ISO bored graphic designer

Anybody out there got good illustration skills and time on their hands? I have a project that needs somebody really good with the crayons.
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Global Village

While having lunch in San Francisco with my British friend who's been visiting, I twittered about the food being too plentiful. Two American colleagues immediately responded with various degrees of enthusiasm, followed by a Trinidadian friend currently in Turkey who suggested it was a poor choice of venue. Meanwhile, I checked my email to see a message from my brother (Trinidadian, living in London) about Christmas presents, to be exchanged when we meet in Tobago. Later that day, my Ukrainian friend who may or may not be in Paris right now IMed me about a webcomic we both read, while another British friend popped up to complain about some technical problems she was having at work. Oh yeah, I'm plugged in.
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On Unicorns and Indie Rock

I think we're all pretty familiar with people whose taste in a particular kind of art has gone beyond what we'd consider reasonable into "pretentious". People who talk about the flavours of wines in terms of seasons and musical notes; people who insist that they appreciate the lyrics of The Muppet Show theme song in terms of the gender politics of the late 60s. Similarly, we're all equally familiar with people whose taste in certain art forms we would consider "unrefined": the people who buy airbrushed photos of unicorns leaping over dolphins in space; the people who own nothing but Top 40 compilation CDs. My question is: where are those dividing lines drawn? And what do we call the area in between those two extremes? It turns out it's really tricky. There really are people who can argue convincingly and at length about the validity not just of describing a wine as "autumnal", and you will find many a 19-year-old philosophy undergraduate willing to argue that Unicorns Of The Universe is as valid a work of...
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Television is dying

Actually, television isn't so much dying as fading away. The problem with television isn't the content. The problem is that "tv" is no longer synonymous with "video entertainment". In the last 10 years television stopped being a medium and simply became a delivery mechanism, one of several ways that we watch short-format video entertainment. And as a delivery mechanism, it totally sucks: it's mostly low-def, quantity is gigantic but you can't choose when you want to watch a particular piece of content (who would design a video delivery system like that these days?) or even reliably indicate that you liked a particular show, so content producers can't recommend content to you or relate shows to each other without limited single-person solutions like TiVo recommendations or crazy hacks like Nielsen sampling. This two-way communication between producer and consumer, touted as a wonder of the web when it first launched, has shifted from being an unexpected bonus to a requirement, and one that television in its...
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Did I mention I was on holiday?

As the twitters have made clear by now, I'm on holiday in Trinidad, but back in SF in time for NYE. Anybody doing anything interesting for NYE in SF?
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Traffic lights in Port of Spain

One of the biggest problems in Trinidad and Tobago right now -- the one that everybody talks about, all the time -- is the traffic. How can an island of 2 million people with an area the size of London have major traffic problems? Because everybody and everything is concentrated on the capital, Port of Spain. So traffic into and out of the capital is a nightmare. But once inside the capital, a little less so. How come? Six months ago or so, the traffic light management system in downtown PoS broke down -- the lights all got stuck on flashing yellow. Citizens of PoS, already used to near-permanent gridlock, were at first dismayed. But it turned out that traffic actually sped up. Across the grid, time that was previously wasted waiting for the lights to change started being used by whoever needed it more. After a couple of days, people got used to it, and it was so popular that they decided not to fix the system. So now the traffic lights in downtown Port of Spain are always yellow. That's the kind of place...
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New Year's Resolutions

I don't usually post these, and as a result I usually forget them. This year's -- just made up right now -- are: Get a driving licence Living in the US without a car is admirable and all, but I want to be able to leave the city occasionally. I won't get a car; I'll just rent one on demand from zipcars. Plus, I'll be able to stop carting around my passport as ID everywhere. Take better care of myself I've lost some of the 25 pounds I gained when I arrived in SF; just need to knock the rest of them off and then maintain. Getting more exercise should help out with that. I also need to take better care of my poor beleaguered eyes, which are twitching even as I write this. Get a boy It doesn't have to be the boy, but I have been rather neglecting my romantic life in the first 12 months of SF. Time to swing the work-life needle back towards life a little bit. These are not in order of priority. Any old order will do.
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This blog in review, 2007

This year the blog tended mainly towards the "keeping in touch" side of communication, and less to the side of thinking about things. I prefer the latter, and made a concerted effort to squeeze in a few of those before the end of the year. I also worked too hard for a big chunk of the year, which lowered post volume, but after 7 years I finally relaunched with a new look and feel and a codebase that doesn't make me barf, so the foundations are laid. January I interviewed for and received a US L1 visa. Thus was my move to san Francisco confirmed. The iPhone was announced and I got extremely excited -- and even more excited when I actually got one. I said an emotional goodbye to London and then I was on my way. February I arrived in San Francisco and was immediately taken by the city. I was impressed by the triumph of capitalism that is daily life in America. I then promptly injured my back, necessitating a trip to the ER and thus my introduction to American healthcare, in particular its assumption that...
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Amazon MP3: two thumbs up

Back in August I reviewed Amazon's Unbox Video Store and my conclusion was: great service, unworkably bad format (it doesn't even work if you uninstall the downloader?!). A few months later I tried out the Amazon MP3 store, and now they've got some more big-label buy-in, I'm finally getting around to writing a review. Amazon has learned from that mistake (or rather, has finally managed to teach the dinosaurs at the record companies), and Amazon's MP3 store is exactly what it says on the tin: MP3s, without any restrictions or DRM, at a very respectable 256kbps. The pricing is also well-researched, as you'd expect from Amazon. Individual tracks are 99cents (still following the very profitable law of small numbers), but full albums are $5-10 -- I picked up a double-disc set of Elton John's greatest hits* for a very respectable $15 and continued to bulk out my oldies with Led Zeppelin for $13, or roughly 50 cents a song. Now that's a price I can get behind. That feels like what a song is really worth, and given...
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