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Monday, 31 May 2010

Hello, Father. Goodbye.

Houston and Johnnie. ca. 1971, Los Angeles, CA.

Houston and Johnnie (Los Angeles, CA - ca. 1971)

Mom bobsied us. I’m four and he’s two. I believe the necklace I’m wearing is a material artifact presented to our famliy by the US government.

Houston and Johnnie. June 1977, Los Angles, CA.

Houston and Johnnie (Los_Angeles, CA 1 June 1977)

Look at those rounded corners. Just look at them.

Johnnie, Houston, unknown male, and our father. ca. 1970, Florida.

Johnnie, Houston, unknown male, and Johnnie Sr. (Florida-ca. 1970)

I wish I could have known you.

end of article

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Multiblog Bug Fix Redux

In my haste, I failed to see the error in my logic. I also was led astray by poor white space formatting. Basically, I turned this

into this

when what I wanted was this (</mt:Else>s omitted)

Here’s everything together.

end of article

Monday, 24 May 2010

Multiblog Bug Fix

What follows is incorrect and remains for archival reasons only. There is a corrected version.

A few days or weeks or hours after restructuring the main page for this blog, I noticed that the layout for blog entries that chronologically come between bits posts were not closing. The result was that blog entries that did not start a day’s posts would be contained in the same container as bits posts written later that day. The visual representation of date relationships was broken, though the information was there for anyone to see.

I went after this bug yesterday» and also fixed the absence of JavaScript to bits archives. Here is the in-production MultiBlog stanza for this page.

The textarea above is 50 lines tall, so the last five lines (45-49») are what’s new.

There’s something that needs to be said for bugs and bug fixes. While perhaps not as consequential as, say, footnotes are to the textual unconscious», bugs do significantly alter authorial intent in a way that can be compared to the way unconscious impulses deform expression in parapraxes».

Keep an eye on the sidebar.

end of article

Friday, 21 May 2010

Lunchtime Shell Game on 38 Geary

On Thursday, 13 May, a few of the tech team» at my work took cabs to Dong Baek, located in the Tenderloin’s northeastern section.1

MNP Tech Team and HR

  1. John
  2. Jonathon
  3. Leslie
  4. Jeffrey
  5. Sung
  6. Jack

Lunch was great, better than I expected.2 I had seafood 짬뽕», which wasn’t as spicy as the double-chilies on the menu promised. The 반찬» was delicious.

The trip out and the meal itself took more time than Jeffrey and I had to make our next meeting. We settled the table’s bill (fast) and when we hit the street, good ol’ 38 Geary was trundling to the stop right in front of the restaurant.

All aboard and there we were, smack in the back with a crew running a shell game. Who could have guessed we’d find a shell game in the middle of a lunchtime bus commute to SF’s financial district?

The Play

The Play

(Faces of the operator and suspected shills pixelated.)

Shill or Mark?

Shill or Mark?

I’d guess failed mark judging by the shopping bag.3

Shells and Pea

Shells and Pea

You do know why you can’t win, right?

The operator kept trying to pull us, Leslie especially, into the game. The first time Leslie found the pea, the operator tendered a C-spot her way. Leslie declined, too polite, wary, and well-paid to go for the bait. The operator tried a few more times with smaller bills. I breathed a thousand sighs of relief when we’d gotten to Third and Market, one stop early but close enough to hoof it.

Our last stop was a yogurt shop on either Kearny or Montgomery, but I’d had plenty to eat for lunch.

end of article

1 As a front-end developer, I’m part of tech.
2 Given the opinion I’d formed of its location.
3 I did my best not to pay attention to what was going on», but I think my crew later told me the shill/mark got off the bus with twenty dollars he won.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Time Has Come

from J Trilla

This image makes me think of how we’re split in so many different directions, if only through technology we could do everything at once, in slices of time each smaller than the other, the abundant side of Zeno’s paradox for the impossibly quick and irreparably divided.

The sense is found in the last 46 seconds» of Richard D. James’s Girl/Boy Song. Having swept through seven movements in four minutes, the track’s composer» tries to complete—desperately, futilely—what cannot be completed. As if time had run out, as if compression were failing, as if things were coming to an end.

I’m reminded of Kali, The Black One, an apparition of annihilation and time.

end of article

Thursday, 13 May 2010

(!Espresso) Steam for Mac Available Now

Valve releases Steam for Mac and, until 24 May, Portal is free.»

Pour it all

Portal Coffee Joke


end of article

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Obama Administration Considers Depriving American Citizens of Their Constitutional Rights

It is time to start shouting.

Representatives and appointees of the Obama administration—particularly David Axelrod and Attorney General Erich H. Holder—are considering abridging one of the most important Supreme Court interpretations of the Fifth Amendment, the right against self-incrimination, designed to protect US citizens from (trial) abuses by law enforcement and the judiciary. Alexrod said to CNN that President

Obama was “open to looking at” changing the Miranda rule, which generally bans prosecutors from using as evidence statements made by suspects in custody before they have been warned that they have a right to remain silent and to consult a lawyer. “There may be some things that have to be done,” Mr. Axelrod said. “Certainly we’re willing to talk to Congress about that. But they would be in the area of adjustments, not a wholesale revision.”

I have no idea what kind of adjustments the Obama administration is considering regarding the Fifth Amendment and I don’t care.

All US citizens, native and naturalized, deserve equal protection under the law and the full exercise of their Constitutional Rights. Once Constitutional protections have been removed for one group of US citizens, the Constitutional rights of all US citizens will fall more easily. The only remaining question will be when will the government find it convenient and expedient to abridge those rights.

Holder should relinquish office immediately, as he has proven himself unfit to serve the citizens of the United States.

end of article

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Obama Administration Warns About Using Information Devices Which Have Produced the Most Widely Distributed Publishing Platform in Human History

I really want this thing to work out with President Obama. He’s smart. He’s a constitutaional scholar. His adminstration has taken steps to advance the welfare of US citizens and the welfare of people worldwide. So I don’t get what’s going on with his bizarre warning regarding information as a distraction. In his commencement speech at Hamptom University», Obama

admitted he could not operate an iPod or iPad, as he warned the students against becoming distracted by technology when they are already graduating "at a time of great difficulty for America, and for the world".

"With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations – none of which I know how to work – information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said.

Obama’s words seem utterly bizarre to me. It’s as if he’s warning us that LOLCats, the Tron Guy, and RickRolling will inhibit one‘s political and social awareness, as if people who use Twitter, Facebook, and 4Chan are wasting their energies by not participating in democratic politics.

All of which is absurd», so I guess it’s OK he said what he did in a commencement speech.

It’s not as if the Internet can assist people attempting to get information to the outside world about their own democratic process or as if text messages can be used to help earthquake survivors locate emergency assistance and to notify rescue workers of their location. Or maybe Obama» forgot that the Internet is great for giving the lie to political posturing.1

While any information channel, of which the Internet is one, can be used to scam, proselytize, and hypnotize, it can also be used, to inform, impassion, and organize as well. In my opinion, the distractions Obama warned of in his 2010 commencement speech to Hamptom University graduates is a misguided swipe at what is most succinctly characterized as culture. These distractions—the badger-mushrooms and All Your Bases—are transient, trivial, enduring, sublime, and cacaphonous. They are junk, art, monuments, and stuff, and they come fully blown through the Internet.

end of article


1 I undestand Obama’s point is probably best understood along these lines.

I think that a lot of people here are missing the point. It's not that people have access to too much information (i.e., that he doesn't agree with), but that the gadgetry itself and the triviality it promotes is absorbing so much time and attention that we're ignoring other things that might be more important to our civic lives. It's gotten to the point where kids (in particular) aren't even coming up for air sometimes.

That said, who knows where it will all lead, or whether it will be for better or worse or something in between. I'd like to think that we're strengthening democracy and public participation, but my fear is that control and manipulation may win the day...

Re: Transparency
Slashdot user drooling-dog

Thursday, 06 May 2010

Coda de Cinco

I loved celebrating Cinco de Mayo when before leaving California for the University of Virginia in Fall 1993. Because I was unaware of the historical significance of the holiday, Cinco de Mayo was a low-pressure excuse to have a barbecue, to drink one too many Margaritas and to acknowledge the value of Mexican culture» and heritage.

Two years into the twenty-first century, I was really missing me some California rituals, so organized a Cinco de Mayo party at my friend Tom’s house. We had Maggies» and quesadillas with my special homemade guacomole and salsa. It was a lovely Charlottesville spring day with a few of my closest friends».

I found an article explaining the historical significance of Cinco de Mayo and read it to everyone like the nerd I am. The punchline for us Americanos is

In the United States, the "Batalla de Puebla" came to be known as simply "5 de Mayo" and unfortunately, many people wrongly equate it with Mexican Independence which was on September 16, 1810, nearly a fifty year difference. Over, the years Cinco de Mayo has become very commercialized and many people see this holiday as a time for fun and dance. Oddly enough, Cinco de Mayo has become more of Chicano holiday than a Mexican one. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on a much larger scale here in the United States than it is in Mexico. People of Mexican descent in the United States celebrate this significant day by having parades, mariachi music, folklorico dancing and other types of festive activities.

The commercialization and focus on inebration hit me in the inbox this morning. Yelp’s email to me was essentially a how-to on alcohol-induced vomiting.

When life hands you limones, what do you do? If "break out the tequila and salt" was your innate response, then it's safe to say you're ready for today's gringo-tastic festivities. Yes amigos, it's Cinco de Mayo, and Yelp's here with comidas y bebidas deliciosas to make sure this is one May 5th you'll never forget (or, if you do it right... perhaps you will!).

Before any amount of excessive alcohol consumption, it's wise to fill your belly with a good hearty meal... so grab yourself a big fat quesadilla [. . . .] "[. . .] But beware: they're huge, and can serve as a meal for the whole day!"

Now that you've got a good base, it's time to start drinking. Any connoisseur worth their salt knows that [. . .] is stocked with an endless selection of rare, world-class tequilas, [. . . .] Ryan G opines, "Holy mother f***ing margaritas! Three or four of these bad boys will have you set for the night... or face down in a gutter, perhaps." For astounding agave around the Marina, set your sights for [. . .] She claims, "Their margaritas obviously have some sort of addictive ingredient, and they're topped off with so much alcohol, my breath could probably start a fire!"

¡Aye Aye Yelp!

I’m sure this skeletal framework for sponsor recommendations distills the narrative arc of half a hundred SF hipsters on Cinco de Mayo and practically every other weekend night».

Still, it is our Cinco de Mayo, and I’m glad/relieved/ecstatic to observe it while living in California, the only home I’ve ever known.


end of article

Tuesday, 04 May 2010

Instant Gratification: Saving Web Bookmarks Everywhere Using Yojimbo, AppleScript, and MobileMe

I’ve been working with Save PDF to Yojimbo and Yojimbo Collection From Front Window for just a little over a month and I’ve experienced some weird glitches. The most difficult of these glitches seems to happen when I have a substantial number (about a dozen) of tabs open and I try to use Yojimbo Collection from Front Window. The front Safari window becomes unresponsive and cannot be closed. The only solution is to quit Safari».

A month of using these two scripts has also proved to me that scripting the GUI is slow. When dealing with, literally, thousands of RSS items a week, saving interesting/useful/compelling/curious/funny web pages to PDF takes a lot of time. Even if one doesn’t read all the items. It was enough to make me want to go back to poor neglected-by-its-developer Webnote.

What finally motivated me to augment my script repertoire was the fact that ~/Library/Application Support/Yojimbo/ stands at 418.4 MB» and 6 GB/year seems excessive commitment to MobileMe».

So, I revised the two Yojimbo scripts I’ve been using this past month to transmit bookmarks, instead of PDFs, to Yojimbo. No more GUI scripting. These scripts are fast! I also improved the single-item-to-Yojimbo script so that it excludes Yojimbo collections whose names match the pattern of a collection name generated by Yojimbo Collection from Front Window ».

No more pesky PDF Service. Assign any keyboard shortcut you want. Get ’em while they’re hot! Add Bookmark to Yojimbo and Yojimbo Bookmark Collection From Front Window.

Partial Preamble for Yojimbo Bookmark Collection From Front Window

I also updated Save PDF to Yojimbo with cullCollectionList.

end of article

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