May 30, 2005
happy memorial day story

Was on my bike, riding west on Rte. 209, up a hill. Up ahead, a roadkill deer lay in the generous shoulder. I stood up out of the saddle to pedal past and held my breath against the smell. But there was no smell, and just as I road by the deer goes, "ehhhvvffttt," but with more of a gurgle. It was my first death rattle, a figure of speech made real, and not likely to be forgotten.

Years ago, a then-friend told me of a horrific traffic accident she'd witnessed, passenger ejected, and there was a death rattle in that story, too. The noise she made then was just like the deer's on Sunday.

Posted by dbrown at 11:34 PM
May 26, 2005
When the geeks start telling you how to eat

There's an odd and oddly fascinating thread on slashdot about diet, exercise, and mental acuity. I recommend we all follow the geeks' advice, and maybe also quantify it, like this ubergeek:

Re:Breakfast? (Score:4, Interesting)
by nightskier (886235) on Thursday May 26, @01:14PM (#12646701)
I have been experimenting with the breakfast part For years, I had been skipping breakfast. A month ago, I decided to start eating a daily breakfast high in protein and complex carbs. Subjectively, I feel a lot better. I have more energy throughout the day, I'm less stressed, and my memory has improved. Being a geek, I decided to do some benchmarking. Before starting the diet, I purchase a book of crossword puzzles. I completed half of the puzzles over a period of a few weeks (one a day). I timed how long it took me to finish each puzzle. Two weeks ago I started attempting the puzzles again. My times have improved by more than 20 percent.

Re:Breakfast? (Score:5, Funny)
by jebell (567579) on Thursday May 26, @01:23PM (#12646819)
Don't take this the wrong way, but you take geek-ness to a whole new level.

Posted by dbrown at 04:29 PM
May 25, 2005
There are cameras everywhere

Back in college, I was walking through a dark part of the campus one night and a homeless (?) woman emerged from the shadows, looked at me, and said, "There are cameras everywhere." She was a perfect caricature, and she got me wondering about what paranoid schizophrenics were paranoid about before the widespread use of radio, tv, video, and other forms of electromagnetic radiation. I'm still not sure -- were there delusions about the King and other nobles controlling medieval peasants' lives?

But today, via MindHacks, I read this paper on Internet-centered delusions. "In one case, a patient began to have paranoid thoughts and used an internet search engine to investigate suspicions about an ingredient on a chewing gum packet." It is good to see the crazies keeping up with the times; oddly, the researchers find some hope in the internet-ness of the delusions: "given the rich sources of information available, they may be well suited to treatment with cognitive behavioural therapy." Happily ever after.

Posted by dbrown at 05:48 PM
May 23, 2005


What I like about the filibuster deal (besides that even a small victory is sweet) are the last two hand-drawn lines on the signature page -- a trace showing that somewhere in the last 24 hours the number of moderates increased from the known 12 to a surprise 14.

Posted by dbrown at 10:30 PM
May 20, 2005


""We sometimes developed a rapport with detainees, and Sergeant Loring would sit us down and remind us that these were evil people and talk about 9/11 and they weren't our friends and could not be trusted," Mr. Leahy said."

Posted by dbrown at 01:05 AM
May 18, 2005
Just Like This


I followed a link to this Times Magazine story on FSA color photography, which I'd known about but never really looked at. Let us now look at these pictures, via the Library of Congress. Don't expect much of Evans quality; color was hard back then, and a lot of the pictures are stiffly posed and lit too perfectly.

- scenes from a square dance in a home in McIntosh County, Oklahoma

- a few shots from a Japanese-American internment camp, Malheur County, Oregon

- Cabins

- an almost-Evans in Puerto Rico

Posted by dbrown at 09:46 PM
May 16, 2005
I am trying to find my cheese


In the past few days, I've found two otherwise well-read, culturally savvy, even plugged-in people who have simply never heard the words, "Who Moved My Cheese?" 20 million plus sold, or something like that, and still no recognition from the intelligentsia. No wonder the red states hate us; we can't help them find their cheese.

This made me go visit, and from there a good, long preview of the Who Moved My Cheese movie. Oy.

But though I have great distaste for moved-cheese and all things related to the shell game that is corporate culture and corporate "training," I was thinking about how it relates to the GUI. Doug Engelbart's "human augmentation" work in the early 1960s -- which led to the mouse, the GUI, the "mother of all demos," xerox PARC, Apple Lisa, the Mac, and even Windows -- was trying to address some of the same issues as Dr. Spencer Johnson and his moved cheese. The world is changing more rapidly now than before -- Engelbart argued, though it is debatable -- and we earthlings needed tools to adapt to that increasing rate of change. Umm, if this had a punchline it is in the WMMC video, not here at the end. Love the cheese, that is the moral. Love the cheese.

Posted by dbrown at 05:12 PM
May 10, 2005


Pictures on flickr from one soldier in Iraq; via the Iraq tag; via a friend.

Posted by dbrown at 05:09 PM
May 08, 2005

I start, as I often have, with George Trow's Within the Context of No Context, and often with this insight (which he titles Membership):

"The middle distance fell away, so the grids (from small to large) that had supported the middle distance fell into disuse and ceased to be understandable. Two grids remained. The grid of two hundred million and the grid of intimacy. Everything else fell into disuse. There was a national life -- a shimmer of national life -- and intimate life. The distance between these two grids was very great. The distance was very frightening. People did not want to measure it. People began to lose a sense of what distance was and of what the usefulness of distance might be."

Reading this today, for the first time in a coupla years, helped me make some little sense of blogs and their/our triumphalism. Utopian or at least self-congratulatory as it may be, there is a new kind of middle distance, an opposite to Trow's "no context." It makes the giddiness of blogging make some more sense, and it puts Kos and the biggies into a historical and media and political context. (And makes me think that the communes and such of the 1970s were another and different try at a middle distance, but that try could not sustain its own weight.) That's all. Nothing profound. Don't forget to read your Trow.

Posted by dbrown at 11:02 PM
May 07, 2005
A Tattoo for Laurie Garrett


I've had the flu or some such feverish thing for days, which strictly limits the number of things to write about, and even think about. One thing to think about, of course, is the flu and its virus-friends.

1. A Finnish guy named Juan got this amazing tattoo last year.

2. This bit from Microserfs happens when Dan has the flu, and so is apropos: "how do we ever know what beauty lies inside of people, and the strange ways this world works to lure that beauty outward?"

Posted by dbrown at 01:44 PM
May 05, 2005
What we talk about when we talk about Hajis

Photographs from Fallujah.


Posted by dbrown at 02:29 PM
May 02, 2005
Life is incredibly complicated


SFMOMA has just put up a retrospective of one of my favorite Bay Area artists, the lesser-known-photorealist Robert Bechtle. I remember coming across a Bechtle for the first time at SFMOMA, crica 1991, and stopping in my tracks; though I knew next to nothing at the time, here it was, the thing itself.

I wonder now, if you aren't from California suburbs, can you get Bechtle? There is the light -- here, this is what I mean, and this -- and the subject matter, which is all Bay Area all the time. (An homage of sorts, and also see Henry Wessel's House Pictures.) But also, the work is so photographic, so interested in plumbing the depths of what a superficial snapshot, a single moment of little interest, can mean and not mean, I wonder if non-photography people feel the same thing, looking at a Bechtle.

Peter Schjeldahl writes about Bechtle in the New Yorker this week: "Though derived from the click of a camera, the image has none of what Roland Barthes termed a photograph’s “punctum,” its quotient of inaccessible pastness. In “ ’61 Pontiac,” time balloons forward, backward, and sky-high. I sense the droning, sheer duration of days in suburban neighborhoods in mild climates, an immensity laced with a familiar terror: boredom, our foretaste of being dead. Nothing can happen there.... In this and many subsequent works, Bechtle is a fascinated diver in the ocean of interminable American afternoons."

Posted by dbrown at 09:39 PM

My parents visited town recently, which made it relevant as well as moving to read kdunk's narrative of her own parents' visit. We come to oppposite conclusions, she and I, but the stories have opposite beginnings, too.

Posted by dbrown at 02:35 PM