Hey, Where Did North Korea Get that Lincoln Contintental From?


Watching the secret footage of the funeral of Korean dictator Kim Jong-il has an eerie Cold War feel to it. While the footage is certainly better than what James Bond might have shot with a camera embedded in a shoe or ball point pen, the snow, the huge military presence and the 1970s-era Lincoln Continentals are all reminders of the not-so-distant past.

The New York Times points out that it’s odd to see the body of Kim Jong-il transported on a vehicle made by his sworn enemy – the USA. Car aficionados were quick to pounce on the video and photos like this one with their opinions of make and model. Perhaps a 1975 or 1976 model, brought in through China – North Korea’s largest trading partner. (Read more at Backflashes)

(Photo credit: Associated Press)

Nostalgic for the ’90s? Dial Up Your Modem, Get Out Your CDs

Last month I indulged in one of my guilty pleasures and bought a bunch of CDs at my local music store, which also happens to be the best music store in the world – Amoeba Music , the one on San Francisco’s Haight Street. For $28 (plus tax) you can get a pretty good haul at Amoeba, which specializes in selling and trading “previously owned” CDs, DVDs, videos and vinyl. That day I scored five discs – Booker Ervin (“The Freedom Book” – $1.99), Grant Green (“Idle Moments” – $3.99), Norah Jones (“Come Away with Me” – $9.99) and a compilation called “Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970” (a double album! – $11.99).

The usual routine is to come home and rip my new CDs to my iTunes account, but on that particular day I remembered we had this device hooked up to the big, flat screen in the living room. Once upon a time we played DVDs on this thing, before streaming came into our lives, and it could also play CDs – five of them as a matter of fact. I put the CDs in, pushed and punched a lot of buttons, and then I puttered around the house for the next four-plus hours listening to albums in their entirety. (Read the rest on OpenSalon.com)

No Fireplace? Spare the Air on Christmas Day? There’s an App for That!

When I was a kid growing up in Connecticut, we didn’t have a fireplace. But we did have Channel 11, WPIX, which my father always had on at some point on Christmas Eve for the Yule Log.

Nothing was more cheesy than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing “O Tannenbaum” over the crackles of the Yule Log. While the Yule Log blazed away – it never actually stopped blazing and became an ember, or smoldered along like a real fire would – the carols merrily carried on. Soon we would open presents, my parents would have a few eggnogs and someone would change the channel.

Now I live in California and I have a fireplace, but I hadn’t thought of the Yule Log in years. Until last night. That’s when I found out that San Francisco and the entire Bay Area would be under a Spare the Air lockdown for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Suddenly I wanted a fire for the holidays and couldn’t believe I couldn’t light one. Suddenly, I recalled those Christmases in Connecticut and the Yule Log and thought – there must be an app for that!

There is – in fact, there are several. I logged onto the iTunes store and found the iYuleLog for my iPad. It was free. While the audio choices that promised me a crackling fire, babbling brook or some original music by someone named Amber Snider didn’t work, the various fire selections did. When we get tired of the traditional fireplace Yule Log tomorrow we can switch to a Napa ranch campfire or a wood burning stove (also both banned in real-life under the Spare the Air regulations).

Seasons Greetings!

Gossip and Tech Buzz: What People Are Talking about Online this Week: December 19-23

What are people talking about online this week? Kim Jong-Il, the Dear Departed Leader of North Korea, who left this world for that big dictatorship in the sky last Saturday. By Tuesday there were at least two Tumblr microblogs competing on the social networks in the LOL department – “Kim Jong-Il Liked to Look at Things” and “Kim Jong-Il Dropping the Bass” (which superimposes the dictator in deejay booths around the globe). Check them out over at the Online Media Roundup, along with “Is Ryan Gosling Cuter than a Puppy?”

The Tumblr blog craze can mean one of two things – or both. It’s the week before Christmas and while many people sit at their computers pretending to be working, they’re really not and/or microblogging, and Tumblr in particular, has really caught on. It’s not cited as one of the “Six Social Media Trends for 2012”, but perhaps that’s an oversight. Also not cited, but one we predict will continue to grow is “Video Chat Reshapes Domestic Rituals”. A story in the New York Times highlighted a family celebrating Hanukkah together from three different locations. Pregnant women, however, are leading the trend – being honored at virtual baby showers, announcing the sex of their child to up to 27 family members online at once and even allowing grandparents to “virtual babysit” an older sibling while pregnant Mommy puts her feet up and lets Daddy make a run for some chicken soup.

What else are people talking about online this week?

  • American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert and his Finnish reality star boyfriend were arrested in a domestic dispute outside a Helsinki gay bar
  • Suri Cruise threw a tantrum in a New York City toy store and passersby duly recorded it on their cell phones
  • The 2012 Super Bowl will be live streamed – meaning anyone with a Verizon account can watch the big game on their cell phone when they’re supposed to be working…or driving
  • Jon Bon Jovi was reported dead for about 5 minutes, only to be “out-hoaxed” by a viral video claiming Facebook was really part of the CIA
  • A Saudi Prince invested $300 million in Twitter, and
  • How the co-founder of FourSquare chills on Sundays is profiled in the New York Times – damn, he’s cool.

How was your week? If it was any less exciting than this, then what are you waiting for? Head over to the Online Media Roundup and join the digital conversation.

Finding the ‘Next Silicon Valley’

Tech trends in 2011 included cloud computing, seed accelerators and everything Apple, including the sad loss of the company’s co-founder, Steve Jobs in October. Another trend one surely couldn’t help noticing in 2011 that is likely to continue in 2012 is the endless proclamations that this city or that is “the next Silicon Valley.” In 2011, hubs both large, small and in between were at various times touted in the press as the next place where innovation and investment will come together in a magic potion and poof! – create the next Silicon Valley.

New York, Moscow, Berlin, Jakarta, Shanghai, Dunedin, Canberra and Chattanooga all came across the news feed this year as contenders for the next potential birthplace of a billion dollar startup (or two). Many were first mentioned on the website that has capitalised on the craze and seized the domain name The Next Silicon Valley.com. But just as quickly as one place pops up as “the next”, it is replaced by another. The phenomenon, says Viki Forrest, CEO of ANZA Technology Network, a business accelerator that works with companies migrating to the real Silicon Valley “only proves that the model here continues to be the standard that all other places with talented tech-savvy populations and those willing to take some risks want to emulate.” (Read more at Technology Spectator)

Why 2011 Sucked

In many ways it’s hard to believe 2011 was just one measly year. It seems like several years, in fact, an entire decade flew by in less than the last 12 months. This is most likely attributed to our constantly evolving online culture and the general malaise accompanying it that goes something like this: if you didn’t log on yesterday you’ve already missed tomorrow.

If in the future anyone decides to look back on 2011, they’ll probably agree that on the whole, the year totally sucked. But here’s the thing, no one is going to look back on 2011 – most people are already halfway through 2012. For the time capsule, though, I contribute these reasons why 2011 sucked. (Read the rest on OpenSalon.com)

Gossip and Tech Buzz: What People Are Talking about Online this Week: December 12-16

Big stories people are talking about online this week are the Facebook Timeline feature. It had a quick preview earlier this year which mostly freaked people out. Now it’s back as an optional feature you can use to give your Wall a makeover – two columns, bigger photos, the choice of a “cover” – which would be the coolest photo you’ve got. Early adopters seem to be travelers. If you’ve got a pic of you standing in front of the Taj Mahal, you’re probably going to get on board with Timeline faster than those whose best shots are of a dish spaghetti Bolognese they snapped in 2009.

Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens passed away last night. The famous atheist was best known for his print journalism, which he produced reams of. A good recap of his career and his style – off the page, which ultimately was always reflected on the page, appeared on OpenSalon by Miguela Holt y Roybal.

No surprise that Steve Jobs tops Barbara Walters’ list of Fascinating People for 2011. “Fascinating” is a big leap of a word to use to describe the Kardashians though (who also made the list along with Herman Cain). “Ridiculous” is a word that more readily comes to mind.

What else are people talking about online?

  • The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico got viral attention with his family’s absurd Christmas card
  • More than 1 million apps are now available for your SmartPhone
  • Charlie Sheen accidentally tweeted his cell phone number to the world (he was trying to send a direct message to Justin Beiber…’nuff said)
  • Technology is a fashion accessory, since fashion in the real sense hasn’t changed since 1992
  •  “Tebowing” is a fad (you might want to have a photo of you Tebowing in front of the Taj Mahal for your new Facebook Timeline)
  • McDonalds paid for a “sponsored tweet” for its Big Mac, which brought about an undesired slew of hashtags associating #BigMac with obesity, heart disease and diabetes
  • Chelsea Clinton made her TV debut as a “journalist” – backlash was instantaneous
  • Catch up on these stories and more over at our Online Media Roundup.

    You’re Invited – A Web 2.0 Christmas Story

    This post originally appeared on OpenSalon.com.

    In the old days, before iPhones and Facebook, Google maps and email, people used to give parties. Especially around Christmas and, occasionally, Fourth of July. You got an invitation in the mail. Or, if it was your party, you sent one. You bought boxes of invitations at this place called a stationery store. A place you’d been going to with your mother since you could remember. It’s where she went to buy boxes of invitations and note paper and sympathy cards and fasteners and clips, adhesives and ink cartridges for those fancy pens she used – the ones that let her hold her place on the page while she guided though names and addresses on the envelopes of invitations. The simplest of names –

    Mr. & Mrs. Phillip M. Popkins
    the plainest of addresses –

    19 Red Robin Lane

    transformed into what looked like snippets from the Gettysburg Address.
    Four Score Square. c/o the Lincolns.

    This was before CostCo ran the little stationery store out of town. (Read more)