july piece

Upcoming Events:

May 7th: Performing on Sunrise (Australia)

May 8th: Star Event Centre (one-off concert in Australia) - more info


May 16th: Kiss 108’s Kiss Concert - more info here

May 17th: Billboard Music Awards - more info here

May 30th: iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party - more info here and here

May 31: 103.5 KTU Presnts KTUphoria 2015 - more info here

July 11th: Piece By Piece tour kicks off - more info here


A Cold War political thriller starring Paul Newman and Julie Andrews, this Hitchcock piece was written by Brian Moore and tells the story of an American scientist who pretends to defect to East Germany as part of a mission to obtain the solution of a formula to smuggle back to the United States government.

In the fall 1964, Hitchcock offered to write the script to Vladimir Nabokov, the famous author of Lolita, who had successfully helped adapting his own novel to a well regarded film directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1962. Although intrigued, Nabakov declined the project feeling that he knew very little about a political thriller.

As Hitchcock was at the peak of his career he had a lot of freedom, however, equally, there was a lot of demand on him as people would be awaiting his next project. He turned again to the spy genre as it was very successful at the time with the James Bond franchise in it’s infancy and Hitch had already dabbled with spies in his early career and more recently in North by Northwest

Twin Skulls and Flowers with Shisha Mirrors. Bright colors of French cotton floss pop against the background of black cotton on this hand embroidered pillow 12" x 12". Five shisha mirrors are sewn on with a needle weaving dahlia stitch. The pillow features lots of chain stitch and double chain stitch as well. All hand embroidered and hand constructed. One of a kind piece by Julie Kwaitkowski Schuler.

firelegs asked:

Soul eater NOT Confirmed out in July One Piece season 7 is out July 14.

I knew about NOT! (pre-ordered it here along with the Special Edition of Soul Eater).

So, One Piece and Soul Eater fans should unite in July to celebrate these releases. :D

(Although, I was hoping these releases were happening in June so I could get Glass, Mignogna, and Tatum to sign them.)


ICYMI, here’s the interview I did recently with Julie A. Smith, creator of the hit web series Fumbling Thru the Pieces. Please excuse some of the technical difficulties and my obvious distraction. Google kept blinking something across the screen, reminding me I needed some sort of update.

Design Love: Minimalism with Mjölk

Mjölk is a design gallery featuring work from Scandinavia and Japan, located in Toronto, Canada. Mjölk (which means “milk” and is pronounced Mi-yelk) is the branchild of curators John Baker and Juli Daoust, who strive for an aesthetic that is “pure, honest, and essential.”

I completely adore the stripped-clean minimalism of their pieces, with the beautiful lines and calming focus on functionality…

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The Salvation of America’s Economy

Richard C. Young

Originally posted July 12, 2011.

Courtesy of The New York Times and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman.

Paul Krugman is well read as a featured op-ed columnist for the New York Times. In a July 3 piece headed Corporate Cash Con, Krugman concluded, “What our economy needs is direct job creation by the government.” I wish I were making this up, but unfortunately this summation is exactly what Times/Krugman are subjecting readers to. I have run my own business for almost 35 years, advising small business owners (America’s jobs creators) and retired and soon-to-be-retired, conservative investors on protecting their life savings. With zero reservation and a lifetime of direct experience, I can assure all Times readers and anyone else exposed to the delusional Krugman reasoning that this prescription is nuts.

What America needs is a return to the federal republic form of central government espoused by Thomas Jefferson, in which the federal government, Congress and the president would be confined to the specific activities enumerated in Article I Section. 8. and Article II Section. 2. of the Constitution. In such a constitutionally correct setting, the federal government would be dramatically smaller than what it is today with a weak presidency, as is the case in Switzerland, and most ideally a part-time Congress featuring legislators who agree to run for only a single term. The majority of today’s Washington-based departments would be dissolved, with designated duties turned over to the states. Social services would be the concern of individual states, to include reformed Medicare and Medicaid. Social Security would be privatized. Total government outlays, in such a constitutionally correct environment, would plummet, allowing a long overdue scrapping of the tax code. No more corporate income tax. No more tax on savings. A modest, everyone-pays-a-share, individual income tax filed on a one-page form would emerge. An equally modest national sales tax with—once again—everyone paying a fair share would also emerge.

The word modest is a cornerstone of a new tax scheme, as the federal government in the future would be but a shadow of the current constitutional violator. The need for accountants would rapidly disappear, and lawyers would be in increasingly light demand. An overhaul of the legal system would put an end to class action lawsuits and punitive damages. Federal court activities would be greatly diminished, with state courts appropriately taking over. A new, national right to work law in combination with a reformed tax and legal system would quickly combine to make newly energized American businesses the model of the world. The job creation engine run by America’s small business owners would switch into overdrive.

America’s military would concentrate 100% on defending American soil. We would no longer attempt to project U.S. military power abroad. There would be no need to engage in the massive projection charade that, for over 100 years, has been the province of America’s military/industrial complex. America’s economic might, its new hard currency status (the Fed would be history), and its well-promoted homeland military power would combine to produce an economic/military presence unmatched in the world.

Such an eminently sensible, constitutionally correct American federal republic could be the basis of a Tea Party revolt. There are obviously many losers in such a revamped American system. It has taken since 1913 to assemble America’s Jabba the Hut bureaucracy. It is, in 2012, time to start an orderly dismantling.

Related posts:

  1. Paul Krugman Wrong Again
  2. Two Americas—The Reality and The Mid-Term Elections
  3. A Marxist in New York Times Garb!
  4. Jobs, The Obama Way
  5. Krugman and the Texas Deficit


Interesting piece (HT: Julie)

Why people who brainstorm are wasting their time.

Brainstorming was invented by advertising executive Alex Osborn in 1939 and first published in 1942 in his book How to Think Up. This is a typical description, from James Manktelow, founder and CEO of MindTools, a company that promotes brainstorming as a way to “develop creative solutions to business problems”:

Brainstorming is often used in a business setting to encourage teams to come up with original ideas. It’s a freewheeling meeting format, in which the leader sets out the problem that needs to be solved. Participants then suggest ideas for solving the problem, and build on ideas suggested by others. A firm rule is that ideas must not be criticized — they can be completely wacky and way out. This frees people up to explore ideas creatively and break out of established thinking patterns. As well as generating some great solutions to specific problems, brainstorming can be a lot of fun.

Osborn claimed significant success for his technique. As one example of brainstorming’s effectiveness, he cited a group of United States Treasury employees who came up with 103 ideas for selling savings bonds in forty minutes. Corporations and institutions including DuPont, IBM, and the United States government soon adopted brainstorming. By the end of the twentieth century, its origins forgotten, brainstorming had become a reflex approach to creating in many organizations and had entered the jargon of business as both a noun and a verb. It is now so common that few people question it. Everybody brainstorms; therefore, brainstorming is good. But does it work?

Claims about the success of brainstorming rest on easily tested assumptions. One assumption is that groups produce more ideas than individuals. Researchers in Minnesota tested this with scientists and advertising executives from the 3M Company. Half the subjects worked in groups of four. The other half worked alone, and then their results were randomly combined as if they had worked in a group, with duplicate ideas counted only once. In every case, four people working individually generated between 30 to 40 percent more ideas than four people working in a group. Their results were of a higher quality, too: independent judges assessed the work and found that the individuals produced better ideas than the groups.

Follow-up research tested whether larger groups performed any better. In one study, 168 people were either divided into teams of five, seven, or nine or asked to work individually. The research confirmed that working individually is more productive than working in groups. It also showed that productivity decreases as group size increases. The conclusion: “Group brainstorming, over a wide range of group sizes, inhibits rather than facilitates creative thinking.” The groups produced fewer and worse results because they were more likely to get fixated on one idea and because, despite all exhortations to the contrary, some members felt inhibited and refrained from full participation.

Another assumption of brainstorming is that suspending judgment is better than assessing ideas as they appear. Researchers in Indiana tested this by asking groups of students to think of brand names for three different products. Half of the groups were told to refrain from criticism and half were told to criticize as they went along. Once again, independent judges assessed the quality of each idea. The groups that did not stop to criticize produced more ideas, but both groups produced the same number of good ideas. Deferring criticism added only bad ideas. Subsequent studies have reinforced this.

Research into brainstorming has a clear conclusion. The best way to create is to work alone and evaluate solutions as they occur. The worst way to create is to work in large groups and defer criticism. Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs’s cofounder at Apple and the inventor of its first computer, offers the same advice:

“Work alone. You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team.”

Brainstorming fails because it is an explicit rejection of ordinary thinking — all leaps and no steps — and because of its unstated assumption that having ideas is the same as creating. Partly as a result, almost everybody has the idea that ideas are important. According to novelist Stephen King, the question authors signing books get asked most often — and are least able to answer — is “Where do you get your ideas from?”

Ideas are like seeds: they are abundant, and most of them never grow into anything. Also, ideas are seldom original. Ask several independent groups to brainstorm on the same topic at the same time, and you will likely get many of the same ideas. This is not a limitation of brainstorming; it is true of all creation. Because everything arises from steps, not leaps, most things are invented in several places simultaneously when different people walk the same path, each unaware of the others. For example, four different people discovered sunspots independently in 1611; five people invented the steamboat between 1802 and 1807; six people conceived of the electric railroad between 1835 and 1850; and two people invented the silicon chip in 1957. When political scientists William Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas studied this phenomenon, they found 148 cases of big ideas coming to many people at the same time and concluded that their list would grow longer with more research.

Having ideas is not the same thing as being creative. Creation is execution, not inspiration. Many people have ideas; few take the steps to make the thing they imagine.