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    Entries in politics (5)


    Video Friday: Unicorn-Free Coffee and Why the Government is Not like a Business

    Certifiably Strange (and funny)

    A couple videos to help you pass those last few hours of work before the weekend:

    First, a link to this video arrived in my inbox last night from Jonathan Sellwood. Rest assured, there won’t be any unicorns in your coffee if you get it from Cellar Door.  

    [Side note: Doesn’t Cellar Door’s Jeremy Adams (featured in the video) remind you of Jay Leno?]

    Is Government like Business?

    The second video is relevant to the battles currently happening in Washington, D.C., over the budget and the debt ceiling. The two main parties have starkly different visions for the role of the government. One sentiment that comes from the Republican side is that government should be run more like a business: “The government spends too much! It should have to balance its budget, just like I do with my business!

    This idea might seem logical, but the reality is a little more complicated. The video below, from, talks about three ways government is different than a business.





    Friday (the 13th) Links

    The lines in your favorite cafés might be a little longer next week. Portland is gearing up for the Specialty Coffee Association of America 2012 Event (annual conference) next week.  Thousands of coffee enthusiasts are expected to attend the event, which runs concurrently with the US Barista Championship. Kelly House, from The Oregonian, has a preview. (the online partner of The Oregonian) has selected the finalists for its coffee photo contest. The winner gets a $50 Starbucks gift card. I'm rooting for the Case Study picture.

    One of the stranger things I’ve seen in a while: A few cafés in Tokyo let you pet rabbits while you drink your coffee. You just can’t make these things up.

    Starbucks recently announced its policy favoring “marriage equality”. In response, the National Organization for Marriage, a K-Street lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C., created a “Dump Starbucks” online petition to get people to forego Starbucks until it changes its position. The petition has about 31,000 signatures so far. That’s an average of about 2 people per Starbucks store.

    It appears that SBUX customers are not going anywhere, although they might if they knew how good the coffee at their local micro-roaster can be.

    The New York Times has a long article about Andrew Rugasira, founder and CEO of Good African Coffee. Rugasira wants to use trade to develop the economies of Africa instead of aid. 

    Truth in advertising? In Seoul, South Korea, Dunkin’ Donuts is enhancing its radio ads on commuter buses by having an atomizer spray coffee fragrance on the bus while the spots run. I have two questions. First, is DD really doing this or is it just an internet rumor? Second, would you consider this type of advertising intrusive? I would. Then again, it might be a welcome intrusion if they were spraying something that smells like Ristretto, Sterling or Extracto.

    This week, the Huffington Post readers got their chance to hear about how Portland is such a fine place to visit, sharing “10 Things We Love about Portland, Oregon” (coffee was #7). HuffPo editors managed to spell Extracto and Coava correctly, unlike Fox News a couple weeks back.

    Smarter Travel, a travel blog, called Spunky Monkey one of America’s Best Coffee Shops. The café certainly has a lot of PDX character.

    Seattle techies have come up with a coffee machine that takes orders by text message

    More cafés should do what a café in Norwich, England did. Baristas will no longer take orders from people talking on cell phones.  If you can’t put your phone down long enough to talk to the person behind the counter, you’ve got a problem.

    In a blind taste test, the Huffington Post determined that Starbucks Via Colombia was the best tasting instant coffee. If you bother to click on the link, be sure to read the comments of the people who tried the coffees, especially on the lower-rated ones.


    #Trust30 Day 10 - Message from a soapbox

    [Today we have arrived at 1/3 of the way through the challenge! It's been fun so far, but exhausting too. To find out why I am writing all these #Trust30 posts, click here]

    Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote:

    To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. 

    Mr. Eric Handler’s prompt:

    What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message RIGHT NOW to 1 million people, what would you say?

    [Let’s see…a million people….I would tell everyone to click on my ads….Wait, just kidding. . . Dear Google, I was only trying to be funny. . . It was a joke! Don’t banish me! Aaaaagggghhhh!]

    The real message: Just because someone tells you it’s true, doesn’t mean it is. Be skeptical when you talk to people who are completely convinced, without any doubts, that they have the right answers—even if you agree with them. There is a lot more gray in this world than many are willing to admit.

    Never lose your ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You might find that your adversary has a good point, if you are willing to actually listen to what he or she is saying.

    Click to read more ...


    China’s National Day

    It has been a while since I talked about China, so today is a good day to return to the subject. October 1st is a very important day on the Chinese calendar. It is the day that China celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China, which happened in 1949 in a ceremony at Tiananmen Square.

    Schools close for a week and many people travel to their hometowns to visit family and celebrate together. The Chinese government celebrates the day by organizing fireworks displays and other festivities, including turning Tiananmen Square into a huge flower garden (I hope the video loads more quickly for you than it did for me). This year China also launched a satellite to the moon on the same day. China wants to send astronauts to the moon and this mission was to test some of the technologies for that.

    This year’s events did not receive the attention that last year’s did. Last year was the 60th anniversary of the founding of the republic, and the government put on a huge military parade on Changan Lu (Long Peace Road, ironically), showing off all of the new military hardware that China has developed in-country. It was a display of strength that made a great story for western media outlets looking to portray China’s military as a growing threat. Some, however, argued it also displayed weakness, since the Chinese government did not let Beijing residents anywhere near the parade, lest they disrupt the carefully-planned event. Whichever side you agree with, the scenes of tanks, trucks, armored personnel vehicles and thousands of soldiers passing in formation past Tiananmen Gate under the approving eyes of President Hu Jintao were striking. 


    Buildings of Grandeur

    The airport terminal at San Francisco is gargantuan. Walking into the terminal check-in area, you are immediately struck by how much space is all around you. It feels like you are up in the sky. You feel insignificant. It is simply nearly impossible to see from one end to the other. It is like walking into an old, majestic field house that hosted the basketball team at your alma mater (or the indoor track team, if you went to WSU). Your eyes are drawn upward toward the ceiling, where light gray massive steel girders, hoisted on massive round white cement pillars float lazily overhead. On one side, the windows reach all the way up to the ceiling giving the terminal an open airy feel that contrasts with the massive structure surrounding you.

    If PDX claims to be an international airport, SFO actually feels like one. Apart from its sheer size, the diversity of the people traveling is much greater. From Sikhs to sheiks, every type of language, country and culture is on display. If you sit at a café for 15 minutes and watch people pass by, you will have no shortage of entertainment trying to guess where each person comes from. SFO is like a smaller version of the UN, except that the people get along better in SFO, if only because they have to in order to reach their destinations.

    Click to read more ...