Nerd Culture Dominates the World

In an interesting twist, Amy was asked to do an interview for a special feature on science and technology for Brazilian television (TV Globo). The topic was nerd culture in America.

We both loved talking with Brazilians about “The Social Network” and especially Luiz’s interview style. The title of the segment was: Cultura nerd domina o mundo nos anos 2000.

Check Amy out starting at 15:26:

The Best in Virginia Wines – My Top 10

This best of Virginia wine top 10 list is pulled from my experiences living in and around Virginia for the last 5 years. It includes local sources, tips from vineyard owners, top chefs, and important local critics. Enjoy!

1. Any list has to start with the Norton grape. Widely considered to be America’s only native grape it was first planted here in Virginia several hundred years ago. Today it is still only grown here in America in Virginia and Missouri.

The most important thing to know about this wine is that “Norton wine comes into its own about 10 years after the vintage…after about five years, the intense fruit began to turn earthy, with soy and mushroom flavors, while the grape’s acidity mellowed.”

A few recommendations are: Chrysalis Vineyards, Locksley Reserve 2005 – Cooper Vineyards, Reserve, 2008 – Horton Vineyards, 2005 – and more…

2. After the Norton grape, the most popular and awarded winning grapes coming out of Virginia are the (red) Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and (white) Viognier, Petit Manseng. Ask for these varietals when visting your local wine store for the best of Virginia viticulture.

3. Now for some award winners, in the World Wine Awards Virginia took home 3 silver medals for these wines:Decanter World Wine Awards DWWA 2011

  • Potomac Pointe Viognier Reserve, 2009.
  • Veramar Cabernet Franc, 2007.
  • Williamsburg Winery Adagio, 2007 (red Bordeaux blend).

More information on Virginia’s bronze awards, including one dessert wine, can be found on Richard Leahy’s blog.

4. In our biggest local event, the Virginia Governor’s Cup, that includes all the vineyards in Virginia, gave the  2010 top prize for red to King Family Vineyard for their 2007 Meritage. And, the top prize for white was given to newcomer Paradise Springs Winery for their 2009 Chardonnay.

A full list of the red winners (pdf) and white winners (pdf).

5. In a bit of pop culture the White House and the Obama’s have been making waves in Virginia’s wine world. First in 2009 when they selected Thibaut-Janisson as the sparkling wine for their first State Dinner. Then again in 2010 for the Governor’s Ball when they selected Sugarleaf Vineyard’s 2008 Petit Manseng, one of Virginia’s few African-American owned vineyards.

In juicier gossip, local (former) vineyard owners Tareq and Michaele Salahi are famously known as the White House Party Crashers and members of the TV show Real Housewives of DC

6. Not to leave out sparkling wines, Keswick Vineyards invited together some of the best critics to perform a blind taste. The results revealed these critic favorites: Prince Michel Sparkling Wine, Afton Mountain Vineyards Tete’ de Cuvee, and the Kluge Estate SP Blanc de Blanc.

fight the recession buy local wine blonde woman

7. To improve our skills, Virginia Tech has a growing selection of oenology courses and a Winery Design program.

8. Virginia is home to a growing number of festivals with the biggest two being the Virginia Wine Expo in February and the Virginia Wine Festival in September. The state government keeps a list of events at Virginia Wine as do several other websites: Virginia Wine Events, Virginia Wine Festival, and Peaks of Otter Winery.

9. My favorite media coverage of Virginia wines comes from Flavour Magazine and the Virginia Wine Gazette. There is also an official guide including maps, regions, and newsletter you can get (for free), and an unofficial newsletter.

10. Finally, a documentary on Virginia wine called, Vintage: The Winemaker’s Year. Click to to view the trailer, see the extra footage, or order the DVD.

“A feature length documentary exploring the rapid growth of the wine industry in Virginia and its increasing impact on the state’s cultural, social, and economic landscape…the narrative of the film is of two intertwining strands- the story of the wine industry’s rise from humble beginnings and the tale of the creation of the state’s 2008 vintage.”

“Vintage examines the factors that make Virginia unique amongst the wine producing regions of the United States and explores why two hundred years after Thomas Jefferson’s failure to cultivate grapes at Monticello the region is finally flourishing as a producer of quality wines.”

“Viewers will see Virginia as a rapidly advancing player in the wine industry, one that is gaining national attention, attracting top winemakers and wine professionals, and poised for explosive growth in the decades to come.”

A New Design for 1X57

A little over three years ago Amy and I were walking the streets of DC talking about starting a business. After working together for two years, side by side, day-in, day-out, we realized anything we did individually paled in comparison to what we could do together. Despite butting heads on numerous occasions and dealing with myriad complications, unknowns, and doubts, we took the plunge and made it happen. 1X57 was born.

In the name we found an expression of who we are. It is the place where we first met in 2006, where we both found mentors to guide and shape our careers, where we found a sense of purpose and where we were inspired to imagine the possibilities. It also became a place out of reach for us, out of touch, if only because of where our path is leading us.

With 1X57, we are re-creating the ideals and values amplified in a place that opened our eyes and expanded our minds, to bring together work and creativity that excites us and contributes to a better world. The starting point for me has been writing on our blog, a way to bring together the intellectually curious people of the world, to discuss the most compelling and intriguing topics of the day. Posts like Can Every Child Get Sraight A’s, Steve Jobs Sabbaticals, Democracy in the World, and Who are the Best in DC Tech? are my way of sorting through questions I have while contributing to a communal discussion.

When we first launched 1X57, we were just happy to have a placeholder for the domain name and a theme that allowed us to get our thoughts out. In version 2.0, we wanted a whole lot more.

With so many projects under our belt and a growing number of speeches and interviews, we needed a space for bios, projects, and press. The blog needed an ability to feature our popular articles that the web seems to love. We also wanted a way to highlight local companies (DC, Baltimore) and must-see events.

Overall, version 2.0 represents a big step forward for the company. Expanded features, new components, and much more capability including a area in which to experiment.

The new theme represents a minimal blank-slate approach that allows our work to come through in full color, while offering a newspaper-style reading layout.

Below are screenshots of the same page viewed as version 1.0:

screenshot of v1.0 of 1x57 - why social network will win best picture

Version 2.0:

version 2.0 1x57 social network best picture

We hope you enjoy the site. Let us know if anything is broken, if you miss anything, or would like to see something added and/or changed.


Democracy In The World

With democratic revolutions spreading from Tunisia to Egypt, I was wondering…how many democracies exist in the world?


According to the 2010 Democracy Index, a report published by the Economic Intelligence Unit, a division of The Economist magazine.

Seventeen of them in Europe, two in Latin America, two in Asia, one in Africa, and the last four are: US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Democracy Index 2010 from the Economic Intelligence Unit (pdf)

This is quite disheartening. As a child of a democracy I expected the number to be 200 or something. How could any country/person not want to be caught in the fire of liberty!

Then it gets me thinking that perhaps it is a cultural thing. Christianity is fiercely independent (“thou shall not kill”) and capitalism is selfishness at its very core. Hey, it could even be from the vast wealth we gained through colonization and subsequent exploitation.

East vs West

I often hear of this divide between the West and East. As if democracy is a Western value not shared by those in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

Is this true?

To answer I dug into what makes a democracy. The report classifies one according to five categories:

  • Functioning of government
  • Civil liberties
  • Electoral process and pluralism
  • Political participation
  • Political culture

Then every country is rated and ranked as a full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid, or authoritarian regime.

The previously mentioned 26 countries are the full democracies. Beyond that another 53 are ranked as flawed democracies. Add up both and it accounts for about half the world’s population.

Which goes a long to prove that democracy is not limited to the Western world. Among the flawed ones are several in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

I would also say that a highly functioning government, civil liberties, and voting are universal expectations of all people. Believe me when an authoritarian regime employs the “secret police” every human being wishes for justice.

These ideals just seem extraordinarily hard to achieve. Several countries, even strong European nations like Italy, France, and Greece, have seen their ability to maintain them drop. Even the United States has recently seen its civil liberties erode and many of us definitely lack political participation.

I guess I can chalk up these reports of democracy being a Western value as propaganda. Probably the same line a dictator uses to keep people under his thumb.

What do you think, is democracy appropriate for the Middle East? Will it do well in Egypt?