Arcade Fire

Thanks to my son Eliot and an interesting story in a recent New Yorker, I bought the two albums on iTunes by this Montreal group, forgot about it, then on the flight to Beijing plugged the noise-cancellers into the laptop and fired up Funeral and Neon Bible.
This is not a Canadian joke. Who could have thought an accordion and violins could rock? Arcade Fire evokes the Talking Heads at their peak, a little Bowie, a little T. Rex, a little Jane’s Addiction. In short, several of my favorites from the 70s. But weirder, smarter somehow, awesome stuff, I highly recommend them. Good YouTube sample here.

Piracy and plagarism

The U.S. protest with the World Trade Organization over China’s lax enforcement policy towards the piracy of intellectual property is a reminder that all is not well between the two powers, and that the pernicious issue of copyright and respect for IP lags western expectations. Despite the rise of the Napster Generation, and the bleatings of the anti-DRM contingent, “piracy” is still an issue inside of the U.S. and is not confined to foreign shores. This is not to apologize nor gloss over Chinese, or for that matter Russian blaseness over IP laws, but to point out the problem is not confined to the East.

The crux of the US complaint is the enforcement level for the Chinese is if an offender is apprehended with 500 copies of the pirated work. In theory, in the U.S., a single offense is enough to invoke that big red FBI-Interpol warning that runs at the beginning of every DVD.

Ironic then that Google got pinched here in China for using Sohu.com’s product dictionary for its pinyin input system. Sohu detected the transgression by finding the same errors in Google’s code that Sohu knew existed in its own.

Reminds me of the story that map publishers used to put phantom towns, misspelled streets, and bogus churches on their maps to bag plagiarists.

Anyway, while it is unfortunate the U.S. has had to formally complain about China and IP rights. Let me note that Lenovo spends about $1 billion a year to insure its PCs ship with a genuine copy of Microsoft Windows.

Beijing this week

Sitting in a conference room discussing the forthcoming summer Olympics, amazingly uncrippled by jet lag … a post more appropriate for Twitter, but I’ve all but dropped Twitter as one of the most spectacularly useless toys I’ve played with this year.

I’ll blog on Olympic marketing later — I have the global web strategy and am presenting my plan tomorrow. The challenge is simple: what can an Olympic sponsor do online that users will actually care about and return to?

I think I have an idea.

This is a short trip. Three full days in country, four nights, not a lot of exploration or out of office experiences — unlike last year’s first trip where I spent a lot of time meeting Chinese internet companies.

The cold waters of my youth

Saturday was a treat. My daughter’s coach invited me to ride along in the launch and watch the Brooks School girl’s crew practice on Lake Cochituate — the same lake where I learned to row one cold April in 1973. Non-rowers can’t appreciate what it means to ride in a motorboat about twenty feet away from a practicing crew. Spectators to the sport usually see a few seconds of the race, typically near the finish line, and get, at best, a look at 30 strokes worth of rowing. It’s all the more frustrating, as an ex-rower, to only see those final strokes, knowing that the coaches and judges get a stroke-by-stroke view for the entire 1,500 meter course.

I arrived at the boathouse right on time and climbed aboard the launch with Greg Spanier, a veteran coach and math teacher at the school. He explained it was the team’s third row on their home waters — the ice having melted only a couple weeks before. The crew had spent spring break in Austin, Texas, rowing out of the University of Texas — something we didn’t do in the early 70s when we rowed in wooden boats and took out chances with the ice being out during March vacation.

Brooks rowing runs deep in my memory, but is an especial tradition at the small school of about 300 students on a rural campus in northeastern Massachusetts. Founded as an Episcopalian school in the early 1930s, and named after 19th century Episcopalian bishop, Philips Brooks, the school has maintained something of a British “public” school tradition, referring to “forms” instead of grades, and organizing the student governance along a prefect system. Rowing being what it is in England, it was and still is a core part of the “St. Grottlesex” tradition in the small prep school that circle Boston.

Brooks has sent rowers to college championships, world championships and the Olympics. In the past four years the girl’s crew has won two national high school rowing championships.

My daughter was aboard the first boat that won one of those championships, an event I watched from the shores of Lake Harsha outside of Cinncinnati, a momentous affair for a parent and a squirming torture viewed through the viewfinder of a video camera zoomed in as close as it would go. Yesterday I got the chance to truly watch my daughter row¬† for the first time and it was … awesome.

Next weekend is the first scrimmage, and then the season begins, four or five races leading up to the New England championships in Worcester on Lake Quinsigamond. She graduates the next day, finishing her stint at the little school that means more to me than my college experience, bound for the University of Virginia and the big leagues of NCAA women’s rowing.

Thanks to Mr. Spanier for the ride yesterday and best of luck to the team this season.

Beijing bound — blogging may be low this week

I’m off to the airport — and the family isn’t happy to have me missing Easter Sunday with them — but, the Olympics call and a man’s gots to do what a man’s gots to do ….

I know I can get online in my hotel room once I arrive sometime Monday (3 am est, 3 pm local time) and will try to post in the evening if I can find time. Beijing work hours tend to be late night local time so I can answer eastern US time zone emails.

Back on Friday night.

The Journey is not the reward … it’s the food

Conventional wisdom says it’s the ride, not the destination that matters in life. For me, it’s the food. I go to Europe not looking forward to the five hour knees-up crunch in coach, or the crying babies, or the bad movie … but the stinky cheese and real bread on the other end. I go to China thinking about the bowl of noodles I had at a restaurant next to the Worker’s Stadium and the Rice Congee for breakfast with peanuts and scallions …. San Francisco is about the smoked ham and chicken salad at Brandy Ho’s and a Negroni at the Tosca afterwards.

Whereabouts week of 4.8

4.8 Sunday — family angry at me missing Easter, but off I fly to Beijing at 9:45 AM, arriving there on …

4.9 Monday — somewhere over the North Pole or Pacific Ocean, in a self-induced Restoril coma with noise-cancelling headphones and sleep mask proving the sensory-deprivation tank. Need to fill iPod with podcasts and figure out the right airplane book.

4.10-4.12 — Beijing

4.13 — Somewhere over the Pacific back to the States via San Francisco. Land in Boston in the evening, home by 9 pm.

Will be roaming on cell phone and looking at email

‘Very active’ hurricane season is predicted –

‘Very active’ hurricane season is predicted – 04/03/2007 – MiamiHerald.com

“Taking another toss at the tropical weather dart board, a group of university forecasters Tuesday predicted ”a very active” hurricane season.

They expect 17 named tropical storms that grow into nine hurricanes, including five intense hurricanes with winds above 110 mph.”

We’re overdue here on Cape Cod. It’s been 15 years since Hurricane Bob blew through the village and I’m not looking forward to another one. A week of no power, months of chainsaws, angry displaced yellow jackets, trees that think it is spring and flower in September ….. and then there is the annual boat anxiety brought on by every bad weather report.