Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekend recommendations

A few sites worth mining on a cold, wet fall weekend.

The Browser:  Billed as “Writing worth reading”, this site offers links to articles, ebooks, and interviews organized into wide-ranging topics.  I’ve found lots to enjoy, from Freeman Dyson’s discussion of how philosophers lost touch with modern audiences to Dieter Bohn’s explanation of how Google is designing predictive search and Wells Tower on being a barista at a Dutch coffee shop (with a C): It's like working at a Starbucks where the customers are cranky zombies, and a latte costs fifty bucks.  The fun is in finding short articles that you’d have never come across otherwise while waiting on line to see Skyfall.

HSBC Expat Survey:  The 2012 results are in, the Netherlands is number 26, and there’s lots of interesting statistics and perspectives in the improved Explorer.  Transport and healthcare fared well; making friends and setting up utilities were predictably difficult.  I miss the old .pdf format, but I like browsing through the comments and comparing countries.

The Sinica Podcast:  Kaiser Kou broadcasts a weekly podcast from the PopUp studies in Beijing, featuring expats and journalists discussing news and perspectives on China.  I first heard of Kaiser though a This American Life episode, and I’ve listened to about a dozen back shows.  Discussion ranges across issues that are broadly interesting to expatriates: How do you decode local media, How do foreign countries interpret US new broadcasts, How are expat blogging communities evolving?  It’s been interesting to translate the commentary over to my own experiences in the Netherlands.

Quizlet:  With my language exam fast approaching, it’s been key to turn my vocabulary sheets into some sort of drill that I can work on.  Quizlet is a free site that has lots of Dutch language flashcard sets and a reasonable interface for flipping through them: I’ve been able to move some of my sets in as well.  The quality and depth of the decks varies, but it’s a broad resource to tap into.

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