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Fall Dark · Most years I hate this sea­son; less light ev­ery day, and with ev­ery gust a whirl of sum­mer leaves torn from win­ter branch­es. Maybe I dis­like the res­o­nance with my life’s own grey­beard sea­son. Maybe it’s the trio of huge Pa­cif­ic storms we’re deal­ing with. Let’s be hon­est: Most­ly, it’s shit­ty US pol­i­tic­s. Some of the col­ors are beau­ti­ful though ...
[3 comments]  
Old Geek · I’m one. We’re not ex­act­ly com­mon on the ground; my pro­fes­sion, ap­par­ent­ly not con­tent with hav­ing ex­clud­ed a whole gen­der, is most­ly do­ing with­out the ser­vices of a cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions ...
[32 comments]  
Tender Sky Shoehorn · In which I re­veal a lit­tle life-hack that can get you out your front door no­tice­ably quick­er. First, a pic­ture ...
[4 comments]  
The New 40 · June 21st this year was its longest day, al­so Fathers’ Day and my birth­day. I feel vague­ly guilty be­cause I haven’t the slight­est in­sight in­to this growing-old thing, so don’t ex­pect golden-years re­portage ...
[6 comments]  
End of 2014 · As the year winds down I’m most­ly cheery about my slice of life, though dis­tressed by much of what I see look­ing out­side it. There are cheery-side pic­tures here ...
[4 comments]  
Retina Screen Tab Sweep · When you’re run­ning your 15" Reti­na Mac in high-rez mode and you still don’t have room for all your tab­s, you prob­a­bly have a lifestyle prob­lem. One so­lu­tion is to pub­lish the links, so if your don’t-kill-this-tab in­stinct turned out to be right, you have In­ter­net Me­mory on your side ...
[1 comment]  
Leaving Google · As of March 17th I’ll be an ex-employee. It’s an am­i­ca­ble sep­a­ra­tion in the face of ir­rec­on­cil­able dif­fer­ences: I wouldn’t move to Cal­i­for­nia and Google wouldn’t open a Van­cou­ver of­fice. I haven’t de­cid­ed what to do nex­t ...
[57 comments]  
Good Writing, Twice · I al­most nev­er use this space any more just for links but damn it this is my blog and I can if I want to. Here are two ex­cep­tion­al pieces of writ­ing and you should go read them both: First, John Gruber’s Mi­crosoft, Past and Fu­ture is by a huge mar­gin the best thing I’ve read on that tran­si­tion, and Mi­crosoft still mat­ter­s, re­al­ly a lot. Se­cond, Wil­liam Burroughs’ Do­ing Easy is un­like any­thing I’ve read this year or last year ei­ther, will make you smile and is full of big im­por­tant life lesson­s.
[2 comments]  
Standing In Line · What hap­pened was, I ran down the street to the gro­cery store for a cou­ple of item­s, a spur-of-the-moment thing. Picked them up, and then there was a big line-up for the cashier­s. I stared blankly for a mo­ment and fished in my pock­et... oop­s! I’d left my phone at home. Wow... I was go­ing to have to in­ter­act with re­al­i­ty, in the form of a su­per­mar­ket queue. There are all these Net con­trar­i­ans lament­ing everyone’s con­stant es­cape in­to their mo­bile device’s screen, and now my es­cape was cut of­f. So... screw the con­trar­i­an­s, it sucked. Every­where I looked, I was look­ing at over­ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing or celebri­ty tabloid­s. The oth­er peo­ple were all tired and grumpy and I didn’t know any of them. It was on­ly a hand­ful of min­utes, but I re­al­ly wish I’d brought the In­ter­net.
[12 comments]  
Tab Sweep · The tab­s! They mul­ti­ply like mag­nif­i­cent­ly mis­cel­la­neous mag­got­s! ...
 
Illustrated New Year’s Tab Sweep · Wel­come to 2013! If you’re like me, you don’t have too much planned for the day. So here are some good­ies built up in tabs & book­marks since some­time in mid-2012. Since words and links sans pic­tures are bor­ing, I in­clude pic­tures, most­ly of snow, from our Christ­mas ex­cur­sion to Saskatchewan ...
[1 comment]  
September · Here again, decades since it meant back-to-school for me; but now my kids go. It seems a big­ger deal than the New Year, and weighs heav­ier as the num­ber to come grows small­er ...
[4 comments]  
Tab Sweep (Non-geek) · Not all sending-the-world-a-link pub­lish­ing should van­ish in­to FaceTwim­blr+, me­thinks. So let’s batch a few up ...
[6 comments]  
On Efficiency · Every­one knows it’s a good thing. Economists talk about “productivity” and, more se­ri­ous­ly, to­tal fac­tor pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. When there’s more, wealth gen­er­al­ly in­creas­es, which is good. Ex­cept when it’s bad ...
[7 comments]  
Public-Speaking Antipatterns · I am work­ing on the Google IO ses­sion­s; this in­cludes a large num­ber of re­hearsal­s. One premise of IO is that we put ac­tu­al en­gi­neer­s, the peo­ple who build the good stuff, on stage; they de­serve, and re­ceive, sup­port in pol­ish­ing their ma­te­ri­al ...
[3 comments]  
Local Uncertainty Maximum · Wel­come to the end of the year. As I look for­ward in­to 2012, I fore­see, uh... al­most noth­ing. In fact I can’t re­call a time when the un­cer­tain­ty was so per­va­sive. Here is a small com­pendi­um of prog­nos­ti­ca­tion­al im­po­tence ...
[6 comments]  
Tab Sweep · Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing Amer­i­can­s! If you’re the type who brows­es while full of turkey, here are some post­pran­di­al links with no uni­fy­ing theme what­so­ev­er ...
[2 comments]  
Mega Tab Sweep — The World · Ap­par­ent­ly I haven’t done one of these since Jan­uary. The ti­tle is sort of a lie, since I don’t have all these around in tab­s; some are sit­ting in book­mark fold­ers and so on ...
[2 comments]  
Worth Fixing · As progress pro­gress­es, in­creas­ing­ly there are few­er things for which it’s worth pay­ing what it costs to fix them when they break. I think that many of us are of­fend­ed by the dis­pos­abil­i­ty of things like kids’ toys, Ikea fur­ni­ture, com­put­ers that aren’t brand new, sun­glass­es, and mo­bile phones ...
[11 comments]  
Ideas · From time to time, in the course of day-to-day life, we all make stupid, ba­sic er­rors in cog­i­ta­tion. For ex­am­ple, this morn­ing I was un­load­ing the dish­wash­er and, with three cof­fee mugs in one hand, used the oth­er to open the cup­board where the plates and bowls go. I had a mo­ment of com­plete blank­ness be­fore I shook my head with the mild an­noy­ance usu­al on these oc­ca­sion­s ...
[7 comments]  
Noracle · To­day I re­signed from Sun/Or­a­cle — the of­fi­cial in­te­gra­tion date here in Cana­da is March 1st, so I won’t ev­er have ac­tu­al­ly been an Or­a­cle em­ploy­ee. I’m not cur­rent­ly look­ing for an­oth­er job. I’ll write some looking-back and looking-forward sto­ries when I’ve got a lit­tle per­spec­tive. I can’t say enough good things about the peo­ple at Sun — and out­siders with whom I worked — over the past few years. Thanks for en­rich­ing my life! [Up­date: Con­tact in­fo] ...
[17 comments]  
Current Status · I’m get­ting a lot of ques­tion­s, and I think it’s im­por­tant that read­ers know who pays the au­thor of the words they’re read­ing. So: I have re­ceived an of­fer of em­ploy­ment from Or­a­cle, with com­pen­sa­tion that’s ac­cept­able, and am wait­ing for in­for­ma­tion about the role that is con­tem­plat­ed and where I’d fit in­to the or­ga­ni­za­tion. I have un­til next week to ac­cept or de­cline. I’m pleased that I got an of­fer, and as­sume that the pic­ture will fill in soon; merg­ing an 80K-headcount com­pa­ny with a 30K-headcount ac­qui­si­tion is com­plex, but Or­a­cle has been around this track lots of times ...
[8 comments]  
Merry Christmas · I hope you basked in the warmth of loved ones’ com­pa­ny, ate well, and were pleas­ant­ly sur­prised. I have sea­son­al pho­tograph­s, with thoughts on Joseph Ratzinger, McKin­ley Mor­gan­field, and turkey stuff­in­g ...
[5 comments]  
Sunday Diary · A do­mes­tic win­try day (high of 3°C with gusts of very un­pleas­ant wind) re­called and il­lus­trat­ed ...
[2 comments]  
Autumnal Blues · For the last cou­ple of week­s, I’ve been re­al­ly sick; pos­si­bly H1N1 (chill­s, headaches, body pain) but pos­si­bly just a re­al­ly bad cold. Al­so Lauren’s moth­er died and she had to go away to help so I was in weakened-single-Dad mod­e. I have ex­plored some new di­men­sions in fa­tigue. I might have got bet­ter faster if I’d been able to go to bed in­stead of beat­ing my fledgling Clo­jure skil­lz to a bloody pulp against 45,275,432,643 bytes in 218,201,129 lines of test data. I have thor­ough­ly in­ves­ti­gat­ed some things that turn out not to work at all but been pleas­ant­ly sur­prised by some oth­ers that shouldn’t but do. Among the many things that I haven’t been do­ing is writ­ing. While I wasn’t writ­ing, the tbray.org serv­er in LA had one of its disks go off to play with Jesus’ ponies so now it’s been rein­car­nat­ed in Vir­gini­a. [Mixed the­o­log­i­cal metaphors? -Ed.] In the mean­time, the un­cer­tain­ty about who it is I might work for has moved in­to public-throw-down mod­e; the EU is of­fi­cial­ly wor­ried about database com­pe­ti­tion, Or­a­cle thinks the fears are ground­less, and the US DOJ thinks the merg­er is OK but wants you to know that the EU is too. In the mean­time, it’s rain­ing like hell in Van­cou­ver, dark at mid­day and a long time to spring. Things could be bet­ter.
[3 comments]  
Springtime Death · It’s been a tough twelve­mon­th, small vic­tims all around. The young plum tree we put in to re­place the storm vic­tim fad­ed away in late sum­mer and is dry sticks this spring. The love­ly lit­tle old rose that I wrote of in Brick, Dusty, Creamy, Silky seems no more. The Nan­d­i­na do­mes­ti­ca that ap­pears in Darken­ing was half-broken by snow; we’ll see how it re­cov­ers from my at­tempt at surgery. Al­so half-gone (mys­te­ri­ous­ly, no vis­i­ble wound) is our huge vig­or­ous Mme. Al­fred Carrière ...
[3 comments]  
Too Bright · What hap­pened was, we need­ed to vis­it the Ap­ple Store on Satur­day and in Van­cou­ver that means the big glitzy Pa­cif­ic Cen­tre at the heart of heart­less fla­vor­less Down­town ...
[9 comments]  
Water Works · When I was a kid, I could play with run­ning wa­ter al­most in­def­i­nite­ly ...
[10 comments]  
Make Your Own Presents · There’s ex­tra sat­is­fac­tion in giv­ing some­thing you’ve made your­self. For some­one like me who is en­tire­ly with­out tal­ent at draw­ing, car­pen­try, and with at best av­er­age man­u­al dex­ter­i­ty, this lim­its the op­tion­s. (A few years ago, I gave a nephew a cou­ple of highly-developed Di­ablo II char­ac­ter­s.) This year, I man­aged framed pho­to­s, mix-tapes, and a cal­en­dar. This is to rec­om­mend the prac­tice, and in­cludes a cou­ple of tip­s ...
[6 comments]  
On Lines and Angles · Item: They’re ren­o­vat­ing the house across the street from us; a big job with the base­ment en­larged and the whole struc­ture raised a few feet. The trou­ble is, from our front porch it looks like it’s ever-so-slightly tilt­ed. Item: I was do­ing some photo-editing and hav­ing a lit­tle trou­ble get­ting one shot sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly lev­eled. Those who’ve worked with Pho­to­shop or equiv­a­lent know that a tilt of much less than 1º is ob­vi­ous to an at­ten­tive eye.
[The com­ments on this piece are re­mark­able; you might a pe­rusal re­ward­ing.]
 ...
[27 comments]  
Tab Sweep — The World · Un­the­mat­i­cal­ly grouped! ...
[2 comments]  
Driving · Like most peo­ple on the left half of the New World, driv­ing has in­formed and con­strained and en­riched my adult life. I’ve en­joyed it. Indi­ca­tions are that mine will be one of the last drive-everywhere gen­er­a­tions. The shape the tribe set­tles in­to may be more pleas­ing, and strength­en­ing lo­cal cul­ture is a fine thing, but the loss of the time-behind-the-wheel, with the mu­sic play­ing, go­ing places, well, it’s sad ...
[9 comments]  
Three Thousand and One · After this goes live and un­til I get around to pub­lish­ing nex­t, it’ll say “(3001 fragments)” on the on­go­ing front page, which the ma­jor­i­ty of you who are cur­rent­ly look­ing at a feed read­er nev­er see. Three thou­sand is a lot. But they’re com­ing slow­er than they used to; does this trend lead to si­lence? ...
[10 comments]  
Turning · We left sum­mery Au­gust Van­cou­ver for a week on the prairies, where blaz­ing heat and lash­ing storms al­ter­nat­ed, thun­der of­ten in the dis­tance ...
 
Tab Sweep — The World · I was writ­ing that Tech Tab Sweep and re­gret­ting the ab­sence here of all the nifty non-tech links I’ve been twit­ter­ing. I think it’s lame to gate­way your Twit­ter feed in­to your blog, but I de­cid­ed it’d be worth­while to go back and pull a few out for those who might be en­ter­tained but don’t read Twit­ter. Some of these are su­pe­rul­tra­juicy ...
 
On Screwdrivers · Screw­drivers are im­por­tan­t. Real­ly; you just can’t do any­thing with­out them. And it turns out that lots are lots bet­ter than just a few. This is about that. Il­lus­trat­ed ...
[34 comments]  
Happy Backyard Story · We bought our house in 1997 and were ex­pect­ing our first child in mid-1999. This caused us to launch a pret­ty ma­jor Home Im­prove­ment pro­jec­t, which was painful but suc­cess­ful; here­with a small photo-essay ...
[1 comment]  
Good Morning · I like morn­ings. Espe­cial­ly bright ones on foot in the city. Peo­ple are up and about for a rea­son; it’s easy to be­lieve the world is on the whole is a well-organized pur­pose­ful kind of place ...
[3 comments]  
What You Like · The bench­mark we’re grind­ing away at over in Wide Fin­der land is com­put­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty stats us­ing this weblog’s serv­er logs from its birth through April 2008. The bench­mark is more in­ter­est­ing than the re­sult­s, but since I write this stuff, I find the re­sults in­ter­est­ing too ...
 
Summer Rain · It’s dif­fer­en­t ...
[5 comments]  
Rock & Roll Dishes · The dishwasher’s on the fritz, sched­uled for a fix Tues­day. So our eight-year-old’s du­ties have ex­pand­ed from table-clearing to in­clude dish-drying. He whines, but doesn’t get much sym­pa­thy. This evening, I put on R.E.M.’s Fables of the Re­con­struc­tion, turned way up, to help. What a great record that is, even af­ter all these years. I ex­plained to the boy that rock & roll is very help­ful for get­ting dish­es done. He was doubt­ful, but bop­ping a bit on Can’t Get There From Here.
[5 comments]  
Five And a Bit · Years I mean, since I launched on­go­ing; I missed the an­niver­sary last month be­cause I was re­al busy in Geneva. This will be frag­ment num­ber two thou­sand eight hun­dred and thir­ty two. As I said a cou­ple of years ago, I have bet­ter things to spend computer-programming time on than fig­ur­ing out how many words that is ...
[4 comments]  
Reflections · It’s a word for think­ing, “reflection”. That’s odd, be­cause think­ing is more than echo­ing the world back to it­self ...
[6 comments]  
What the Pope Can’t Do · Was lis­ten­ing to an ar­gu­ment and some­one said “Gimme a break. Even the Pope has to put his pants on one leg at a time!” And I thought that was in­cred­i­bly lame. To start with, the Pope wears a dress, ev­ery­one knows that. And this af­ter­noon, I was chang­ing my 18-month-old, and once the un­der­neath lay­ers had been put back to­geth­er, held her pants up to her feet. She con­sid­ered them, then cool­ly thrust both legs through at on­ce, her tiny bare pink toes emerg­ing with­out a hitch. And who cares what the Pope can’t do, any­how?
[3 comments]  
Year-End Sweep — The World · Over the course of the year, in brows­er tab­s, book­mark­s, and del.i­cio.us, I’ve built up a huge list of things that I felt I should write about, at least at the time I saw them. Wel­l, dammit, I’m not gonna let 2007 end with­out at least mak­ing a try. Here goes. Weak­ly cat­e­go­rized ...
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Christmas Eve · The fam­i­ly gath­ered this year here with us in Van­cou­ver. In­ti­ma­tions of mor­tal­i­ty oc­curred, but I’m still glad of the vis­i­tors ...
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Give One, Get One · Prob­a­bly everybody’s heard of this: do­nate an XO lap­top to a ran­dom Third-World kid and get one for your­self. I can’t imag­ine any self-respecting geek not sign­ing up for this, so I just did.
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On Communication · The big is­sues? War, hunger, and op­pres­sion, of course. After that, ques­tions of hu­man com­mu­ni­ca­tion seem pret­ty im­por­tant to me. Espe­cial­ly since the land­scape we stand on is shift­ing. [Up­date: The com­ments on this piece are fan­tas­tic. My pro­found thanks to the con­trib­u­tors.] ...
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Good Tech Writing · Two of my brows­er tabs con­tain pieces that are re­lat­ed in that they are very well-written, and about tech­nol­o­gy ...
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The Tower · I was talk­ing with an old friend about lots of things in­clud­ing the In­ter­net and the con­ver­sa­tion wan­dered some­how to the Old Tes­ta­men­t. She asked “Maybe the Net is like the tow­er of Babel?” It’s not that strained an anal­o­gy; what we’re try­ing to build does par­take of large-scale hubris. “But that sto­ry had an un­hap­py ending” I replied. And in­deed, were a venge­ful hand, di­vine or oth­er­wise, to in­ter­vene, to con­fuse our lan­guage so we could not un­der­stand each oth­er, that would be dis­as­trous at the scale of Ba­bel. I don’t think we’re try­ing to re­store the pre-Tower state though: Now the whole world had one lan­guage and a com­mon speech. Try­ing just to low­er con­ver­sa­tion­al fric­tion and bar­ri­ers to en­try for ev­ery­one in the world, that’s hubris enough.
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Chestnut Dusk · Wel­l, that was a crap­py week. Not on­ly was I hun­gry in Ve­gas, I wasn’t there long enough, so the travel-time ra­tio was way out of line. Plus there was the qual­i­ty time with the Com­mies, and then of course the out­age. This is by way of say­ing that it wasn’t all bad ...
 
Before the Bell · Parents’ bi­cy­cles head to the school from ev­ery di­rec­tion. They ride pru­dent­ly, sit­ting up, call­ing guid­ance and warn­ings to the lit­tle bikes swarm­ing round them, whence small­er voic­es shrill about new socks and rock­et­s. After the bel­l, the par­ents fly out­ward, bent low, ped­al­ing hard, fast and qui­et.
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The Baby and the Balloon · At the gro­cery store where we shop once or twice ev­ery week, they al­ways have he­li­um bal­loons at the cashier­s, and any kids go­ing through get of­fered one. Which leads to a parenting-strategies dilem­ma and a fun­ny sto­ry ...
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Status Report · The pic­tures here, in their in­line for­m, are now all 400 pix­els wide, not 300; I think that looks a lot bet­ter. Did re­siz­ing them all ev­er burn a lot of CPU. Al­so, the side­bar has been cleaned up, there’s a soft­ware link there that con­sol­i­dates some bits of code I’ve emit­ted over the years; with a lit­tle homi­ly in the first para­graph, even ...
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Royal Sunset · Yes, we’ve been here be­fore and we’ll be here again. With notes on Salieri and Emp­ty Room­s ...
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Tired · Our fourteen-month-old has nev­er been a par­tic­u­lar­ly good sleep­er, and in re­cent weeks it’s been bru­tal; she’s squalling in bed ev­ery so of­ten, and has a ma­jor melt­down in the mid­dle of most night­s. Yeah, we’ve read the books and done the re­search and have tried some things and are try­ing oth­er­s, some kids are just lousy sleep­er­s. Time is on our side. I should be go­ing to bed ear­lier, on­ly it’s sum­mer and the evenings are warm and my work is com­pelling and everything’s hurtling for­ward. But I apol­o­gize in ad­vance to those I may snarl at in­ap­pro­pri­ate­ly.
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Design of the Century? · From time to time, the Economist, to which I sub­scribe, pesters me to take an on­line sur­vey, and some­times I do (par­tic­u­lar­ly if I’m on a bor­ing tele­con). This week I did one that veered in­to is­sues of design—there was one ques­tion that showed in­te­ri­ors of four sam­ple apart­ments and asked which one I’d pick for a rental. Then there was a ques­tion that I thought was fair­ly as­tound­ing: What do you think is the Twen­ti­eth Century’s most icon­ic piece of de­sign; write in your an­swer and an ex­pla­na­tion. [Up­dat­ed: I added my can­di­date, with a pic­ture. One com­menter agreed.] ...
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Tab Sweep · As usu­al, there isn’t a uni­fy­ing the­me. In this is­sue: lumpi­ness, stuff, mi­cro­for­mat­s, eye can­dy, metapro­gram­ming, beard­s, and psy­chol­o­gy ...
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On Being Green · Tom Dyson con­tribut­ed a pow­er­ful com­ment to my re­cent trav­el­ogue post, ar­gu­ing that fly­ing all over the place on air­planes does not ex­act­ly con­sti­tute good cit­i­zen­ship of the plan­et. You want good cit­i­zen­ship? Check out My do­mes­tic en­vi­ron­men­tal projects from Vald­is Filks in Swe­den. I feel in­ad­e­quate.
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The Jagged Edge of the World · Caught in pix­els for your, well, not plea­sure ex­act­ly. I’m talk­ing about the World Press Pho­to Con­test Winners’ Gallery. If you have any kind of a heart, there are pic­tures here that will tear holes in it. And some that are just in­sane­ly pret­ty. This year, par­ents of ba­bies might want to avoid look­ing at the “Spot News” cat­e­go­ry.
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Speedometer Suspicion · I pulled the rental on­to the Vir­ginia high­way and saw no oth­er cars, so I stomped the gas and en­joyed the kick. That par­tic­u­lar Mal­ibu seemed well set up and the nee­dle head­ed for six­ty pleas­ing­ly fast. A lit­tle too pleas­ing­ly, may­be. It oc­curred to me that au­tomak­ers have a sys­tem­at­ic bias in fa­vor of mak­ing their speedome­ters lie, on the high side of course; it makes the cus­tomers hap­py and the po­lice hap­py and prob­a­bly saves some lives. For rental­s, bought a fleet at a time, the pres­sure would be high­er. I wouldn’t be sur­prised if some Operations-Research wonk in a back-room at Hertz or Avis or some­where has done the num­ber­s: for ev­ery mile per hour of pos­i­tive er­ror on the di­al, so many few­er ac­ci­dents, so many tens of mil­lions of dol­lars of sav­ings in re­pair bill­s, so many dozen few­er law­suit­s. Plau­si­ble?
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Tab Gleanings · A rare gaggle-of-interesting-links frag­men­t. Don’t look for a uni­fy­ing the­me, there isn’t one. Item: Lau­ren Wood be­moans the ephemer­al­i­ty of blogs, specif­i­cal­ly the late great En­planed. This is In­ter­net Van­dal­is­m, and it’s hap­pen­ing all the time. Item: Lau­ren We­in­stein rings the alarm bells on the anti-piracy fa­cil­i­ties in Win­dows Vis­ta. This sounds ter­ri­fy­ing; ev­ery black-hat in the world, and I mean ev­ery one, will be think­ing up cool ex­tor­tion sce­nar­ios around this tech­nol­o­gy. Item: Re­bec­ca Boll­witt re­veals that greeting-card cat­e­gories are out­ta con­trol; out­ta con­trol, I tell ya! (Ex­am­ple: “Suitable for Remarriage”). Item: Shel­ley Pow­ers has some mes­meris­ing autumn-leaf pic­tures, with a sub­tex­t. Item: Il a neigé sur la Réunion. Item: Rob Bray on in­ter­est­ing gov­ern­ment list­s; for ex­am­ple, ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion­s.
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How Much Work? · Here are links to two ex­plo­rations of the same ques­tion: why do we work the amount we work? Suw Char­man re­cent­ly re­port­ed on a thought-provoking EuroFOO ses­sion by Ryan Car­son, who has de­cid­ed as a mat­ter of pol­i­cy to put his com­pa­ny on a four-day week. Then to­day Brad DeLong quotes Robert Frank on Keynes hav­ing been wrong about wealth and de­sire, but is left un­sat­is­fied, still won­der­ing “Why 40 hours?” Some of us, of course, have vo­ca­tions not jobs and are hap­pi­ly writ­ing code and chat­ting with col­leagues and blog­ging at 11PM. But stil­l... one would like the amount peo­ple work to be ex­pli­ca­ble by ra­tio­nal eco­nomic­s. DeLong doesn’t try, he veers beau­ti­ful­ly side­ways in­to Cow­boy Eco­nomics or rather Junkie Eco­nomic­s; well any­how, he quotes six vers­es of a song usu­al­ly sung by Mar­go Tim­min­s. Which is a sane way to ad­dress a mys­tery. But if I were go­ing around again, I think I’d be an economist.
 
Statelessness · Check out this sur­pris­ing piece: The un­bear­able light­ness of be­ing state­less, by Ariel Hen­del. He starts with wise words on as­ceti­cism and the busi­ness trav­el­er, moves through some­thing called “Logical Domains” which can serve as “surf bum domains”. It seems to make sense and I had to go back and read it again, be­cause it was good, even though at the end of the day he is try­ing to sell you a com­put­er.
 
Another Baseball Proposal · Back in Ju­ly 2004, I wrote about go­ing to a base­ball game with fire­work­s, and a mar­riage pro­pos­al un­ex­pect­ed­ly break­ing out on the field. I guess this must be some­what of a tra­di­tion, be­cause it hap­pened again this last Cana­da Day, where, once again, I took fire­works pic­tures. On­ly there was a dif­fer­ent spin this time, and I got pho­tos of the pro­pos­al too. I thought the whole thing was too tacky to write up, but the pic­tures have been play­ing on my mind ev­ery time I go past them in the July-pix fold­er. And the sto­ry is not en­tire­ly with­out in­ter­est; so make up your own mind ...
 
Jacobs, Pictures, Spartans · Jane Ja­cobs died; the city I live in, Van­cou­ver, is pret­ty solid­ly Ja­cob­sian both in its cur­rent shape and its plan­ning dog­ma. By choos­ing to live here I’m em­pir­i­cal­ly a fan. Oddly, few have re­marked how great Ja­cobs looked; her face com­mand­ed the eye. Which leads me Alex Waterhouse-Hayward’s won­der­ful Jane Ja­cobs & Vive­ca Lind­fors; sur­pris­ing por­traits and thoughts on dec­o­ra­tion. W-H’s blog has be­come one of on­ly two or three that I stab at ex­cit­ed­ly when­ev­er I see some­thing new. For ex­am­ple, see Sex Crimes, Homi­cide and Drugs and yes, that’s what it’s about. Stay­ing with the death-and-betrayal the­me, and ap­par­ent­ly (but not re­al­ly) shift­ing back 2½ mil­len­ni­a, see John Cowan’s The War (after Si­monides), be­ing care­ful to look close­ly at the links. I’ve writ­ten about those same wars.
 
The Long Form · I found that Orlowski’s long, in­co­her­ent anti-Wikipedia screed in the Guardian sent my think­ing in some un­ex­pect­ed di­rec­tion­s. Real­ly, it’s too much to ex­pect ra­tio­nal dis­course from a man whose first piece on the sub­ject (that I saw) re­joiced in the URL “khmer_rouge_in_daipers” (sic). Any­how, he as­sem­bles put-downs from the usu­al anti-Wikipedia sus­pect­s; there’s re­al­ly not much new. I will cred­it him for one ob­ser­va­tion that has re­cent­ly be­come ap­par­ent to me: the wear­ing thing about be­ing a ten­der of the Wikipedia flame isn’t the ma­li­cious po­lit­i­cal or racist cra­zies, it’s the con­stant back­ground noise of dumb low-level mi­nor ju­ve­nile van­dal­is­m. After the same-old same-old bash­fest is done, the ar­ti­cle dips in­to soph­more phi­los­o­phy, ar­gu­ing that the Net’s end­less flow of at­om­ized in­for­ma­tion some­how pre­vents us from in­ter­pret­ing or ac­quir­ing wis­dom. And, by the way, the kids these days are no good, what with re­ly­ing on Google in­stead of Real Book­s. Any­how, in among all this tilt­ing at wind­mills there is a (fair­ly well con­cealed) thing to think about, and it has to do with length. It doesn’t both­er me that much of the prose I read these days has an age mea­sured in hours, or is evanes­cent elec­tron­ic tex­t, or is pro­duced by prin­ci­pals rather than in­ter­me­di­aries. But here’s what I’m com­ing to think: in tex­t, short form tends to drive out long for­m. Our novelty-seeking chim­panzee minds would rather chew through a bunch of tasty lit­tle morsels than a full bal­anced meal. For ex­am­ple, when I was just about to turn in last night, I glanced at the New York­er mag­a­zine at the end of the so­fa, got start­ed read­ing Ge­orge Packer’s ex­cel­lent The Les­son of Tal Afar, and didn’t get to bed till way past 1AM. And I learned some things about the state of play in Iraq that no suc­ces­sion of blog posts is gonna teach me, be­cause the ma­te­ri­al re­al­ly needs a dozen or so pages of beautifully-typeset densely-argued dis­course. I’m not go­ing to try to sum­ma­rize Packer’s piece; but if you want to have a re­al­ly ed­u­cat­ed opin­ion about the way things are head­ing over there, you’ll read it. As for me, I’m mak­ing a con­scious ef­fort to do more of my read­ing in big chunks. But I’m not giv­ing up on blogs or the Wikipedi­a, and I re­main con­temp­tu­ous of Orlowski’s posse’s in­ef­fec­tu­al flail­ing at any­thing with that dan­ger­ous smell of the New and In­ter­est­ing.
 
Sleeping Giants · Via Dave Le­men, a rather beau­ti­ful an­i­mat­ed pho­to es­say on the Ko­dak site.
 
Thirty-six ongoing Months · Fe­b. 27, 2003 saw the Hel­lo world post here at on­go­ing. Three years? Seems like thir­ty. This, when I post it, will be frag­ment num­ber one thou­sand sev­en hun­dred and sixty-two. I’d cal­cu­late the word-count, but that would take some re­al work, and my time in front of a com­put­er is ful­l, full with things I want to work on and on­go­ing frag­ments I want to write. Thanks, 1,762 thanks, for read­ing, and to my co-workers and fam­i­ly, es­pe­cial­ly Lau­ren, thanks for putting up with the side-effects.
 
Pictures of Not Much · I’ve used “prognosticator” as a veiled in­sult, just be­cause it sounds so nasty. Last year I played that game though, in a post with a ti­tle like this one’s; now it’s a qui­et New Year’s Eve (we’re tired and have a big day to­mor­row), so why not con­sid­er last year the start of a tra­di­tion? So let’s look back and see how I did last year, then try again. And again toss in some pret­ty pic­tures of not much ...
 
My Cut-and-Paste Untech Year · This meme’s been slosh­ing around since ear­ly De­cem­ber, which seems too ear­ly to me. Here­with my year in 12 cut-and-paste sen­tences, none about tech­nol­o­gy. (For the tech year, see here.)
Jan­uary: The chil­dren run wild in a uni­verse en­tire­ly oc­cu­pied by snow­ball­s, sled­s, snow fort­s, and of course snow peo­ple. Fe­bru­ary: The food is ex­cel­len­t, the goats are charm­ing, the view is good, the air on the moun­tain­side is a plea­sure to breathe, and the mot­to is Da’ Fe­ta Mo’ Bet­ta; what’s not to like? March: In the fashion-boutique win­dows, flir­ty lit­tle wisps of flow­ered fab­ric, sum­mer skirts and hal­ter­s, are sad in the wet grey light; I sup­pose lots more lan­guish un­worn in clos­ets and draw­ers all over town. April: You can pre­tend that a lifestyle where you drive ev­ery­where is OK, but it’s not free, it’s not even cheap. May: So how about that barista with the ham­mer and sick­le? June: We may not be able to save the world, but maybe we can save one brave wom­an. Ju­ly: The streets are thronged with the youth of Europe, and a pret­ty scruffy lot they are, too. Au­gust: Hey New Or­lean­s: when you get your­self back to­geth­er, I’ll come down and spend a bunch of mon­ey on booze and mu­sic, that’s a promise. Septem­ber: We, the devo­tees of the Church of Base­bal­l, howled as one in sor­row, then re­laxed and re­mem­bered our beers and so on. Oc­to­ber: The med­ley of Slove­ni­an folk-songs and Deep Pur­ple hits went on till 2AM. Novem­ber: But slow is OK, be­cause time is what he has, no end of it; and when you’re my age that time rush­es by, fast and un­ceas­ing like a spring flood. De­cem­ber: She hand­ed over the cof­fee and gig­gled at me: “It’s a bum!”

 
Vocation · There some points of re­al­ly fresh in­ter­est in the 2005/08/22 New York­er. At first glance there are no ad­s; af­ter a minute you re­alise that in fact that one ad­ver­tis­er has bought all the space in the is­sue. Their name nev­er ap­pears, as far as I can tel­l, but all the pages that would be ad­ver­tis­ing are filled with graphics—in a very New York­er style—that fea­ture the advertiser’s icon, one you’d prob­a­bly rec­og­nize. In­sid­e, there’s a good fea­ture on Kinky Fried­man, mi­nor country-music star (the Texas Jew­boys) turned suc­cess­ful mys­tery nov­el­ist, who’s now run­ning for gov­er­nor of Texas. Fried­man says: “You have your life and your work, and you should get the two as con­fused and as mixed up as pos­si­ble. Make it all one fabric.” Which is a fine goal, if per­haps not achiev­able by ev­ery­one; lots of peo­ple just have job­s, and lots of peo­ple are fine with that. Me, I’ve got a vo­ca­tion. But then I re­al­ized that this is­sue of the mag­a­zine is get­ting with Kinky’s pro­gram too. The re­al “job” of a mag­a­zine, what it gets paid for, is sell­ing ad­ver­tis­ing; and in this case, they’re mix­ing up their graph­i­cal iden­ti­ty and their job in a fair­ly chal­leng­ing way. Ad­ver­tis­ing, as it’s done now, works less and less ev­ery year. I’m not say­ing that this New York­er gam­bit is the One New Truth, but in a trade that re­al­ly needs some new ideas, any­thing dif­fer­ent is news.
 
On Time · Its ex­tent is fixed, in­elas­tic. Some of the time you spend leaves a mark on the world, some not. Some is plea­sur­able, some not. Some is nec­es­sary, some not. The waste of time is the on­ly waste that is ir­recov­er­able, even in prin­ci­ple. But you got­ta slack off some­times or you’ll go nut­s.
 
Brand on Cities · Over at the new O’Reilly Radar site, a won­der­ful piece by Ste­wart Brand, who re­mains one of my heroes.
 
On the Absence of Women · Here’s the prob­lem: in some places, there aren’t enough wom­en around. For ex­am­ple, high-traction blogs, news­pa­per op-ed pages, and the com­put­er busi­ness. It’s ob­vi­ous and it’s been ob­vi­ous for a long time, but has pro­voked a flur­ry of pret­ty in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion this last cou­ple of week­s. This is pro­voked not on­ly by the re­cent traf­fic but by a trip to the bath­room on a re­cent evening at the op­er­a ...
 
Those Days · I’ve been hav­ing one of ’em, and when you got a blog you can wal­low in self-pity in front of the whole world, and it’s even OK if you can keep it to once a year or so. Item: I spent 45 min­utes wait­ing for the 30 sec­onds with the infectious-diseases spe­cial­ist, at least I seem un­like­ly to be­come Nine-fingered Tim Item: I sub­tly borked my Tom­cat/Jython se­tup, hours lat­er and af­ter pe­rus­ing PyServlet.­ja­va I de­ter­mined that the faulty com­po­nen­t, the one be­tween the chair and the com­put­er, had ac­ci­den­tal­ly delet­ed a cru­cial im­port state­men­t. Item: I proved con­clu­sive­ly that the com­bined mag­ic of Swing and X11 don’t al­low you to sit in Van­cou­ver and use NetBeans on a com­put­er in Men­lo Park when you’re con­nect­ed via Ssh over VPN over PPOE over DSL. Item: I flamed at Google’s Au­toLink and ap­par­ent­ly ev­ery sen­tient be­ing in both hemi­spheres thinks I’m out to lunch and is will­ing to say so loud­ly and pub­licly, ex­cept for the ones who tell me po­lite­ly one-on-one. Con­so­la­tion: The sec­ond half of the Pis­ton­s/Suns on HDTV, what a treat.
 
730 ongoing Days · Two years ago to­day I turned this thing on. I men­tioned it to Lau­ren last night and she said “Is that all?” In­deed. There’s re­al­ly not that much to add to last year’s an­niver­sary re­marks, ex­cept once again to of­fer thanks to those who read, and es­pe­cial­ly those who write back, in their own space or di­rect­ly. on­go­ing these days is not grow­ing faster than the whole bl­o­go­sphere, prob­a­bly be­cause my job is so in­ter­est­ing that it con­sumes a high­er and high­er pro­por­tion of my cre­ative en­er­gies (the last cou­ple of days I spent hours and hours build­ing a project frame­work on an in­ter­nal wik­i). But the bl­o­go­sphere is grow­ing, and fast; it’s a good thing to be part of.
 
Lend a Hand · We re­al­ly all ought to do some­thing to help all those folks around the In­di­an Ocean who are hurt­ing pret­ty bad­ly right now. A par­tic­u­lar­ly quick and easy way to do so is via Ama­zon; I should prob­a­bly have gone through the Cana­di­an Red Cross, but with these things, quick­er is bet­ter, so I used Ama­zon. If you want to be im­pressed, wait a few sec­onds and re­fresh that page and watch the num­bers go up. Even bet­ter, help make the num­bers go up. [Up­date: I felt a lit­tle guilty about ig­nor­ing the home side, so I checked out the Cana­di­an Red Cross and it’s re­al easy to do­nate there too, and these days, Canuck Bucks go fur­ther.]
 
The Future · “I’ve seen the future” sings Leonard Co­hen, “and it’s murder.” Me too, but it looked like a ho­tel lob­by. In par­tic­u­lar, the lob­by of the ex­cel­lent W Sil­i­con Val­ley, which is in Ne­wark, just across the Dum­bar­ton bridge from Sun’s Men­lo Park of­fice. My first meet­ing was ear­ly Mon­day so I flew down late Sun­day and stayed at the W for the first time, de­spite the fact that Si­mon Phipps has been telling me to go there for month­s. Si­mon is right, I un­hesi­tat­ing­ly rec­om­mend it. It’s a nice and re­lax­ing spot, whose decor is rather well-done Euro­mod­ern. The lob­by has run­ning wa­ter, turquoise light­s, love­ly wood, weird-shaped so­fas, and a civ­i­lized lit­tle bar that’s open late, where I got a bite and a beer. There’s WiFi in the bar, so I was on­line, and the on­ly peo­ple there were me at a neatly-sidelit mar­ble table, a geek on one of the big weird so­fas al­so with lap­top, and a cou­ple sit­ting chat­ting soft­ly to the bar­tender. There was some soft tech­no mu­sic pulse, just au­di­ble. If you’d put this on a movie screen in the 1950s it would have been a to­tal­ly plau­si­ble Sci-Fi fu­ture. In late 2004, it’s just a glimpse of what more and more tran­sient spaces are com­ing to look like.
 
1000 Thanks · I just hit the pub­lish but­ton for the thou­sandth time, which is a good oc­ca­sion once again to thank you, my part­ners out there in the Great Con­ver­sa­tion. Maybe I’ll get bored but at the mo­ment I couldn’t imag­ine not do­ing this. When I play Lego with the kid he’ll of­ten ask “What are you mak­ing, Daddy?” and I’ll say “I don’t know, let’s see what it turns out to be.” The same is true not just of on­go­ing but of the mil­lions of oth­ers who, giv­en the free­dom to write, write. A few (not me) may know what they’re try­ing to end up with, but as a group, we’re snap­ping to­geth­er lit­tle bright-coloured pieces. Some­time, we’ll find out what we’ve been build­ing. I can wait.
 
455 Grams · At the joint where I stop for cof­fee most morn­ings, there’s a lit­tle no­tice taped to the counter for the staff. It says “One pound = 455 grams.” This has been both­er­ing me for week­s. This morn­ing some­thing snapped and I said to the pret­ty sales-girl “You know, that’s wrong.” “What?” “It says 455 grams but it’s re­al­ly 454.” “What?” “That lit­tle sign there, it’s wrong, there are re­al­ly on­ly 454 grams in a pound.” “WHAT?” She wasn’t pars­ing me, and I was get­ting rat­tled. I think I failed to charm her. Any­how, there are re­al­ly on­ly 453.592.
 
On Canada · This morn­ing, I re­ceived this email from an Amer­i­can, a fa­mous name in the tech busi­ness: So, what is it re­al­ly like to live in Cana­da rel­a­tive to the US? How are the pub­lic school­s? What's the re­al sto­ry with health care? How's the cost of liv­ing in Van­cou­ver or Mon­tre­al vs. Seat­tle? On one hand, as a cit­i­zen of the world, I think that it’s gen­er­al­ly dan­ger­ous when the USA gets as bad­ly out of tune with the rest of us as it is now, and thus it would be nice if the best Amer­i­cans stayed home and helped fix things. On the oth­er hand, as a pa­tri­ot­ic Cana­di­an, I know that we have reg­u­lar­ly ben­e­fit­ed from the ar­rival of smart, dis­af­fect­ed Amer­i­can­s. So here­with a few notes on what it’s like here ...
 
Other Glitters · In the last day, three Web fragments’ glit­ters tick­led my mind’s eye enough to pass ’em on. Britt Blaser’s re­mark­able Reel Courage is about the U.S. elec­tion but speaks from a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence and quotes Solzhen­it­syn, both good things. In the geek spir­it, Dave Sifry is hav­ing se­ri­ous fun min­ing his own data: he’s post­ed parts one and two and I’ll be wait­ing for the rest. Fi­nal­ly, Jeff Hodges sent me a point­er to Phil Agre’s home page, which has some se­ri­ous­ly good stuff on it; my fa­vorite was How to Help Some­one Use a Com­put­er.
 
Thanksgiving · Cana­di­an Thanks­giv­ing, that is, to­day, Oc­to­ber 11th; I won’t be work­ing much. So, late on Thanks­giv­ing eve I say thank-you to the world for be­ing what it is, and to my fam­i­ly and friends for be­ing what they are, and to the peo­ple at work for the good stuff there. And I’ll throw in a pho­to­graph of the Au­tum­nal boun­ty ...
 
Oh, Sarah · If you have iTunes, you might want to stop what­ev­er you’re do­ing and watch this. You will not re­gret it. Via Si­mon Phipps. Dar­ren Bare­foot writes to tell me that those with­out iTunes can watch here.
 
Help Darfur · I just dropped by the WFP to make a laugh­ably small con­tri­bu­tion to the re­lief of a mon­strous­ly big prob­lem. If enough oth­er peo­ple do so, the re­lief may be­come no­tice­able. Do the world a fa­vor, drop a few bucks in the pot and pass the word on. Maybe blog­gers can con­tribute a lit­tle more than talk to the world? [Up­date: Jere­my Kei­th and Chris Rauschu­ber have passed the word on—good on ya—and An­jan Bac­chu did a lit­tle some­thing. Any­body who’s still think­ing about it, read this, then, as they say, just do it.]
 
Will You? · Went to the ball­park and, while minor-league base­ball is sup­posed to be about chill­ing out, it sud­den­ly got in­tense. Plus I took pic­tures of the fire­work­s ...
 
Looking For a Gig · Wel­come to 2004! I’m look­ing for some­thing new to do, as in job-hunting. [Up­date: I’ve ac­cept­ed a job, start­ing March 15th. I’ll write about it then.] ...
 
One ongoing Year · It was last Fe­bru­ary twenty-seventh that I said “Hello” from on­go­ing to the world; here­with my im­pres­sions and fu­ture plan­s ...
 
Ozbound · Three legs Van­cou­ver to LA to Syd­ney to Mel­bourne, best part of 24 hours elapsed, look­ing for­ward past the sore butt to the bril­liant light and awfully-nice peo­ple Dow­nun­der­way. But it may get kind of in­ter­mit­tent in this space. Y’all keep the In­ter­net run­ning, hear me?
 
Open Source Person · I thought it might be en­ter­tain­ing to give a blow-by-blow ac­count of my job hunt here, nam­ing names, trad­ing off plus­es and mi­nus­es, telling al­l. Then it dawned on me how in­cred­i­bly clue­less and lame-brained that would be. But I do have some vignettes—one no­tably op­ti­mistic for our profession—and a cou­ple of pic­tures, and al­so an ex­pla­na­tion of the essay’s ti­tle, which doesn’t mean what you think it does. [Up­date: Found! Jonas the G.J.S.L.w.n.e.] ...
 
Hunter’s Martian Eyes · In Bar­ry Lopez’ Arc­tic Dreams (a beau­ti­ful and wise book) he laments the pas­sage of the spe­cial re­la­tion­ship be­tween the hunter and the land­scape; A hunter—a re­al hunts-to-live hunter, not a plaid-clad sub­ur­ban­ite gun nut—has to as a mat­ter of life or death study his sur­round­ings with great care. I quote: “But the metic­u­lous in­spec­tion of the land that is the mark of a good hunter be­comes most ev­i­dent when he us­es a pair of good field glass­es. Long af­ter the most in­quir­ing non­na­tive has has grown weary of glass­ing the land for some clue to the move­ment of an­i­mal­s, a hunter is still scour­ing its edges and in­ter­stices. He may take an hour to glass 360° of the ap­par­ent­ly silent tun­dra, one sec­tion at a time.” In that spir­it, go vis­it the very good Quick­time VR panora­ma of the Mar­tian Sur­face, set the scene in­to a slow, slow drift (it’s easy with a track­pad), cul­ti­vate that hunter’s eye, and spend a half-hour look­ing at the hori­zon, and the sand, and the stones.
 
Hello CNN.com Visitors · As a re­sult of John Battelle’s nice Foo Camp ar­ti­cle hav­ing been post­ed at CNN.­com, a few thou­sand peo­ple have come through here look­ing for an ar­ti­cle about nix­ing spam: Here it is, and thanks for vis­it­ing.
 
On Time · An un­ex­pect­ed in­ter­rup­tion here to­day, not work­ing and time to think and time on my mind, so here are some words and pic­tures on the sub­jec­t ...
 
On the Side of a Tire · I was try­ing to get some work done and the kid was pes­ter­ing me: “Show me some pic­tures on the com­put­er, Daddy.” So went to Google Image Search, and said “What would you like to see a pic­ture of?” “Ummm... a tire.” No idea where that came from, but easy enough. We looked at a cou­ple of pic­tures of tires, and as a side-effect I found out How to read a mod­ern Pas­sen­ger Car Tire Side­wall. Some com­mit­tee some­where ob­vi­ous­ly in­vest­ed se­ri­ous time in work­ing this one out.
 
Elephant Lightning · After months of drought, it rained to­day in Van­cou­ver! It’s rain­ing right now, and we’re all hop­ing the rain will move up-country, where the fire­fight­ers haven’t been win­ning many re­cent­ly. The rain ar­rived ac­com­pa­nied by a big thun­der­stor­m, a rar­i­ty here, and I was ex­plain­ing to the four-year-old about light­ning and thun­der, and how you shouldn’t go out­side be­cause you can get struck by light­ning. He said “And when ele­phants go out in the stor­m, the light­ning hits them, right?” Er, I sup­pose. I don’t know. And for that mat­ter con­sid­er the gi­raffes with their lit­tle horn­lets like light­ning rod­s. Is there no light­ning on the African sa­van­nah­s, or do the ele­phants and gi­raffes just get zapped some­times, or what? [Up­dat­ed: It hap­pen­s, and it’s worth read­ing about.] ...
 
A Whole Lotta Mapping Going On · One of the stats I oc­ca­sion­al­ly run off the on­go­ing logs is for the (in­fre­quen­t) views of the full-size ver­sions of the pic­tures. I no­ticed that my Tokyo Tran­sit map was very pop­u­lar, some­one had in­clud­ed it from a page out there. This is kind of ir­ri­tat­ing and I was think­ing about ban­ning them, but I thought I should look at the page, and my good­ness, if you like tran­sit map­s, this is the place, check it out.
 
The Hunger Barrier · I read some­thing heart­felt and damn­ing to­day that re­mind­ed me of sto­ries my Dad used to tel­l. To­day would have been his 78th birth­day, but the Alzheimer’s fi­nal­ly got him just af­ter his 77th. Mr. Touré and Mr. Compaoré, the au­thors of that ar­ti­cle, are the Pres­i­dents, re­spec­tive­ly, of Mali and Burk­i­na Fa­so. Most read­ers will know lit­tle of these coun­tries ex­cept that they are African and poor; their ar­ti­cle ex­plains one of the rea­sons they stay poor, and the re­mark­ably sim­ple and pain­less way we could make that prob­lem go away ...
 
On Nations · Tues­day was Cana­da Day and we had a fine hol­i­day; Fri­day is the Fourth of Ju­ly, when our south­ern neigh­bour will be wav­ing more flags than usu­al and its thinkers in­ton­ing on What Amer­i­ca Mean­s. In my for­ties and hav­ing had the lux­u­ry of see­ing many na­tions up close, to­day I un­der­stand not at all what a na­tion is, what it means to be Amer­i­can or Bo­li­vian or Ja­panese or Egyp­tian. But it’s a thing worth wor­ry­ing about, and brought down­stage cen­tre by the co­in­ci­dence of dates, and al­so by the fact that I’m hav­ing trou­ble evict­ing Old Glo­ry from my menubar ...
 
The Picture of Happiness · “... and they lived hap­pi­ly ev­er after” is a myth, be­cause everyone’s hap­pi­ness end­s, hap­pi­ness is a thing stuck in a mo­ment or a morn­ing or with luck a mon­th. I was hap­py Sun­day and this is a thing worth pon­der­ing, and there’s a pic­ture too ...
 
Lizard Excreta · A fam­i­ly sto­ry this one, full of pain and filth, but most­ly a launch­ing pad for a full-on flame against the hellspawn who foist up­on us the ul­ti­mate evil: Things That Work Dif­fer­ent­ly For No Good Rea­son. Up­date: Argh, I was wrong! ...
 
Pix From Mars · Slash­dot had this to­day, tremen­dous­ly im­pres­sive pic­tures of the Earth/Moon sys­tem and Jupiter, tak­en from Mars, the prop­er im­age cred­it is NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Sys­tems. A bit mind-expanding; for me, it was the Earth and Moon seen in the same frame, from a dis­tance, that for the first time made me feel like I re­al­ly knew how big the pieces of the sys­tem are. Hats off to the peo­ple and ma­chines who did this. But the pix are a bit too pret­ty. In fac­t, the photo-enhancement both­ered me, so I de­con­struct­ed them a bit ...
 
Updated · The on­go­ing software's been up­dat­ed to adorn the front page with a pho­to for your view­ing plea­sure. Al­so, pages with pic­tures on them now use shrunk­en ver­sions that link to sep­a­rate full-sized ones, so on­go­ing should be much less ar­du­ous for those not in broad­band­land. The soft­ware changes have been done for days and days on the lap­top, where I've been watch­ing to see if any­thing breaks and it looks OK, but Mur­phy is usu­al­ly in there pitch­ing so do please let me know if any­thing looks weird or bro­ken.
 
Sun! · Long weeks of spring rain made the plants lush and strong and joy­ous, but it fal­tered to­day, we bathed in sun. Here­with some words and pic­tures ...
 
Howdy! · I've been fid­dling with this for some week­s, de­cid­ed to tell a few peo­ple. I hate it when I hear that "Person X has a Weblog" and I go there and there's just a note say­ing "Hi! I have a Weblog!". So there's a hun­dred or so bits 'n' pieces al­ready scat­tered around for your view­ing plea­sure. Dave claims to have the old­est blog, well for a few min­utes on 2003/02/27, this is the youngest! ...
 
Bye-Bye, Old Friend · I sold my 1995 VW Pas­sat to­day, it's a fine car but it's been re­placed. What a butt-load of pa­per­work. I snapped a last pho­to as it drove away. Snif.
 
Columbia and NASA Stupidity · Quot­ing CNN: ...
 
Truth and Coffee · Just across the street, a "Boutique Hotel" opened, very fash­ion­able, very neighborhood-integrated. It has a cof­fee bar - one of about 5 with­in 2 blocks of the of­fice. The cof­fee bar is funky, with mir­rors and brass rails and Paris-café-style ta­bles and chairs ...
 
Being Small at Starbucks · Time was, Star­bucks sold drinks in Short, Tal­l, and Gran­de. A few years back, they switched to Tal­l, Gran­de, and Ven­ti, in a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple of su­per­siz­ing North-American food pathol­o­gy. You might have thought "Short" went away. It hasn't; in most first-class Star­bucks es­tab­lish­ments (not in­clud­ing the ones staffed by Marriot-Host minimum-wage-slaves at air­ports for ex­am­ple) you can ask for a Short what­ev­er and they'll do it for you ...
 
9/11 · The world, but par­tic­u­lar­ly the Unit­ed States, has had a tough week. For the mo­men­t, the bad guys are win­ning; we don't re­al­ly know who they are, and across North Amer­i­ca, while the lights may be on, nobody's home, in terms of get­ting on with life ...
 
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