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.



Aksyonov predicts Crimean takeover in ’79 novel
Wednesday March 05th 2014, 8:22 am
Filed under: indescribable,international

Vassily Aksyonov wrote The Island of Crimea in 1979 – about an imagined future. It looks surprisingly like the present.

Kudos to Michael Idov at the New Yorker for writing about it beautifully, with all of its spooky accuracy.
(Night Wolves! Aksyonov again!)



Dimple joust as sport: the perfect combination of skill and reflex
Thursday November 28th 2013, 11:33 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,indescribable,sjStories

Dimple jousting is the purest form of duel. Everyone can play on equal footing, the winner is obvious, and there is no chance involved.



Wikipedia The Movie: the maddest thing I’ve read in some time
Wednesday October 30th 2013, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,indescribable,poetic justice,wikipedia

Wikipedia The Movie, a wiki-amusement started by Mark Pellegrini during the Chrome Age of Wikipedia, is hard to describe, and not exactly what you might expect. It is a surreal cataclysm of in-jokes pretzled together into a tilable shape. Its pieces have been polished by those who appreciate it: editors with a sense of humor, reflecting on a larger community whose relationship with humor is more nuanced. In short Dalí-scented scenes, and the language of cafeteria gossip, it captures something about the projects in a way that is honest to the madness of humanity. Enough to make any committed editor wince/smile.  It makes me wonder what a similarly frank slice of subtext would look like for other large-scale projects.

While I remember the original being written – not called ‘Episode 1’ at the time – I only discovered last year that it had been turned into a franchise, slowly unfolding year after year. And I can’t complain that I was cast as my favorite Shakespearean fragranceur.

Wikipedia the Movie

And then there is the musical version. For you who have shared the private hallucinations of those who breathe too deep of lemony Huggle vapour, give over a few minutes of your day to a stroll down memory’s phantasmagoria:

Wikipedia the Movie, Episode 1 ·  Wikipedia: The Musical



That curious creature, the technicolor starling, illuminated
Tuesday October 22nd 2013, 3:45 am
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,indescribable,zyzzlvaria

My power animal: Hildebrandt’s starling. Similar to some butterflies, these starlings are colored by the microscopic structure of its feathers, not pigment.

My power animal: the technicolor starling

 

Putting peacocks (and the stray chalybaeus) to shame for 2,000,000 years.

HT: Gaia.  via Wikimedia Commons. (this one is from Tanzania)



Cambridge doggerel in celebration of her glorious sunsets
Friday October 18th 2013, 8:01 pm
Filed under: Aasw,Glory, glory, glory,indescribable,meta,Not so popular,poetic justice

140 characters, just like mom’s.

The sunset was pretty
in Cambridge. The ember
of Sun cast the city
in hues to remember.

When I tried to draw Rindge
and Latin, ’twas orange.



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!



A Horrific Day in Boston – Death and Mayhem at the Marathon
Monday April 15th 2013, 10:33 pm
Filed under: indescribable,null

Today was a horrifying day for Boston – our annual celebration of pride, unity, and Spring put on hold for bombs and ambulances. My thoughts are with those who have been injured or killed.

We have these strange interplays of increased safety and increased risk at large public events – it seems to me there is more we could do to shift the equilibrium towards safety in numbers. Even in the face of anonymous attacks from a distance.

But today we mourn.



Igal Koshevoy, Portland open source leader, has left the building
Wednesday April 10th 2013, 5:41 am
Filed under: indescribable,Seraphic

Life does not seem to have a monopoly on the attention of the gifted.

A brief commemoration, from a community in mourning.



Genius And The Soil / Inspired By Aaron: Thoughts From me, mako, jwyg
Thursday March 28th 2013, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Aasw,chain-gang,indescribable,international

From the latest issue of the UK magazine red pepper. With photos by Sage Ross from a memorable Boston Wikipedia meetup in 2009. Click on the pages for higher resolution:





Web <30 – the Future of the Web is Intertextual
Thursday March 28th 2013, 9:28 am
Filed under: citation needed,Glory, glory, glory,indescribable

From a recent discussion about Web 3.0 and the far future, on the AIR-L list:

In fact, the Web is currently developing Web <30, to be rolled out
with Chrome 25, Firefox 20, Opera 15, and IE 10 later this winter.

If you are interested in cutting-edge research and convolving
observation with participation, you can take part in the design of Web
<30 yourself. It is being developed through a massively
multistakeholder open online crowd-refined platform generation
(MMOOCRPG) design
.
Building on the exponential success of past
efforts
, the development mailing list includes a periodic
distributed auto-immolating critique of its own work, where the future
web is continuously redefined as its own dual.



One man’s salvation from persistent madness to reasoned satirist
Saturday February 09th 2013, 4:27 am
Filed under: indescribable,meta,Seraphic

96 days of altered consciousness and recovering from a psychotic break. Told with humor and self-awareness, in an epic 18-part tale.

Let’s say that every time I see a yellow car, you actually see what I would call a green dragon, and we’ve just adapted to different driving styles… Now let’s assume we both see an object descended from the Model-T, and not the offspring of a bat fucking an iguana in a wood stove.* Except now I’m secretly attaching the symbol of car to dragon.

* I say natural selection demands that if you did this enough times, something would survive, and I bet that something would be a dragon. If there are any crazy people reading this right now, you have your mission.



Exploring science in ten hundred words or less, and similar gems
Tuesday January 29th 2013, 6:27 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,citation needed,indescribable,knowledge,meta,poetic justice,Uncategorized

try and grok science
try and make a gun
try Sheldrake’s homing dove thought experiments

For dessert, some fraud:
listed, retracted, pharmed, 11-jigen (x6),
chilled(snapshot, comments).



Mystery Hunting, 2013: Pulling off an epic Coin Heist
Friday January 25th 2013, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Aasw,chain-gang,indescribable,knowledge,meta,Uncategorized,zyzzlvaria

Mystery Hunt 2013 pitted teams against Enigma Valley to rescue the Hunt coins from a vault.

As usual, it was full of some of the best puzzle ideas in the world.   (more…)



Westboro Baptists face off with Anonymous at Aaron’s service
Monday January 14th 2013, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Aasw,indescribable,Too weird for fiction

Yesterday, the Westboro Baptist Church (a cultlike single-family church that gets publicity for its extreme religious views by picketing high-profile funerals – such as those of soldiers returning from fighting overseas – with the most offensive chants they can muster) declared they would attend and picket Aaron’s funeral tomorrow. (via Salon) I suppose that is a sign that they expected it will generate publicity.

Anonymous, which has opposed WBC antics in the past, launched Operation Angel in response: to minimize the impact of such picketing, and help avoid the hounding of people like Aaron in the future.



In Remembrance of Aaron (1986-2013)
Saturday January 12th 2013, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Blogroll,chain-gang,indescribable

Please send your photos, stories, and quotes to his memorial website:
Remember Aaron Swartz  |  Official family statement about his death

There will be a funeral on Tuesday in Chicago. Memorials in a few cities over the next two weeks: including Boston, New York, DC and SF.

Essays:

Danny: He was funny
Update: We talked. Ada cried, then we hugged, then Ada suggested we have a goodbye party, with ice-cream and sprinkles and a movie, and make a board where we could pin all our memories. We laughed at how funny he was. Aaron taught her so well.

Tim Berners-Lee: “Aaron dead. World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder…
James Grimmelmann: Aaron Swartz, Was 26.
Cory Doctorow: RIP Aaron Swartz.
Uncompromising, Reckless and Delightful

 https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/01/fa…

Quinn Norton: “My Aaron Swartz, whom I loved.
Make the world that wouldn’t have killed him, please.

Larry Lessig:  on Aaron and the prosecutor as bully.
He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius.
A soul, a conscience, the source of a question
I have asked myself a million times: What would Aaron think?

Brewster Kahle: Aaron Swartz, Hero of the Open World, Dies

Erik Moeller and Tilman Bayer: Remembering Aaron Swartz
JSTOR: heartfelt condolences honoring Aaron’s memory.
Doc Searls: Losing Aaron

Chris Hayes, MSNBC: The Brilliant Mind and Righteous Heart of Aaron Swartz will be missed.


Media
:

New York Times (front page).
The Guardian (front page + 4 more articles)
WaPo’s Tim Lee: “Aaron Swartz, American Hero
Hacker News front page today:

 



aaronsw died today in his apartment
Friday January 11th 2013, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Aasw,indescribable

[. . . . .]




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