Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Guggenheim Museum in New York

Posted in Art, NYC by Elliott Back on May 22nd, 2011.

I stopped by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum yesterday for the first time. While not as large as the nearby Met or MoMA, its unique Frank Lloyd Wright designed architecture and internal spiral-staircase layout make it worth a visit if you’re in the Upper-West side neighborhood. Internally, the artworks is arranged in chronological order, winding up the spiral structure from oldest to newest, bottom to top. A tip for visitors is to take the elevator to the very top, and walk down to view the art.

The Guggenheim Museum

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

The exterior features a winding helix stack, part of the original Frank Lloyd Wright design in 1959, and a square atrium expansion which was added in 1992 by the museum’s foundation. A massive exterior renovation occurred from 2005 to 2008, removing the original paint, laser/echo mapping cracks in the concrete structure and repairing them after determining that the superstructure was structurally sound.

The interior’s main feature is the winding spiral, housing galleries affixed the walls, terminating in a twelve-paned skylight that allows natural light to fall on the pieces contained within. The curved walls the museum make hanging paintings flush with the walls impossible.

The museum does not allow internal photography, but I jotted down the names of some of my favorite pieces. Here’s a brief sampler of the art you can see in the Guggenheim museum. In spirit of presentation, I’ve arranged it chronologically as well:

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Google’s 2010 Christmas Holiday Doodle

Posted in Art, Google by Elliott Back on December 23rd, 2010.

Chinese readers should check out Wendy’s great post 来自谷歌首页的圣诞祝福!

Combining 17 different images together, Google’s prime Doodler Micheal Lopez spent 250 hours to create their latest Christmas-card masterpiece, a beautiful, abstract rendition approximating the Google logo. According to the WSJ, Chief-Doddler Lopez said, “We want to end the year with a bang.”


As seen on Google’s homepage

Each of the 17 images represents an image of holiday cheer, a sort of cultural Christmas card. So, the entire Google represents a global merry Christmas! Below, I will explode each image into its component links.

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Americans: “If I can’t have it, neither can you.”

Posted in Holiday, Jobs, Law by Elliott Back on December 15th, 2010.

I was reading the news today and came across this article, US sues school over denial of Muslim pilgrimage, which details an interesting case of law:

The federal government sued a suburban Chicago school district Monday for denying a Muslim middle school teacher unpaid leave to make a pilgrimage to Mecca that is a central part of her religion. [...]

Khan wanted to perform the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia which every adult Muslim is supposed to make at least once in a lifetime if they are physically and financially able to. Millions go each year. [...]

Berkeley School District compelled Khan to choose between her job and her religious beliefs, the lawsuit said.

Interesting stuff. As an employer, I believe that you should make every possible effort to strike reasonable work-life balance for your employees. Unpaid time away to get married, look after family, and fulfilling religious obligations are all the sorts of things that you would reasonably expect accommodation for. In more civilized countries, you would be accorded sufficient paid holidays to do much of this. Unfortunately, in the United States, by law, there is no requirement to offer any holidays at all!

Ignoring the religious and racial overtones in this news article, what I found interesting was the comments thread. Check these high-rated gems out:

  • “they want, want, want but don’t want to give. Special treatment! Whatever happened to the (former) American work ethic?”
  • “Contract, obey the rules and live with them or dont sign up”
  • “Whoever hired her should be fired.”
  • “This is a sham on the american way of life”
  • “Seperation of Church and State. Take a Religous Holiday when everyone else does.”
  • ” She signed a contract, then did not like it. Tough. Think I like paying my credit cards? No, but I have a contractual relationship to pay .”
  • “What a bunch of bull. This should not even go to court. She should be denied time off for this. Try this at a real job and they will tell you “no”! Here is why, if you want the time off then use your vacation time. That is what it is for. Your employer is not obligated to give you any more time off then what you have accrued.”

It’s an interesting fact that Americans have the least paid vacation days in the world (0 by law), some of the most mediocre students in the world, the largest wealth-gap between the rich and poor, etc. Yet when confronted by an individual who is trying to improve the American standard of living (by advocating for improved time-off rules), American internet commenters essentially say, “I don’t have this right; why should you?”

I don’t understand this.

Do you want America to suck? You should be cheering this woman and the ALCU on, because they are fighting for your rights. (If you feel like commenting that I’m an elitist foreigner who should shut up and work harder, please don’t even bother to leave a comment.)

Update: It’s nice to see Netflix lets its staff take as much holiday as they want, whenever they want – and it works come out today.

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