society


No Handlebars | Thursday, May 8th, 2008

I can ride my bike with no handlebars, No handlebars, No handlebars

Look at me, look at me
hands in the air like it's good to be ALIVE
and I'm a famous rapper even when the paths're all crookedy
I can show you how to do-si-do, I can show you how to scratch a record
I can take apart the remote control, And I can almost put it back together
I can tie a knot in a cherry stem, I can tell you about Leif Ericson
I know all the words to "De Colores", And I'm proud to be an American
Me and my friend saw a platypus, Me and my friend made a comic book
And guess how long it took I can do anything that I want cuz, look:

I can keep rhythm with no metronome
No metronome
No metronome

I can see your face on the telephone
On the telephone
On the telephone

Look at me, Look at me
Just called to say that it's good to be, ALIVE
In such a small world
All curled up with a book to read
I can make money, open up a thrift store
I can make a living off a magazine, I can design an engine sixty four
Miles to a gallon of gasoline
I can make new antibiotics
I can make computers survive aquatic conditions
I know how to run a business, And I can make you wanna buy a product
Movers shakers and producers, Me and my friends understand the future
I see the strings that control the systems, I can do anything with no assistance

I can lead a nation with a microphone
With a microphone
With a microphone

I can split the atoms of a molecule
Of a molecule
Of a molecule

Look at me, Look at me
Driving and I won't stop
And it feels so good to be
Alive and on top
My reach is global, My tower secure
My cause is noble, My power is pure
I can hand out a million vaccinations, Or let'em all die in exasperation
Have'em all heal from their lacerations, Have'em all killed by assassination
I can make anybody go to prison, Just because I don't like'em and
I can do anything with no permission, I have it all under my command

I can guide a missile by satellite
By satellite
By satellite

and I can hit a target through a telescope
Through a telescope
Through a telescope

and I can end the planet in a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

Flobots - Handlebars


Crossing the road in Medellin | Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

In case my previous post about Medellín wasn't lengthy enough for you, here's an entire post dedicated to the art of pedestrianism in Medellín.

Forget the Venezuelan tanks massing on Colombia's border, or Rafael Correa's General Hospital-ish scowl at accusations of ties to the FARC. The true threat to all of Antioquia's fine citizens comes from within.

In my travels as a mainly bike-riding, trail-hiking, city-walking spectre, I've come across more than my share of close calls with close cars. During my bicycle tour of Cuba in 2005, an oncoming, swerving 50s Chevy narrowly missed sending me into a drainage ditch at the side of the carretera central at 6am. In Budapest, for the World Science Forum last year, the narrow streets and confusing signage had me hugging the sidewalks more than usual, and I'm sure I've annoyed more than one London cab driver by not looking at the right side of the road while crossing, but instead trying to read the faded paint signage on the asphalt instructing me to ``Look Right ->''.

Ahh, London cabs. The kind of car that only looks cool if someone is leaning out the back window firing off a Tommy Gun. Otherwise, they're just lame. The identical-looking drivers who all dress like not-so-distance relatives of Mr. Peanut don't help.

Perhaps I'm just spoiled because I live in Quebec... home - along with the United States - to some of the most courteous drivers you've ever met. Or maybe there's something about the Colombian driving psyche that gets lost in translation when you try to understand why they speed up instead of slow down when a pedestrian appears on the horizon. Whatever it is, the fact of the matter is that your average Colombian driver makes a monster truck demolition derby look like a canine fashion show.


When Podcasting Stops Being Lame | Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I don't listen to podcasts much. I don't feel like I can make time to listen to any of them. Both Amarok and Banshee have very solid podcasting clients, but when will I listen to them? I listen to MP3s when I'm working because I can't focus on anything else, since my multitasking abilities are limited to chewing bubble gum and kicking ass. At the gym I need my angry angsty pop-metal or 2Pac to keep me motivated, and in the car I only listen to CKOI because the hosts are awesomely hilarious, they play the best new francophone music, and anglophone radio sucks the big one in Montreal.

Sometimes I'll visit a site with a podcasting section and play something that looks interesting through the flash player in the browser, but I'm not "subscribed" to any podcasts. Well, I wasn't until I found the Free Library of Philadelphia Podcast:

I was actually trying to make it to Yunus' talk at the Free Library in Philly last week (for free!), but it didn't work out. Then, poking around a little, I found that the library records most of the talks and puts them up on their podcast for anyone to download. I've been hooked on these for the past week - Anthony Bourdain's and J. Craig Venter's are particularly fantastic.

I've only listened to about half of them so far, but I'm definitely going to work my way down the list.

Ok, fine, podcasting doesn't always suck - when I can sit still for long enough to listen to them.


To baby powder and fireworks... | Monday, December 24th, 2007

... from cocaine and hand guns.

So, Medellin, Colombia is a pretty hot place. Not temperature wise though, the weather is quite perfect all year round from my point of view.

Like I'd mentioned, we found a pretty sweet flat up in the El Poblado barrio of Medellin (if you're in Montreal, think economic scale of Westmount but urban development style of Ville St-Laurent). We've got 2 nice bedrooms (I let David have the master room, since I'm such a caballero and all), 3 (!) bathrooms, and a nice full kitchen, along with a big, shared dining / living room and a couple balconies. It costs not much more than a third of what a place like this could cost in Montreal, I imagine.

After having settled in some, I was able to get (finally) getting some work done, when all of a sudden my laptop stopped charging. Turns out the power supply for this $120 Toshiba Portege overheated, and I spent the next day or so trying to find a place that could help me, finally giving in and paying the $80 to a repair shop for 10 minutes of work in the Monterrey shopping center down by El Poblado metro.


Back From The East | Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Most of my notes and photos from the World Science Forum are up on the World Academy of Young Scientists website, so if you're looking for those you can find them all on the WAYS site.

I already wrote about my initial second impressions of the World Science Forum, and not much has changed about that, though I did finally meet Hugues Lantuit, President of the Permafrost Young Researchers Network, in person, and we hung out for lots of the conference. Like most of the people at WAYS, he's a total overachiever with a sharp wit and a wicked sense of humor. He also curses like a sailor, as I would soon find out. During the conference, I didn't have time to show the visitors much of the city, but the WSF receptions on Thursday and Friday were pretty great.

Thursday morning, during the incredible breakfast at the hotel – the Hungarians know how to fry a sausage, let me tell you – I met up with Hugues and we walked up Vaci Utca (a beautiful, beautiful pedestrian walking street along the Danube lined with trendy shops) to the Hungarian Academy of Science, just before the Parliament. Security was rather tight with the presidents of four countries there, but we got in without incident, checked our coats, and met up with some other WAYS members in the main hall. With the 'Heads of State' sessions starting, Daniel Mietchen (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences), his girlfriend Ji Hyun, Mande Holford, Michael Fischer (founder of the World Lecture Project, and of course Gaell Mainguy, President of WAYS, joined us. The heads of state panel was, well, everything I had hoped for, and let's leave it at that. The president of the Hellenic Republic, though, gave a passionate and relevant speech about serious need for change in our attitudes on the environment.


Death From Above on Sherbrooke street | Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

(gah! it was Sherbrooke, not de maisonneuve)

On my semi-regular walk from Westmount Square to the Plateau today, I was walking towards St-Laurent street just as the police were closing off a section of Sherbrooke. There was a small crowd gathered talking about what had happened.

Apparently, moments before I came by, a window-cleaning scaffolding cable broke off and a window cleaner fell to his death some 150+ feet down the Holiday Inn.

People were pretty shocked, though I didn't see the victim or an ambulance nearby as the police were cordoning off the area.

I always have trouble just going on my merry way when I come across something like this. I want to know exactly what happened, who the person was, which cleaning company, who's at fault, etc. Maybe I should've been a crime scene investigator instead. Like CSI, but without the retarded.

As I leave the area the police are taping off the far side and redirecting traffic away. Some guy in an Audi with an expensive sports suit and designer glasses is yelling at the cop for not letting him through.

I laugh to myself as I imagine him being 5 minutes late for his pedicure / bikini wax / heroin session, then I put my camera away, put my headphones back on, and keep on Imagining.


The cable broke while the platform was much higher. More photos after the jump.