successful marketing campaign—Hope!—and not because race had ceased to be a factor in American life. His presidency is a testament to the brilliance of his cutting-edge campaign technology, and not the thawing of America’s racial divide. The America he presides over is as segregated as it was during the Jim Crow years, perhaps more so. How do you fix Ferguson? Demilitarize the police? Increase diversity in municipal and state politics? Promote racial dialogue? Good luck with that. The Michael Brown’s of the world are the bottom bricks under a vast and inviolable socio-economic pyramid, and renovating that structure will take energy of great and sustained magnitude.
Here’s the link: when power and wealth are unevenly distributed; when “sophisticated”, “liberalized” economies demand winners and losers with no in-betweens; when we pray like faith-blind zealots before a zero-sum covenant; and when historical racial segregation provides a ready-made overclass and underclass, black lives simply don’t matter. The Marikana massacre occurred because black lives don’t matter; Andries Tatane was tenderized on tape because black lives don’t matter; Michael Brown was killed by Darren Wilson because black lives don’t matter; Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman while brandishing Scittles because black lives don’t matter.
There was an ironic saying going around South Africa in the years after 1994: "A white man's country run by a black man." After 2008, I thought about that same saying in the American context.I thought a bit as to whether I wanted to screen comments on this post or disable them entirely. Ultimately I decided I didn't need to give myself extra work, so comments are off.
25th November 2014
I really need to come up with a reason to go to Casa de Queso (as : Formaggio Kitchen
is affectionately known to some) sometime out of the holiday rush. The staff are unfailingly helpful and great fun to talk cheese with. I went in today with a clear plan and set of requirements which they did their usual excellent job of helping me with.
But outside of the rush they tend to be much less crowded.
Boy, talk about burying a story*! Next to no one is talking about Secretary Hagel leaving the administration. :
in Politico hits the major points:
The defense secretary, regardless of his lofty title, was never part of the president’s inner decision-making circle on foreign policy, which the sources said would remain intact (and it’s worth noting, the sources said, that powerful Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey is), and few expect his departure to solve the deeper problems plaguing Obama’s national security team given the iron grip exerted on foreign policymaking by Obama’s West Wing staff.
And the move alone will do little to help a struggling second-term president mend what the sources said were far deeper rifts within his overburdened West Wing-based national security team, pointing in particular to long-simmering tensions between McDonough, who had been deputy national security adviser before moving up to chief of staff, and Rice, the worst-kept secret struggle in Washington.
More broadly, the dumping of Hagel leaves unanswered the key foreign policy dilemma that hangs over the remainder of Obama’s presidency: It’s clear that Obama, propelled to office six years ago on the promise of ending two unpopular wars, must now radically readjust his priorities from a posture of military withdrawal and Pentagon budget cuts to one of engagement, but it’s not at all clear how he plans to do so.
Hagel’s main gripe, according to people close to him, was what he viewed as a disorganized National Security Council run by Rice—a criticism shared by McDonough, according to a senior administration official. (An email to McDonough wasn’t returned.)
That observation puts Hagel in good company: His predecessors as defense secretary, Bob Gates and Leon Panetta, have both taken the unusual step of publicly criticizing Obama’s White House team for power-hoarding and dysfunctional decision-making at the expense of the Pentagon. “The whole system is dysfunctional. The lines of communications [between the NSC and the Department of Defense] are totally broken,” the staffer told me. “I hope that whoever takes over fixes it, and fast.”
*Yeah, yeah, I know this wasn't planned. I'm talking about effect, not intent. And I'm not dismissing the importance of the news from Missouri, either.
24th November 2014
Beijing: its subway and its traffic.
From : a great (but long) piece by Michael Pettis
exhaustively discussing the economics behind transit fares and placing the question in the context of the Chinese development model:
For those who don’t know Beijing well, when I first moved here in 2002 the city was poorly served by its subway system. This huge and sprawling city only had two lines, one running along Chang’an jie, often called the “Champs-Elysées” of Beijing, which runs east-west through Tiananmen Square, and the other circling around the inner city where the old city walls used to be before they were knocked down – in the 1960s I think – below what is now the Second Ring Road.
Since then, and especially during the build-up to the Olympics in 2008, the city has exploded with subway lines so that Beijing has become, in my opinion, one of the best served cities in the world for its subway system. The outer districts of the city are not well-served by subway (although there are plenty of buses) but, within the city proper, getting around by subway is very easy and fairly quick, including all the way out to the Wudaokou District, where China’s two most famous universities, Peking University and Tsinghua University, as well as many famous and less famous schools, are located. I do most of my travel within the city by bicycle or taxi, but for longer trips I usually take the subway, from my home or office to the university, for example, because traffic in Beijing can be terrible and almost always takes a lot longer than the subway.
The real problem with driving I Beijing, by the way, is not just the traffic jams, but mainly the uncertainty about how long it can take to get anywhere. In Mexico, it seems to me, the traffic is horrible but predictable, so that you are pretty sure that you will be 45 minutes late for every meeting. In fact during my days as a Wall Street debt trader whenever I was in Mexico and arrived at a senior government official’s office fifteen minutes late, instead of apologizing profusely for being late I felt I had to apologize profusely for coming early. The secretary inevitably looked shocked and no one was prepared to meet me.
In Beijing, on the other hand, I have arrived at meetings anywhere from 20 minutes early to one hour late. It is really hard to predict how long a car trip might take. This makes the subway hugely valuable because you can usually time your trip to within 5-10 minutes.
As an aside, in Beijing someone as “important” as a PKU professor like me shouldn’t take the subway. It is low status. If you see a middle-aged well-dressed person on the subway (not that I am ever well-dressed) he is almost certain to be foreign. Two weeks ago for example I had been asked to join two very wealthy Chinese – one a billionaire, I think – for coffee. When I got up to leave to get to my class, one of them very kindly said he would have his chauffer pick me up immediately and take me to Peking University. When I thanked him and told him I didn’t really have time to take a car and would have to take the subway, both of them shot me shocked glances, and one of them even commented on my dedication.
This whole idea of transit being only for people who can't afford a car isn't just an American thing. It annoys me no end personally, but I get that this really is a popular sentiment in many parts of the world.(earthling177, I thought of you when I read his article. Prof. Pettis goes into detail about many points we've talked about: who wins and who loses from a flat fare vs. fares by distance, what considerations go into a minimum fare, and so forth.)
23rd November 2014
: Items like this
make me think gender egalitarianism has regressed since the 1970s.
13th November 2014
Saint Harridan - Masculine clothing and accessories for women and transmen.
My friend cme recently recommended : Saint Harridan
. Since at least a couple of my friends have expressed interest in the kinds of clothes they sell, I thought I'd post about them in case other friends are looking for suits, dress shirts, and the like.
cme went to one of their pop-up shops recently and bought some clothes. As she described the process to me I realized that she was describing an experience that was very reminiscent of the standard men's experience in buying formal or business clothing. Saint Harridan sounds like it's reproducing the men's formal wear shopping experience for a new audience.
This makes all kinds of sense, of course. If you're selling the same sort of clothing it seems reasonable to use a process that has produced good results in the past. But it was particularly intriguing to me to hear it described by someone who had no previous personal experience of buying formal men's wear and for whom it was a novel clothes-buying process.
She says that one other advantage of going to one of their physical locations, pop-up or otherwise, is that they have a much larger variety of fabrics available there than they do on their website.
There's no particularly good business reason this market niche has been left unfilled by men's formal clothing specialists--I'm pretty sure a good tailor can build a suit for anybody, given practice and time--but what I hear is that women and transmen continue to have issues getting good fit from the existing men's clothing vendors. It's good to see a company entering this market.
12th November 2014
It irritates me that it's so much harder to find single-serving packages of full-fat yogurt in American supermarkets than in many other countries.