there are 35 posts from October 2007

October 30, 2007

the all powerful dick

Here’s one thing that’s abundantly clear about the current administration: no one has the stones political capital to tell the Vice President to put down the goddamn gun until January of 2009.

October 30, 2007

clever clever

File under I Wish I’d Thought of That: Vampire Cupcakes.

October 29, 2007

sooo tacky

NYTimes: “Boras made his announcement by e-mailing The Associated Press during the World Series game.”  Just as soon as everyone figured out that Lowell would win MVP.  You stay classy, A-Rod.

October 29, 2007

columns and rows

How can I use spreadsheets to answer some of my many questions about the world? 

  • =GoogleLookup(“life”; “meaning”)
  • =GoogleLookup(“God”; “existence”)
  • =GoogleLookup(“Beatles”; “iTunes launch date”)
  • =GoogleLookup(“one hand clapping”; “sound level”)
  • etc.
October 26, 2007


I had the pleasure last night of seeing Glenn Kotche and the Kronos Quartet perform Kotche’s new piece, Anomaly. Kotche’s description of the piece in the liner notes is worth quoting at length.

After seeing a Kronos Quartet performance in early 2006, I got the idea to compose a string quartet. I wanted to do it from my perspective as a percussionist, treating the four members of the quartet like the varying relationships and roles of my limbs when I play the drum set. I also thought it would be interesting to arrange it with the addition of an optional drum set part. …

My closest uncle, Eddie Kotche, died around the time of that Kronos performance.  I went home and improvised a short melody on the vibraphone. This would become the dominant, recurring theme in what would eventually be titled Anomaly. …

My uncle was an anomaly. He had an incredible zest for life and an uproarious sense of humor despite being severely challenged throughout his life by cerebral palsy. … After losing him, I began to think about my reliance on physical motion and coordination for my self-expression and livelihood, and about the dichotomy between our physical circumstances. …

Although the origins of Anomaly are deeply personal…I wrote the piece to be broad in its emotional range and appeal. … I wanted the individual instruments to experience both freedom and restriction. I wanted Kronos to be dependent on each other for the execution of certain melodies and musical passages. The main motif that appears in each movement is, for me, symbolic of the love and experience that those dear to us leave behind. …

As the first piece I’ve composed outside of the realm of percussion, it is for me also an anomaly.

If you’re in SF, there is another performance tonight at Herbst Theater. If you’re into this sort of thing, check out Kotche’s album Mobile, on the Nonesuch label. And for those looking for context, I’ve posted about Kotche before, in his role as the drummer for the band Wilco.

October 25, 2007

i'm way behind on this gabe & max thing

Oh. Hey. You just caught us blogging.

October 25, 2007

do you think my kids would sing it this way?

It shouldn’t surprise any of you that this made me laugh out loud. (Via pasc.)

October 24, 2007


It’s not quite as simple as text, but TaskPaper seems to add just enough on top of plain text to make it worth using for keeping lists.  Of things.  To get done.

October 24, 2007


I just saw a television commercial for the upcoming DVD release of Ratatouille that was unabashedly aspected 16:9. It stuck out because most movie commercials (esp for DVD releases) are formatted to fit your 4:3 screen… Of course the different look distracted me from the actual release date, though I’m assuming it’ll be out in time for Thanksgiving.

Second order question: will the DVD drive incremental sales of Thomas Keller cookbooks?

October 24, 2007

i really just want to be like jason

There’s nothing better than chatting with customers…especially when you’re reading their book at the same time. (OK, not at exactly the same time. You know what I mean.) Now on Everything TypePad, a brief interview with Alex Ross.  (And that, ladies and gentlemen, makes Ross the direct or indirect subject of three of the last five posts here. I’ll move on soon, I swear.)

October 23, 2007

fun with set theory

I suspect that there is a very small intersection between the set of people who appreciate lolcats and the set of people who appreciate Jenny Holzer. If, like me, you find yourself in that intersection, you will most likely appreciate these loljennyholzers.

October 22, 2007

yes, that linda ronstadt

The Standing Room liveblogged the City Arts & Lectures conversation with John Rockwell, Alex Ross and Linda Ronstadt.

8:13. Linda memorably describes Pavarotti’s voice as like that of a lost child, abandoned by his mother at the side of the road, howling at desolation. Alex drinks some more water.

October 22, 2007

not all blogs, just most blogs

The aforementioned Alex Ross in The New Yorker on his blog…

Like many people, I started blogging out of an urgent need to procrastinate. Yet a nagging sense of possibility also drew me in. Classical music, my subject, was thriving on the Internet in unexpected ways. Not all blogs, I discovered, were devoted to cataloguing continuity errors in the films of George Lucas; a smattering of musicians, composers, and listeners were writing on music with intelligence and verve, revelling in the chance to express ideas that had no other immediate outlet.

October 22, 2007

here's an old graph

From Stating the Obvious, February 1997: The Network Diagram.  “I’ve abandoned link list. In its place I’ve drawn this simple diagram, a roadmap to the self-absorbed world of Internet publishing. Six degrees of separation? Ha. Try two at the most.”

Extra credit for identifying the publications that still exist.

October 19, 2007

friend is not a verb

Spent a little bit of time at the Web 2.0 summit this afternoon, with the express intent of catching the following early afternoon lineup:  Kedrosky, Butterfield, Recordon & Fitzpatrick and then Safa Rashtchy’s panel discussion with a group of baby boomers about how they use the web. Kedrosky convinced me that I need to learn more about dark pools; Stewart showed off some really sexy new photo mapping features coming soon to Flickr, and Safa’s panel was as entertaining and enlightening as ever.  (This couple was on the panel, and they were great.)

I’m admittedly biased, but the highlight for me was David and Brad. They did a great job of laying out the problem of closed social networks: as more and more applications benefit from social interaction, connecting those apps to an appropriate set of your friends will become a more frequent occurrence. In short, soon you will be very very tired of using the word “friend” as a verb, if you’re not already.

The solution is a combination of a technology tools, a mindset change, and user education.  The technology stuff is basically there – XFN, FOAF and OAuth, for example – and is being demonstrated now in the Six Apart Relationship Update Stream that David announced today. The mindset change requires social network operators to open up that data, which will come, even if it takes a while. The education piece is about providing simple user experiences that (a) teach users how this works and (b) shows them the value of expressing at least a portion of their graph publicly and (c) allows them to control and maintain their relationship data.

David’s got a post up on O’Reily Radar that summarizes their talk; it’s a good followup to his post on Opening the Social Graph at

October 18, 2007

it's funny 'cause it's true

My God, I can’t top linking to Webb. “You’re very clever, young man, very clever.  But it’s finite-state machines all the way down.”

October 17, 2007

monteiro, this one's for you.

I’ve found the best twitter post ever. (Are twitter posts really called “tweets”? Seriously?) (Via this, in a kind of roundabout and meandering way.)

October 17, 2007

i blog *because* of my friends

Thanks for playing, ladies and gentlemen, the official winner of the October 2007 edition of “the girl on a bike game” is miz_ginevra, who (un)knowingly takes the whole thing full circle.  (See, it’s like when a stadium does the wave, and it makes it all the way around…oh, never mind.)

October 16, 2007

must keep moving to avoid dying

Tyler Green, at the end of his great little bit about how the Met is “contextualizing” the Damien Hirst piece they’ve installed:  “This is proof that Robert Smithson’s ideas about art and natural history museums have finally jumped the… Oh nevermind.”

October 16, 2007

man, i really need to renew my subscription

Sasha Frere-Jones takes it to indie rock:  “in the past few years, I’ve spent too many evenings at indie concerts waiting in vain for vigor, for rhythm, for a musical effect that could justify all the preciousness.”

October 16, 2007

i use my blog to send messages to my friends

This one’s for Lane Becker:  Bruce Springsteen covering Keep the Car Running, with Win & Regine from Arcade Fire.

October 16, 2007

high signal to noise ratio

Jason Kottke interviews Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, author of The Rest is Noise, and author of a TypePad blog by the same name. 

When you have a repertory that goes from Hildegard von Bingen’s medieval chant to Vivaldi’s bustling Baroque concertos to Wagner’s five-hour music dramas to John Cage’s chance-produced electronic noise to Steve Reich’s West African-influenced “Drumming,” you’re not talking about a single sound.

October 14, 2007


I knew it!  Carl Kassell “does not actually maintain the page himself. He reads the messages and comes up with responses, and Melody Joy Kramer, the 23-year-old associate producer for the show, enters them onto the page, in a cross-generational partnership.” (NYTimes)

October 13, 2007

do both

John Maeda on the distinction between a manager and a leader:

A manager is the person that designs the construct of a line, sets the expectations for the line to form, thinks through how the line might be best composed and prioritized, and ensures that the queue is executed per spec. On the other hand, a leader is the person that is able to take the line forward in an orderly fashion by setting the example for others, providing the vision for how the line fits into the larger scheme of things, and engages the line-followers in a respectful manner. The manager sets up the win with perfection for her team; the leader executes the win with passion.

October 13, 2007

contrary to popular opinion...

Trevor Edwards, Nike’s corporate vice president for global brand and category management, in the New York Times on how they’re shifting their advertising and marketing spend: “We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive. We’re in the business of connecting with consumers.”

October 13, 2007

best toy ever

I’m seriously considering dropping $350 on a box of 1000 Kapla blocks for the, um, “kids” this Christmas.

October 12, 2007

cringe worthy

I got Scobleized.  And my GOD I hate myself on video.

October 11, 2007

staaaaar waaaaars

Apropos of nothing, other than being a sucker for these kinds of things, here’s a video of Stacy Hedger in some unidentified beauty pageant playing trumpet to the Star Wars theme song (thanks, Mike!), which reminded me of Bill Murray doing Nick Winters singing the nightclub version.

October 11, 2007

she makes my head hurt

The spinning lady that is supposed to tell you if you’re more right-brained or left-brained just makes my brain hurt. She was spinning counter-clockwise for a long time, and I tried to look away based on Kottke’s advice, but just got distsracted by the ads. But after coming back to the browser tab after a couple hours, now she’s spinning clockwise, and I can’t make her stop. Damn you, spinning lady! How am I supposed to categorize myself into one of two buckets?

October 11, 2007

circling the bay

Events galore. Last night was at the Creative Commons mixer in SF, where we demo’d a new CC licensing widget we’ve built for TypePad ( blog post coming soon) and presented to CC a check for $15,000+ that was raised by the LiveJournal community as part of this summer’s permanent account sale. Tonight I’ll be at the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association’s event on Marketing 2.0 in Cupertino, on a panel talking about…wait for it…blogging! That makes it a “circle the Bay” day (Berkeley –> SF –> South Bay –> Berkeley), which means at some point there will be prog rock on in the car.

October 05, 2007

what if this blog were telling you something else?

Very nice: Hiding Information in an Image Histogram.

October 05, 2007


Worth reading in full: Dynamo: Amazon’s Highly Available Key-value Store.

Amazon uses a highly decentralized, loosely coupled, service oriented architecture consisting of hundreds of services. In this environment there is a particular need for storage technologies that are always available. For example, customers should be able to view and add items to their shopping cart even if disks are failing, network routes are flapping, or data centers are being destroyed by tornados. Therefore, the service responsible for managing shopping carts requires that it can always write to and read from its data store, and that its data needs to be available across multiple data centers.

October 04, 2007

another brick

So my first purchase last week from the new Amazon MP3 store was Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It was on the front page, it was (and still is) priced at all of $8.99, the last recording of this I owned was a worn out cassette (and before that a scratched up LP), and I’m sure the last dozen times I’d heard the record I wasn’t, you know, um, sober.

If you haven’t heard it in a while, go get it. Download it, put it on your fancy iThing, plug in your noise canceling headphones, and thank Roger Waters for every minute. If you’ve misplaced your bong, burned out the black light and sold the album sleeve for a buck to the used record store, here are some links to get you through the tracks…

  • The Wikipedia article on The Wall includes information about how one of the band members was fired after recording the album, the story about the fight over royalties owed to the school choir who performed on “Another Brick in the Wall,” a song-by-song storyline of the album, descriptions of the live shows (yes, they did build a wall of cardboard bricks in front of the audience), some information about the movie (starring Bob Geldof) and a bunch more miscellaneous trivia. (I love that trivia sections are “discouraged under Wikipedia guidelines.”)

  • YouTube has a ton of stuff, of course. Start with this search, but you’ll find the original movie trailer and this crazy Lego version of The Wall concert.

  • is a complete site dedicated to, you guessed it, analyzing The Wall.

Sure, it’s late 70s over the top theatrical prog rock. And sure, if you’re even a remotely well-adjusted human being it’s hard to relate to Pink. But I dare you to ignore the chill that goes up your spine in “Mother” when David Gilmour says to Pink “Of course mama’s gonna help build the wall.”

October 01, 2007

i am a proud ftrain reblogger

Paul Ford, $5 chocolate bar.

“I dwell in a valley of irony and second-guessing and I am suspicious of feelings. Every now and then I want to say who cares about the heat death of the universe? Truth and beauty! Truth and beauty!, except there isn’t a national fuck-yeah feeling.”

“You have your bike. It has a bell.”

October 01, 2007

born free

Fluxblog on The Darjeeling Limited:

You can’t buy the lifestyle Anderson is selling – you have to be born into it. You can try to talk your way into it, like Max Fischer or Eli Cash, but it won’t work out. You can work hard, make a lot of money, and enter a higher tax bracket like Herman Blume or Royal Tenenbaum, but your drive and working class roots will always set you apart from those whose ambitions have been stalled by the inertia of excessive comfort.

I liked Jason Schwartzman as Max Fischer a hell of a lot more than I liked Jason Schwartzman in Hotel Chevalier, where he’s moping around in a multi-thousand dollar a night Parisian hotel suite for an indeterminate amount of time before Natalie Portman shows up to have sex with him and stare longingly at the view off his balcony. Nice work if you can get it.