September 1, 2009 Header
Smorgasborg - Random Objects

Snowed yesterday

A lot.

Snow on Saturday

It caused the event I was going to go to: NC jQuery Camp, to get postponed till later in February. I’m still looking forward to a North Carolina adventure in coding.

So we were snowed in Saturday, except for some preliminary snow shoveling I did. Today, Sunday started at 5am and I went to pick up my dad from the airport. His flight was canceled for Saturday night, so he and his ski club took a van from Atlanta, and so I trekked over mostly cleared-ish roads in 5°ree;F weather. It was thankfully uneventful. The rest of today was shoveling snow, with a bit of email and lots of podcasts. I actually have a whole other post where I talk about shoveling snow in draft mode. So forgive me if the next post also features snow shoveling. It’s a workout.

And thus endeth this post.

I finished Red Remover

Altogether, Red Remover was pretty hard. If I finish a silly Flash game I don’t necessarily take a screenshot, but this one was pretty darn hard.

Apple to retcon the PADD

PADD = “PADD” is an acronym for Personal Access Display Device, a hand-held computer interface, used as early as the 22nd century and well into the 24th century.

Supposedly Apple Computer of Cupertino, California will be retconning the PADD in about an hour. I will defer to Jason Kottke on what the best sources of live information about this new PADD might be.

Why can’t American airport security be run more like Israeli?

While North America’s airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel’s, which deal with far greater terror threats with far less inconvenience.

“It is mind boggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago,” said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He has worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

“Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don’t take s— from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for – not for hours – but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, `We’re not going to do this. You’re going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport.'”

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel’s largest hub, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

Read the whole thing: What Israel can teach us about security: At Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, screening is done in 30 minutes. The key? Look passengers in the eye

The Comics Journal: Online & Off

For some cultural things I much prefer the journalism about a thing more than the thing itself. Sports is one area, for example, I really enjoy the reporting of Bob Costas and HBO’s Real Sports show. Another area where the reportage gets more attention than the thing itself is in comics.

You may or may not know that in November I sold all my comics, cheap. Leah and I sold most everything, really. It was a relief to get rid of 200 pounds of paper I seldom ever read. As I regarded those comics one thing I noticed pained me slightly more was the comics journalism: particularly The Comics Journal. I had read TCJ for decades. It’s an erudite magazine pointed at an often juvenile artform.

Recently, TCJ has increased their online presence. In particular I have enjoyed articles like: Brighter in Hindsight: Black Humor by Charles R. Johnson. It covers a comics artist, gag cartoonist really, who worked for black adult men’s magazines in the 1970s. I had never heard of him or his work, but it sounds thoughtful, uncomfortable, and funny. Twilight is Manga made me chuckle at the fact that there was an antecedent for the “boyfriend falls in love with the offspring of would-be-girlfriend” aspect of the final Twilight book.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed detailed analyses and criticisms and highlights of great comics work. It pointed me to things I would not have purchased otherwise. I don’t always agree with it, but it’s a magazine that always made me think. I never subscribed, but I always enjoyed dropping into a comic book shop and seeing there were some interesting back issues, whether a month old or 2 years old, with interviews with artists and writers, creators and editors.

Online, it’s worth checking out:

Back in October Publishers Weekly’s The Beat Blog wrote about TCJ’s changes in format. That article is great because it highlights a very interesting change in strategy for TCJ. It will beef up the quality, size and format of the print issues, that is, more value for the dollar, but make fewer of them. Meanwhile, it’s beefing up its online presence with more multimedia and articles online. It’s remarkable because it seems so obvious — play to the strengths of the medium you’re working in. If you’re in both, change it up and serve both, and better. I with other print publications were so smart.

Prop 8 Trial Coverage

If you were interested in Proposition 8 court coverage from those working against Prop 8, you might check out: and

A trapped moment from July, 2009

Part of running WordPress is that when you start a post, your draft will get saved. It looks like on 21 July 2009 I cut and pasted this — I think from a quick email I sent with my cell phone to Leah while I was visiting my Grandparents for a while.

Thanks for the update. mx gpa apparently loves cranberry bagels. i did
some cleanup and gma joked that theyre raising my salary.then
corrected that theyre doubling my salary. then thex both chucled. xo


My grandfather apparently loves cranberry bagels. I did some cleaning up around the house, just helping out a little, nothing major. My grandma joked that they’re “raising my salary” — and then corrected herself that they’d double my salary. Then both of them chuckled at their joke.

A nice moment, frozen in time.

Brian Eno, always interesting

You can read selected quotes below or simply click through to: On gospel, Abba and the death of the record: an audience with Brian Eno:

On the intensity of ideas:
“If you grow up in a very strong religion like Catholicism you certainly cultivate in yourself a certain taste for the intensity of ideas. You expect to be engaged with ideas strongly whether you are for or against them. If you are part of a religion that very strongly insists that you believe then to decide not to do that is quite a big hurdle to jump over. You never forget the thought process you went through. It becomes part of your whole intellectual picture.”

On recording:
“As a listener who grew up listening to pop music I am interested in results. Pop is totally results-oriented and there is a very strong feedback loop. Did it work? No. We’ll do it differently then. Did it sell? No. We’ll do it differently then. So I wanted to bring the two sides together. I liked the processes and systems in the experimental world and the attitude to effect that there was in the pop, I wanted the ideas to be seductive but also the results.”

On singing:
“I belong to a gospel choir. They know I am an atheist but they are very tolerant. Ultimately, the message of gospel music is that everything’s going to be all right. If you listen to millions of gospel records – and I have – and try to distil what they all have in common it’s a sense that somehow we can triumph. There could be many thousands of things. But the message… well , there are two messages… one is a kind of optimism for the future rather than a pessimism. Gospel music is never pessimistic, it’s never ‘oh my god, its all going down the tubes’, like the blues often is. Gospel music is always about the possibility of transcendence, of things getting better. It’s also about the loss of ego, that you will win through or get over things by losing yourself, becoming part of something better. Both those messages are completely universal and are nothing to do with religion or a particular religion. They’re to do with basic human attitudes and you can have that attitude and therefore sing gospel even if you are not religious.”

On instrumentalists:
“Instrumentalists build a rapport with their instruments which is what you like and respond to. If you were sitting down now to design an instrument you would not dream of coming up with something as ridiculous as an acoustic guitar. It’s a strange instrument, it’s very limited and it doesn’t sound good. You would come up with something much better. But what we like about acoustic guitars is players who have had long relationships with them and know how to do something beautiful with them.”

“I’ve fought for years the idea that rock and popular art is only about passion and fashion and nothing to do with thinking and examining and if you do think there is something suspicious about you.”

On Abba:
“In the 70s, no one would admit that they liked Abba. Now it’s fine. It’s so kitsch. Kitsch is an excuse to defend the fact that they feel a common emotion. If it is kitsch. you put a sort of frame around something – to suggest you are being ironic. Actually, you aren’t. You are really enjoying it. I like Abba. I did then and I didn’t admit it. The snobbery of the time wouldn’t allow it. I did admit it when I heard ‘Fernando’; I could not bear to keep the secret to myself anymore and also because I think there is a difference between Swedish sentimentality and LA sentimentality because the Swedish are so restrained emotionally. When they get sentimental it’s rather sweet and charming. What we really got me with “Fernando” was what the lower singer was doing, I don’t know her name. I spent months trying to learn that. It’s so obscure what she’s doing and very hard to sing. And then from being a sceptic I went over the top in the other direction. I really fell for them.”

On Frank Zappa:
“Zappa was important to me because I realised I didn’t have to make music like he did. I might have made a lot of music like he did if he had not done it first and made me realise that I did not want to go there. I did not like his music but I am grateful that he did it. Sometimes you learn as much from the things you don’t like as from the things you do like. The rejection side is as important as the endorsement part. You define who you are and where you are by the things that you know you are not. Sometimes that’s all the information you have to go on. I’m not that kind of person. You don’t quite know where you are but you find yourself in the space left behind by the things you’ve rejected.”

On the end of an era
“I think records were just a little bubble through time and those who made a living from them for a while were lucky. There is no reason why anyone should have made so much money from selling records except that everything was right for this period of time. I always knew it would run out sooner or later. It couldn’t last, and now it’s running out. I don’t particularly care that it is and like the way things are going. The record age was just a blip. It was a bit like if you had a source of whale blubber in the 1840s and it could be used as fuel. Before gas came along, if you traded in whale blubber, you were the richest man on Earth. Then gas came along and you’d be stuck with your whale blubber. Sorry mate – history’s moving along. Recorded music equals whale blubber. Eventually, something else will replace it.”

via Bruce Sterling

People ages 1 to 100

“Information Architecture” explained

Making the rounds:

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