The Longest Now


Pattern Repositories
Saturday May 31st 2003, 3:43 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

Microsoft’s recent releast of various patterns and processes (download the design patterns) is one of many pattern repositories people and (more often)  organizations have been making public.  I think this is one of the most beautiful frontiers of modern data-sharing.


Some of these repositories are intended as singular repositories to eventually encompass all patterns influencing developers or architects… here is an old-school collection of flat patterns, for instance.  Of course merging different repositories is very hard when there is no obvious classification or naming scheme, and when the presentation of patterns varies so widely from one person or group to another.


Individual traditional architects have also been releasing their own pattern languages and repositories.  Christopher Alexander, my hat is off to you, as usual.



Narratives and Tall Tales: New Stories
Saturday May 31st 2003, 2:40 pm
Filed under: poetic justice

There are some new stories to check out and comment on, about spiral narratives and coral reefs, and about modern tall tales.  The latter would particularly benefit from your knowledge of modern online culture and urban folktales (not urban legends per se, but stories whose plots, morals, or other memes become part of daily narrative and conversation for years afterwards).

Narratives and Tall Tales: New Stories …



Language Choice and National Communication
Saturday May 31st 2003, 9:37 am
Filed under: international

I was discussing modern Hebrew and its kinship with Arabic with John and Anita last night, and mentioned that Arabic is a more richly descriptive language, for having so many centuries to thrive and flesh out its vocabulary, whereas before this century Hebrew long lay dormant as an everyday language.  It turns out that this story of Hebrew’s death is slightly exaggerated (search for “British Consul Young”); it was in common use in Jerusalem, if nowhere else, two hundred years ago.


We also mentioned revolution-era America’s national language debates.  I have often heard of the Continental Congress discussing this matter — with footnotes that German and Hebrew were on the list, and German much favored.  This is true, though one might better say the CC discussed whether we should declare a national language.  The prevailing sentiment was that language choice should be left up to the people.



In 1780, John Adams proposed to the Continental Congress that official language academy be created to “purify, develop, and dictate the usage of English.” He idea was rejected for being undemocratic. (R.Reese, referencing the ACLU)


The story that there was a vote for our national language, and that English won out over German by a single vote, is a popular legend… (read more)

Language Choice and National Communication …



A Little Breakneck
Saturday May 31st 2003, 2:45 am
Filed under: popular demand

Life and conversation have been developing at breakneck speeds.  Today was full of bizarre coincidence, charm, and confusion.  There is much to discuss with all of you, and many observations to share over the weekend.


For now, let me just note that there is indeed an active mail archive intended for general tidbits, from people everywhere, to no particular audience but posterity.  Come back soon with opinions in hand…



Recently: Ducks, Cookie Lore, and Order
Friday May 30th 2003, 1:36 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

The magical Merovingian Duck; the infamous cookie recipe(s); James G; Adams’s Last Chance to CD; Johnny D’s; the Great American English-German debate; gold lame and shades; engine work… all deserve a mention here. 



Safety in Numbers
Tuesday May 27th 2003, 10:50 pm
Filed under: indescribable

As long as we’re trapped in Oni II, we might as well get this dewer where it belongs. All together now…


 lift-safety: giving new meaning to "welcome to the next level".



Man your Playstations!
Tuesday May 27th 2003, 5:41 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

Distributed computing for fanboys:  WELCOME TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Man your Playstations! …



Language constructs
Monday May 26th 2003, 3:54 pm
Filed under: international

What if English suddenly became a pictographic language?  A charming parallel of Chinese language construction as applied to English [“Yingzi”] , using modern pictographs and sound-loans.  Insiduously instructive about written Chinese; with reference to that beast of an etymological dictionary, Rick Harbaugh’s zhongwen.comAnyone who can pull of a feat like that while finishing medschool is a frood in my book.

Language constructs …



Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Medical Challenge
Saturday May 24th 2003, 4:03 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire

Skilled at high-level meta-analyses of the world?  Full of ideas about how the state of medicine should develop? Submit a Grand Challenge to direct the $200M that the B&MGF has allocated to global health innovation.



A Grand Challenge is neither the statement of the global health problem itself (e.g., malaria or AIDS) nor the request for a specific health intervention (e.g., a drug or vaccine), but the call for a discrete scientific or technological innovation which will break through the roadblock that stands between where we are now and where we would like to be in science, medicine, and public health.


Here is a pdf of the Call for Ideas.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Medical Challenge …



Extra Wisdom
Friday May 23rd 2003, 3:35 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire

For those of you who have never visited more than the link-lined homepage of Jorn Barger’s RobotWisdom (sidebar: Robot! link), take a minute to scan his sitemap. It highlights many of the marvels on the Web, along with his resource pages for [further looking into] some of them.

Extra Wisdom …



TMBG / Mike Doughty riffs tonight
Thursday May 22nd 2003, 1:38 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire

Into NYC instead of asking useful questions at Berkman tonight.  TMBG concert I thought was tomorrow is in fact today.  Alack!  Should be awesome, though.  Mike Doughty is covering some of their songs…

alright, so he covered just one song. yet it was awesome, and we had a killer view of the stage. over at the Bowery when it was time to go, I met noone in the springtime at that rock and roll show; nor kissed her on the subway in the middle of the night… everyone was my friend, and everything looked beautiful.



Oh, Shit
Tuesday May 20th 2003, 5:53 pm
Filed under: poetic justice

I can’t believe it.  Sometimes even obvious hoaxes are for real. MSUK must have brought the Benetton PR firm on board…

Oh, Shit …



New thoughts, links.
Tuesday May 20th 2003, 5:36 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

Some new stories developing.  Let me know which strike your fancy.  I’ve also been getting lots of interest from you all about using Archive… check it out in action, applied to python-list


Hopefully David will write me back about setting up a new list as a general-purpose (but beautiful) mail-to-feed gateway — indeed.  And here it is.  Just Cc: any mail you find worth preserving [or bounce any old mail, with the permission of the original authors] to archive-feedme@neotonic.com.


Meanwhile, we (particularly Ken) have still been talking about more extensive networks of inputs and outputs, using an array of existing tools.  But it’s nice to have something up and working.


Also, one of my old friends turns out to be related to Meryl Streep.  Who knew



State of the World
Tuesday May 20th 2003, 4:01 am
Filed under: chain-gang

State of the world union:




Blogging Avoids Conversations
Monday May 19th 2003, 5:47 pm
Filed under: poetic justice

As ever, many thoughtful people are trying to find new ways to strike up a good conversation.  It’s not theoretically hard to distribute, but… what we think of now as blogs don’t fit the bill

Blogging Avoids Conversations …



The Chains of Peace
Monday May 19th 2003, 2:44 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

GYWO gets on some peace.  My new peacemaker is unstoppable… in this case, he is completely serious.

The Chains of Peace …



Security Blankets & Fallbacks
Monday May 19th 2003, 1:45 pm
Filed under: chain-gang


  • The best tools for keeping yourself digitally secure (physical and metaphysical security to come). 

  • archive.org notes legal barriers to archiving to forestall disaster (NYT).

  • What fallback will suffice if those mad Long Island scientists transform Earth into “an inert hyperdense sphere…100 meters across”?

Security Blankets & Fallbacks …




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