The meaning of life by Stanley Kubrick

Over the weekend, I re-found this great quote from an interview with Stanley Kubrick about the purpose of life. It’s something to think about while speeding through the week. (I typed it out so it’s actually copy-and-pasteable, but the original scan is below the line.)


Question: “If life is so purposeless, do you feel that it’s worth living?”

Answer: “Yes, for those of us who manage somehow to cope with our mortality. The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism – and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong – and lucky – he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”

The meaning of life according to Stanley Kubrick

“Kokumi” wants to be a flavor along with sweet, salty, bitter, sour and “umami”

So I was reading the latest Food Business News magazine from my monthly reading pile when I saw an article that said “Kokumi Strives To Become New Flavor”.

Apparently I’m a platinum member of the old fart club now, because the only tastes I knew of were sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Somewhere along the way, something called Umami got in the door, and now Kokumi wants to join the party.

According to the article, Kokumi is “the rich, strong taste in food”, while another website defines Umami as the “savouriness” of food.

Here’s the best part. The article says “By human sensory analysis, we found that various extracellular calcium-sensing receptors (CaSR) agonists enhance sweet, salty, and Umami tastes, although they have no taste themselves… these characteristics are known as “kokumi taste” and often appear in traditional Japanese cuisine.”

Soooo it’s a taste that has no taste.


Here’s the link to iPhone Genius Scan of the article…

Kokumi - New Flavor

Subscribe to Spin for $1 or for $7.95?

In my personal inbox this morning, I received three emails from Spin offering a discounted subscription to their magazine.

The surprising part was that every offer was sent to a different email address I have.

One offer is to subscribe for $1, two offers are to subscribe for $7.95.

Spin 00

Opening the $1 subscription email offer I see…

Spin 01

…and when I click on the link in the email, I am taken to the signup page, which shows I can get 11 issues for $1. That’s a great deal!

Spin 02

Opening either of the $7.95 subscription email offers I see…

Spin 03

…and when I click on the link in the email, I am taken to the signup page, which shows I can get 11 issues for $7.95.

Spin 04

This has to be one of the easiest decisions I’ve made this week.

The Verifier – a mobile wireless fingerprint scanner [AMERICAN COP]

I saw a great little gadget in a recent issue of American Cop (March-April 2010 issue on page 20).

Called the VERIFIER, it’s a baton-shaped “Mobile Wireless Fingerprint Scanner” that takes a suspect’s fingerprint in the field and runs it through the local PD database through the squad car or a field station’s wifi connection. Depending on how nationally connected the local PD’s network is, it can also route the scan through any other national database to confirm the individual’s ID. According to the article, in about 10 minutes, any results on the suspect will be returned to the field officer.

My first reaction? Cool gadget!

My second reaction? Hmmm.

On the one hand, there’s a ton of “pros” for this device.

  • Instant on-site body identification (Hey CBS- put this on CSI already!)
  • Instant verification of someone who says they do not have their ID. (No ID on you? No problem! Just put your finger right here if you please…)
  • Validation of every presented form of identification (IE: no more fake driver’s licenses from out of state or out of country!)
  • Reliable identity confirmation (IE: no mis-reading license numbers over the radio or dealing with old and busted ID swipe-pads in a patrol car).
  • Reasonably cheap at $2,000 per unit.
  • And probably best of all, a much faster initiation of booking and processing of a suspect in the legal system.

On the other hand, there’s the big ugly potential this can create a “fingerprint national database” just based on traffic stops.

I know a national database exists based on driver’s licenses alone, but I strongly oppose a national database based on fingerprint/DNA information of individuals not accused of any crime.

Plus, I have a bad feeling this is going to wind up in the courts pretty quick. Here’s my hypothetical… a very smart, thorough and well-intentioned police officer somewhere is going to use the VERIFIER on a suspect he has a valid “gut feeling” about, even though the suspect will have an ID they have already presented to the police officer. If the suspect gets busted based on the VERIFIER’S scan, the big question will be if they were technically arrested at the time of fingerprinting and was the fingerprinting process valid? Is fingerprinting at a traffic stop (or border checkpoint) a violation of the 5th? Should the VERIFIER be used before a miranda warning? Does a miranda warning even apply for the VERIFIER?

Welcome to 2010.

You can check out the VERIFIER at the website. Below is also the scan from the American Cop magazine where this article originally appeared. (March / April 2010 page 20) (click to enlarge).

American Cop Magazine March/April 2010 page 20

American Cop Magazine March/April 2010 page 20

You can also read this whole issue of in their digital archives area on their website.

FDA seeks front of package label input [FOOD BUSINESS NEWS]

In some more magazine-reading-based news, I saw in Food Business News in their May 11 2010 issue on page 15 that the FDA “…has requested that any parties interested in the issues of front-of-package nutrition labels and retail shelf tags submit comments as well as data regarding the topics.”

Wow. The FDA wants input from everyone on what to put on the front of foodstuff packaging? That’s fairly progressive!

The Food Business News article says that… “specifically, the agency would like to learn more about the extent to which consumers notice, use and understand nutrition symbols on front-of-pack labeling of food packages or on shelf tags in retail stores; research that assesses and compares the effectiveness of particular approaches to front-of-pack labeling; graphic design, marketing and advertising data and information that can help develop better point-of-purchase nutrition information; and how point-of-purchase information may affect decisions by food manufacturers to reformulate products.”

So what would you like to see on the front of food packaging? What nutritional information would you require at a glance? How should it look graphically?

Personally, I want to see a foodstuff’s calories, fat content, carb content, number of servings per container, and whether or not it is organic in a big font in the front and left corner with no graphics from the foodstuff to obstruct the information. Everything else can stay on the nutrition label on the side.

The article goes on to say… “the F.D.A. is accepting comments until July 28, 2010. Comments may be sent to, by entering Docket No. FDA-2010-N-0210. Written comments also may be sent to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305) Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville Md., 20852.”


Here’s the link to the article on Food Business News (it has a annoying register-to-read requirement, but the link I posted might get around that). If that first link didn’t work, try this one. Just in case both of those do not work, below is a scan of the original magazine article.

FDA seeks front of package nutrition labeling info

FDA seeks front of package nutrition labeling info

BTW, Food Business News is one of my favorite magazines because of the info I get on the retail food industry. Their website could be better if it wasn’t a “register-to-read” site, but the articles online and in print are always top notch. I re-subscribe to these guys all the time.

Food for thought: Prisoners should earn money to buy their own food

I was catching up on my magazine subscriptions this weekend and saw an letter written to American Cop in the May/June 2010 issue that really got me thinking.

A letter from Robert Phair in Ketchikan, Alaska had a really straightforward premise that I’m surprised no one has picked up on yet.

I’m going to post his letter in its’ entirety between the dash-lines and hope nobody minds too much…



I’d like to add my input to the current debate on the right to own an exercise machine, etc, (Return Fire Mar/Apr 2010). Anything a free man desires to buy or have as a result of his wealth or labor is okay as long as he, by doing so, doesn’t take away the similar rights of his fellow citizens.

Those who are rightfully incarcerated have, by definition, forfeited the right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Our jail inmates are even provided meals, at no cost, by the state. In Mexico, as I’m sure you know, one has to earn the money to buy his own food. I like that idea personally, as it teaches a citizen it’s his responsibility to earn his own living – a lesson apparently missed by most of those who wake up and find themselves in jail.

-Robert Phair, Ketchikan, Alaska”



This is brilliant.

I completely agree with Robert’s sentiments. Having prisoners work for their own food is no more “cruel and unusual” as any of us having to go to work every day so we can have something to eat when we get hungry.

Aside from the brilliant object lesson for each inmate, this idea would save each state thousands of dollars for each prisoner. If each meal costs $4, each prisoner every year costs $4,380 just to feed ($4 * 3 meals a day = $12. $12 * 365 = $4,380).

With 2,424,279 inmates in 2008, $4,380 * 2,424,279 comes out to $10,618,342,020!! $10.6 billion!!

I can think of a lot of things to spend $10.6 billion on.

Time to write the local state reps.

You can read back issues of American Cop by visiting their website and looking in the digital archive. The issue with Robert Phair’s letter is the May/June 2010 edition, page 11.

BTW, I think it’s very impressive that American Cop has their back issues online for everyone to read for free. You can also email, print, or PDF them all! I’ll be renewing my subscription just for that feature!