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Steve’s Legacy · What were the Real­ly Big Things? ...
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Steve at NeXT · Late in 1989 I opened my email one morn­ing and there was one from sjob­s@nex­t.­com say­ing “come see us.” So I went and spent the day and failed to make a sale, but so did Mr. Job­s ...
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How To Die · So, Derek’s gone. I was find­ing it a lit­tle hard to main­tain, this morn­ing. I’d known him for a while; we weren’t close but, like a whole lot of oth­er peo­ple around geek­dom and Van­cou­ver, I’d been drawn in tighter and tighter as he wrote his way through mor­tal ill­ness, al­ways fac­ing for­ward and keep­ing the sto­ry flow­ing even when ev­ery­one knew how, and re­cent­ly when, it would end ...
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Late Summer Tech Tab Sweep · Some of these pup­pies have been keep­ing a brows­er tab open since April. No the­me; rang­ing on the geek­i­ness scale from ex­treme to mostly-sociology ...
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Into the Dark · I read Tuesday’s sto­ry of the joint sui­cide of Joan and Ed­ward Downes. I’m sure this sto­ry touched many heart­s, what­ev­er we think of the eth­i­cal is­sues. Ear­ly this morn­ing I was driv­ing the kids around and they played a tune I’d nev­er heard called I’ll Fol­low You In­to the Dark. It’s a love­ly song — at once melo­di­ous, wit­ty, and sad — and it comes from ex­act­ly the same place as the sto­ry of the Downes’ death. This week there’s an ex­tra chance it’ll tug at your heart as it did mine ...
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Erik Naggum, R.I.P. · Erik was a flamer’s flamer, back in the gold­en days of Usenet. He was re­flex­ive­ly averse to the main­stream; a pro­po­nent of SGML be­fore de­scrip­tive markup was fash­ion­able, he peeled away from the com­mu­ni­ty when XML hit the big time, van­ish­ing in a puff of pun­gent sul­furous smoke. I think he’s left an im­por­tant les­son be­hind him ...
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On Media · This last Fri­day and Satur­day I spent in the com­pa­ny of 250 or so peo­ple who self-define as con­trib­u­tors to the Net, at North­ern Voice 2009. On the one hand, it’s like be­ing in a warm bath; ev­ery­one here thinks it’s nor­mal to want to tell your sto­ry to the world, usu­al­ly on more than one chan­nel. On the oth­er, ev­ery­one goes around talk­ing about “Social Media”; the clock is to­tal­ly tick­ing on the time when you can do that uniron­i­cal­ly. Hav­ing said that, our tra­di­tion­al me­dia are look­ing pa­thet­i­cal­ly clapped-out and we are sure as hell go­ing to need some­thing to fill the gap­s. With pic­tures ...
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Stray Sunbeam: Sara Dornsife · Sara is an outward-facing mar­ket­ing/e­van­ge­lism per­son. Ex­treme­ly outward-facing. Plus she un­der­stands all this stuff that’s go­ing on with new forms of ex­pres­sion and ver­sions of the Web and so on. Her blog is SaraD and she’s on LinkedIn. Al­so, check out this nice tes­ti­mo­ni­al from Steve O’Grady ...
 
Stray Sunbeam: Lauren Wood · Lau­ren is a lot of things: An XML wonk, a standards-process vet­er­an with a track record of suc­cess, a con­fer­ence or­ga­niz­er, a blog­ger, and a WordPress hack­er. For my mon­ey her biggest tal­ent is project man­age­men­t: She’s tech­ni­cal, has a good bull­shit fil­ter, and is com­plete­ly re­lent­less (in the most po­lite and friend­ly way imag­in­able) in ex­tract­ing units of use­ful progress from gag­gles of geek­s, even when they’re dis­tribut­ed across mul­ti­ple con­ti­nents ...
 
Stray Sunbeam: Gerald Beuchelt · Ger­ry is a geek’s geek. He’s si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly a Free Soft­ware en­thu­si­ast and a first-rate Win­dows hack­er, which can be a use­ful com­bi­na­tion. Speak­ing of use­ful com­bi­na­tion­s, how about Ger­man and US pass­port­s; Gerry’s about to be­come an Amer­i­can ...
 
Stray Sunbeam: Dave Johnson · Dave John­son is an in­flu­en­tial Open-Source de­vel­op­er, an ef­fec­tive evan­ge­list, and an all-around de­cent guy. He’s on­line at Blog­ging Roller and to­day he post­ed Leav­ing Sun. Snap him up, he’ll go fast ...
 
John Hopkinson · This friend of mine is look­ing for a job, and since he’s got a fair­ly spe­cial skillset I thought it’d be worth high­light­ing him here. He’s a long-time vet­er­an of se­cu­ri­ty tech­nol­o­gy (s­tart­ing in the Bri­tish mil­i­tary) and more re­cent­ly a re­al­ly ac­com­plished stan­dards war­rior. I got to watch John work in the con­text of the re­cent OOXML pro­cess, in­clud­ing the BRM in Geneva, where he was one of the most ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tors. He knows ISO pro­cess and pol­i­tics com­pre­hen­sive­ly. Seems to me that at this point in his­to­ry the com­bi­na­tion of se­cu­ri­ty and stan­dards ex­per­tise ought to be re­al in­ter­est­ing to some­one out there. If that might be you, con­tact me by email and I’ll put you in touch.
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Greg Stein · Ouch. Greg, one of the nicest peo­ple in the Open Source com­mu­ni­ty, and a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor both of code and of unglamorous-but-necessary or­ga­ni­za­tion­al work, was mugged in Pa­lo Al­to; he was on crutch­es at the time. [Street crime in Pa­lo Al­to? Who knew?] Any­how, it’s time for the com­mu­ni­ty to give a lit­tle back. Join in, please.
 
Sunday · One of those great sum­mer days. Base­bal­l, hap­py boys, good food, and sun­lit flow­er­s, all among friend­s ...
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On Drugs · Gosh, there seem to be a lot of drugs in the news these days. There’s a study out as­so­ci­at­ing cannabis and men­tal ill­ness. Mean­while, drugs de­stroyed the Tour de France, are one of the main ob­sta­cles to peace in Afghanistan, and my home town of Van­cou­ver is it­self an in­ter­est­ing lit­tle nar­cotics lab (for what it’s worth, I think the 2003 piece linked there is one of the best things I ev­er wrote on this blog) ...
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07/07/07 · On the sev­enth of Ju­ly this year, we par­tic­i­pat­ed in the glob­al lucky-number wed­ding boom by at­tend­ing Ger­hild and Reinhard’s wed­ding in Ber­lin. Here are some pho­to­s, which are on­ly of in­ter­est if you like wed­dings or mod­ern Luther­an ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal ar­chi­tec­ture ...
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On Birthdays · That’s what this weekend’s all about. Yes­ter­day was Derek Miller’s and there was a cool par­ty. To­day is my son’s and al­so Canada’s ...
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Tab Sweep—The World · I guess these oc­ca­sion­al link blasts are an in­te­gral part of Web cul­ture. Warn­ing: one of these is ter­ri­bly sad ...
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Rats! · I’m quot­ing my old friend and col­league Len Bullard (fea­tured in this space here and es­pe­cial­ly here), who got a nasty di­ag­no­sis and was moved to elo­quence: Di­ag­no­sis and The Se­cret of the Christ. Best of luck, Len, and keep writ­ing.
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Tab Sweep (Non-Tech) · With notes this week on hip­pies, racon­teurs, the M8 con­tro­ver­sy, and a dead Rus­sian ...
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Interop Impressions and Pix · We worked from noon till six Mon­day, and from 8:30 till the mid­dle of Tues­day; a lit­tle over twen­ty peo­ple in the room. I got the Ape talk­ing to a few and failed with a cou­ple of oth­er­s, but in those cas­es the prob­lems were im­ple­men­ta­tion glitch­es, not the pro­to­col. Sur­pris­es? I saw a cou­ple of servers that didn’t ac­cept Atom en­tries, just var­i­ous kinds of me­dia ob­ject­s. OK, I guess. Pleas­ant sur­pris­es: get­ting pret­ty well com­plete in­ter­op­er­a­tion with (on al­most the first try) Nikunj Mehta’s code and (after a bit of work) Kevin Beyer’s and James Snell’s. I’m run­ning a few shots of the event just be­cause I like tak­ing pic­tures of peo­ple. I’ll write an­oth­er piece draw­ing some tech­ni­cal con­clu­sion­s ...
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How Big is the Club? · We who read (and write) blogs and play with the lat­est In­ter­net Trin­kets (and build them) have been called an echo cham­ber, a hall of mir­rors, a tee­ny geeky mi­nor­i­ty whose au­di­ence is it­self. Let me ex­plore this no­tion a bit us­ing Twit­ter ...
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Hofstadter’s Loop · This is about I Am a Strange Loop by Dou­glas Hof­s­tadter; my dis­cus­sion is picky and pedan­tic and prob­a­bly far too long for any but his devo­tees; but then, their num­ber is many ...
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On Aggression · The re­cent In­ter­net Nasti­ness ex­pe­ri­enced by Kathy Sier­ra has start­ed a dis­cus­sion about ag­gres­sion in gen­er­al; is it ev­er OK to go on the at­tack, or should we try to adopt a mu­tu­al non-aggression treaty cov­er­ing the whole bl­o­go­sphere? On re­flec­tion, I think that, yes, it’s OK to go neg­a­tive, but on­ly if you mean it and are do­ing it se­ri­ous­ly, and on­ly if you’re pre­pared to deal with the con­se­quences. It may be the case that some leg­isla­tive tin­ker­ing is re­quired to make ac­count­abil­i­ty work bet­ter. [Up­date: Hani re­sponds, and I’ve been Biled.] ...
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Way Way Over the Edge · Please, stop read­ing this and go read Kathy Sierra’s Death threats against blog­gers are NOT “protected speech” (why I can­celled my ETech pre­sen­ta­tion­s). Some­thing is bad­ly out of con­trol and needs to be fixed, ur­gent­ly. There’s got to be more sto­ry to be told. Any­one who is re­mote­ly con­nect­ed with the peo­ple do­ing this needs to dig that sto­ry up and tell the com­mu­ni­ty. You can’t cure a dis­ease with­out a di­ag­no­sis ...
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Ian Murdock · Wow, he’s work­ing here, as of to­day. This was cooked on the ex­tra dou­ble se­cret hush-hush; con­grats to those in­volved on the leak­age con­trol ...
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Moose Camp · This is the one-day Un­con­fer­ence that hap­pens the day be­fore North­ern Voice. Un­for­tu­nate­ly I missed North­ern Voice, due to a com­bi­na­tion of a child’s soc­cer game and a vi­cious one-day ail­ment of some sort that knocked me com­plete­ly on my butt for 24 hours. Any­how, Moose Camp was 100% ex­cel­len­t. It ir­ri­tates me that I went through the first forty-something years of my life with­out hav­ing had the Un­con­fer­ence ex­pe­ri­ence ...
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Gosling, O.C. · James has been ap­point­ed to the Order of Cana­da, and about bloody time. Not on­ly is this well-deserved, but as far as I know, it’s the first time that a com­put­er tech­nol­o­gist has made it in. I have noth­ing against the dancers and in­sur­ance ex­ec­u­tives and phi­lan­thropists and hock­ey play­ers cur­rent­ly in­hab­it­ing the Order, but the con­struc­tion of the fu­ture is in some large part in the hands of the en­gi­neer­s; and this needs bet­ter recog­ni­tion.
 
Geek Fight · Ladies and gen­tle­men: in this cor­ner, in the Mav­er­icks col­ors, Mark Cuban! And in the oth­er cor­ner, in the geek thread­s, Bram Co­hen! Both fight­ers score, but this judge gives the first round to Bram. (And I think to my­self: what a won­der­ful world.)
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Children · What with Christ­mas and a ba­by in the fam­i­ly, there’ve been a lot of chil­dren on my mind. To a child, this is an ax­iom: The amount of love is con­stan­t, but the amount of can­dy is vari­able. It ex­plains a lot. Mar­garet At­wood, as a young wom­an, wrote a short sto­ry about chil­dren mak­ing poi­son, and un­der­lined its con­clu­sion (just as im­por­tant as mine about can­dy, but I won’t sum­ma­rize, go read it, Mak­ing Poi­son) by say­ing “... and if you don’t un­der­stand that, you’ll nev­er un­der­stand anything.” I’ve nev­er had the courage to write any­thing that strong (and I won­der if, a few decades old­er, she’d be able to), but I feel that way about lots of things, most­ly computing-related ...
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Five Things · Har­rumph, I’ve been tagged. I’m not sure I ap­prove of this glorified-chain-letter stuff, but who can re­sist a chance to blath­er on about them­selves? So, here are five not-widely-known things ...
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Da Man · From David Hol­lis­ter, You Da Man! is a sur­pris­ing lit­tle es­say which ranges from Hot Tu­na to grit­ty storage-driver bug-chasing, and is about, well, life.
 
Kikuta-san, R.I.P. · I don’t think many this side of the Pa­cif­ic will no­tice, but I’d like to take a mo­ment to note with sor­row the sud­den death of Kiku­ta Masahi­ro, an in­de­pen­dent thinker and in­de­pen­dent busi­ness­man, founder and CEO of Syn­er­gy In­cu­bate, a ge­nial guest and gra­cious host. We ate and drank well and laughed lots to­geth­er, both sides of the Paci­fic; my sym­pa­thy goes out to Mrs. Kiku­ta Ya­suy­o. The world in gen­er­al and Ja­pan in par­tic­u­lar could use more like them.
 
Craig Cline, R.I.P. · So sad to hear that Craig died. (He doesn’t have a Wikipedia en­try, some­one who knew him bet­ter than I should make one.) I owe Craig a lot; I was one of the peo­ple who came to the Web from a mostly-publishing-tech back­ground, and liked it the mo­ment I saw it. It may sound weird now, but a lot of pub­lish­ing peo­ple hat­ed it and fought it, be­cause it didn’t do WYSIWYG and you couldn’t ex­er­cise fine con­trol over font lead­ing and im­age bleeds and so on. Craig put me on stage at the Sey­bold con­fer­ence time af­ter time—it was the cen­tre of the publishing-tech world then—to tell peo­ple that this thing was OK, that they could still be de­sign­er­s, they just had to live with los­ing con­trol over size and shape, that ty­pog­ra­phy and col­or and white space still mat­tered. I don’t know, frankly, if it did the au­di­ences any good, but the con­ver­sa­tions I had there sure helped me. Craig was a good man.
 
OSCON Notes · I have a bunch of notes and thoughts scat­tered round my com­put­er and brain and I was go­ing to do a big round-up post, but who knows, some­thing might turn out to be a conversation-starter, so I guess I’ll split ’em all up to keep things or­der­ly. Be­fore I get go­ing on that, I just want to say “Thanks!” to the O’Reilly peo­ple for putting on this even­t. What with the new ba­by I could on­ly stay for about 48 hours, but it felt like a 48-hour-long warm bath for the soul. Not on­ly am I among my tribe, but the peo­ple are most­ly friend­ly and most­ly wit­ty and quite a few of them are stylish in off­beat and in­ter­est­ing ways, and then a whole bunch of them have be­come friends over the years. The talks weren’t, on av­er­age, as good as the crowd, on av­er­age, but then some of them were ex­cel­len­t. Here’s a ques­tion: should OSCON be­come part­ly an UnCon­fer­ence or Camp or some­thing? I’ve been to some of those and I re­al­ly like them, but on the oth­er hand, quite a few of the OSCON ses­sions amount to some­one who Real­ly Knows His-or-Her Shit stand­ing on stage lay­ing out what the next few steps are in some deeply im­por­tant piece of the com­put­ing ecosys­tem. I mean, wel­com­ing grass-roots voic­es is good, but if you want to know where Python is go­ing, you need to lis­ten to Guido, and if you want the bleed­ing edge on the Atom Pro­to­col, along with a command-line de­mo, I’m your guy. Which is to say, in­for­ma­tion trans­fer from ob­ses­sives is a valid sub-function of trib­al gath­er­ings. Hav­ing said that, dur­ing this kind of ses­sion, the di­a­logue with the au­di­ence is or­gan­ic and spon­ta­neous and the ques­tions are typ­i­cal­ly so good that there’s re­al­ly no “authority” re­la­tion­ship be­tween the per­son with at the front of the room with the mi­cro­phone and a per­son in one of the chairs fac­ing them. Stil­l, I think OSCON would ben­e­fit from turn­ing one of its days—or even half—into an UnCon­fer­ence. Stand by for more OSCON-driven frag­ments. [Up­date: Here’s a con­trar­i­an voice. I thought the pa­per se­lec­tion was good, but he rais­es a trou­bling ques­tion: If I hadn’t al­ready known dozens and dozens of at­ten­dees, how would I have gone about meet­ing them?]
 
Real Social Networks · It’s like this: John is the guy who’s build­ing the new room for the new kid; he was rec­om­mend­ed by Diane, who’s a friend who used to work with Lau­ren and got me to do the XBRL keynote and lives ten blocks west, near the Pi­lates stu­dio where we work out and Lau­ren swaps com­put­er main­te­nance for pri­vate con­sul­ta­tion­s, and it turns out that John’s step­son Joe was in our kid’s kinder­garten class and we al­ready knew him; Joe and John and Rudy live just down the street from Bren­nan, who was al­so in the kinder­garten class and whose mom gives our kid pi­ano lesson­s. We got in Al­bin to do the elec­tri­cal work, he’s worked on the house be­fore and knows the ropes; I met Al­bin through my old friend Glen, I rent an of­fice from Glen over a cloth­ing bou­tique he runs as a side­line, he us­es my pic­tures on the cov­ers of his neutraceuticals-company cat­a­log and he brought Al­bin in to run the wires for the DSL at the store/of­fice. Mat­t, who used to work for me and Glen at a for­mer busi­ness we were in, set up the DSL at the store, and he helps us do the fire­walls on the De­bian box in our base­men­t, and he al­so hosts on­go­ing on a serv­er he runs for his po­lit­i­cal par­ty, and he just wrote me ask­ing to pitch in against some DMCA-like leg­is­la­tion loom­ing foul­ly over the Cana­di­an hori­zon, and I helped Sun sell some Ul­tras to the lab where Matt works at a lo­cal uni­ver­si­ty, and then helped straight­en things up when man­u­fac­tur­ing screwed up and sent the wrong CD with the com­put­er­s. Turns out John is go­ing to be do­ing some work for Tra­cy three doors down, whose boy and ours play all the time and sleep over and so on; but Tra­cy met John not through us but via Nick’s mom; Nick was al­so in that kinder­garten class and played soc­cer with our kid on the team that I co-coached with Phil, who does se­cret stuff for Ap­ple and used to do the XML con­fer­ence pro­ceed­ings for Lau­ren and sits on the ECMA com­mit­tee try­ing to put lip­stick on the Mi­crosoft Of­fice XML pig. Any­how, John and Al­bin hit it off and they’ll prob­a­bly call each oth­er in for car­pen­try and elec­tri­cal work in fu­ture. Why do we need com­put­ers to help us with this?
 
Underground, Invitation, Le kick and rush · I won­der if there’s any re­al ben­e­fit, when some­one whom I’ve al­ready high­light­ed writes some­thing ex­cep­tion­al­ly good, in point­ing to them again and say­ing “read this!” But some­times you can’t not do it. Item: my broth­er Rob on the joy of un­der­ground high ex­plo­sives. Item: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward on Ana Vic­to­ria (o­h, my). For my last link you’ll have to be able to read a lan­guage some­what but not en­tire­ly un­like French; Mon­di­al 2006 is the World Cup 2006 blog from Libération ; its tor­rent of high-velocity low-rent French baf­fles me in places, and it doesn’t help that I’m not 100% au fait with les Bleus, but you have to like pieces like Panini, beer & Co.
 
Bad Days for Rob · Robert Scoble I mean, who’s go­ing through tough stuff (the pic­ture here is heart­break­ing). A hap­py end­ing doesn’t look very like­ly, but let’s hope everyone’s pain and suf­fer­ing are as small as they can be. One thing Rob wrote brought me to a full stop and I had to read it again to be sure he’d re­al­ly said that: “If I have a chance to look at a screen and com­pre­hend what it says, keep me alive. Other­wise please don't per­form hero­ic mea­sures to keep me alive.” I don’t know if I’d go that far; but it’s thought-provoking.
 
Linuxfest · I agreed to speak at Lin­uxfest North­west and so drove down to Belling­ham and back to­day. It’s about an hour, ex­cept for this Satur­day morn­ing it seemed like ev­ery oth­er Cana­di­an had that U.S. urge so I sat for 90 min­utes in a line of cars at the bor­der. Any­how, the event was ter­ri­fic. Si­mon Phipps has writ­ten elo­quent­ly of mar­ket­ing val­ues leech­ing the life out of some Lin­ux events; but not this one ...
 
Jon and the Minotaur · Jon Bosak (fa­ther of XML, ter­rif­ic pho­tog­ra­pher, good per­son, etc.) was in Van­cou­ver for some meet­ings hav­ing to do with UBL (and be warned, there’s go­ing to be some more UBL tub-thumping around here), and en­coun­tered a mon­ster ...
 
ETech — Mark Pilgrim · Hey, I fi­nal­ly got to meet Mark Pil­grim, with whom I’ve had a lengthy and oc­ca­sion­al­ly vexed on­line re­la­tion­ship. This frag­ment is most­ly just an ex­cuse to post a pic­ture ...
 
Elena · Last week I wrote love your chil­dren, point­ing to a ter­ri­bly sad sto­ry. Daniel, the fa­ther of the lit­tle girl who died, has been writ­ing ex­traor­di­nary, gut-wrenching stuff since then, but not with­out splash­es of sun­shine. I’ve been read­ing it and mean­ing to write here again say­ing “Read this!” and then to­day Daniel reached out of the com­put­er and touched me and I just lost it for a while there this af­ter­noon. I may be emo­tion­al­ly wrecked but I can’t help think­ing: TV can’t do this. News­pa­pers can’t do this. Magazines can’t do this. This is sor­row and grace shared with the world: doesn’t mat­ter who reads it, be­cause what mat­ters is that he wrote it. Elena’s short sto­ry may well live, in­so­far as sto­ries do, forever.
 
Love Your Children · Be­cause, like Ele­na, they might be gone to­mor­row. Two nights ago when I put our lit­tle guy (the same age) to bed, he was be­ing dif­fi­cult and I was rushed so I by­passed the hug-and-kiss. No longer. It sounds like Ele­na and her par­ents didn’t by­pass many. I know Elena’s dad. I can’t be­gin to imag­ine what their world’s like just now, but a whole lot of us are feel­ing pret­ty emp­ty.
 
Northern Voice · There’s a kids’ room here, with lots of kids hav­ing a good time. It’s low-pressure, no­body pitch­ing me their start-up in the hall­way ...
 
Social · Our third an­nu­al “Lauren and Tim’s New Year’s Day Social” is his­to­ry. Forty or so peo­ple, plus as many as nine si­mul­ta­ne­ous kid­s, went through some pret­ty good cham­pagne, juices, gaz­pa­cho, lentil soup, dip­s, and so on, and did a whole lot of talk­ing. Mar­lowe, who’s now six months old, as­tound­ed us by stick­ing around and chill­ing with the crowd, ap­par­ent­ly en­joy­ing the buz­z. Thanks all for com­ing, and for those who brought bot­tles of wine and oth­er bonus­es, that’s re­al­ly to­tal­ly un­nec­es­sary but thanks any­how. I en­close a pho­to of the af­ter­math ...
 
Christmas Spirit · I know it’s a lit­tle ear­ly, but I’ve got the feel­ing at the mo­men­t, cour­tesy of a piece by Rob en­ti­tled Won­der­ful.
 
Meeting Hiawatha · That would be Hi­awatha Bray, who’s been writ­ing about com­put­ers and soft­ware in the Bos­ton Globe for years and years, as long as I’ve been in the busi­ness. At least one con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist point­ed out that Hi­awatha and I had nev­er been seen in the same place at the same time; maybe there’s just one of us? Wel­l, now we have been ...
 
Co-eds · This week I paid a vis­it to the Univer­si­ty of Guelph, from which I grad­u­at­ed over twen­ty years ago. They’re fine peo­ple and it’s a fine school, and I’ll have more to say about that, but I learned some some shock­ing num­ber­s. First, of Guelph’s 18,000-or-so stu­dents, around 70% are fe­male. At the Ve­teri­nary Col­lege, it’s around 90%. And in this year’s grad­u­at­ing class of 50 Com­put­er Science stu­dents, 4 are fe­male. The vi­su­al ef­fect is not sub­tle: ev­ery­where you look there are swarms of bright, healthy, eager-looking young wom­en. And in the CS build­ing, the usu­al geek­boys. Guelph’s pop­u­la­tion, they tell me, is not un­typ­i­cal for mod­ern uni­ver­si­ties. What does this mean, a cou­ple of decades from now?
 
Tim Does Toad for Kiwis · Hey, I see that my New Zealand name­sake is do­ing an out­door pre­sen­ta­tion of The Wind in the Wil­lows, start­ing on the 26th. I’ve al­ways loved that sto­ry, and the pro­duc­tion sounds fas­ci­nat­ing and fun. Any on­go­ing read­ers in the neigh­bor­hood are in­vit­ed to take the show in and send along a re­view or pic­tures.
 
Check out Lauren · Dr. Lau­ren Wood [Dis­clo­sure: my wife] has a few re­cent things worth check­ing out. Item: An Okana­gan wine-tour nar­ra­tive (think Na­pa or Sono­ma, on­ly cheap­er and pret­tier). Item: A guest-blog by Sal­ly Faulkn­er on the The Per­fect G&T, a sub­ject that mat­ter­s. And fi­nal­ly, a LazyWeb cri-de-coeur, Why Does Win­dows/XP hate us?.
 
Robert · That would be Rob Bray, my broth­er, who’s been blog­ging for a while now. He’s broad-spectrum, there are pieces about singing in the car, NFL foot­ball, So­cial Cap­i­tal and Love, and school­girl pol­i­tics. Weird­ly, my sin­gle fa­vorite piece is about GAAP in the char­i­ty sec­tor. To­day he ex­pands in­for­ma­tive­ly on my religious-courts piece, a sub­ject on which he knows im­mense­ly more than I. Good stuff.
 
Pfizer Offer · Britt Blaser is post­ing news of a re­mark­able of­fer from Pfiz­er; emer­gen­cy, free pre­scrip­tion fill­ing for all their prod­ucts for Ka­t­ri­na sur­vivors. Good on ya Pfiz­er, and since I haven’t seen this in the main­stream news, oth­er blog­gers might want to pass the word on. [Up­date: Huw Gil­bert of Pfiz­er adds: “Also, it is im­por­tant to note that free medicines are avail­able to all those with­out pre­scrip­tion drug cov­er­age (re­gard­less of gen­er­al health in­sur­ance status)”.]
 
People in Tokyo · Last Thurs­day and Fri­day I had a bunch of meet­ings with peo­ple in Tokyo and Chi­ba and thus there are sto­ries and pic­tures ...
 
Bay Area Dining and Death · Din­ner on suc­ces­sive nights in the Ci­ty and the Val­ley: Mon­day with Der­vala at Fringale, Tues­day with Lau­ren at La Stra­da in Pa­lo Al­to. The dif­fer­ences are in­struc­tive, and the dis­tance can be dead­ly ...
 
R.I.P. · What Bill­mon said.
 
Borlaug · Here’s a ter­rif­ic ar­ti­cle, out­sourced from The At­lantic, on Nor­man Bor­laug, who, they say, has prob­a­bly saved more hu­man lives than any­one in his­to­ry. He is a No­bel Peace Prize win­ner and gave my Dad a job in 1978. The ar­ti­cle dis­cuss­es (but not in much depth) and de­rides some of the Green op­po­si­tion to Borlaug’s intensive-agriculture prac­tices. While that op­po­si­tion has per­haps on oc­ca­sion been mis­guid­ed, its ex­is­tence was nec­es­sary. As I saw in my Dad’s think­ing, the com­mu­ni­ty of Agri­cul­tur­al sci­en­tists at one point had de­vel­oped a mas­sive en­vi­ron­men­tal blind spot, and tend­ed to mea­sure suc­cess on­ly in terms of yield per hectare. This has pro­duced, along with pret­ty se­vere en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age, anoma­lies such as the taste­less pink toma­toes and taste­less shiny ap­ples the su­per­mar­kets try to sell you. Hav­ing said that, it’s ob­vi­ous that his­to­ry will judge Nor­man Bor­laug and his co­hort of agronomists pret­ty fa­vor­ably; you re­al­ly can’t ar­gue with sav­ing the lives of a bil­lion or so peo­ple.
 
Pictures of Lauren · She need­ed some pho­tos for pro­fes­sion­al rea­son­s, so I took a bunch and then, while fid­dling around with Pho­toShop, dis­cov­ered that you can have some se­ri­ous fun in the glam­or­iz­ing line. Here­with Lau­ren Wood, Ph.D. with plumblos­som­s, twice ...
 
Danese · So, Danese Coop­er is mov­ing on. There are lots of places you can go read about how Danese is smart and well-connected and en­er­get­ic and gen­er­al­ly a good per­son (it’s all true) so I don’t need to pile on. But I have to ad­mit that there’s some­thing pre­oc­cu­py­ing me: What the dick­ens is In­tel cook­ing up?
 
I Didn’t Do It · Like she said, this wasn’t my idea and I didn’t grease any wheel­s. Con­ve­nien­t, though.
 
HST · There just haven’t been that many books in the his­to­ry of the world that can make you laugh out loud, over and over, and any­body who writes one is OK by me, and Hunter S. Thomp­son did. Plus, he changed what the word “journalism” mean­s, plus he helped ad­vance the gen­er­al un­der­stand­ing of the U.S. elec­toral pro­cess. But maybe those things are less im­por­tant than a cou­ple hun­dred pages of per­fect com­e­dy. The blog­gers are wax­ing grace­ful in eu­lo­gy; I like Doc’s take. HST was a very strong man, but the fact is that deca­dence in gen­er­al, and co­caine in par­tic­u­lar, take things away that usu­al­ly don’t come back. [Up­date: Gun­nar Peter­son wrote me about this un­usu­al re­flec­tion on HST, by his son.]
 
Ms Maler · Hey, Eve’s here! I ex­pect great things. What she doesn’t high­light in her ba­sic bio is that she helped in­vent XML, and has great hair, and is fun­ny. Oh, and dig her URL. Now she’s a WordPress geek too; seems to be a grow­ing tribe.
 
Gazpacho and Champagne · Last year, to cel­e­brate my un­em­ploy­men­t, Lau­ren and I had a New Year’s Day af­ter­noon so­cial, and it was a lot of fun, so we did it again this year, and I think we’ll go on do­ing it. The re­fresh­ments are those list­ed above, plus hot lentil soup and cheeses and dip­s, and we didn’t of­fer desserts but a few of the guests turned up with ’em and they got snaf­fled, so I guess we should in fu­ture. As for cham­pag­ne, we find that the Mumm Cor­don Rouge hits a good price-performance point. The gaz­pa­cho (im­pro­vised by Lau­ren) was just stu­pen­dous, got raves all around. The kids get sent up­stairs where there are lots of toys and in­ter­mit­tent su­per­vi­sion. We had one injury—somehow they man­aged to pull down a cur­tain and the rod hit lit­tle Joe on the head, noth­ing se­ri­ous but it was kind of scary when he came down­stairs with bright red blood run­ning down the side of his neck. Oh, and some­one broke the an­ten­na off the toy-racecar re­mote, and Phil Mans­field dis­as­sem­bled it on the spot and jacked in a new an­ten­na made out of the wire off a cham­pagne cork, it worked fine, is that stylish or what? The crowd in­clud­ed VCs, geek­s, busi­ness­peo­ple, neigh­bours, par­ents of the kid’s play­mates, and mis­cel­la­neous old friend­s. The thir­ty or forty peo­ple who dropped by in­clud­ed on­ly one oth­er blog­ger, as far as I know, and very few peo­ple who read on­go­ing; an in­di­ca­tion, were any need­ed, that this public-voice thing is in its ear­ly days. Plus, Adam dropped off a mix disk la­beled “CTI/Kudu (& Others)” which was just ul­tra­suede, lus­cious Boo­gie Nights Seven­ties or­gan funk. Same time next year.
 
Best o’ the Season · A Prairie Christ­mas, with il­lus­trat­ed re­marks on snow, cows, and why the In­ter­net is such a dan­ger­ous place ...
 
See Ya in 2004? · The kid and I went for a walk and had piz­za this morn­ing with a fel­low named “Ranger Tim”; the name will be fa­mil­iar to Dervala’s afi­ciona­dos. See, these names you read in blogs are ac­tu­al re­al peo­ple! It was pleas­an­t. In that spir­it, here’s where I’ll be for the rest of the year; If I’m go­ing to be in your neigh­bor­hood, con­sid­er get­ting in touch. For most of the week of Nov. 15th I’m in DC at the XML 2004 con­fer­ence, fea­tur­ing the Atom Hackathon. The 22nd and 23rd I’ll be in the Bay Area for some meet­ings, and once again De­cem­ber 6-8. De­cem­ber 15th I’ll be in An­twer­p, Bel­gium, for Javapo­lis, which should be good fun; I as­sume I’ll be in Europe a day or two ei­ther side of that.
 
Fionnuala · The names in my kid’s kinder­garten class: Bren­nan, Edinah-Rose, Fion­nu­ala, Gabriel­la, Isa­iah, Isa­iah, Ja­cob, Joseph, Hen­nessy, Michae­la, Ni­co­las, Noah, Pa­trick, Ro­nan, Sam, Sean, So­phie, So­phie. That’s po­et­ry of a kind, writ­ten in the lan­guage of parents’ dream­s. Sit­ting down to­geth­er to start the day, still un­smudged for a few qui­et min­utes, words can’t de­scribe their beau­ty. Think you might be able to match eth­nic groups with names? For­get it.
 
Foo Camp 2004 · Ma­jor thanks to Tim O’Reilly, Sara Winge, and the rest of the O’Reillians for do­ing this an­oth­er year. They’re do­ing the com­mu­ni­ty and the world a ma­jor fa­vor and if they weren’t so smart I’d wor­ry there won’t be enough com­ing back from the com­mu­ni­ty to make it worth their while. Last year’s notes here, here, and es­pe­cial­ly here ap­ply, but one or two more things are worth say­ing ...
 
What Adam Said · A month or two ago, I got a call out of the blue from some guy I nev­er heard at a re­cruit­ing shop say­ing “I’m look­ing for a ref­er­ence on Adam Bosworth.” I’m afraid I gave the guy a hard time, first I took him for a prankster and then I rant­ed at him along the lines of “You’re talk­ing about prob­a­bly one of top twen­ty soft­ware peo­ple in the world, have you nev­er heard of Qu­at­tro Pro and Mi­crosoft Ac­cess and IE 4? What are you talk­ing to me for?” To his cred­it, the guy was pa­tient and ex­plained that this was Google and Google is dif­fer­en­t. So I told him about my ex­po­sure to Adam over the years and all the things it’s painful­ly ob­vi­ous that he’s good at, and I’m sure the oth­er peo­ple they called did too, and now he’s at Google. But what I re­al­ly want­ed to say to­day is, go read his lat­est piece, he says in one para­graph what I’ve been rav­ing about for months in the area of Web Ser­vices: “The re­al­ly use­ful things turn out to be the sim­plest ones.” How many times do we have to re-learn this lesson? Any­how, there’s more, and it’s all good.
 
Len Is In The House · Drop what­ev­er you’re do­ing and go check out Life Among The Mam­mals by the one and on­ly Len Bullard, who has been quot­ed in this space a few times. The amount of ma­te­ri­al is still small enough that you can read the whole thing to get caught up, and you’ll prob­a­bly en­joy do­ing that. (As I write the top two posts are po­lit­i­cal, if that’s not your fla­vor skip ’em to get to the oth­er good stuff.)
 
California Wedding · Last week­end we went to a wed­ding in San­ta Clara and had fun and took pic­tures. Best wish­es to Ro­hit and Sm­ru­ti! ...
 
Beer, Java, Bloggers, San Francisco · Sounds like a good recipe. Read all about it here, then drop by the Thirsty Bear (shout­ing dis­tance from Moscone) some­time start­ing 6:30 next Mon­day.
 
Good News, Bad News · Sigh; I’ve had mul­ti­ple jour­nal­ists on the phone, want­ing to find out “what’s re­al­ly go­ing on” with the IETF, the W3C, and Atom. They’re just look­ing for a good sto­ry (good along the lines of if it bleed­s, it leads) and I’m do­ing my best not to give them that kind. I gath­er they’re all call­ing Dave too, maybe they’ll have more luck with him. Peo­ple, this is not a big deal; it’ll go one way or an­oth­er, no­body in the Atom com­mu­ni­ty will care that much, and nei­ther stan­dards or­ga­ni­za­tion will lose any sleep; this is the one is­sue in the his­to­ry of syn­di­ca­tion tech­nol­o­gy that nobody’s get­ting very emo­tion­al over. Oh yes, the good news: one of the journos was Sean Gal­lagher from eWeek, and he’s got a pret­ty good blog; sub­scribed.
 
Tim Does Owl for Kiwis · I sub­scribe to a feed over at PubSub to see who’s talk­ing about me. Oc­ca­sion­al­ly, it turns up a sur­prise. I’ve known about this oth­er Mr. B. for some years, and fig­ured it was time I gave him a hand be­cause the poor guy is severe­ly hand­i­capped in get­ting no­ticed on­line. I’ve al­ways loved The Owl and the Pussy­cat (run­ci­ble spoon, any­one?) and I’d take the kid in a flash if we were go­ing to be near Auck­land in Ju­ly. If you are and have a kid to take, do so and post a re­view.
 
Tribal Eyes · I spent some time this week at a meet­ing of Sun’s Distin­guished Engi­neer­s; to be­come a DE you have to go through a lengthy pro­cess in­clud­ing peer re­view. I’m not a DE, I was there to give a speech on Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, my first out­ing on that sub­jec­t. It’s an im­pres­sive group; there were lots of tech­ni­cal con­ver­sa­tions (on IPv6, pro­cess mod­el­ing, mo­bile ob­ject­s) where I was strug­gling to un­der­stand the ba­sics let alone the de­tail­s. Any­how, I’ve al­ready writ­ten here that I think people’s faces re­flect the lan­guage they speak. Along sim­i­lar lines, as I looked at all these very se­nior engineers’ faces, I was struck by a par­tic­u­lar look in their eye­s. I don’t seem to have a good vo­cab­u­lary to de­scribe it, but “stillness” and “coolness” come to mind. It wasn’t sub­tle. They are the eye­s, I think, of peo­ple who lis­ten in­tense­ly.
 
Hoffie’s Automaton · Sun­blog­ger Hoffie is build­ing an au­toma­ton, which is kind of in­ter­est­ing. The de­sign goal is to climb high-voltage tow­er­s, which makes it even more in­ter­est­ing. “Because it’s there” I sup­pose. One can’t help won­der­ing what hap­pens when the au­toma­ton reach­es the high volt­age; just a tasty snack? I hope he’s got his ex­pla­na­tions in or­der for when the anti-terrorism squad won­ders why this geek is send­ing menacing-looking pieces of ma­chin­ery to as­sault the in­fras­truc­ture.
 
Lauren · The es­timable Dr. Wood now finds her­self to be an oc­ca­sion­al blog­ger; see, I evan­ge­lize at home as well as at work. Hm­m... this thing’s com­ing off an old P300 De­bian box be­hind a DSL line in the base­men­t, let’s hope to good­ness she doesn’t get slash­dot­ted. Quick­time videos are right out.
 
’nother XML Geek · James Tauber has stum­bled in­to the bl­o­go­sphere. He’s a smart guy who un­der­stands this stuff as well as any­one; worth keep­ing an eye on.
 
Hire Robb · Hey, I’m not the on­ly one look­ing for a gig; I see that Robb Beal is al­so ex­plor­ing the use of a blog as a job-seeker’s tool. I’ve met Robb and he strikes as a guy who’s go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence, one way or an­oth­er, be­fore too long. Check him out.
 
4, 11, 11, 14, 39, 40, 42, 42, 48, 73 · Rhythm but no math in that se­quence, the ages present at our fam­i­ly gath­er­ing. I am blessed—to an ex­tent it’s tak­en a half-lifetime to appreciate—in be­ing part of an ex­tend­ed fam­i­ly that ba­si­cal­ly Just Gets Along and is gen­er­al­ly free of in­sane be­hav­ior and mur­der­ous em­ni­ty. So we get to­geth­er, we hang out, we ate turkey with all the fix­ings (my mi­nor con­tri­bu­tion was the mashed pota­toes with green onions for colour). I’d promised the rel­a­tives, spread across Canada, a Green Christ­mas if they came down to Van­cou­ver. Here­with a pic­ture or two. I hope your Christ­mases were mer­ry, and I hope you were with your fam­i­lies and with agree­able peo­ple and with luck both ...
 
Orchard Online · I note that with the ar­rival of Dave Or­chard, one-third of the TAG is now in blogspace. Dave writes big long pieces (like me) but jams the whole nar­ra­tive right in­to the blog, none of this wimpy ex­cerp­t/teas­er stuff; I’ll have to watch and see how that plays out. He mix­es his ma­te­ri­al up; if what’s on top doesn’t turn your crank, scroll way down.
 
Meetings · Wed­nes­day evening, Lau­ren and I had a so­cial in the spa­cious and com­fy suite that she gets for chair­ing the XML con­fer­ence, and it was great fun. (If you know us and didn’t get in­vit­ed, sor­ry, we on­ly de­cid­ed Wed­nes­day morn­ing and missed see­ing a few peo­ple). For me, the re­al thrill was there were sev­er­al pairs of peo­ple at the par­ty who’d known each oth­er for years (elec­tron­i­cal­ly) but had nev­er met and were re­al­ly hap­py to do so. Put Bet­ty Har­vey and David Meg­gin­son and Rick Jel­liffe and Dare Obasan­jo and Jon Udell and Norm Walsh and Sean McGrath and James Clark and Peter Flynn and Eve Maler in a room — the ev­i­dence of the wine­glass­es sug­gests there were thir­ty peo­ple or so, I just picked those names off the pic­tures that I took but aren’t good enough for on­go­ing — put all these peo­ple in a room, and you get more than a few of of these You’re David? Wow! mo­ments. I had one of those my­self, meet­ing Dare Obasan­jo for the first time. Dare is giv­en to oc­ca­sion­al over-the-top flam­ing and snarling on mail­ing list­s, and he looks kind of men­ac­ing too, but turns out to be a friend­ly, cheer­ful, and in­ter­est­ing guy.
 
Stewart Brand · Ear­li­er this month at the Foo Cam­p, I screwed up and I’m still feel­ing bad about it. I found my­self sit­ting around a fire with one of my tru­ly ma­jor in­flu­ences, and I couldn’t man­age to com­pose even a few fee­ble words of thanks to some­one who made a big dif­fer­ence in my life. This is by way of try­ing to make up for it a bit ...
 
Pinker on Brown on Human Universals · I’m cur­rent­ly read­ing Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern De­nial of Hu­man Na­ture which, 100 pages in, seems more or less an ex­tend­ed polemic aimed at those who want to ig­nore or re­fute or min­i­mize the ge­net­ic com­po­nent of Hu­man Na­ture. Since I take Pinker very se­ri­ous­ly I’ll prob­a­bly write more about this when I’m fin­ished, but I have to share this list that he talks about and then help­ful­ly in­cludes, of Hu­man Univer­sals, from Don­ald E. Brown, of whom I know noth­ing. Brown de­vised this list in 1989. If there is such a thing as Hu­man Na­ture, this list is all about it ...
 
The End of Innocence · I’m sor­ry, this has just gone way, way too far. Words writ­ten in pub­lic be­come deed­s, and some deeds are in­ex­cus­able and I see no point in ex­cus­ing the in­ex­cus­able. There are those who may not be able to for­give me for veer­ing over the edge of po­lite­ness, but no­body can claim I’m the first to go there, and I just don’t care. (Up­date: ex­tra fact-finding.) ...
 
Zen Gardener · A few weeks ago, the CSS Zen Gar­den burst on the de­sign scene and opened a few people’s eye­s, in­clud­ing mine. I had lunch to­day with its au­thor, and he’s an in­ter­est­ing sto­ry ...
 
You Say It’s Your Birthday · Yep. Here’s how old I am: when I turned 14, my par­ents got me the new Bea­tles al­bum, which was the White al­bum; I hadn’t heard any of it, and put it on and the first song was Birth­day, whose first lyrics are the ti­tle above, a won­der­ful fast rock­er with a glo­ri­ous blast of teenage noise in the mid­dle. Good birth­day pre­sen­t! That record is the one that I’ve maybe lis­tened to more than any oth­er over the years, and it doesn’t seem to wear out. Even if it did in­spire Char­lie (check some of those links) to carve up beau­ti­ful peo­ple. Other peo­ple in the com­put­er biz that I know about who were born in the same year in­clude (in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der) Berners-Lee, Gates, Job­s, and Win­er. Ob­vi­ous­ly it was a good time to be born if you were des­tined to have fun in this neck of the wood­s. (The day turned out pret­ty well; added some pix, in­clud­ing a Har­ry Pot­ter rar­i­ty.) ...
 
Practical Airport Anthropology · We went to the air­port yes­ter­day to pick up our friend Sal­ly, in­bound from Aus­tralia for a sum­mer va­ca­tion part­ly with us. Which kicked off two largely-unrelated lines of thought that are not quite large enough to de­serve their own es­says. The big thing is the an­gle you hold your hips when you hug ...
 
Hey, Norm · I am now not the on­ly TAG mem­ber with an on­go­ing (so to speak) Web pres­ence: Norm Walsh is here. (Hm­m, that’s the first .name URI I’ve ev­er seen.) Let me see, he runs his per­son­al sched­uler through RSS. Good. He wran­gles Doc­book, on­ly the biggest honkin’ in-production pro-publishing XML vo­cab­u­lary on the plan­et, and is doc­u­ment­ing the wran­gling in re­al time. Peo­ple who care about this, care a lot. Best of al­l, he pub­lish­es pic­tures of flow­er­s. A keep­er, I’d say.
 
The Faces of Asian Women · This may sound nut­s, but I think people's faces re­flect the lan­guage they speak. Per­haps be­cause of my Pa­cif­ic Rim base, I find this par­tic­u­lar­ly ob­vi­ous in the faces of Asian wom­en. A huge num­ber of the peo­ple here in Van­cou­ver are of Chi­nese ex­trac­tion, res­i­dent for pe­ri­ods any­where be­tween four gen­er­a­tions and a few week­s. Be­ing a nor­mal­ly male sort of per­son, I'm giv­en to look­ing close­ly at women's faces. And quite of­ten, when I look, I can tell in­stant­ly "she speaks gener­ic North Amer­i­can English" or "she's a re­cent im­mi­grant and has a heavy accent." ...
 
Dervala · Re­mark­ably few peo­ple seem to know of the on­go­ing (so to speak) on­line trav­el­ogue by Der­vala Han­ley; the qual­i­ty of the writ­ing is fre­quent­ly out there in Bruce Chatwin ter­ri­to­ry, which is kind of like say­ing a jazz mu­si­cian is out there in Miles Davis ter­ri­to­ry. She is fun­ny more of­ten than Chatwin was ...
 
Mobile Bigotry · I hopped a taxi to get out of Cal­gary to the air­port; the driv­er was a friend­ly fel­low. We talked about the (bit­ter­ly cold) weath­er, then about the per­ils of fly­ing, and he made an off­hand re­mark about ter­ror­is­m, and my spir­it sank. The front seat was an out­post of trib­al big­otry ...
 
Talkin' 'bout My Gender · Like most par­ents, we have some shelf-feet full of books on How To Raise Them. I would draw your at­ten­tion to the fol­low­ing, from Bring­ing Up a Boy by Eli H. New­berg­er (ISBN 0-7475-3967-7: Through­out my life I've en­joyed the com­pan­ion­ship of boys and men who per­son­i­fy the qual­i­ties of mas­culin­i­ty we ad­mire - courage, good hu­mour, flex­i­bil­i­ty, de­pend­abil­i­ty, so­cia­bil­i­ty, pro­tec­tive­ness of oth­er­s. Hey, guys, that's us, not bad eh?
 
Dave and Deanna's Party · Last night we were at Dave Orchard's birth­day par­ty, which was al­so (this year) Chi­nese New Year. There were red en­velopes, ordered-in Chi­nese food, Hell Ban­knotes, and all the trim­mings ex­cept for li­on dancers and fire­work­s. We had two or three eth­nic groups but no­body of a Chi­nese back­ground, which no­body no­ticed un­til lat­er in the evening - that's Van­cou­ver for you ...
 
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