Post Summer Mantra

Summer has ended and it has been eventful (both positively and negatively) as you can probably tell from the complete lack of posts. Hopefully we all had some sun, some fun, and and tanned that bum… Anyway, if there is one thing I took away from the summer of 2011 it is a new outlook on the future which of course means a new mantra!

Courtesy of LMFAO of course. My 2011 post summer mantra:

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A, select, start

In general video games do not directly translate to real life. Acting out the events that you see in Gears of War, or Grand Theft Auto are generally not a good idea. However, I will concede that many video games can be beneficial do developing hand-eye coordination and general problem solving skills. casual games such as bejeweled, or immersive and advanced puzzle solving games like L.A. Noire can and do force a level of concentration and analytic thought that can be directly applied to real-world problems.

Continue reading Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A, select, start

Africa 2.0

I recently read an eye opening article in Wired magazine that prompted me to write a brief note about my view of future economic growth in Africa, specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa where the common American view seems to be one of disease, famine, and war.

Prior to the World Cup 2010 most of my friends had no idea that South Africa was even a country, they simply thought it was the southern area of the African continent. I merge that view with what I see on the news in the US and the UK and Africa as a continent is painted as a primitive world in constant need of Western aide. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular seems to have the worst stigma associated as North Africa is viewed by many as an extension of the Middle-East and thus more closely associated with the Arab world (another blog post altogether).

Continue reading Africa 2.0

Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau

Phillip K. Dick is a name that you may not be familiar with. He was one of the foremost authors to push science fiction writing to the mainstream in the 60s and 70s. Even if you have not heard of this future focused author, you probably have seen one of the film adaptations of his work. Movies such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report are big screen adaptations of Phillip K. Dick short stories or novels. The Adjustment Bureau is yet another film in a long series of entertaining adaptations.

In The Adjustment Bureau Phillip K. Dick presents us with a world in which all of the characters are free to make decisions for themselves… to an extent. The story revolves around young Senate Candidate David Norris (Matt Damon) and his race for the senate seat. Early in the film Norris meets a young woman whose name he does not get a chance to ask (Emily Blunt) and his world is forever changed.

I don’t want to spoil the plot which is highly unexpected and has a few interesting twists and turns, but safe to say that this is a movie that will stick with you. The director guides us through a world with the illusion of free will and shows us how love and determination can dramatically change plans.

A side note on the talent chosen for this film… The Adjustment Bureau puts Anthony Mackie in a very strong secondary role. He is one of my favorite actors and I was surprised and delighted to see him in another core role after some excellent acting in The Hurt Locker.

The Adjustment Bureau is an intriguing film adaptation that asks the viewer to contemplate just how free is free will without ever explicitly identifying the guiding party. There  is a slight Sci-Fi element that is never truly revealed, but the main plot is a focused love story. A truly excellent film.

 

Brixton Bookmongers

One of the places I will miss the most in Brixton is also one of the places that I frequented the most. Brixton Bookmongers is yet another treasure in this constantly shifting neighborhood. The bookmongers is one of the few cultural treasures that has lasted few the latest round of urban development in the area. Founded and owned by a Boston native (Patrick), it is a place to find a number of hidden literary treasures. The majority of the book reviews on this site are from books that I just happened upon at this site.

If you ever find yourself at the end of the Victoria line on the south side, be sure to make a left out of the station and a left on Coldharbour. The shop is piled high with books loosely organized by genre with a wandering Staffordshire Terrier ensuring no books are lifted.

Wall Street Talent Looks to London for Jobs

Well here we are again… 2011 is the year of the never ending recession. Wall Street talent is under fire yet again. Multiple sources forecasting that employment will drop to a level not seen since the tech bubble burst in 2001. Wall street is facing job cuts around of 50,000 which is not atypical given the cyclical nature of the business, but the unique wrinkle this year is that the jobs are not expected to return. The street is trimming the fat for good. The reason I bring this up is that amidst yet another job fallout in Wall Street, the bustling city across the pond actually added 11,000 financial sector jobs.

Limey London is the next best (and closest) option for financial services jobs lost in the NYC trimming that is taking place. Funny enough, I know this first hand as my residence in the city was caused by a post-recession employment crater left in the wake of the credit crisis that peaked in late 2008. Wall Street and Technology has an interesting article on the situation that explains the short term gain in London city jobs is expected to be reduced over the next several years even though they have experienced a recent hiring surge.

So is The City of London the new Wall Street? Highly unlikely in this current economic environment. The waves don’t hit the same part of the beach at the same time, but you can be assured that you will get splashed sooner or later. Bottom line is that if you have a job in finance, it is best not to be the guy (or girl) that calls out “ill” every other Friday.

(via Wall Street & Technology)

Book Review: Containment

If you are a fan of the genre Near Future Science Fiction… scratch that, if you know what Near Future Science Fiction is then you can safely call yourself a super nerd. I know that I am a super ninja nerd because NF Sci-Fi is my absolute favorite genre. I have recently completed a book in the genre that I found most entertaining. The beauty of this book is that it is not so Sci-Fi focused as to put off reader that does not generally enjoy the genre. The book is called Containment and it is authored by Christian Cantrell. This is the first book I have read by the author.

Containment takes place in a near future (see, the genre is so cool!) earth that is in the last years of existence as pollution, contamination, and war has finally left the planet uninhabitable. A human race unified by a common goal is now completely focused on colonizing another planet in our solar system. Strangely (but scientifically logical) they have chosen Venus, and not Mars, to be destination for the new Earth colony.

The plot focuses around a young prodigy Arik who is of the first generation of humans born off world. Since he was a child, and maybe even before he was a child Arik was schooled in the most advanced maths and sciences. We come to find our young prodigy is tasked with finding a way to create oxygen through artificial photosynthesis in order to aide the terraforming of the harsh Venutian environment.

The deeper plot, character motivations, and twists unfold in a satisfying pace. Questions are raised early in the book and if you hang on past the first 50 pages you will not be able to put it down. Containment by Christian Cantrell is a true space drama, yet not so future Sci-Fi as to put off those not familiar with the genre. If you enjoy popular mechanics, wonder about technology, bio-science, or are of the generally curious variety then Containment will be a very entertaining read. The book presents a not far from possible future full of questions, memorable characters, and a slight jab at global economic and environmental policy.

Book Review: Ripley’s Game

If you are not familiar with Tom Ripley  then you need to do yourself a favour and read ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’. In all of the fiction I have recently read I find Tom Ripley to be the most complex and multifaceted main character. His motivations, actions, reactions, and perspective fascinate me as his complex story unravels. This story is the next chapter of Ripley’s story.

Ripley’s game is another story altogether and the author Patricia Highsmith has done an amazing job of making Tom Ripley take a back seat to a main character we are made to sympathize with. The author takes us on quite a ride forcing us to contemplate just how far we would go to ensure our family would be taken care of after we have passed on. It is extremely difficult to begin to talk about this book without delving into the story which would be robbing you of the amazing number of twists and turns that await you.

Suffice to say that this book, as with ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ is an intriguing character study wrapped in a compelling story that will keep you reading. The locales are of course France, England, and Germany and the story unravels to a very satisfying conclusion. A definite must read.

Buy on Amazon.com (Kindle Edition)

How much do you love your job?

Monday through Friday I wake up in one of two moods; either I wake up full of energy with a smile on my face and ready to attack the day ahead, or as happens often when I don’t sessions the sun for a few days (which is quite often in London), I wake up with a focused frown on my face ready to spit on the first person to speak to me. I know those are two extremes, but hey, that’s the way it is… Saturday and Sunday are all good regardless.

I honestly cannot complain about my job too much because I have it really good all things considered. Being a consultant/problem solver/international man of mystery does afford the advantage of making every day different which keeps the motivation factor high. Not every job lets you travel the world, meet interesting people, and wield exotic and expensive gadgets… yeah, the grind can be pretty good. I still wish I could love my job as much as a dairy cow loves their job…

2011: Summer of the Clushuffle

I remember summer in the 90s back in California… You could guarantee that there would be some high tempo, booty shakin’, rap mix that probably featured Luke (you know you miss it too!). Jump up to the  to the last decade and you could not turn on the radio or TV without seeing some kind of shuffle. Now I was a massive fan of  the booty shake beats of the 90s. If you catch me in the club today and a shuffle comes on you are guaranteed to see me out there doing it too!

I am happy to report that the booty shake of the 90s and the shuffle magic of the 2000s has come together with bit of a new vibe to produce what I can only describe as the club shuffle (the clushuffle). Artists from N.E.R.D. to the Black Eyed Peas have had some major clushuffle success in 2010-2011.

The most addictive shuffle this year, and my summer theme song is Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO (google the definition if you don’t know).