Archives: August 2004
Mon Aug 30, 2004
More Reasons to Love Gore Vidal
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City and the Pillar, Gore Vidal
I started reading The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal yesterday found it more like an artifact than a novel. Published in 1948, it is very much the coming out story that we all know, but written by Gore Vidal. I'm not sure I'll find it moving, but I find it interesting. So thought I'd surf over the the Gore Index and see what folks have said about Gore's third novel, but then came across this NYT story about Gore selling his home in Ravenna. According to the story Gore's "companion" died last year, and Gore's legs are too weak for him to be able to move around his terraced home. He'll be moving to Hollywood. I've been meaning to read his book about Washington, Adams, and Jefferson.
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Sun Aug 29, 2004
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My Year of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki
I finished reading "My Year of Meats" today, and thought it was everything you want in a novel: strong female characters, interesting facts about a serious problem (commercial meat production) and a look into a culture not my own. I didn't like to see a woman beaten by her husband, but I trusted Ozeki to let her escape in the end. The author and the protagonist are both documentary filmmakers, and this book would probably be coming to a theatre near you if it didn't have the propensity to turn its readers into vegetarians. We know what happened to Oprah.
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Fri Aug 27, 2004
Transits of Merchants
I learned this last week that both KMart on 41st and HerLand are closing. KMart has been bought by Home Depot and HerLand has been for sale for months. If only HerLand could have sold the Martha Stewart, we might have been able to avert this tragedy.
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Wed Aug 25, 2004
Work got you down? Just rent the two seasons of "The Office." I laughed until I cried. I know I've mentioned it before, but I just had to say it again.
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Tue Aug 24, 2004
An Annular Eclipse
Many years ago, some friends and I drove down to Catalina for the weekend to watch an eclipse that would take place at sunset. Because the sun would form a ring around the moon, instead of being completely obscured, it was called an annular eclipse. We had a great time, but could not see the eclipse because of a storm. But just a few miles to the south, some people were able to see it, nut until last week, I hadn't met any of them. More...
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Mon Aug 23, 2004
A Mugging Tip
Someone sent me this tactic for how to deal with muggers: More...
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Who Do You Want to Be Today? ™
Oh, Microsoft, how everyone loves to hate you. Today's internet joke is the true story of how a Spanish language version of Windows XP asks users to select their gender from a list of "not specified," "male," or "bitch." A more detailed story from The Guardian explains that the word "hembra" is, in some countries used, in a derogatory sense. And how were the Microsoft translators to know that? Well. ok. But we still hate you Microsoft and we aren't going to cut you an inch.
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Holy Fools by Joanne Harris
A friend loaned me some nice summer novels and the first one I finished was Holy Fools, by Joanne Harris who wrote Chocolat, the novel that became a movie. Holy Fools is set in 17th-Century Brittany, on an island convent with a lax adherance to the monastic rules. I can't give a better review than the Amazon page so I won't. As a side dish to the story, however, I became interested in daily prayers of the Benedictine orders, what is now called the Divine Office. More...
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Mapping Human History by Steve Olson
I'm reading a book this week that brings together the latest information about genetics and human history. I thought that the story could be told in just an essay, but it does require a book and this one in particular is an example of what great science writing can be. More...
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Windows Users Need Help
Iowa State has shared the results of a survey that made on the computers of in-coming students. If these computers were cars they would not be allowed out of the driveway, let alone driven at highspeed on the interstate in pursuit of educations and other business-critical destinations. More...
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San Jose City Hall Procurement Scandal
I've been very interested in the news story about the data and voice network for the San Jose City hall. I know that lots of people in my business buy Cisco gear just like it is specified for them by the Cisco sales people. If you want to read the auditors report, like I do, you can find it here.
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Sun Aug 22, 2004
No Stinking Papers
I think that one reason why the movie line "We don't need to stinking badges" has become just a popular catch phrase is because Americans think that if it came down to it, they wouldn't show their I.D. to the gestapo, and they like to be, every once in a while, anonymous. But that's a fantasy, and all of us show ID when we travel, even though there is no law that requires us to do so. All of us, except John Gilmore. More...
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Terrible Chinese Restaurant Finally Closes
The owners of the China Szechwan on Cathcart Street have announced their apparently voluntary retirement. If you've eaten there, you have probably said what most of the people I know have said: "How in the world does this place stay in business? The food is unspeakable." But, in one of the great mysteries of Santa Cruz, not for everyone. Some people love the food. Some people say it is their favorite Chinese place, even better than the Omei. I don't understand it, but I can still love diversity of human experience. The story says that our first Ethiopean restaurant will open in the same location, and that I am looking forward to.
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Koi Murderer Goes to Jail
For the first time that I know of, a newspaper story about the fraternity members who killed and ate a pet Koi included a photograph of the crime. Last week, the "ringleader" of the group was sent to jail when a judge learned that he had attended one of 50 AA meetings and one community service assignment. The photo is hard to look at, but it is included in the on-line version. Casey Loop got 45 days, and one part of the sentence that I particularly like is that Judge Almquist sent him immediately to jail from the hearing: no, he couldn't move his car, arrange his affairs, or call a lawyer.
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Having trouble talking? It's astrological: Mercury is retrograde. Astronomically it means that the planet Mercury is on the opposite side of the sun from earth, so it appears to be traveling backward. Astrologically, it means that communication is difficult, and business transactions aren't going to go smooth. In contracts, not everything of importance will be revealed. So don't travel, don't make important decisions, don't sign contracts, and use this time to finish up old projects and reflect on the past. I also find it hard to write, which is why nothing of interest has been showing up in the blog. Mercury goes direct September 2.
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Wed Aug 18, 2004
Ten Little Surprises
Mother Jones's Tom Engelhardt has written a great essay that includes ten surprises that have already blindsided the Bush Administration. The piece also includes many great links, including one to the chart from Juliusblog tracking security events with Bush's poll ratings. If you don't have much patience for political writings, like I don't, then you might like this one.
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Mon Aug 16, 2004
Global Office Politics
The U.S. and Great Britain may be separated by a common language, I have recent evidence that working in an office in either country is exactly the same. I only have two sources, but I trust them. The Office is a television show on BBC-America, but the seasons are rentable. "Bastard Operator from Hell," is a column on the on-line news service, The Register. I think "operator" in this sense loosely translates as a server/network administrator. Not a coder.
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Fri Aug 13, 2004
Sandy Learner's Other Job
The Bob Cringeley column this week tells the story of a report commissioned by the Department of Justice that predicted that the sentencing guidelines of the 1980s would lead to the same prison overcrowding and decimation of the African-American community that we see today. The study was buried by Ed Meese and Bob makes three guest why. Three people worked on the study. One is dead, one won't return his phone calls, and one founded Cisco Systems. He hints that he heard the story from her.
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Democratic Convention Video
If you missed the Democratic Convention, you can watch the complete speeches from the DNC site. I've been spending hours painting and doing other home improvement chores around the house and listening to internet radio at the same time is making that time spent so efficient, I'm beside myself approaching Virgoean perfection.
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Watch the MoveOn.org Commercials
In case you're not already on the mailing list for MoveOn.org, here's the link to the commercials they plan to run during the Republican Convention: statements by former Bush supporters who won't be voting for him this time.
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BBC World Service Features
One of the many public radio stations in the Monterey Bay is KSPB, a station owned by privately owned Stevenson High School in Pebble Beach. During the school year it is unlistenable, but during the summer, they rebroadcast BBC World Service, which I enjoy very much, not only for news, but for the delightful variety in how English can be pronounced, yet still understood by a global audience. I finally realized that I don't have to give up BBC in September, because the entire thing is broadcast on the Internet, and the best of features are archived. More...
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I have no idea if D. Keith Robinson keeps an interesting blog, but he has this to say about what makes a successful blog. His list of characteristics is what would make a good newspaper as well. I've always wanted to be the editor of a newspaper, and a blog is probably the closest I will ever get.
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Tue Aug 10, 2004
Expect a Miracle
In this month's Scientific American, the Skeptic column looks at miracles and the Law of Large numbers. I do believe in what Michael Shermer, the publisher, would call paranormal events, but I also believe in math. Shermer recounts the story of Freeman Dyson writing about "Littlewood's Law of Miracles, "In the course of any normal person's life, miracles happen at a rate of roughly one per month." More...
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Mon Aug 09, 2004
There are several beautiful buildings in downtown Riverside. I didn't take any photos of them, besides the Inn. More...
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Free WiFi in Riverside
I had my first experience with free wireless service in another town while I was in Riverside. If you stay at the Mission Inn, the municipal wireless service reaches the rooms that face the "Main St" pedestrian mall. If you're getting one of the cheap rooms, ask for that side. The other side of the hotel gets a signal from the library, but it is not as strong, and I wasn't able to see if it required a login. More...
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Views from the Riverside Mission Inn
I took way too many photos of the Mission Inn last week before my conference started, and I put them up here.
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Mon Aug 02, 2004
"The Case Against George Bush" is a great essay by Ron Reagan on George W. Bush. Well reasoned and delightfully phrased.
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