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April 29th, 2011
12:15 PM ET

Endeavour: What's in a name?

AFP/Getty Images

Update: Launch scrubbed over problems with Auxiliary Power Unit 1 heaters. Next earliest attempt is Sunday.

As I watch all the fuss over the royal wedding, I can't help but think about the day's other big event... and equally moving love story.

Space shuttle Endeavour is set to launch on its final flight roughly 7 and a half hours after Prince William and Kate Middleton –er, I mean the new Duchess of Cambridge– kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

Fitting that on a day dominated by the British monarchy, NASA would launch its most British shuttle. Of course I only refer to the name. Ever wonder why the U.S. space agency would use a UK spelling for Endeavour?

Blame the kids...

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Filed under: General • Personal musings • Space
April 25th, 2011
07:54 AM ET

A Tourist in Tokyo

I recently returned from a weeklong trip to Japan. It was my first real visit to the country. Having no other point of reference, Tokyo seemed pretty normal to me.

And by normal, I mean incredible. The maze of trains and subways was as packed and punctual as I had expected. Store after store –make that mall after mall– offered gadgets and fashions I had never seen before. And yes, sushi really does taste better in Japan.

The action wasn't all indoors. People were having picnics in the park under cherry blossoms. We saw at least four outdoor weddings. We spent hours people-watching... gawking at random breakdance battles and crowds in elaborate costumes.

But the trip almost didn't happen. Like many people, I struggled with deciding whether or not to cancel my vacation. The holiday had been booked months before the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami. FULL POST

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Filed under: General • Personal musings
April 23rd, 2011
04:22 PM ET

The Royal Wedding Guest List – Skepticism Set in Stone

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So – finally Julia Gillard gets to go to something other than a shrimp barbie. 

But of course I jest. The world’s only ginger Welsh antipodean political leader deserves a party after all she’s been through since she took office.

 I am still avoiding my point. 

While I wasn’t waiting with baited breath for my own invitation to the royal nuptials – or indeed rehearsing fake delight ahead of  the distant chance any acquaintance might be among the chosen few – two words are lodged in my craw. Joss Stone. 

I can accept Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. At least she flirts in royal circles and occasionally persuades the world that Duncan from Blue has more to offer us than Eurovision or bisexuality "shockers".

I can even accept Posh ‘n’ Becks. At least they guarantee viewership from the jaded brigade who don’t do royal but refuse to succumb to totally common (yes – you, Katie Price).

But Joss Stone? Really? Not Adele? Not Laura Marling? Not even Amy Winehouse? At least she’d be worth a laugh. A castoff from Jane McDonald’s “Star for a Night” gets to brush past the bouncers at the biggest event of the year?

Fergie might have felt aggrieved if her namesake from the Black Eyed Peas had been asked along. But Joss Stone?! 

Joss, sweetheart...  This turn of events is not super duper and very few people are diggin’ on it.

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Filed under: General • Personal musings
April 22nd, 2011
06:26 PM ET

The 2011 TIME 100: Most Influential and Most Infuriating

 
 
Top 100 lists are curious beasts at the best of times. But compared to the pleasant predictability of People’s "100 Most Beautiful” or Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”, the “TIME 100” is a particularly baffling blend. Only here do comedians, congressmen and cricketers sit alongside terrorists, tyrants and tiger mothers to comprise the world’s most influential century.

We do get some intuitive topical touches. Among them, Barack Obama on Gabrielle Giffords: “a needed voice that cannot return soon enough”.  We can appreciate the inclusion of revolutionary figures from El Général to Ai Weiwei to Aung San Suu Kyi. Likewise, we should celebrate the ordinary man excelling in extraordinary circumstances – Japanese doctor Takeshi Kanno.

These people deserved to be honored. But – Obama aside – some of the more curious content comes courtesy of those doing the honoring.   FULL POST

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Filed under: General • Personal musings
April 21st, 2011
10:50 PM ET

iPhone: My pocket spy

How does it feel to know that your every movement for the last nine months has been tracked and recorded? You'd think that the revelation that the iPhone (and iPad 3G) is secretly storing your whereabouts would unnerve me. That it's not is a sign of how the old barriers protecting your privacy don't exist anymore.

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April 18th, 2011
06:53 AM ET

Social Media Reaction to End Slavery

If you follow myself or any of the News Stream team on twitter, you'll have noticed a lot of this hashtag–#Endslavery
We've been encouraging you to use it in your tweets too – to spread awareness of slavery in the 21st century, and encourage others to act to stop the practice.
Eddie Byun from Seoul did just that.
His church in South Korea is praying, fasting and giving money during lent to #Endslavery.

Twitter user Reach97 has been moved by our stories of child labor. Reach 97 tweeted this "Children are supposed to be cherished and nurtured not used for any selfish or immoral reasons"

Joan Cho tweeted her reaction to Justin Dillon's Call + Response Campaign that we featured here on CNN.
She says "Leveraging your consumption is the best way you can start. I'm trying to consume fairtrade coffee to get involved in #Endslavery".

The hashtag has also been picked up by the OATH Coalition. It's an NGO dedicated to increase awareness of human trafficking, based in Oklahoma.
Their tweet says, "There are twice as many slaves today as there were during Abraham Lincoln's time - and that's not right!"

April 14th, 2011
04:02 PM ET

Saving a Stranger from Slavery

Photo courtesy Daniel Reetz

Right now, imagine you are reading a plea for help from someone you have never met. He believes the two women in this photo are about to be forced into a life of prostitution.

Do you carry along as usual? Should you write back with advice? Or do you take action?

Last May, a tale of suspected human trafficking unfolded in real time on MetaFilter.com. A regular user of the community weblog started a thread called, "Help me help my friend in DC."

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Filed under: General • Social networking • Technology
April 13th, 2011
05:40 PM ET

Modern-day Abolitionists

Their objectives have not changed since the height of the slave trade: educate, document and mobilize.

By that I mean abolitionists work to spread awareness about the horrors of owning another human being. They record instances of this appalling practice. And they organize others to do something to stop it.

Sadly, slavery still exists today. But the tools to fight it have come a long way. The non-profit group, Not For Sale, utilizes technology to show people that human trafficking exists in their backyard. This online map lets you see instances of slavery near you... wherever you are.

Another "Not For Sale" tool lets you find out if the hands of modern-day slaves have touched the food, clothing or services you buy. And if you want to do even more, the "Not For Sale" Academy provides education on effectively fighting slavery and helping its victims.
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Filed under: General • Technology
April 13th, 2011
08:32 AM ET

Anti-Slavery Apps

Free2Work and Call + Response. My look at two apps designed to fight slave labor by empowering the consumer with the right data and a global voice.

April 13th, 2011
07:45 AM ET

Yuri Gagarin, SuperTed and the Case against Space

Getty Images

A lot of people are going to hate this blog post. To all those people, I’d just like to take a quick moment to say: “Suck it up, haters”. 

Here’s the deal. Some people are lost in space. Some, like me, are lost in space-related conversation. I just don’t get it. I don’t want to get it. I will never get it. 

When most of my colleagues watch the Yuri Gagarin video from five decades ago, they gasp in awe. When I watch it, I struggle not to choke on my own vomit. 

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Filed under: General • News Stream ephemera • Personal musings • Space
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