The Longest Now


“‘I participate in contact origami’, The Book”, The Movie
Thursday March 09th 2017, 8:48 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory,indescribable,noetic

Footprints in a self-similar river. The occasional passing act of will that remains and is amplified downstream, so that at some future moment, perhaps fording at another spot altogether, you discover a print announcing to you alone that you have been there before.

screen-shot-2017-03-09-at-5-33-45-pmA decade ago, I once spent too long creating a stylesheet for a tiny “how-to” template: the numbers in boxes laying out a three-step process, whether to switch fonts, bold, padding, background and border colors. Making the css just right to work on screens of all sizes.

It looked something like this.  >>

In fact, almost exactly like that.  Some things worked, some didn’t.  I tried to add padding to the left of the roman numerals, tried to remove the pixel of whitespace above the bordered boxes, without success.  Should the roman numerals be left-aligned but the boxed text centered?  Since then, scores of similar templates have copied and remixed it, changing text and context but not style.  The color palette I settled on, almost content with it, shows up on hundreds of pages. It would now take a script and many hours to find and tweak each instance of the design.

I run across one myself every few months, and experience river-shock: the sense of seeing something simple you did once that has a quiet, pervasive mark that cannot be undone.  This is quite different from the sense of pride or dismay that comes from seeing the expected result of a major endeavor: a book in someone’s hands, a clinic building in use or in disrepair, a student now teaching others.

Another memory: One week I set about compiling a collection for a museum, a complete series of parts, diagrams and XO laptops: a few boxes full.  I had sent background context by mail, but at the last minute took a fine-tipped sharpie and attached clarifying notes to post-its on each cluster.

Years later, visiting the museum with a friend, I ran across the display as part of a history of computing; the electronics beautifully preserved as I had hoped, as I saw with pride.  And – river shock – a handful of my post-its, with small diagrams and 8pt-font notes to the curator, exactly where I had placed them.  Anyone with access to the materials could have chosen one of each and put them in a box; my handwriting made it seem like my own workdesk, enclosed in perspex and on display.

On occasion a visitor will find one of the historical texts I’ve preserved against linkrot and plagiarism, like the acquiantance checking up on the man trapped in Charles de Gaulle airport, or a friend running across their favorite college essay or spellpoem, and I have a shadow of that frisson.  A passing fancy, created to be found anonymously by others, appearing at least once more in the endless river of daily life.



Cop dines with homeless mother of four, gets kudos. Her plight is ignored.
Thursday May 19th 2016, 2:48 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,Not so popular,Rogue content editor,Uncategorized

Recent news blurbs across our fair state, applaud a state trooper for “sharing lunch with a homeless mother of four“.  (Headline language).

This was noticed and photographed by a passerby; the trooper then identified by the state police and posted to their online webpage praising him for his good deed; a CBS affiliate spent hours tracking down both the photographer and the woman for a video interview.  They got quotes from her about: being a ‘homeless panhandler’, his common decency, and her surprise.  She was described by her motherhood, her panhandling, and being down on her luck.

And that’s it!  Nothing thoughtful about why this young mother is homeless in Fall River, or what will become of her family.  No opportunities to reach out and fix a tragedy. She clearly needs more than one good meal and healthcare, but the outpouring of interest in the viral photo is entirely directed towards how and whether to applaud the police officer [who, quite decently, refused to be interviewed], how this reflects on police officers everywhere, how this perhaps restores faith in humanity.

(Update: It seems the trooper and one local news affiliate did find a way to help her temporarily with material support, a bit after that event. And a few cases like this that have famously included a crowdfunding campaign. But the most newsworthy issue is: how does this happen in our society, what can we do to fix that, and what permanent fixes could work for the family in the spotlight.)



Lila Tretikov named as Wikimedia’s upcoming ED
Thursday May 01st 2014, 5:49 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,ideonomy,knowledge,popular demand,wikipedia

And there was much rejoicing. Welcome, Lila!



Sacrifice Mt. Gox: This will be good for Bitcoin because
Tuesday February 25th 2014, 2:04 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,chain-gang,fly-by-wire



Desert canticles wrestle susurrantly, lithe behind quiet eyes
Friday September 13th 2013, 2:39 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,fly-by-wire,indescribable

Sitting down today to write my first non-work letter in a few weeks.  I’ve been enjoying poetry lately; here’s some Simon:

A man walks down the street
Dusty street in a strange world
Maybe it’s the Third World
Maybe it’s his first time around
He doesn’t speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
The sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen and Hallelujah!



Ripeness being all: Snowden’s secret and the web’s New Nihilism
Monday July 22nd 2013, 11:25 am
Filed under: Aasw,Blogroll,fly-by-wire,Not so popular,null,Too weird for fiction

Heller via Yossarian:

He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled…
Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall.

Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage.
The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness was all.



A Raw Interview: Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the Boston bombers.
Friday April 19th 2013, 9:15 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,null

Update: Dzokhar was captured alive, around 20:30 EST, after hiding in a boat in a Watertown backyard.

@Boston_Police: CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.

This public interview from today with Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers, is impressive. It seems to be from a conclave of media who turned up on his property; and highlights what the media look like as a herd without preptime, and what a family man looks like when stripped to his instinctive graces.

Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in. And ask for forgiveness, from the victims, from the injured, and from those who left, ask forgiveness from these people.”   Businessweek

Arrested Friday April 19, 20:40 EST



Public Service Ad: TheOldReader perfects a google reader clone
Friday February 08th 2013, 10:05 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory

If you liked Google Reader, you’ll love TheOldReader.com – a site that perfectly replicates the funcionality of the original Google Reader, adding the joy of being part of a reclaimed tool.

Update: Mako points out that newsblur may be even better, and is free software. Huzzah!

Every day for the past two weeks someone different has mentioned in my presence how much they miss Google Reader, and I or someone else has pointed them to this site, to great joy. TOR supports importing of your old GR feed. Most of my G-R-maven friends have switched over by now, so there are at least a few amazing people to share with there.



#pdftribute – a hack to share research in honor of AS.
Tuesday January 15th 2013, 3:58 am
Filed under: Aasw,chain-gang,fly-by-wire

Original idea by Eva Vivalt and Jessica Richman, site and scraper by Patrick Socha.

Well covered by Kerim Friedman.



Wikipedia gets visual editor in time for Christmas
Wednesday December 12th 2012, 11:35 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory,Seraphic,wikipedia


One small step for an editor


Huge props to the team working on this and the underlying parsoid. It’s still in Alpha, so it’s only on the English Wikipedia this week. And you have to turn it on via user prefs; and it wants good feedback, but it makes the old heart-cockles sing.



For Blue: W00 in Space
Friday November 30th 2012, 9:59 am
Filed under: fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory,international,Uncategorized

Spaaaaaaa-aaaaace



Thoughtbot writes letters sharing their dreams with the world – fresh from the Bot Cave
Thursday November 29th 2012, 1:50 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,fly-by-wire

Volume 1: November. You can subscribe for updates.



OLPC in Ethiopia: Testing Child Literacy
Thursday November 15th 2012, 9:14 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,gustatory,international

An excellent piece on OLPC’s tablet-based literacy experiments in Ethiopia, via the BBC World Service.



!!!!! Move over, Makmende! Aki Ra is Love
Tuesday September 25th 2012, 5:26 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,indescribable,international,null,Too weird for fiction

Love and death and hope. Here’s wishing him a fruitful and productive year.



Society memepool – how different societies define norms for life
Thursday September 13th 2012, 1:00 am
Filed under: fly-by-wire,Uncategorized

On sworn virgins, and other recurring social rules and accomodations.   A beautiful blog.



Sexiest github: White House’s We The People
Tuesday September 11th 2012, 10:07 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory,poetic justice

Both code and roadmap!



Peter Sunde Pleas: ‘Pardon the Swedish people from court corruption’
Tuesday July 10th 2012, 12:40 am
Filed under: chain-gang,fly-by-wire,international,Not so popular

Peter Sunde, public face of The Pirate Bay during its publicity and trial over the past six years, recently published a long personal essay about the experience.

It is a hair-raising story of judicial manipulation, international arm-twisting, and companies offering jobs to prosecutors in cases affecting them… breaking the design of the legal system in a few places. The result, for Sunde, has been a ridiculously punitive and overwhelming sentence and fine with, in his case, only circumstantial evidence. (he is asked to pay more in fines than he is likely to make in a lifetime.)

Thanks to Rick Falkvinge for translating the essay; and to Sunde for sharing it. Please read it.




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