Various and Sundry

It was only a matter of time before Rupert Murdoch’s poisoned hand of glory made itself manifest on the pages of the Wall Street Journal. I shouldn’t have imagined, however,  it would appear so blatantly, so soon. Talking Squid takes ’em on in a blog ditty entitled, Sanity Finally Snaps at Wall Street Journal. It’s clear to me the Internet has brought about changes in my own reading habits, and my reading habits go back, er…  a ways. (As I child I essentially started at one end of the local library and read my way to the other.) In one of the more thoughtful pieces I’ve seen on the intersection of the Internet and reading, and the resulting impact on literacy, the NY Times asks, Online: R U Really Reading? Clearly, reading in print and on the Internet are different. On paper, text has a predetermined beginning, middle and end, where readers focus for a sustained period on one author’s vision. On the Internet, readers skate through cyberspace at will and, in effect, compose their own beginnings, middles and ends. Young people “aren’t as troubled as some of us older folks are by reading that doesn’t go in a line,” said Rand J. Spiro, a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University who is studying reading practices on the Internet. “That’s a good thing because the world doesn’t go in a line, and the world isn’t organized into separate compartments or chapters.” See also: Is Google Making Us Stupid? Finally, get thee to Subterranean Press for their irregularly offered Grab Bag Sale! It’s like Woot!, but with...

Coffee Notes from All Over

It’s gotta come from somewhere… To the surprise of nobody at all, Starbucks is looking to double its coffee imports from Africa by 2009. “People are looking for something different, and East African coffee is very exotic in terms of its flavors and characteristics,” says Philip Gitao, director of the Eastern African Fine Coffees Association. The fine Arabica varieties found in East African highlands currently provide 18% of the world’s coffee, the largest share from Ethiopia, which claims to be the birthplace of coffee although Yemen disputes that claim. Says Gitao, “Starbucks is now taking African coffees very seriously.” I don’t know just when it started but I’ve taken to calling the collective of Stumptown, Intelligentsia and Counter Culture the usual suspects. Not only are they consistently purchasing the top lots at auction, but they’re also on the ground at origin wherever great coffee is to be found. Or is it that great coffee is getting found because they are on the ground at origin? Hmmm. In any case, they’re all getting some great press this week in the NYTimes in the feature, To Burundi and Beyond for Coffee’s Holy Grail, a piece that highlights the nascent Direct Trade model of coffee sourcing. “Direct trade — which also means intensive communication between the buyer and the grower — stands in stark contrast to the old (but still prevalent) model, in which international conglomerates buy coffee by the steamer ship, through brokers, for the lowest price the commodity market will bear. It also represents, at least for many in the specialty coffee world, an improvement on labels like Fair Trade,...

This Modern Life

It’s remarkable the ways the Internet has transformed us. We’ve been quietly beguiled by technology that doesn’t look or feel like, well… like technology. We’re connected — inexorably, insidiously connected — in ways that just a few years ago we might not have imagined, and yet today we take wholly for granted. For your consideration, Roger Mummert’s slice of modern life via the NYTimes travel section — At a Family Gathering, an Internet Cafe Breaks Out. “Do you mind,” one in-law asked, as I rounded up bedding and fretted over having enough milk in the fridge to fill 12 cereal bowls in the morning, “if I just pop onto the computer and check my e-mail?” “Oh, yeah,” remarked another. “Maybe I could just track my son’s flight from D.C.” “Ooh, perhaps you could print something out for me …” That was my first inkling of how the vastly expanded electronic and informational needs of houseguests would flavor our time together. Welcome, to this modern...

Coffee Notes from All Over

National Geographic News reports that — as if Uganda didn’t have enough to worry about, already — Uganda’s coffee crop is under threat of collapse due to global climate change. I find this report extraordinarily worrying, as I suspect it’s merely the tip of the proverbial (and ironic) iceberg. Ugandan coffee has the capacity to be really remarkable stuff… more about that here.) …Even a slight increase in temperature could wipe out Uganda’s entire coffee crop, which brings in more than half of the East African country’s revenue. “Climate change has affected coffee production already,” said Philip Gitao, executive director of the East African Fine Coffees Association. Starbucks is raising prices. Again. Despite having switched from whole milk to 2% across the board, its dairy prices are beginning to hurt. Moo. It’s the new, new way to office… WiFi-powered cafes are fast becoming mobile sales departments. And some cafes are happy about that. Of Panera’s 1,056 locations in the country, 940 are equipped with free WiFi, said spokeswoman Liz Scales. “We’re the largest provider of free WiFi in the country,”Â? Scales said. “There are people that are there and don’t want to buy anything and that’s all right. But most people do and we have had nothing but positive remarks about this.”Â? Six years ago this week Bloggle was recognized as a Blog of Note by the nice folks at Blogger.com. It’s been all downhill from there....
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