Thu, Apr. 10th, 2014, 11:30 am
capacity to have an effect.

Been sewing a fair amount lately. Darned my M-65 field coat. Sewed up the lining of my favorite jacket. Hemmed some jeans. Replaced some buttons. "Mending" might be a better term, since I'm pretty firm about sewing only for practical reasons.

It reminds me again that I'm put together from bits of William Gibson characters, even when the characters in question were written long after I'd settled into their traits. In this case, Spook Country:

Heidi's distaste for trickiness in decor, Hollis knew, was actually an extension of her dislike of art in general. The daughter of an Air Force technician, she was the only woman Hollis had ever known who enjoyed welding, but only for the purpose of repairing something essential that was actually broken.

Wed, Jan. 29th, 2014, 10:23 pm
framework to underpin behavior.

Having moved to within spitting distance of Google's headquarters, I'm seeing a lot of the self-driving cars on the road. They're pretty neat -- I, of course, am all for making driving an obsolete skill -- but it does make me wonder: how aggressive are they?

I bike, of course. So I assume I can cut off the self-driving cars pretty aggressively, and that once I've done that, they'll follow passively, moving to pass only when safe. They probably have faster reactions than a human driver, and they're less prone to get impatient.

But what if I decide to play chicken? Will the car stop? In the absence of obstacles, if I charge it, will it go into reverse? If a collision seems unavoidable, does it prioritize what to hit? Will it leave the road if sufficiently hounded?

Wed, Dec. 11th, 2013, 12:41 am
formerly used for driving machinery.

Finally ended my contract at the day job. It's a source of remarkable ambivalence for me -- on the one hand I enjoy recieving monies and buying nutrients, on the other I was pretty tired of that job, and especially of the particular species of gross corporate dysfunction that afflicted that company.

And, because I'm vastly more fortunate than I deserve, I seem to have fallen into a new day job, back in the SF bay area.

I just thought that I'd have so much more time. I'd be able to finish all those outstanding projects, do everything I said I would. And instead it looks like I'm leaping back into the red queen's race. A more interesting job, better-paid, but still not quite what I think I wanted.

もう一回、もう一回、
私は今日も転がります。

Fri, Sep. 20th, 2013, 03:22 am
those passions which yet survive.

Read Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312. Surprisingly good! In general, I think hard SF is pretty boring, but this really shows a lot of the strong points of the genre -- what you might call the romance of physical reality. There are a bunch of scenes where he just describes how grand it all is, and how wonderfully we've come to terms with the sheer expansive possibilities of existence in that future.

It reminds me of Jablokov's stuff in a few places, with its offhand descriptions of massive interplanetary engineering projects. Less elegant, but I suppose that's scarcely avoidable.

Not a terribly quick read, but not a slog either. Recommended, with the reservation that "for those who like that sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like."

Mon, Jul. 8th, 2013, 11:56 pm
device for creating suction.

Sometimes I read my 419 spam. (Terrible habit, I know.) But this one's amazing in its metacity.

I am Mr Ibrahim Lamedo the chairman of ECONOMIC & FINANCIAL CRIME COMMISSION (EFCC).EFCC in alliance with economic community of West African states (ECOWAS)with the head office here in Nigeria.we have been working towards the eradication of fraudsters and scam artists in western part of Africa with the help of the united states government and the united Nation.

We have been able to track down so many of this scam artist in various part of west Africa countries which includes(NIGERIA, REPUBLIC OF BENIN, TOGO,GHANA CAMERON AND SENEGAL)and they are all in our custody here in Lagos Nigeria. We have been able to recover so much money from these scam artists.The United Nation Anti-Crime commission and the United state Government have ordered the money recovered from the scamers to be shared among 100 lucky people around the global.

This email is been directed to you because your email address was found in one of the scam Artists file and a computer hard disk in our custwilliamsody here in Nigeria.you are therefore being compensated with $1.5Million Dollars.we have also arrested all those who claim that they are barristers,bank officials,lottery Agent who has money for transfer or want you to be the next of kin of such fund which does not exist.

I mean, the audacity of claiming to originate from Nigeria would be good for a chuckle by itself. The idea of paying out giant rewards by lottery to people who fell for an earlier 419? Purely brilliant. Subsequent paragraphs warn that an immediate transfer of 120 USD will be needed to claim the money. Of course. And it closes with a warning that there are other fraudsters about, and that any scams should be forwarded to them immediately. They are, after all, dedicated to the eradication of fraudsters and scam artists.

Wed, Jul. 3rd, 2013, 02:13 am
gone by and no longer existing.

Went under the fence at an abandoned elementary school. I don't know, it's all a little too preciously gothy for me, but there's a definite power in that desolation. I went to a school that looked a lot like that, and those memories, such as they are, remain irresistible.





I took these pictures, inasmuch as was practical, from about three and a half feet off the ground. Especially from this angle, this ramp seems like some kind of architectural whimsy.





Abandoned playground equipment is always sinister.





Still worked. Didn't drink any.





There was some graffiti, but less than I'd expect. Most of all, I found the sheer bright primary-colored rectangularity of the school's design striking.







The plants broke in waves over the fences like stop-motion filmmaking. For the most part, the structures seemed fine. Just overgrown. Relics of a vanished world.

Fri, May. 31st, 2013, 02:23 am
state of inactivity or equilibrium.

Been (re)reading some of Murakami's minor works. (I'm just making this category up, but I'm pretty sure it's a reasonable division to make.) One of them was After Dark, which I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that I thought he was just phoning in. It's got his usual character types behaving as you'd expect. Dual world, evocation of Tokyo, eccentric teenage girl who saves the day through some act of self-realization.

I may have made this complaint before. In this space, even. I'm deliberately putting it in the worst way. It's better than it sounds -- I actually enjoyed it quite a bit this time through, perhaps because, even if he's not pushing himself, he's made something genuinely comforting. I'm not sure how that works. I found it relaxing, engaging. Light, but not devoid of merit.

Besides, there's one of the classic Murakami rants on page 15. Behold:

"No matter how much I scream at them to make my toast as crispy as possible, I have never once gotten it the way I want it. I can't imagine why. What with Japanese industriousness and high-tech culture and the market principles that the Denny's chain is always pursuing, it shouldn't be that hard to get crispy toast, don't you think? So, why can't they do it? Of what value is a civilization that can't toast a piece of bread as ordered?"

Tue, Apr. 2nd, 2013, 01:20 am
required and paid in kind.

Doin' my taxes like a responsible adult. I'm getting kind of used to it -- I know what forms I need to file, so I don't get flashes of outrage anymore at having to do schedule SE, or the momentary frustration of checking the flowchart and finding I'm not able to file 1040EZ. Hard to believe, though I guess it's just more proof -- "you can get used to hanging if you hang long enough."

Of course, as previously documented, I'm not actually very good at filing my own taxes, and should probably leave it to professionals. Or at least software. But I am pretty stubborn, and every year I think, "Well, this year I'll get it right." Hasn't happened so far.

Mon, Dec. 24th, 2012, 04:05 am
piece suggesting a dreamy or musing state.

Sitting up and listening to the rain. As amusements go, I've partaken in worse. Drink some tea and marvel at the texture of the rain, the subtle rhythms as it waxes and ebbs. Eat some Basler Leckerli. Listen to the wind. It's difficult at times like these to remember that I suffer from any ambition at all.

I think it's having grown up in LA -- I could wander in perfect sympathy with the Dune Fremen, marveling at the water falling from the sky. It always surprises me somehow. No matter how often I see it, in however many different places, it's still a little bit magical, and it's difficult to shake the feeling that it is magic, and furthermore a bit of magic assembled purely so I could experience it.

And besides, there's something ineffably pleasant about knowing that the rain's outside, and you're snug at home, safe and warm. (In my case, equipped with tea and cookies.) I think everyone's had that feeling.

Sun, Nov. 4th, 2012, 01:45 am
authorization to carry out specific activities.

I'll be glad when the election's done.  Not as glad as the voters of Ohio, I trust, but pretty glad.  If someone would just firebomb CNN, that would be really helpful.

I don't personally vote, for reasons best described as rampant tinfoil-hattism, but I think it's a good idea in general.  I was also amused to find that, on all the ballot entries I had any interest in, I was entirely in agreement with the LA Times endorsements at http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/endorsements/ .  I'm not sure what that says about me.  I prefer to think it's because there aren't any truly radical positions on the ballot -- if there were, my more outre policy views would make themselves felt.

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