Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TechCrunch's New Logo

Aol has wasted no time in rebranding their new property.


SMS Language

I'm listening to the audiobook of Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story, set in an approximate dystopian future where, among other things, youth lingo has evolved even further along its current trajectory towards what Wikipedia classifies as SMS language. OMG, you don't know what SMS language is? These are the short initialisms that have become so popular especially among youth to minimize keying long phrases on cell phones or in IM chat.

Shteyngart's take on the trend is hilarious, and some of his invented phrases ring completely believable. "JBF," says one character. "I'm just butt-fucking with you." I had to Google to confirm that this does not, in fact, appear to be a trending phrase.

Is SMS language a symptom of society's plunge into illiteracy, or merely an example of culture adapting to the preferred aparrati of communication? Did wise old elders frown upon the impatient young monks who grew tired of laboring over "Anno Domini," opting for the quicker, albeit more cryptic "AD"? Did the mathematician scoff at his student, "Is that all you have? You haven't proven anything," only to be rebuffed for the first time with a terse, indignant "QED, dude." Perhaps each generation of your own family has rebuffed the generation before, by misinterpreting the underlying meaning for the initials GI, but using it freely nonetheless.

Initialisms reflect the human desire to optimize away the most tedious, repetitive aspects of written and spoken communication. Over the past decade or so, society has shifted toward communicating with devices that, frankly, make all forms of communication tedious. The result? A shitstorm of initialisms in order to cope. I like to think that SMS language is a trend that will diminish once our devices offer superior means of communicating fluidly and expressively in complete words.

Of course, there will always be room for a reasonable number of popular abbreviations. Slang prose, FTW.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Qathra Cafe

We are pretty lucky here in Ditmas Park to have access to several nice restaurants, some of which double as cafes. But there is a relative void of businesses going all-out after the cafe niche.

On my way to the supermarket this evening I noticed a "soft launch" for a business which seems aimed at filling that void: Qathra Cafe.

Qathra Cafe Soft Opening Sign

Looks like they'll be offering coffee, espresso drinks, and pastries at a minimum. I also spotted some bowls of hummus and other mediterranean-looking snacks, presumably not there only for the soft-launch party but also as an indicator of their menu.

The place was fairly hopping, filled I'm sure with people who are friends and acquaintances of the owners, but also with curious passers-by who I overheard whispering skeptically about the freeness of the goodies inside.

Qathra Cafe Storefront

One of the things I love about restaurants and cafes in New York, in contrast to Boston and San Francisco, is the commonness of backyard patios. On this block, Sycamore and The Farm on Adderly set a high standard, but Qathra appears prepared to run with the big dogs... err, at least, with the cartoon dogs.

Snoopy Mural

I only tried a cookie on my way out after snapping these photos, but I'll be back to check out the coffee offerings. I'm impressed by the design and apparent attention to detail. It looks like the proprietors are interested in making this a place to last.

Coffee Bar

Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

I haven't posted here in a while, but just to catch up everybody up: we live in Brooklyn, now!

Our new neighborhood, Ditmas Park, is fairly unknown to out-of-towners. Situated to the south of Prospect Park, it has relatively easy access to the amenities of Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn, while still offering some less urban perks such as relatively easy parking, and a bit more apartment space for your money.

I'll be trying to revive this blog in an effort to chronicle my adventures in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and beyond, as well as to record observations about things that are going on in my neighborhood.