Jon Seale recently charged a slice of pizza and a Coke to his Visa card. The amount he saw on his online statement: $23,148,855,308,184,500.

The global gross domestic product is, by contrast, estimated at between a paltry $60 trillion and $70 trillion.

The North Texas man tells Robert Siegel that after he quit laughing, he called the bank.

“The girl that answered the phone actually kind of choked when she saw the number on her screen,” Seale says. “They have assured me they will take care of that.”

Seale was not the only person who experienced the glitch. It turns out that a small number of people, all using their Visa cards, were charged the same amount.

“My son made the comment that maybe with this amount of money we could afford to get season tickets to the Yankees,” Seale says. “I told him for this amount of money, we could buy the Yankees.”

(via All Things Considered)


pie is the new cupcake

“It’s pie time that cupcakes moved on. What this country needs is a change of dessert attitude. Where cupcakes were individualized, pie is communal; where cupcakes were neat, pie is sloppy, where cupcakes were precious, pie is luscious; where cupcakes were frosted, pie is filled; where cupcakes were a business model, pie is a lifestyle. Cupcakes are over. Pie is now.”

– David Karp, LimeDuck

(via @wbur)


the mental tipping point

The media’s abuzz with talk of climate change this week – the G8 leaders met and agreed to prevent temperatures from rising more than 2° Celsius, and a climate and energy bill that squeaked through the House is now on its way to the Senate.

Climate change activists, however, aren’t exactly jumping with joy.  With talk of a tipping point sometime in the next 5-7 years, wherein so much pollution will have been pumped into our planet’s soil, water, and air that we can no longer reverse the damage, what we need now are concrete actions to prevent further degredation.

To get that?  A major mentality shift has to happen.  Action to prevent climate change is not long a should, but a must.

Luckily, such a shift comes in all shapes and colors.  Supporting positive steps to reduce our impact can be done for any number of reasons – it’s economically smart, as countless businesses will fail as the earth starts to; it’s morally sound, as climate change will undeniably affect the world’s poorest first and worst; it’s asthetically pleasing to have a green and blue planet rather than a soot-colored one.  Take your pick.  And then push for real change.

The climate bill that’s heading on to the Senate right now, while heartening, is truly disappointing; yes, it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s been overrun by political pandering, with 85% of the permits given away to the politically favored.

Thus, while the environmental tipping point may be fast approach, we, the human race, have still have not hit that mental tipping point.  A friend recently sent me the commencement address delivered by Paul Hawken, renowned entrepreneur and environmental activist, at the University of Portland this year.  Here’s a particularly spectacular portion.

We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

One can only hope that we have enough foresight and willpower to identify at least a few of the right solutions and enact them quickly, so we don’t end up on the other side with too little too late.

I’ll be posting later with a list of things to do to counter climate change, both in the Boston area and beyond.  Thanks for reading!


10,000 words: a journalist’s to-do list

Stumbled across this great blog – 10,000 words: where journalism and technology meet – in looking for audio slideshow software tips, and now can’t get enough of their recs. They have a great checklist of to-dos for aspiring journalists, and I wanted to pass along a few of the better, and more manageable ones.

  • Start a blog and post at least twice a week
  • Shoot 100 amazing photos and post them on Flickr
  • Improve at least 5 Wikipedia entries
  • Create an audio slideshow using Soundslides
  • Shoot and edit a 3-minute video and post it to YouTube
  • Create and maintain a Delicious account with at least 50 links that you find interesting
  • Create an online portfolio
  • Learn another computer language besides HTML (e.g. XML, PHP, MySQL)
  • Learn how to create a basic slideshow in Flash
  • Subscribe to at least 25 non-journalism blogs using an RSS reader
  • Record, edit and embed a 3-minute piece of audio.
  • Interview 10 people using a handheld audio recorder
  • Create a multimedia project that incorporates, video, audio, and text

Check out the full list here.

Showed it to Jess, who said, “oh this list makes me nauseous…sooo much is expected of journalists – who will not get paid nearly enough for it all.”  True!  But who doesn’t love a challenge?


one love photo

Before/after shooting Becky & Brian’s wedding last month, I spent a good amount of time poking around wedding photography sites, looking for inspiration.  Most are quite impressive, with all the ‘right shots’, ones that would absolutely make you swoon.  But only one – One Love Photo – truly stole my heart.

Their story alone is enough to win you over – a young wife-husband team shooting weddings, together.  If that wasn’t enough, get this: they still shoot film.  And not just standard 35mm, medium format, too!  With Hasselblads, Holgas, homemade lenses – the works.  You name it, they’ve done it.  And done it beautifully.

I’m now following their RSS feed, eagerly awaiting new posts.  It’s so refreshing to the commercial photography world shaken up a bit.  Film lives!

commentary, fun!

whimsical utility

This is a relentless age we’re living in, a time when innovative solutions — or any solutions, for that matter — to our seemingly infinite problems seem in short supply.

So how do we come up with new ideas? How do we learn to think outside of normal parameters? Are the processes in place for doing so flawed? Do we rely too much on computer models? On consultants? On big-idea gurus lauding the merits of tribes and crowds or of starfish and spiders? On Twitter?

At the risk of sounding like a big-idea guru myself, I can’t help thinking that we’re all so mired in it that we’ve forgotten how to get out of it — how to daydream, invent, engage with the absurd.

Allison Arieff of NYT’s By Design blog in a recent piece on Steven M. Johnson, who she describes as an “inventor/author/cartoonist/former urban planner,” whose designs tend “toward the nodes where social issues intersect with design and urban planning issues.”  They’re ideas that are absurd, but delightfully so, and in the way that makes you quietly think, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”

Below, a few of his designs.