Browsing All Posts published on »January, 2015«

Fun and Disaster with Foreign Languages

January 30, 2015


I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. “This book was expensive!” he said.  “I’m sorry,” I replied, “but we just don’t talk like that.” Language-translating machines like Google Translate or Babelfish are handy for small, simple things like finding a bathroom, but they are no replacement for a fluent, bilingual human being.   Just […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: On the Edge – Searching for Bears in Siberia

January 28, 2015


By Joan Larsen   These bears are seldom asked to pose for their pictures. I would guess that they have never seen humans before either. Still hidden from the world we know, the world’s largest population of brown bears roam freely – in a place called Kamchatka. There are still just a few places left […]

Classic Car Buffs, Beware Cuba’s Time-Capsule Vehicles

January 26, 2015


When diplomatic relations were restored between Havana and Washington, one of my first thoughts was that Havana would soon be a shopper’s paradise for fans of classic cars. Many of the same cars that were on the roads in 1959, when relations were severed, are still being driven today — an estimated 60,000 classic cars. […]

Crossing 4 of 9 Planetary Boundaries on the Way to Doom: It’s the People, Stupid

January 23, 2015


Perversely, our worshipful attitude toward human procreation and human life will end up killing billions and destroying humanity’s best accomplishments.   For climate-change naysayers and others with their heads in the sand: a study published last week indicates that the Earth has already crossed four of nine (44%) “planetary boundaries.” The Washington Post has an […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Defying Gravity – Nature’s Acrobats

January 21, 2015


By Joan Larsen   As my family climbed in the Canadian Rockies last year, clinging to what turned out to be sheer rock faces, finding ourselves in places where no one wanted to look down – all of us were “stunned” – and more – that we luckily had been so sure-footed and made it […]

Clash of Civilizations: Will Long-Term Peace Require Segregation?

January 19, 2015


Are conservative Islam and Western liberalism fundamentally incompatible? To understand what is really happening in Europe now, and where it is likely headed, I urge everyone to read two articles: Samuel Huntington’s 1993 article in Foreign Policy, “Clash of Civilizations?“, and Damon Linker’s current piece in The Week, “Can Islam Ever Make Peace With Liberalism?” […]

Consumer Electronics 2015: Beyond Distraction, Making Drivers Blind and Stupid

January 16, 2015


Last weekend, the Consumer Electronics Show rolled out more examples of jet-fighter-style heads-up displays (HUDs) for car windshields. Fittingly, perhaps, last weekend also saw a nearly 200-car pileup in both directions of I-94 in Michigan. HUDs are sexy, glitzy, futuristic, badass. Marketers compare the automotive versions to the displays jet fighter pilots have. Advocates claim […]

Joan Larsen Shares: Amazing Food Art!

January 14, 2015


  When I was a small child, I can remember “the vegetables” that were gathered in what seemed huge amounts on my plate. Like many of us in those early years, I “schemed” on how – that day – I was going to get rid of them — without actually swallowing the awful things. I […]

“I Am Charlie” May Signal the Beginning of the End of European Tolerance

January 12, 2015


Extremism threatens everyone, but ordinary citizens who happen to be Muslim have the most to lose.   The extremist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo staff and a Kosher grocery in Paris mark a tipping point in Europe. It has been building for years: ethnic Europeans have become increasingly frustrated and angry with escalating intrusions of […]

Apple Is Losing Its Edge, and Here’s Why

January 9, 2015


It’s not just the issues of battery life or questions over just how much storage their devices really have. The main issue is whether users find the devices useful and functional for their own purposes.  Hubby’s verdict:  Not any more.   By now we’ve probably all heard the news that Apple is facing a class-action […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Felines in Residence – the Secret World Beneath Russia’s Hermitage

January 7, 2015


by Joan Larsen St. Petersburg. . . Russia’s most wonderful city has drawn me back more than once. Home of the world-famous Hermitage Museum — just named the best museum in all of Europe (!) — is praise enough to have art lovers making a bee-line north. But – hidden far beneath the museum — […]

On Identity, Looks, and Impressions

January 5, 2015


We’re told from an early age not to judge a book by its cover, but we do anyway.  Oh, how we do. I read with interest Phoebe Baker Hyde’s article, “My Year Without Makeup.”  In it, she starts out by detailing “This is who I am,” followed by a long list of roles she has […]

New Year’s Resolution: Please, No More Tourism to Cultlike, Repressive Dictatorships Like North Korea

January 2, 2015


Now that “The Interview” has been released, woe unto any American snared by North Korea. North Korea has a well-known history of imprisoning Americans (see the summary of recent cases at the end of this article), sentencing them to hard labor, and then – after weeks, months or years – granting the American’s release only […]