Tweet of the Day: @TheAtlantic

So, I’m 47, but I remember when our family got our first color TV.

I’m no math wizard, but the data seem to suggest I come from a long line of late adopters.

Video Fridays: Walk on the Wild Side

Ok, so maybe every single person with an interwebs connection has seen one or more clips from the BBC show Walk on the Wild Side already, but I personally can’t stop watching them.

I’ve always had a serious preference for British humor, so much so that I tend to consider Monty Python to be in a class all by itself, above and beyond anything else I’ve seen. And, there are certainly generous helpings of Pythonesque surrealism and absurdism at play in these voiceovers.

Something I didn’t know is that a total of 14 30-minute episodes of Walk on the Wild Side were produced, which explains why there are literally thousands of clips available on YouTube, offering hours of procrastinating fun!

Still, the first compilation I ever saw remains my favorite.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Battle of the Pink Floyd Cover Song

Ok, this is gonna be fun!

It’s Pink Floyd week on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy’s got members of the band lined up as guests and other bands performing Pink Floyd songs in celebration of the release of the massive box set of their entire catalog, remastered and packaged with all sorts of goodies.

The first night saw The Shins performing the opening track, Breathe from the legendary 1973 Dark Side of the Moon album, and while I liked it well enough, I couldn’t help thinking of another cover of the same song, one that I alluded to nearly two years ago, when news that it was in the works came out, a version by The Flaming Lips, whose music I didn’t even know at the time, but whom I would soon become completely obsessed with.

So, I thought it would be cool to take a look and listen at both of the versions back-to-back and see how they measure up.

First up, The Shins:

 

That’s an honorable performance for sure. First and foremost, it’s extremely loyal to the original, closely matching the arrangement and atmospherics, the tone and tempo, and the musicianship is first rate. Certainly no easy task!

And yet, I’ll be honest, it left me a little cold, left me wanting a fresher take on the song, something with some twists and variations, something that might put The Shins stamp on it.

Well, let’s see what The Flaming Lips do with the same song:

 

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!

How incredibly exciting to have a beloved classic given a kick in the ass, pumped up from a sleepy space tune into a primal, jungle drum and feedback-driven freakout!

Let me be clear. I like The Shins a lot and I don’t in any way mean to dismiss them as a band.

That said, in my humble opinion, The Flaming Lips clearly won this Battle of the Cover Song by a long shot.

 

Message in a Bottle: Old School Social Networking

This has to be the best story I’ve come across all year!

It’s an epic story of an ancient form of communication (messages in bottles date back to 310 BC!) that has endured despite the Internet, a form of communication that, thanks to one man’s determination, has proven incredibly effective, connecting this man to people all across the world.

Via MSNBC:

A Canadian man has tossed more than 4,800 messages in a bottle into the Atlantic Ocean in the past 15 years — and received more than 3,100 replies.

Harold Hackett, who lives in Tignish, Prince Edward Island, the smallest province in Canada that hugs the Atlantic coastline, told his story to the BBC.

He uses discarded juice containers to hold his letters, dates each one and asks the finder of the bottle to respond…

He started the hobby in May 1996 and since has received responses from Russia, Iceland, Holland, the U.K., Florida and even Africa and the Bahamas, wherever the wind and tide go…

Hackett said he sends as many as 200 bottles off every week. He doesn’t think he’ll ever stop.

Now, do yourself a favor and don’t read the comments left by MSNBC readers. It’ll just be depressing, how cynical people can be, either with their inability to feel the sweetness of this story, or with their ridiculous claims that Harold should be prosecuted as a polluter. (Regarding the latter, to use an apt metaphor, let’s just say there are MUCH bigger fish to fry!)

Harold’s simple wish is to feel connected to people outside his isolated island home, and the success he’s had, it seems to me, has as much to do with the power of the tides and currents as it has to do with Harold sending out positive energy and attracting it in return.

“I never dreamt I’d get that many back that quick,” Hackett said, emphasizing that the responders have become more than one-time pen pals.

“I usually get about a 150 Christmas cards, Christmas gifts, souvenirs,” Hacket said in a video posted on the BBC website. “I just love doing it the old way. The reason I won’t put my phone number on my letters is they’d all call me back, and I wouldn’t get any letters.”

How can you not LOVE this story?!!

Celebrating Eco-Progress: EDF + Partners

As anyone who regularly reads my Celebrating Eco-Progress installments knows, the series is meant as an experiment in positive reinforcement, to applaud big businesses when they adopt sustainable practices, communicating to them that sustainability is a win(business)-win(consumer)-win(planet) scenario.

Well, every sustainable business decision depends on many environment-minded individuals, from executives in companies trying to transform their business models from the inside, to consultants and non-profits working from the outside, trying to influence and assist companies to see light and make changes.

Today’s Celebrating Eco-Progress installment looks at an exciting, highly successful partnership between insiders and outsiders.

Via Sustainable Life Media:

Seventy-eight companies, cities and universities identified $650 million in potential energy efficiency savings with the help of MBA and MPA students trained by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

The brilliance of this program is two-fold:

  • Students: As a supervisor of university student employees, I can attest to their potential to bring crucial energy, enthusiasm, and innovation to projects like this. This EDF Climate Corps is doing nothing less than producing a generation of environmental heroes.
  • Green is Good Business: As I’ve written before, marketing the cost-savings companies will experience by instituting sustainable practices is key!

So, you might ask, it’s one thing to identify the possible savings, but how effective is Climate Corps at actually yielding real action from the companies?

Via Inhabitat:

In the last four years the program has identified energy savings equivalent to the reduction of 1 million metric tons of CO2 and has reduced energy operating costs for the life of the businesses involved by $1 billion.

The fact that the Climate Corps started with just seven students and has grown to 96 is a very encouraging development.

And, in keeping with the Celebrating Eco-Progress mission, here’s a shout-out to all the companies rising to the Climate Corps challenge:

…this year the partners included Adidas, AT&T, Avon, Belk, Dunkin’ Brands, Facebook, Target, McDonald’s, New York City Housing Authority, Microsoft and REI.