Tea Time With Jesse

Six of One, Half Dozen the Other

Archive for January, 2012

Fun Times in Kidland

Posted by middlerage on January 30, 2012

I write sparingly about my kids, because that is not my audience. This ain’t no mommyblog. But I can be a filter, and when I discover something kid-cool that my adult readers could appreciate, I will pass it along. Here are two things that I have come across, as a dad, that I think grown folks would enjoy.

First is the Nickelodeon show, Backyardigans. As far as I know, this show has never won an Emmy, which is stunning. The well-crafted story lines are filled with details that pass over the heads of kids, but adults can appreciate. Sure, they are aimed at a kid’s intellect, but educational is educational and you’re are bound to learn something, or at least be entertained. And the music in each episode is spot on. Wikipedia tells me that Evan Lurie, of the band Lounge Lizards, is the music director. Each episiode is like a half-hour musical, and the singing and dancing of these CGI characters is as good as a Gene Kelly flick. So the next time you are channel surfing, or lying in bed sick, stroll on over to Nickelodeon and see if Backyardigans is showing. Also available on Netflix streaming.

Secondly, my kids are starting to reach the age where their toys are interesting to me, as well. The OK got gifted a K*Nex kit, recently, and it is a little bit over his/her age. No problem, dad dove in, and Dang! if this ain’t fun. I had a grand time building a roller coaster. It was as satisfying as if I were an old tar building a ship in a bottle. Kudos to K*Nex for their excellent instructions, which are well thought out and come in color 3-D. I’ve wrestled with so many “engrish” manuals – from wrist watches to furniture- that I really appreciate good instructions.

Posted in kids, observations | 2 Comments »

The #1 Reason to Fight Global Warming

Posted by middlerage on January 29, 2012

Forget drowning polar bears. Forget dying coral reefs and an increasingly acidified ocean. Forget a Glacier Nat’l Park that is rapidly becoming Empty Vales Nat’l Park.

If you have a shred of humanity in you. If you have any membership as a denizen of our planet. If you were ever once a child. If you have ever celebrated a religious holiday, partaken in Halloween or Valentines day. If you are a hungry snacker, a woman, an epicure, an ice cream lover, a cake eater, a snack machine patron, then you…



(or at least like it).

Climate change is affecting the health of our world’s cacao trees. It seems they are unusually fragile trees requiring near perfect heat and humidity, well-drained soil and a location within 18 degrees of the Equator. They need to be hot – but not too hot – and they grow in flat tropical lands where there is no ‘uphill’ to migrate to if things get too warm. Well-drained soil is an oxymoron in the tropics, and changing climate might bring too much water. Or too little. Cacao is susceptible to the tiniest droughts and conversely to heavy storms that can knock their fragile flowers apart. And, of course, global warming can enhance the resilience of pests and fungus that make cacao’s life miserable.

So if you’ve ever snickered at a joke, melted M&Ms in your mouth but not in your hand; If you’ve ever visited Willy Wonka or gone bobsledding with Toblerone; If you’ve ever dated Little Debbie, had back-alley mouth sex with a Ho Ho, or eaten a pint of Ben&Jerry’s Double Fudge Brownie while watching the Creature from the Black Lagoon; If you’ve ever savored the silky bitterness of a gourmet dark chocolate bar or peeped at Lady Godiva’s luscious thighs; If you’ve ever sipped hot chocolate on a sleigh ride or sipped cacao juice before ritually killing an Aztec sacrifice; If you’ve ever bought band candy, given your sweetie kisses, or baked sensimilla brownies; If you’ve ever cleaned the pool just to munch on a Babe Ruth

Then you need to save chocolate. Save the Earth, save chocolate. Stop global warming.

Posted in Climate, Environment, wtf | 3 Comments »

Alternatives to The New York Times and Apple Responds

Posted by middlerage on January 27, 2012

[Updated to include cnet story, see below]

At the moment, Apple (and by extension a friend of mine), is being put through the wringer by the New York Times. I can empathize, having been through the wringer with the 2006 Duke Men’s Lacrosse Team. If the articles lambasting Apple turn out to be inaccurate Apple can likely expect no retractions or apologies from “America’s Newspaper of Record.” Been there, done that.

My friend rightly points out that my Samsung remote has been produced under unsavory working conditions. (How did he know my TV is a Samsung?? cue Twilight Zone music). And that’s just the thing. All, or at least most, of our consumer electronics are built overseas in Asia, and there is no getting away from buying technology that has human misery built into it. I’ll hazard the same goes for any gold necklace or diamond ring. As we wring our  hands over what American tech companies are doing about labor conditions in Asia, I honestly can’t remember the Chinese Government being mentioned. Where are they in all of this? Did the NYT contact the Chinese government about labor laws? I admit they may have, but it got lost in the rest of the story. China is the elephant in the room, and they have a culture that is worthy of criticism. A recent Diane Rehm show was discussing organic food. At one point they got off on a tangent about China, and the baby formula scandal from a few years back. Melamine was added to the formula to boost its protein signature resulting in renal failure and death for many toddlers. The company executives knew this would happen, but in a corrupt society the greed was worth more than the lives.

Anyhoo…good investigation (and science) requires more than one source. Apple has inspired what few other companies have – fan sites. And from these forums I am finding that Apple, i.e. Tim Cook, is responding to the NYT’s allegations.

Here is a MacRumors thread noting an all-employees email sent out by Tim Cook: Link

And another MacRumors thread discussing the just released 2012 supplier responsibility audit. It also contains a different email to employees from Tim Cook. An interesting quote:

No one in our industry is driving improvements for workers the way Apple is today. I encourage you to take some time to read more about these efforts, so that you can be as proud of Apple’s contributions in this area as I am. The details are online now at apple.com/supplierresponsibility.

This has great potential, because in fast food there is McDonald’s and then there is everyone else. It wasn’t until Mickey Ds started requiring more humanity from their beef suppliers that things started to change for cattle. Apple has great leverage to move the world here.

AppleInsider gives us an even tougher response from Tim Cook in this thread (although I am having a hard time verifying this, so take it with a pinch of salt). A relevant snippet:

Every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain. As we reported earlier this month, we’ve made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers. We know of no one in our industry doing as much as we are, in as many places, touching as many people.

If this is to be believed, then Apple is indeed taking the lead for improving working conditions, despite the tone of the NYT. Good on them.

I want to repeat something I said above…where is the chinese guvmint in all this?

Finally, a little nugget lost in this discussion actually has big ramifications for my desire that corporations do more to be citizens than merely pay taxes. My friend mentioned that his partner is insured. His unmarried partner. This is grand, and just the kind of citizenship I am talking about. I’m sure Apple isn’t alone in this, but I imagine it is rare, and some of the others are universities, not for-profit entities.

p.s. interesting to note that my mac corrected my capitalization of MacRumors.com.

[Update] here is an opinion from a CNet writer that really puts things in perspective. Money quote: In fact, everything you own comes from a supply chain that probably has multiple things you just don’t want to know about. You could swap out Apple in that New York Times story and replace it with almost any American corporate giant.

Posted in observations, Politicks | Leave a Comment »

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