Category Archives: writing

DIAF 2016

Herewith, my annual accumulation of the things I wrote on social media rather than here on my blog. (Previously.)

If I’d had any idea how 2016 was going to go when it began I never would have greeted it so cordially.

  • Welcome, 2016! I am excited to discover what awesomeness you have in store for us all.

  • It's been a couple of years and I should be over this but I'm not: it has bothered me all along that the anachronistic word “fractal” is in the lyrics of the most popular song from Frozen.

    I just can't Let It Go.

  • In the JJ Abrams universe, you need only look up into the sky of one planet in order to witness the cataclysmic events taking place on another light-years away, even in broad daylight.

  • [The 50th anniversary of the premiere of the 1960's Batman.]

    Pow! Bam! Sock! Oof!

    12 January

  • We didn't win the $1.5 billion Powerball last week. But I can't bring myself to throw away the lottery ticket because, you know, clerical errors happen all the time.

  • Realization: Donald Trump is The Mule from Foundation and Empire, disrupting what should be the normal flow of history via strange powers of mental subversion.

  • Astonishing, depressing, and completely fascinating: the detailed story of the original negative of Star Wars and how it degraded to total crap.

    Saving Star Wars: The Special Edition Restoration Process and its Changing Physicality

  • Take a Dixon-Ticonderoga pencil and some white-out. White out parts of the name Ticonderoga, leaving the word “cider.” Phonetically, it now says “Dick's inside 'er.”

    Archer shared this trick with me recently. He learned it from his peers. I think he was testing to see whether he'd get in trouble for knowing this.

    For my part, I was impressed. You have to white out just part of the N in Ticonderoga to turn it into an I! Whoever came up with that showed real dedication to the pursuit of a microscopic naughty thrill. That is just so middle-school.

  • The best thing I've read explaining Trump's popularity. Read it. Read it.

    Trump Supporters Aren't Stupid

  • Just woke up from a racial-harmony dream. It was beautiful, man.

  • How I know that either time travel is impossible or Trump won't win the presidency: no time travelers from the future are appearing to stop him.

  • High on the list of things you never want to read on nextdoor.com is that a scorpion once was seen in the backyard of the house next to yours.

  • Of all the people not to invite to a party, the Goddess of Discord? Whose bright idea was that? That was never going to end well.

  • Among my news headlines this morning, both Donald Trump's week and Gmail's April Fools gag were described as “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad.”

  • “Smith & Noble”?

    How do Barnes and Wesson feel about this?

    • Perhaps I’ll ask Garfunkel and Oates.

  • Feeling appreciated.

  • Archer asked me the other day, “Would you rather have time and no freedom, or freedom but no time?”

    While I was trying to figure out how to respond, he added this clarification: “So, kid or adult?”

    I was speechless.

  • By a statistical fluke, I was considerably taller than all the other commuters around me on a crowded Muni train this morning. It was glorious.

  • [On the death of Prince.]

    Thinking about the night in 1984 when Steven Stern and I wanted to enter the West 4th Street subway station but were prevented by a scary dude who ranted at us for a while about Purple Rain, which was then brand-new. After importuning us for a couple of minutes, he asked, “What's the best color?” Luckily, Steve had the presence of mind that I didn't, and he gamely answered, “Purple!” The dude said, “What's the best movie?” Steve said, “Purple Rain!” And the dude let us pass.

  • What I learned from rewatching Purple Rain last night:

    • It's OK to be a jerk if you're very talented and very sexy

    • If you're very talented and also funny, but not quite as sexy, you deserve to be pushed into a pile of garbage

    • Women are for sex

    • If you treat a woman as an equal partner you will fail to earn her loyalty

    • If you alternately slap her around and cuddle with her, she'll be yours forever

  • Fellow getting-old people: where is it possible to smell mimeograph fumes today, so younger generations can know what they're missing?

  • Ordered an egg cream at the Cowgirl Creamery milk bar in the Ferry Building. Got a cup of watery Ovaltine.

  • That gratifying feeling when you've been vaguely sick for a day or two and the thermometer finally validates all your complaining.

  • I don't watch Game of Thrones. But in my dream last night, I complimented Peter Dinklage on the fine job he's been doing on that show.

  • [On the plea for clemency by Brock Turner's father, based on the fact that Brock raped his victim for only twenty minutes.]

    Dear Mr. Turner,

    How many more minutes of rape would be needed, do you think, before your son would deserve a harsher penalty?

    Just curious,
    – Bob

  • [On the popularity of the Fall Out Boy song “Uma Thurman.”]

    I hummed the theme from The Munsters before it was cool.

  • Attention young people: That scene in Jaws where Quint crushes a beer can in his hand, and Hooper lamely tries to match him by crushing his coffee cup? In 1975, crushing a beer can in one hand was in fact a manly display of strength, as cans were made of heavy steel, not flimsy aluminum.

  • To those Brexit voters now feeling remorse, and to everyone else watching who longs for a return to some version or other of the Good Old Days, please learn this lesson: there is no going back, there is only going forward. Even if it were possible to go back, and even if the Old Days were as Good as you think they were, the same forces that brought you to the hated present would still exist. Better to “launch and iterate” as we say in software engineering; “rollbacks” are always more costly than you expect.

  • This painted-on path-use indicator is surprisingly bumpy to roll over on a road bike. But, fun game: no bumps if you can roll through the stencil gaps in the wheels, plus you improve your cycling precision.

  • [On July 4th.]

    240 years of the Declaration of Independence! 50 years of the Freedom of Information Act!

  • RIP Sydney Schanberg and Michael Herr, two extraordinary journalists who opened my young and naive eyes to some of the world's severest unpleasantness.

  • Remarkable long read convincingly explaining our worsening political dysfunction. Tl;dr – the system of party functionaries, horse trading, and smoke-filled rooms that we've spent a generation dismantling as undemocratic actually performed an essential role in moderating our politics.

    How American Politics Went Insane

  • I've been immersing myself in the headlines of 1966 all year, while maintaining its1966.tumblr.com. Though it may be cold comfort, know that as bad as things seem in the world right now, they're much better than they were then.

  • “Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney would be spinning in their graves, if they were dead, and right now they wish they were.”

    “Trump is dangerous precisely because he does not seem like a real person, and the people voting for him do not think they’re voting in a real election with real consequences.”

    Can't wake up from this nightmare.

    His dark materials: After that diabolical, masterful performance, Donald Trump could easily end up president

  • “All republics are fragile; the [Weimar Republic], like the Third French Republic it paralleled, did not commit suicide—it was killed, by many murderers, not least by those who thought they could contain an authoritarian thirsting for power.”

    “No reasonable person, no matter how opposed to her politics, can believe for a second that Clinton’s accession to power would be a threat to the Constitution or the continuation of American democracy. No reasonable person can believe that Trump’s accession to power would not be.”

    Being Honest About Trump

  • “Damn all the people who will vote for him, and damn any progressives who sit this one out because Hillary Rodham Clinton is wrong on this issue or that one. Damn all the people who are suggesting they do that.”

    This Isn’t Funny Anymore. American Democracy Is at Stake.

  • Are you one of those who hears comparisons of Trump to Hitler and secretly thinks, “Maybe that's just what this country needs right now”?

    If so, may I suggest you take another look at how that turned out for Germany?

  • I love that “old Bob” (as opposed to “new Bob”) is the same as “young Bob” (as opposed to “old Bob”).

  • This is excellent, even if you're not interested in learning web design.

    Web Design in 4 minutes

  • 50 years ago tomorrow, a price increase of one cent per quart of milk was front-page news in the New York Times.

  • It's cool how the Overton Window is moving to drain the phrases “his husband” and “her wife” of their strangeness.

  • The original is in my pantheon of perfect films. It cannot be improved upon.

    Rocketeer reboot in development at Disney

  • Some guys, when not wearing their sunglasses, perch them on the back of their heads, facing backwards. That seems like it should be insufferably dopey, but for some reason I can't figure out, it's just not.

  • Trump's eagerness to use nuclear weapons reminded me of something.

    Forget about the badge! When do we get the freakin guns!

  • The moment we've all been waiting for: when Donald Trump's strength and momentum are finally revealed to be merely bluster and frenzy.

  • It's not really the future yet if I still have to fill out two of these by hand every year.

  • Don't want to check fivethirtyeight.com too often. Afraid I'll jinx it.

  • Embarking on a five hour listen. Only Dan Carlin could make that a pleasant prospect.

    King of Kings III

  • My long search is over! Pizza in San Francisco that actually is “NY style” instead of being falsely advertised as “NY style.”

    Pizzeria Avellino

  • <3

  • Lenny Bruce died fifty years ago this month. Writing challenge: Imagine he'd lived and been given his own sitcom, like Seinfeld and others he paved the way for. What would an episode of that have been like? Go.

  • A banner day for Chain.com!

  • #TIL about UEFI locking. Evil – worse by far than browser exclusion, which resulted in an anti-trust judgment against Microsoft in the 90's. It's preventing me from installing Linux on my new Dell box, and I anticipate a rough time getting satisfaction from Dell customer support.

  • Finn the human!

  • GASP! “The first ever roguelike celebration”!!

    There's virtually no chance I'll be able to go on such short notice, but if you can make it, please report back.

    Roguelike Celebration

  • Please let this be peak Trump.

  • [The home stretch of the presidential campaign.]

    Go team Age of Enlightenment!

  • So you're a Trump voter – or at least, you were. Now you're starting to have your doubts. But everyone in the lamestream media is insisting that you MUST NOT vote for him, and you'll be damned if you'll ever take THEIR advice – or look like you're taking it.

    You need a way to reach a no-vote decision that preserves your independence, that has nothing to do with all the criticisms of how Trump throws his weight around, which is secretly why you like him.

    Try this: if he's elected President, the revelations so far about his likely lawbreaking (violating the Cuba embargo, flouting charitable foundation rules) will be just the beginning. He'll be more beset by investigations and allegations than Bill Clinton was, or even Nixon. Even if you think he'd do a good job, he WON'T GET THE CHANCE.

  • Apparently I work just down the street from the Mertin Flemmer Building.

  • There are plenty of weird Tumblrs out there. This is one of them.

    redandjonny

  • When we visited Thailand several years ago, our taxi driver told us in his broken English about why their king was so beloved: “No drink, no smoke, one wife, no girlfriend.” RIP King Bhumibol.

  • This is how we defeat Trump.

  • Short but damn good writing.

    The Agonizing Essence of Donald Trump, in One GIF

  • After decades of working almost exclusively on closed-source projects whose potential for actually improving the world was limited at best (never mind what the marketers always said), it gives me tremendous pleasure to be able to present the open-source and actually transformative fruits of my past year's labor, and that of what must surely be among the best small software teams ever assembled.

    Our site: https://chain.com/
    Our short explanatory video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bK6wHW1K9jM
    Our whitepaper: https://chain.com/docs/protocol/papers/whitepaper
    Our CODE!!! https://github.com/chain/chain
    Our press: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-24/blockchain-hype-takes-hit-as-chain-releases-code-for-all-to-use http://fortune.com/2016/10/24/visas-blockchain-chain-open-source/

  • Funny birthday cards from my kids.

  • Happy fourth birthday, Pepper!

  • President Clinton's first official act when taking office in January: she should pardon Donald Trump like Ford did Nixon. Not even kidding.

    • I doubt anyone would like to see Trump have to answer for his lifetime of bullying behavior (in its many forms) more than I would. But if we pursue that beyond a Clinton victory we'll be no better than the Trump voters calling for Clinton blood.

      Here's what pardoning Trump would (hopefully) achieve:

      • Disarm the Trump true believers who are bracing to defend their hero against Crooked Hillary;

      • Demonstrate, in clear contrast to what Trump has promised, that in America politicians do not use the machinery of government to persecute their opponents;

      • Begin to mend our political rift;

      • Ensure that the national conversation moves beyond Trump as quickly as possible;

      • Consign Trump to national irrelevance, which is as good as jail for him.

      Trump loves nothing more than a fight. Let's take that away from him.

  • [Just before Election Day.]

    These last few days are increasingly hard to take. I think I need to start drinking and not stop until Wednesday morning.

  • One is a boor and the other's a bore
    Neither one's rhetoric soars
    Can't help but cringe at the lunatic fringe
    Or the one I've no eagerness for

    One is too bold and the other's too cold
    Also they're both pretty old
    After eight years of class how'd we get to this pass?
    The current guy: he broke the mold

  • Good morning, America! I'm gonna vote SO HARD today.

  • Earlier generations of Americans have had their worthy challenges: throw off monarchy, end slavery, defeat the Axis, etc. We are the coddled and too-comfortable product of their efforts and, in historical terms, haven't done a single thing to earn our privilege. Trump is both the perfect symbol of that and, at last, our worthy challenge.

  • To the extent that Trump voters have been feeling fear and disenfranchisement and needed to spread those feelings around: fair, and mission accomplished.

  • A few hopeful thoughts from the group commiseration that took place at work today:

    First, Hillary eked out a popular vote victory despite being, let's face it, a not very inspiring candidate. With someone who's energizing and totes less baggage, the sky's the limit.

    Second, we sent a Latina, a Thai woman, and a female amputee to the Senate. That's not nothing.

    Third, crisitunity: clearly the Democratic party needed to be destroyed to be saved insofar as it wasn't working for very large numbers of Americans whose votes it took for granted. Under a President Clinton that would not have happened (and the underlying problems might have gotten even worse); now it can.

  • Worth hearing: yesterday's Fresh Air interview with journalist James Fallows, who's been criss-crossing America visiting small usually overlooked towns to understand their politics, discovering that in most places, the people there believe they're doing well, and even have progressive values, but also believe, thanks to the constant-crisis media, that the rest of the country is going to hell.

    How Trump Broke Campaign Norms But Still Won The Election

  • Ugh, just got an image in my head of what Donald and Melania will get up to on the first night in the Oval Office.

  • Cheer up! The country is not dominated by swarms of hateful bigots you've been underestimating.

    https://twitter.com/tegmark/status/796387518803546112/photo/1

  • Deplorable.

    Women, minorities, immigrants, genderqueers: I am a white man on your side.

    Day 1 In Trump's America

  • Keep voting.

    The Official #GrabYourWallet Boycott List of Companies that Do Business with and/or Back the Trump Family

  • Everyone's wondering what Trump will and won't actually do as President. To me it seems clear: he couldn't care less about any particular policies except insofar as they allow him to humiliate powerful people. Whatever results in more abasement before him, that's what Trump will choose.

  • I signed, and donated.

    Tell Donald Trump to Reject Hate and Bigotry

  • Dear Donald Trump,

    I get it, you had to prove you could be elected President. You have to be the biggest and the best, and as long as other people could win the Presidency, there's always been someone bigger and better than you.

    But you're still not there yet. You won the election but now you must be judged alongside dignified, thoughtful, compassionate men like Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt (either one, pick your favorite), Eisenhower, and Kennedy. You won't be the biggest or the best unless you can stop doing what's right for Donald Trump and start doing what's right for your fellow Americans. If you can, I think you'll find that that is what's right for Donald Trump.

  • I listen to podcasts on my commute, and I'm pretty backlogged. I'm hearing shows that were recorded in October. Mostly they don't deal with politics, but of course the subject of the election still comes up from time to time. All those poor naive people of a few weeks ago who have no idea how things are about to turn out…

  • Gazing out the window of the ferry at the whitecaps and the swells sliding by. Glanced at the laptop screen of a fellow commuter and it appeared to move and flow like whitecaps and swells. Cool.

  • Presenting my Sunday project: Trumpit, a Chrome extension that rewrites occurrences of Donald Trump's name in web pages. From the README:

    Do not allow the press to normalize the things that Trump has said, done, and failed to do on the way to the White House.

    Every mention of his name should be a stark reminder of who and what he is.

    This extension makes that literally true.

    Trumpit

  • An updated version of my Chrome extension is available that adds tooltips: hover your mouse over e.g. “Donald J. Tax Evader” to get a randomized, detailed reminder of some outrage such as:
    Donald Trump said “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose voters.”

    Trumpit

  • Happy birthday mom. If you were still around, I know you'd be over the moon about your wonderful grandsons, in love with Chris Pratt, sick with outrage about Trump, and stubbornly refusing to understand my explanations about the blockchain. And we would constantly be talking about all those things.

  • Holiday movie report:

    Doctor Strange: even this straight guy is in love with Benedict Cumberbatch. Never mind how they executed those special effects, how did they even conceive them?? Also, perfect “solution” to the movie's main plot and character dilemmas.

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: lots of inventive depiction of magic, but no character arcs or mystery, yawn.

    Moana: tears-streaming-down-face perfection.

  • Moderate Republican senators surely feel like the party has left them behind. If I were a multimillionaire, I would be meeting with them right now saying, “I have $20 million in cash for the first of you to switch to the Democratic party, $5 million for the second, and $1 million for the third.”

  • 20 lessons from the 20th Century. Wise (and practical) words against authoritarianism by Yale historian, Holocaust expert, and Member of the Council on Foreign Relations Timothy Snyder:
    “1. DO NOT OBEY IN ADVANCE. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You've already done this, haven't you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.
    2. DEFEND AN INSTITUTION. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don't protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.
    3. RECALL PROFESSIONAL ETHICS. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.
    4. WHEN LISTENING TO POLITICIANS, DISTINGUISH CERTAIN WORDS. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.
    5. BE CALM WHEN THE UNTHINKABLE ARRIVES. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don't fall for it.
    6. BE KIND TO OUR LANGUAGE. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don't use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps “The Power of the Powerless” by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.
    7. STAND OUT. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.
    8. BELIEVE IN TRUTH. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
    9. INVESTIGATE. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.
    10. PRACTICE CORPOREAL POLITICS. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.
    11. MAKE EYE CONTACT AND SMALL TALK. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.
    12. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FACE OF THE WORLD. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.
    13. HINDER THE ONE-PARTY STATE. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.
    14. GIVE REGULARLY TO GOOD CAUSES, IF YOU CAN. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.
    15. ESTABLISH A PRIVATE LIFE. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.
    16. LEARN FROM OTHERS IN OTHER COUNTRIES. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.
    17. WATCH OUT FOR THE PARAMILITARIES. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.
    18. BE REFLECTIVE IF YOU MUST BE ARMED. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)
    19. BE AS COURAGEOUS AS YOU CAN. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.
    20. BE A PATRIOT. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.
    ETA: Feel free to share, but please copy + paste into your own status or else it will not be viewable to all of your friends.”

  • When I shared this link earlier this year, I wrote:

    “Remarkable long read convincingly explaining our worsening political dysfunction. Tl;dr – the system of party functionaries, horse trading, and smoke-filled rooms that we've spent a generation dismantling as undemocratic actually performed an essential role in moderating our politics.”

    Reposting now with the observation that the Electoral College is one of our few remaining “smoke-filled rooms.”

    How American Politics Went Insane

  • What are we talking about now? Whether flag burners can or should be punished.

    Why are we talking about it? Was there some flag-burning emergency? No, we're talking about it because of a Trump tweet.

    What are we talking about less as a result? Trump's baseless allegations of voter fraud and his outrageously corrupt cronyism.

    Don't be fooled.

  • And now for something completely different: an old-timey tune that Google Play Music threw into my playlist this morning. Sound familiar?

    Gracie Fields – Sing As We Go

  • Not mentioned in this article: the Big Mac was created to compete with an almost identical sandwich at a BOB's Big Boy restaurant in Pittsburgh; and it was named by an advertising secretary named GLICKSTEIN. For real!

    Creator of McDonald’s Big Mac dies at 98

  • I keep hearing that demographics favor Democrats going forward, because young people overwhelmingly vote that way. But wasn't that also true in the 60's and 70's? Where are those young people now?

  • I wanted to know the meaning of some lyrics in a song from Moana. They're in some Pacific-islander language (Samoan, I think), so I went to Google Translate and selected “detect language.” It chose Japanese and gave me this translation:

    Oh yeah
    Muuuuuuuu
    Do not worry about it
    Oh yeah
    Well, Fuh – Wah,
    Naked rice cookies.

  • As a matter of Constitutional law, which is Obama's greater responsibility: to transfer power to Donald Trump on January 20th, or to refuse to?

    Yes, he took an oath to preserve the Constitution, which mandates an orderly transfer of power; and we as a nation take rightful pride in our long history of peaceful changes of leadership.

    But the President is also sworn to defend the Constitution – against, for example, those who with the help of adversarial foreign powers openly seek to undermine it. If such a figure manages to position himself, via deception and subversion of the democratic process, to receive that peaceful transfer of power, surely no reasonable interpretation of the Constitution requires that the country roll over and submit?

  • The president ignoring his presidential daily briefings… where have I heard that before?

  • Two questions for the Electors:

    1. Which will you regret more in the future: blocking Trump, or not blocking him?
    2. Which requires greater courage?

    The answer to the second should inform your answer to the first.

  • “Republicans — led by a man who rage-tweets fake news in the middle of the night — are about to embark on a long voyage of turning every single thing they touch into garbage. There should be no Democratic fingerprints whatsoever on the coming catastrophe. Democrats must not give the imprimatur of legitimacy to the handsy Infowars acolyte who is about to take the oath of office. Not to get some highways built. Not to renegotiate NAFTA. Not to do anything.

    At long last, Democrats must learn from their tormenters: Obstruct. Delay. Delegitimize. Harass. Destroy. Above all: Do. Not. Help. This. Man. Govern.”

    It's time for Democrats to fight dirty

  • On the bright side, our collective odds of dying from cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and other infirmities of age have gone down! True, it's because our odds of dying from war, political violence, economic collapse, or diminished food/product/building safety standards have gone up, but always look for the silver lining, I say.

    With electoral college vote, Trump's win is official

  • What positive, constructive things has the modern Republican party achieved at a national or state level?

    This is a sincere request for information. It is not an invitation to heap scorn.

    That said, it seems to me that the Republican party exists only to maintain its own power and help those who need help the least. It does this by systematically disenfranchising large numbers of voters, by persuading large numbers of other voters as to which of their fellow citizens they should mistrust and ridicule, and by (in the words of Thomas Jefferson) “refusing assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”

    There's also the wars and the economic mismanagement.

    Those are all achievements, strictly speaking, but not positive, constructive ones. Can anyone credibly refute my view of the Republican party?

    [No one meaningfully did.]

  • Close, Facebook, close. You're off by only 1,728 miles.

  • Santa came and ate half of a cookie we left out for him! The kids said, “Let's get a saliva sample from the cookie and DNA-test it to prove it's Dad!” While cleaning up after opening gifts, I ate the rest of the cookie, before they could collect the evidence. Oops. 😉

  • Rogue One is about stealing the Death Star plans. For months leading up to its release, Jonah and I have been saying “space heist!” to each other with mounting excitement. We got a gritty war thriller instead. It's good, but the world still needs its space heist movie.

  • In 1980, when we learned that The Empire Strikes Back was the fifth episode in a planned nine-movie series that wouldn't be complete until 2001, I worried that the cast might not survive long enough to tell the full story. (Mark Hamill had already almost checked out in his post-Star Wars car crash.) Then we learned that the only characters who would be in all nine films were the droids, and I relaxed a little. In 1983, Lucas said never mind, he was done making Star Wars movies, and though by then I cared less, I still breathed a sigh of relief. Then Disney bought Lucasfilm[*] and started a new series of sequels with the original cast, and my old worry returned. Today my decades-old fear came true.

    RIP, Your Worshipfulness.

    [*] – There may have been some other nominal Star Wars movies in the interim ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • I posted this earlier this year, and I’m sorry to say I no longer think this is true.

    I’ve been immersing myself in the headlines of 1966 all year, while maintaining its1966.tumblr.com. Though it may be cold comfort, know that as bad as things seem in the world right now, they’re much better than they were then.

    Then: Civilian casualties of U.S. military action widely protested (due in part to the draft)
    Now: U.S. military action mostly out of sight, out of mind

    Then: Widespread racial strife vigorously combated by federal government
    Now: Racial strife tacitly encouraged by incoming government

    Then: Congressional action on numerous matters of public import, including several unanimous votes on big bills
    Now: Unyielding partisan obstruction on all matters of public import

    Then: 10% of nation’s wealth concentrated among top 0.1%
    Now: 25% of nation’s wealth concentrated among top 0.1%

    Then: Batman didn’t casually kill bad guys by the dozen

  • Tl;dr – wide swaths of America now reflexively regard any story reported in e.g. the NY Times as false, no matter how well substantiated.

    This weaponizes citizens against the country. More than Trump, more than Pence, more than Putin, more than anything, the right-wing propaganda apparatus is the enemy.

    Fake News Is Not the Real Media Threat We’re Facing

Otras palabras mías

Keeping you updated on every shareable thought that flits through my brain, since 2011.

  • Jonah did an authentic spit-take tonight. In a conversation about salt-water taffy, Andrea and I were remembering my one very failed attempt at making some, years ago. Jonah was drinking a glass of water just as I described my taffy as “a mouthful of vinegar cement.”

  • Fright Night. Total Recall. Miami Vice. Colin Farrell is the king of the unnecessary 80's remake.

  • Just received the settlement check in the malpractice case relating to the death of my mom in 2007. It isn't much, especially after lawyers' fees and other expenses, and it certainly does nothing to bring back my mom or make me miss her less.

    I'll tell you what has brought back my mom, in a way: my sister Suzanne's dogged handling of this long, slow, frustrating, bureaucratic process, driving it to completion in the face of delays and setbacks and screw-ups. The spirit of our mom, who loved to muscle her way through such hassles and proudly adopted the nickname Superpest, is alive and well in her.

  • I have only a vague notion of who Maria Conchita Alonso is, but that's not stopping her name from incessantly reverberating in my head this evening.

    It's not as bad as the Mandalit del Barco episode of 2013, thank goodness.

  • I have passed some sort of milestone in my inevitable progression to cranky old man.

    Encountering a group of 20-something coworkers having a collective smoking break outside the office just now, my reaction was not the usual nostalgic longing for a cigarette myself, it was anger. I wanted to say to them, “How dare you take your youth and health for granted like that.”

  • Elvis needs boats! Elvis needs boats! Elvis Elvis Elvis Elvis Elvis Elvis Elvis needs boats!

  • Oh Jupiter Ascending, why couldn't you be awesome?

  • Recognized a Luke Perry cameo in the end-tag of a Community episode. Andrea said, “Wow, he looks old.” Looked him up on IMDb. He's the exact same age as us. [http://www.sadtrombone.com/]

  • Grownups seemed a lot more grown up when I was a kid than they do now that I'm a grownup.

  • There once was a baby named Kade
    By Shane and by Erika made
    The news of his birth
    Encircled the Earth
    And people all over hoorayed

  • It doesn't seem like it should be much harder to eat a sandwich that hasn't been cut in half first, but it is.

  • As water cascades down onto my head
    I make a great effort of will
    And, snapping my thoughts to the moment, I think:
    Did I lather yet? Or must I still?

  • New episodes of Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and Coach are coming, as is a possible Clinton presidency. Looks like 90's nostalgia is on.

  • [On the ongoing saga of Radio Shack's imminent demise.] I seldom enter Radio Shack stores nowadays, so I suppose I'm part of the problem, but for sentimental reasons I'm still glad to see them cling to survival. I'm just old enough to remember bringing vacuum tubes to Radio Shack with my dad once in a while to plug them into the store's tube tester and replace the ones that didn't make the little light light up. Chuck and I supplied our electronics projects from there decades before anyone coined the term “maker.” My first computer came from Radio Shack, and I have as much fond nostalgia for it as any TRS-80 Model III owner; but I doubt many of them developed a crush on the recorded voice that answered the Tandy Corporation's main customer service line circa 1980. I dialed again and again just to hear some young woman thank me for calling Tandy and politely ask me to wait on hold in a perky Texas twang.

  • Today is “random holiday spirit” day at school. Kids are supposed to dress in the style of the holiday of their choosing. Archer said, “I'll wear a Santa hat. That will be my Halloween costume.”

  • Farewell, Candy Crush Soda Saga level 130. You were a worthy opponent.

  • How old does something have to be before it becomes “vintage”? How about “antique”? Or “ancient”?

  • There's a part of me that spends every waking moment tortured half to madness by two intractable puzzles: the true nature of reality; and how it's possible for any thinking person _not_ to spend every waking moment tortured half to madness by the true nature of reality.

  • In a conversation the other day with Jonah, I said something like, “You are in control of your emotions.” Jonah immediately recognized that I was unintentionally quoting a classic episode of Star Trek. So, so proud of my boy.

  • I am enjoying this interlude between the announcement of a working, reactionless spaceship drive and its inevitable refutation even more than I did the brief period we all believed in cold fusion in the 80's.

  • Jonah was playing a video game. Archer was watching. Archer jumped up from the couch and ran into the kitchen and back to the living room, saying “Good shot!” It was running commentary.

  • Just finished listening to Blueprint for Armageddon VI, the final installment in Dan Carlin – Hardcore History's magisterial podcast series about World War I. This installment was nearly four and a half hours long. The complete series adds up to over _twenty-three_ hours – and for this fan it's not enough. I would gladly listen to another six installments on the topics that host Dan Carlin admits he glossed over in the interest of time.

    I am amused that, in describing an incident near the end of the war, with just minutes left in this nearly day-long podcast series, Carlin tosses in the phrase, “Long story short…”

  • “On” purpose. “By” accident.

    Thanks,
    – Bob

  • Eight years now that the world has had to get along without Flori Glickstein. It's done its best, but it shows.

  • Final field trip of elementary school DONE.

  • By what black magic does Candy Crush Soda Saga keep me from getting sick of the tune that I've now heard over and over and over for 200 levels?

  • [On seeing the headline, “How Apple Hopes to Take A Bite Out Of The News Business.”] When I saw this headline, I got curious, and so: https://goo.gl/WIQzkC

  • Enjoyed Neal Stephenson's new novel Seveneves so much that the momentum has me now reading The Baroque Cycle for the third time.

  • [On the launch of kill-ralphie.com.] “When someone posted to Kill Ralphie, they were contributing a chapter to an ongoing story about a hapless lad who is alternately placed in immediate mortal danger, then rescued, both in the most creative and entertaining ways possible.”

  • If you're going to San Francisco
    Be sure to wear $491 dollars in your hair
    For when the City of San Francisco
    Tows your car to the impound they have there

  • Happy Canada Day
    Happy Canaday
    Happy Canad, eh?

  • The Plotkin sisters (Janet, Sherri, and Diane) are among my very favorite people to spend time with, and have been for literally my entire life. Not even an expensive tow can detract from the pleasure of an afternoon spent with one of my cousins.

  • Just realized that I was born closer in time to (the waning days of) the First World War than to today. Dang.

  • Dammit Bill Cosby. I Spy was one of my favorite things. Now I'll never be able to watch it again.

  • [On the announcement of a working Star Trek communicator.] Don't tell the makers of this item, but there is almost no price I wouldn't gladly pay.

  • Googler -> Xoogler

  • Batgirl, Batgirl!
    Batgirl, Batgirl!
    Where do you come from? Where do you go?
    What is your scene? Baby, we just gotta know
    Yeah, whose baby are you?
    Batgirl!

    (RIP Yvonne Craig)

  • Until very recently, having time to myself at home would have been a real treat, a chance to focus, catch up on correspondence, get some writing done, work on my side projects. Now I simply miss my family.

  • As a little kid, I used to watch my dad “make a left” each morning: walk down the long hallway outside our apartment as he left for work, then turn left around a corner and disappear from sight.

    Many years later, my kids would watch me from our front window as I turned left out of our driveway and disappeared on my way to work.

    Now I hand the kids their lunches and watch them disappear to the left on their way to school.

  • I wonder if I can sue Ashley Madison for _not_ containing my e-mail in their purloined account database, thereby revealing to the world what a boring faithful straight arrow I am.

  • A world with no Carl Sagan, no Jim Henson, AND no Oliver Sacks? What kind of cruel joke is this?

  • Every once in a while I'll spot a 19¢ packet of Kool-Aid at the store and buy it because childhood. Then I'll get home and remember all the other times that I bought packets of Kool-Aid on a whim, and I toss the new packet on the pile.

    Today it hit 103 in San Rafael and I made some Kool-Aid, dammit.

  • Have you ever visited a city that you've never lived in, but where you felt immediately at home? What place or places made you feel like that, and why?

    I don't mean getting to some vacation paradise, feeling your cares melt away, and declaring you could spend the rest of your life there. That's different from feeling _at home_.

    I've had this experience in Seattle and in Chicago, and conspicuously haven't in many other places, even places that are superficially similar. I'm at a loss to explain what it is about Seattle and Chicago that makes me feel that way (and what it is about other places that doesn't), but the sensation is undeniable, and Andrea has felt it too.

  • [On the publication of Wired's article “Your Body Is Surrounded By Clouds Of Skin And Fart Bacteria.”] Synchronicity:

    Last night this sentence popped into my head: We exist in a miasma of one another's exhalations.

    Why did that sentence pop into my head? I have no idea. It's not a typical thought for me to have, and nothing out of the ordinary relating to exhalations or other bodily functions took place to get me onto that topic. The thought sounded vaguely musical to me and I briefly entertained posting it to Facebook.

    Then this morning comes this interesting Wired article. The headline's a little more crudely put than my sentence, but it's the same idea, and interestingly, they're both seventeen syllables, like a haiku.

  • I thought I was old when they started rebooting movies and TV shows I watched as a kid. Now they're rebooting movies and TV shows I ignored as an adult.

  • Well, that was nice while it lasted, but it's time to go back to work. Gonna give the startup thing another go. Tomorrow I start at Chain.com.

  • Today I wrote code in Go and in Java and in Javascript and in Ruby and in Python and in SQL. Tomorrow, more of the same. Life is good.

  • San Francisco 49er

  • What's a screenwriting workshop doing in the middle of a Vegas casino?

  • It's my fault, sorry. I was just thinking Halloween needed an authentic scare, and then the Mets came within one game of losing the World Series.

  • “Fun Size” candies: what are we supposed to think about the other sizes? [Best response: “Regret size.”]

  • I've been a happy customer of dbrand's quality phone- and tablet skins for a few years. When I got my new Nexus 5X recently I promptly ordered a new set of skins from them. When they didn't arrive after a few weeks I contacted them and got back a remarkably contrite reply explaining that their shipping volume has begun to exceed the capacity of their present vendor and they're looking for new solutions; and in the meantime they shipped me a replacement set of skins AND refunded my money AND gave me a store credit AND included some extras in the replacement shipment they sent. I replied thanking them and telling them they went far beyond my expectations for good customer service, and that the only way for me to balance the scales was to worsen their shipping-volume problems by urging my friends and family to buy their fine products. So here we are: go buy dbrand's fine products!

  • What more natural, when hearing about a horrifying shooting rampage, than to imagine oneself as a potential victim?

    Having imagined that, what more natural than to imagine being able to defend oneself with one's own firearm, if it came to that?

    Somewhat less natural, apparently, is to imagine the other potential victims around you, having imagined the same things, terrified, confused, pulling out their own firearms, and looking for the threat they have to neutralize.

    You're standing there brandishing a gun. Imagine that.

  • For decades the fans have been saying we could do Star Wars better than George Lucas if only one of us got control of it.

    Well, one of us did, and WE WERE RIGHT.

  • Life tip: “hurry up!” makes people go slower; “please take your time” makes them go faster.

  • Discussing the mysterious bad smell in my car:

    Andrea: It smells like stinky cheese.
    Me: Cheese? Really?
    Andrea: Well, something's definitely… fromaging.

Kill Ralphie! saved!

[Cross-posted at kill-ralphie.blogspot.com/2015/06/kill-ralphie-saved.html.]

In the 1980’s, students and faculty at Carnegie Mellon University were on the Internet, but there was no World Wide Web yet – no browsers, no websites, no Google, Facebook, or YouTube; in fact, no video and almost no graphics, just text. But there still existed social communities online, organized into discussion forums on numerous topics. Usenet was the biggest of these. Carnegie Mellon had its own internal collection of discussion forums called bboards.

One bboard was called “Kill Ralphie!” When someone posted to Kill Ralphie, they were contributing a chapter to an ongoing story about a hapless lad who is alternately placed in immediate mortal danger, then rescued, both in the most creative and entertaining ways possible. I was an enthusiastic participant back then, along with many others at CMU. Writing for an audience of fellow contributors was a formative experience for me that improved my prose and humor skills from “immature” to “slightly less immature.”

Well, guess what? Kill Ralphie! lives again! I’ve taken that old pastime and turned it into a fun new website. Please check it out, contribute chapters, and enjoy: kill-ralphie.com.

2014: rYeEviARew

“Year” in “review,” get it? Some of my social media utterances for the past year.

(Previously: 1, 2, 3, 4.)

  • Growing Up Unvaccinated
    Vaccine deniers endanger themselves, their children, and (what not enough people seem to understand) ME and MY CHILDREN too.
  • I just upgraded from Fedora 19 to Fedora 20. Notably absent: teeth-gnashing; hair-pulling; garment-rending; hot salty tears of frustration. It Just Worked. I… I don’t understand.
  • Jonah, just before falling asleep at the end of New Year’s Day: “It’s 2014. One more year until hovercars.”
  • Climate-change denial. Vaccine denial. Evolution denial. I suspect a healthy suspicion of authority is behind all of them, but if so, it’s misguided, because science is anti-authoritarian. That is to say, you don’t have to take anyone’s word for it when it comes to scientific claims; you can in principle test them for yourself. I don’t think people understand this well enough. Then again, there’s an awful lot unsaid in that “in principle.”
  • Is Wolf of Wall Street Really the Sweariest Movie of All Time? A Slate Investigation.
    Scorsese strikes again. (Previously: http://www.geebobg.com/2010/09/15/wtf/)
  • There is a stereotype in WWII movies (including documentaries) of the pugnacious but lovable Italian guy from Brooklyn fighting alongside his other American GI buddies. This at a time that German-Americans and Japanese-Americans were being interned or expelled or regarded by other Americans with everything from suspicion to outright hatred. Why? After all, Italy was part of the Axis too.
  • We are Huxleying ourselves into the full Orwell
    Cory Doctorow is not your usual hair-trigger alarmist.
  • Your thought for today: You can’t spell Russia without U-S-A. You can’t spell United States of America without R-U-S-S-I-A. That is all.
  • Pancake mix: not delicious. Add water: not delicious. Drive water back out (by heating on a griddle): delicious. Can’t explain that.
  • Lisa: This show is the biggest farce I ever saw!
    Bart: What about the Emmys?
    Lisa: I stand corrected.
  • My kids refuse to watch Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day because, in their words, “It’s boring: it’s just the same thing happening again and again.” Where did I go wrong?
  • A Nobel prize! A piece of string! You know what’s awesome? Everything!
  • Wow, splendid days!
  • Andrea, on the box of chocolates she bought me yesterday: “I almost didn’t get them. They said “dark hearts.” That’s not positive!”
  • In Arizona’s defense, it’s where we saw our first and only gay rodeo.
  • I remember a lot of predictions about the future of computing from when I was younger. Some far-out ones have come true, and some obvious ones haven’t. But no one predicted that in 2014 we would call our computers “phones.”
  • According to a New Study, Nothing Can Change an Anti-Vaxxer’s Mind
    Sigh. If there ever really was an Age of Reason, it’s surely over now.
  • The Adele Dazeem Name Generator
    Awesome. My Travolta name is Brian Grizeen.
  • Pepsi YouTube preroll ad made entirely of movie quotes, you had me at hello. http://youtu.be/OCXr7ECpGQg
  • One terabyte for sixty-nine bucks. Unbelievable.
  • Grave Science
    Heard this NPR story recently and was amazed at the importance people place on the remains of their loved ones. For the record: when I’m gone, the one and only thing I care about how my remains are handled is that they present the absolute minimum of expense, inconvenience, and distress to the living.
  • How do young couples today cope with new marriage, parenthood, and job stress without having had “thirtysomething” to guide them?
  • Spring has sprung, the boid is on the wing!
    Don’t be absoid. The wing is on the boid!
    (h/t Chuck Menahem Kanafi)
  • Speaking of thirtysomething, I’ve been rewatching it on Amazon Instant Video. Like all TV shows from 1987, it was originally presented in 4:3 format, and supposedly the DVD release was in that format too. So how is Amazon Instant Video managing to show it in 16:9? The picture isn’t stretched, and nothing is obviously missing from the top or bottom of the frame.
  • I fretted for a long time about how I’d know when it was time to let the kids roam more widely, unsupervised. But as with all parenting things, when the time was right it was self-evident.
  • Scarlett Johansson is OK I guess, but I don’t think she’s as super-h4wt as everyone else seems to think. Do I have to surrender my guy credentials?
  • If you’ve ever wondered “What is the right number of Ritz crackers?” I’m happy to be able to tell you the answer is 7.
  • Happy 10th birthday to Amazing Awesome Astonishing Archer.
    (Photo: E. 59th Street, NYC, August 2006.)
  • Time is a lot older than tide.
  • Five minutes into the Laserium revival playing at the Chabot Space & Science Center, I was thinking, “Chalk up another mind-blowing thing from the 70’s that didn’t age well.” Fifteen minutes into it I was all like: whoa.
  • Each morning I start in my driveway at home and have to make it to my desk at work. When I think about all the possible places there are to end up, getting to my desk should be like finding a needle in a haystack, but I never fail. Also, millions of others _don’t_ end up at my desk. What a display of intention! I’m often amazed by how casually we all repeat accomplishments like these. Who’s with me?
  • I love these kinds of comparisons: the original Star Wars came out closer in time to the bombing of Pearl Harbor than to the present day. Do you have any good ones like this?
  • To everyone forwarding me the link about the Star Wars casting news that was burning up the Internet yesterday: thanks for thinking of me, but it’s a little like telling a woman, “Your abusive ex-husband is out on parole and has been seen with his old drinking buddies.”
  • Back in sixth grade, when I left too much work for the last minute, which was often, I would have a frustration-and-despair meltdown when confronted by how much I had still to do and how little time. Bit by agonizing bit I would finish my work and end up with something crappy, reflecting my mood.
    When Jonah leaves too much work for the last minute, which is seldom, he buckles down and gets that shit done, producing a result of his usual high caliber. Proud of that guy.
  • Bike to work day: not so challenging when you’re working from home.
  • Seven years is a long time to miss your mom, especially when her grandkids (and once in a while, her son) keep achieving things that she would have loved hearing about. She would also have loved Facebook and YouTube and Candy Crush. She would have loved the hunky star of “Arrow.”
    And that seven years is only going to get longer and longer. Sucks.
  • [Mother’s Day.]
    Andrea Glickstein:
    Two great kids = one great mom
    Thanks for parenting with aplomb
    As a mom, you’re the bomb
  • Godzilla is this year’s Prometheus: a movie on which inadequacy in the film criticism industry failed to prevent me wasting my time.
  • I am a grown man. This was my dinner tonight. I leave it to you to decide whether a contradiction exists.
  • I’m that middle-aged man who finds that a little whisky and soda helps him unwind after a difficult day at work. How did that happen?
  • I’m a mathematician, and the fact that hot dogs are sold in packages of seven and hot dog buns are sold in packages of eight makes me want to buy 56 of each at a time.
  • Looking at myself in the lavatory mirror, I can report that any long flight is a red-eye.
  • This morning my kids reaffirmed what a great dad they think I am. But how could I ever have been without the example of Eddie Glickstein? He taught me everything I know… but he didn’t teach me everything he knows. Thanks Pop, and happy Father’s Day!
  • My rule of thumb is to avoid posting on Facebook unless I believe I have something reasonably original and/or amusing and/or interesting and/or important to contribute. (You can decide for yourself whether I generally succeed.)
    This is not to pass judgment on those who use other guidelines for what to post. On the contrary, recently I read the following (at http://www.theguardian.com/news/oliver-burkeman-s-blog/2014/may/21/everyone-is-totally-just-winging-it):
    “[O]ne of the biggest causes of misery is the way we chronically “compare our insides with other people’s outsides.” We’re all […] projecting an image of calm proficiency, while inside we’re improvising in a mad panic. Yet we forget (especially in an era of carefully curated Facebook profiles and suchlike) that everyone else is doing the same thing”
    …and it occurred to me that, without meaning to, I might be projecting just such an image.
    I think I’ve outgrown my own tendency to compare my insides to other people’s outsides, but I can remember how crummy it felt. This post is to assure you that the “outside” you see here omits an awful lot of stuff from my life that is neither calm nor proficient nor original nor amusing nor interesting nor important.
  • I spend a lot of time commuting, and a lot of that time listening to podcasts. I have my podcast player set to play audio at 1.5x normal speed. Increasingly I find normal speaking speed to be unbearably slow.
  • Thanks to having a best friend in high school with a mom named Merry, when I got to college and read Lord of the Rings (none too carefully, apparently) I got pretty far into the story believing that Pippin and Merry were a quarreling husband-and-wife team until my eye finally caught an unexpected pronoun and my brain said “Wait, what?”
  • The distance between San Francisco and New York is nothing compared to the distance between what San Franciscans consider to be the very finest local Italian bread and the vastly superior stuff in New York that is so commonplace New Yorkers seldom even give it a thought.
  • We taught our dog Pepper the proper way to ask when she needs to go outside to relieve herself. But she asks far more often than she actually needs to go, so we have a hard time knowing when it’s for real. She’s the wolf who cried wolf.
  • They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Coulton, and Radiolab’s Jad and Robert all on the same installment of NPR’s Ask Me Another. Nerd pleasure overload!!
  • Blueprint for Armageddon part 1
    On this, the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, do yourself a favor and listen to (at least) the first installment of Dan Carlin’s series of podcasts on World War I. Learn how the modern world was born in blood and fire and a cascade of outrageous events.
  • [For my niece’s 21st birthday.]
    Yo! Yo! McKenna!
    You’re one-and-ten-and-ten-ah!
    I knew you way back when-ah!
    Come visit us again-ah!
    McKenna! Yo! Yo!
    Today’s your birthday-o!
    You can drink some alcoho’
    Which you couldn’t do befo’!
  • Driving through Lassen Volcanic National Park on July 4th, the car filled with the scent of millions of conifers.
    Archer: My second-favorite smell.
    Me: What’s your first?
    Archer: Justice.
  • Saturday morning: drinking coffee, waiting for the rest of the family to be ready for an outing to the Sundial Bridge in Redding. I start reading The Circle, by Dave Eggers. On page one, describing the campus of a Google-like company, he mentions a “Calatrava fountain.” What’s that? I wonder, but I have no data connectivity so can’t look it up. A short time later we’re at the Sundial Bridge. Its designer: Santiago Calatrava.
  • If your goal is to catch up on watching the best movies and TV of the past few years, your evenings are going to be Matthew McConaugheavy.
  • [For my sister-in-law’s birthday.]
    D is for disestablishmentarianism! E is for establishmentarianism! N is for noncontemporaneousness! I is for interdenominationalism! S is for stereophotomicrography! E is for establishmentarianism, I already told you, weren’t you paying attention? What’s that spell? DENISE! What’s that spell? DENISE! What’s that spell? DENISE! Yaaayyy!
  • Saw Edge of Tomorrow yesterday and really liked it. But I am so fond of Groundhog Day that part of me resents Edge of Tomorrow for co-opting its premise and structure so successfully. (It’s redeemed in part by naming its female lead “Rita,” acknowledging the debt it owes to its predecessor.)
  • I defy anyone who parrots the conventional wisdom that The Godfather Part II and The Empire Strikes Back are better than their respective predecessors to lay out their reasons why in as clear a fashion as I have explained why they are not.
    http://www.geebobg.com/2006/12/22/a-movie-you-dont-like-as-much-as-you-think-you-do/
    http://www.geebobg.com/2007/05/03/the-exegesis-strikes-back/
  • One quibble about the otherwise excellent True Detective: in a scene set in 2002, Woody Harrelson enters what looks like a modern T-Mobile store to buy a flip phone. It has a built-in camera, and trading phone pics with another character becomes a plot point. This is all anachronistic. In 2002 T-Mobile was a newly launched brand in the U.S. (it had been Voicestream) and its stores looked very different; among other things, Catherine Zeta-Jones’ face was everywhere. Cameras in cell phones was not yet a thing. For the few who did have cell phone cameras, exchanging photos by MMS barely worked. And even if it had occurred to anyone to look through the pics on someone’s phone, which it wouldn’t have, any casual user would have had a hard time figuring out how.
  • Just woke up from a dream that I was trying to adjust the aspect ratio of the picture on my TV. In the on-screen menu, all the menu options said things like, “Shocking! This setting’s value revealed.”
  • The Internet has everything. This was probably the first record I ever owned. http://youtu.be/9b6M1LqQVjg
  • Andrea: “Jonah is a self-proclaimed laid-back guy.”
    Jonah: “I never said self-proclaimed!”
  • Had a dream about S.W.A.T. In the dream I thought S.W.A.T. stood for “strategic weapons assault team.” (It doesn’t.) I was going around trying to point out the semantic difference between “strategic” and “tactical,” but they weren’t willing to change their acronym.
  • The Cluss Test
    6 out of 8! 3x better than random. How good are you at taking tests on subjects you know nothing about?
  • 21 Jump Street: aggressively offensive and unfunny, or am I just getting old?
  • Some people have never driven away from the gas pump with the nozzle still stuck in their car. Some people have. Guess which group I joined today?
  • PAPERWORK BATTLE!
    BUYING A HOUSE
    -VERSUS-
    FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
    FIGHT!!!
  • Just saw a guy walking down the road with an actual bindle over his shoulder.
  • My sleeping brain made a joke that it took my waking brain some time to “get.”
    I dreamed I was using a fitness app called Wheat. Remembered after waking up that, in the dream, it was a stripped-down version of another app called Toast.
  • At a suggestion from Terry Gross I am re-reading The Great Gatsby and (as promised) finding it infinitely more interesting and enjoyable than I did in tenth grade, or whenever it was, when I didn’t know… anything, really, including how to read literature.
    For instance, back then I could never have understood Fitzgerald’s intention with the seemingly throwaway line about the elevator lever near the end of chapter two. http://goo.gl/N5Rl68
  • I moved to California in April 1992. Each morning I looked at the cloudy sky and wondered whether it would rain. For months it never did. The clouds burned off by 10 or 11am and the day was always sunny and gorgeous. I never failed to appreciate that, but I was missing having some variety in the weather. Paradise gets monotonous. Finally, one day in September the rain came, just like today. I was at work, in a meeting, and saw it through the window. I shouted, “Rain!” and left the meeting at once, running outside to do a giddy dance and get drenched.
  • 25 years this week that I quit a pack-a-day smoking habit. Still miss it.
  • The phrase “in one’s wheelhouse” seems to be having a moment. It’s suddenly everywhere. With luck, this will push aside all the recent abuse of the word “iconic.”
    • [In response to a comment about the popularity of the word “curating.”] There’s a small chance I’m personally responsible for the currency of “curating.” When I joined YouTube in 2008 I pitched some feature ideas to support and reward curators of good videos — those who find and share the best content on the site. That word was not in use at YouTube at the time. It was my new coinage in the context of online social media. Before long “Creators and Curators” was the name of a whole department, and people talked about video curation all the time.
      I can’t be sure the rise of the word “curating” at YouTube is due to me, let alone in the wider culture, but I can’t rule it out either…
  • Any coffee machine failure that creates a mess of coffee grounds on your kitchen counter rather than a potful of coffee ironically, and unavoidably, comes at the worst possible time: namely, when you’re needing a cup of coffee.
  • [The SF Giants won the World Series.]
    Joy in Mudville!
  • How is “trust but verify” any different than “don’t trust”?
  • [After the 2014 election.]
    My poor benighted countrymen.
    http://youtu.be/kWdfRRtAs3o?t=1s
  • Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
    Star Wars VIII: The Force Eats a Balanced Breakfast
    Star Wars IX: The Force Is Late for the Bus
    (Rise and shine, Forcey!)
  • HBO Will Make Asimov’s Foundation With Interstellar’s Jonathan Nolan
    Two things:
    1. OMG! OMG! OMG!
    2. Please don’t suck. Please don’t suck. Please don’t suck.
  • I wasn’t having a great week. BUT THEN HUMANS LANDED ON A COMET.
  • Here is a list of ways I would rather have spent the past 26 years than with Andrea Glickstein:
  • I don’t believe in magic
    I don’t believe in I-ching
    I don’t believe in Bible
    I don’t believe in Tarot
    I don’t believe in Hitler
    I don’t believe in Jesus
    I don’t believe in Kennedy
    I don’t believe in Buddha
    I don’t believe in Mantra
    I don’t believe in Gita
    I don’t believe in Yoga
    I don’t believe in Kings
    I don’t believe in Elvis
    I don’t believe in Zimmerman
    I don’t believe in Beatles
    I don’t believe in Cosby
    (In case the reference is too obscure: http://youtu.be/nZ5PQppudHc?t=1m.)
  • Nothing like coming home after being away for a few days to realize how much your house smells like dog.
  • My anniversary gift from Andrea: the same Casio calculator watch that she remembers me wearing in 1988 when we first met! Some things never change… and then some things, like my ability to make out the button labels and display elements of this watch, do.
  • Archer is a picky eater and doesn’t give me many options for his school lunches. He does like roast beef sandwiches… but only if the roast beef is warm. What’s a source of heat safe enough for warming up roast beef at an elementary school? Our solution: a few chemical hand-warmers.
  • Hi Mom, on what would have been your 52nd 29th birthday!
    We’ll be observing your day by engaging in your favorite activity: swimming!
  • So, we went swimming the night of my mom’s birthday. It was too cold for swimming, really, so we were in the pool for only a short time. But somehow it was just the right time to see a shooting star pass directly overhead — the brightest one I’ve ever seen, so bright it lit up our surroundings, making us look up to see it. As we watched, it burst apart into a shower of glowing fragments just like fireworks.
    Mom approves of our commemorative swimming tradition.
  • Schrödinger’s pressure test.

    Both sent to the same address on the same day. One says our gas line was tested and is fine. One says our gas line was tested, leaked, and needed repair.
  • Jonah has been catching up on the Burton/Schumacher Batman movies of the 80’s and 90’s. What a laughably cringeworthy, calamitous mess they are.
  • My poor family. I just discovered a trove of high-quality karaoke tracks on Google Play Music.
  • From the depths of my food coma I still have enough presence of mind to extend endless thanks to the amazing Suzanne Glickstein for coming to visit and single-handedly preparing for us a large and very belated traditional Thanksgiving feast. It, and she, were worth the wait.
  • When the furnace in your house hasn’t worked for the past two days, and they’ve been the two coldest days of the year, and the indoor temperature has dropped to 52F, wearing layers can keep you perfectly comfortable… except when it comes to the toilet seat. Yow.

Shmegley McSchmoop

A children’s classic in the making. Just needs an illustrator.

“Shmegley McSchmoop, please bring me some soup!”
Cried the customer to the headwaiter.
“I need something hot, so what have you got?
We can talk about main courses later.”

“Today, sir, the soup is just cold gloppy goop,”
Said Shmegley McSchmoop with some sorrow.
“But the chef says that we will be serving split-pea
If you come back at this time tomorrow.”

2013: Cleverness in review

If you don’t slavishly follow my every utterance on social media you might have missed some of these during the past year. (Now you’ll know what you need to do in the year to come.)

(Previously: 1, 2, 3.)

  • The power of Downton Abbey: five minutes into the first episode of the first season, I, an avowed coffee drinker, hit pause and went to brew myself a cup of tea.
  • George W. Bush
    Nude self-portrait in shower
    Please, not Cheney next
    #newshaiku
  • [On the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI] Too pooped to Pope.
  • My Uncle Al died today. I and many others will miss him. As sad as that is, it’s not nearly as sad as it is awesome that he lived. Funny, friendly, a mensch. He knew that the best kind of success is a large and loving family. If I have half the success he had in that department I’ll count myself lucky. If only all that love didn’t have to turn to sorrow now.
  • Do you think that, when a dog sees someone they love coming closer, they’re all like, “OK, be cool,” but always forget about their tail totally giving them away?
  • All this speculation in the trade press about the iWatch and similar devices, and not one mention of Dick Tracy. Am I too old, or are the reporters too young?
  • Three words that I wish had different meanings so I could use them more: eleemosynary; chupacabra; speculum.
  • Everyone’s giving Obama a hard time for his “Jedi Mind Meld” comment, as if he doesn’t know the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars. In fact he’s one step ahead of everyone else, having heard that Star Trek director JJ Abrams will next be directing Star Wars. They just didn’t get the joke.
  • Four episodes in on Homeland, one of the vaunted “best shows on TV.” Not one thing that has happened has been surprising or interesting. Nothing rings true. There’s a lot of gratuitous fans-expect-it-because-it’s-cable swearing and screwing. And not only do I not care about any of the characters, I think I actively dislike all of them. Maybe that’s the whole point, but I don’t care – I give up.
  • [After “springing forward.”] Attention daylight savings time whiners: you were happy enough getting that extra hour last fall. That doesn’t come for free, you know.
  • Gave Andrea a bouquet of eight roses this morning, and a card with this poem: “Long ago / In ’88 / We went on / A datey-date / Each day since then’s / Been greaty-great / All eight thousand eight hundred / Eighty-eight!”
  • I know this is probably obvious, but it’s still striking: walking around the offices of YouTube, you hear the word “video” an awful lot.
  • [Neither half of this rhyme is actually true, as far as I know, but it popped into my head anyway and I had to share it.]

    Kids in France
    They drink wine
    Moms and dads there
    Think it’s fine

    Give some wine
    To your kid here:
    Consequences
    Are severe

  • Calling him a film critic is selling him short. Goodbye Ebert. “I think I’ll miss you most of all.”
  • I told the kids, “You’re my Project Tomorrow.” Archer said, “I thought we were your Project A Few Years Ago.”
  • I am thrilled by the trend of progressive political victories in such areas as gay rights and easing marijuana prohibition. But, not to detract from those hard-fought battles, I have to say they feel to me like chipping away at the edges. There are big systemic problems in America needing progressive solutions, like the broken system of incentives in Washington, or the power imbalance between citizens and corporations. Next to that the right to smoke a joint is bread and circuses. Can we focus some progressive power on the big problems?
  • This week I got terms-of-service update notices from Netflix and from AT&T, both emphasizing new mandatory-arbitration clauses, forcing me to choose between their services and having access to my country’s legal system. This needs to be made illegal.
  • I think the time is right for a Spider-Man re-reboot.
  • Major TV hosts of the 50’s: Milton Berle; Sid Caesar; George Burns; Groucho Marx. All Jewish. Major TV hosts since then: Steve Allen; Johnny Carson; Merv Griffin; David Letterman. Not Jewish. Discuss.
  • The paradox of politeness: when someone’s assisting you with something, and you tell them “take all the time you need,” they’ll go faster for you.
  • Wore a polo shirt the other day, first time in many years. Jonah said, “Dad, you’re buff!!” In the next instant he lifted up the front of my shirt and took a look. “Oh, never mind.”
  • It bothers me that movie _trailers_ get hyped-up premieres.
  • [Capsule summary of Man of Steel.] It’s a wonder there’s any of Metropolis left after all the kablooey.
  • The first thing I ever saw James Gandolfini in was Crimson Tide. He played a character named Bobby Dougherty. I’m Bobby, and Andrea’s name at the time was Dougherty. That must mean something…
  • Vintage cereal packaging works on me every single time.
  • I hate that I’m more squeamish about letting my kids see the edifying and charming Shakespeare In Love, with its couple of scenes of simulated intercourse, than I have been about letting them see any number of movies full of simulated murder and mayhem. It’s the opposite of the kind of parent I said I’d be like.
  • The scene in Man of Steel where Russell Crowe is around every corner showing Amy Adams the way to go: Was I the only one who thought of Jiminy Cricket in the Pinocchio ride at Disneyland?
  • I don’t get why “is climate change man-made?” is a central part of the public conversation about climate policy. If damaging climate change is happening, shouldn’t we act regardless of why it’s happening? If a big asteroid were on a collision course with Earth, would we argue about whether humans put it on that collision course before deciding what to do about it?
  • [California’s Proposition 8 is overturned.] Oh no, my traditional marriage is now under threat!
  • New coinage from Archer: Drinking coffee gives you “coffeedence.”
  • Secret laws aren’t laws.
  • [On the 4th of July.] Happy 237th anniversary of a major progressive political victory!
  • I thought World War Z was scary and exciting (and very much better than the overrated novel, which the filmmakers wisely jettisoned), but it suffered the same flaw as all zombie movies that aim for realism: a failure to reconcile the claim that the zombies are “dead” with the clear evidence that they’re not. They have voluntary (if coarse) muscular control; they can see and hear; they make respiratory sounds. In WWZ a scientist character says the zombies, being dead, have no functioning circulatory system. It takes only the merest understanding of biology to know this would make metabolism, and therefore locomotion, sensation, etc., impossible. Biology aside, thermodynamics demands that ambulating corpses should deplete, dehydrate, and literally fall to pieces with a few days at most. So in a real zombie apocalypse, if you can stay safely holed up for a week you should be fine.
  • Took the boys to Kirk Lombard’s Coastal Fishing and Foraging walking tour in San Francisco yesterday. Got hands-on practice snaring and handling crabs, casting Hawaiian nets for herring and other small fish, using a poke pole to catch monkeyface eels, and more, all while learning amazing facts and hearing amazing stories about fishing in and around the Bay, told in entertaining style. Highly recommended!
  • Was mildly appalled the other day to hear the kids singing Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, until I learned that the lyrics _aren’t_ “I’m up all night to get stoned, she’s up all night to get boned.”
  • So glad we poured decades’ worth of national talent and treasure into defeating our secretive, authoritarian, and belligerent adversary in the Cold War.
  • Bob’s gall bladder 1966 – 2013 RIP
  • I was in the hospital for two days. During that time they barely allowed me to eat or drink anything. When I came home I was minus an organ. So how exactly did I manage to _gain_ weight?
  • [After more than two decades in Northern California.] I miss summer rain.
  • At SF airport. A big group of teen girls just greeted an arriving teen girl with unrestrained shrieks and squeals. You know the sound I mean. I’m curious: what’s the anthropological explanation for those outbursts?
  • To understand spacetime, wrap your mind around this: the Big Bang happened in this very spot 13.8 billion years ago, and it’s also happening right now 13.8 billion light-years away in every direction.
  • Don’t know how Jonah went 11 years without hearing the expression “the boob tube,” but he heard it from me today and is endlessly amused. Although I assured him it had nothing to do with the kind of boob he’s thinking of, he’s now riffing on the idea of tubes full of them.
  • If I had run for president in 2008, I would have campaigned on restoring Constitutional checks and balances, improving governmental transparency and accountability, and rejecting unilateral military action – just like Obama did. If I had won, would I have kept those pledges, or is there something about the presidency that unavoidably subverts such intentions?
  • I find the label “geek” offensive, but I don’t mind being called a “nerd.”
  • If I ever develop the art form of folding paper into pornographic shapes, I’m calling it Origasmi.
  • My Yom Kippur character: Atoney the Tiger. His product is Fasting Flakes, so terrible that it’s easy not to eat them. “They’re GRRRRR-oss!”
  • The job title obstetrician-gynecologist is nine syllables long, which is a mouthful, so we abbreviate it to OB-GYN. But when we say OB-GYN out loud, we pronounce each letter, for a total of five syllables. We could just say the two syllables “ob” and “gyn,” but we don’t. It’s things like this that just drive me crazy.
  • Semavore, n.: an eater of messages.
  • Belatedly realizing I’ve liked Anna Kendrick in everything I’ve seen her in.
  • Dear GOP, The way it works is, if a law you don’t like passes, you write another law repealing it and try to pass that. What you don’t do is shut down MY government and wreck MY country’s credit. Hope this helps, – Bob
  • You know how a song sometimes gets stuck in your head? Right now I can’t stop hearing the sound of NPR reporter Mandalit Del Barco saying her name as she ends a report and signs off.
  • A greater proportion than ever before of household timekeeping devices can adjust themselves to and from Daylight Savings Time automatically. This only produces a creeping contempt for the ones that cannot.
  • Cut oranges into sections; dice each section; place in dishes. Split English muffins, place in cold toaster oven. Place Costco precooked bacon strips on paper towels on microwave-safe plate. Preheat griddle. Measure pancake mix, water, and milk into bowl. Mix. Turn on toaster oven. Spoon pancake batter onto griddle. Place forks, knives, butter, syrup, and dishes with diced orange sections on table. Flip pancakes. Microwave bacon. Place pancakes, English muffins, and bacon on plates. Place plates on table. Presto: breakfast for four boys (two Glicksteins and two sleepover guests).
  • After seeing Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 a few days ago, the kids have been on the lookout for pun-making opportunities. So when Archer and I were in the kitchen recently and we both injured ourselves trying to open a tight jar lid, and even the tight-jar-lid-opening tool could barely do the job, Archer summed it up like this: “Well, _that_ was… screwed up.”
  • “Thomas Hobbes and Charles Darwin were nice men whose names became nasty adjectives. No one wants to live in a world that is Hobbesian or Darwinian (not to mention Malthusian, Machiavellian, or Orwellian).” -Steven Pinker, _The Better Angels of Our Nature_
  • After today, Andrea Glickstein and I will never again be able to say that we’ve been sweethearts for less than a quarter of a century.
  • Enchanted. Brave. Tangled. Frozen. Wondering when the current vogue for one-word adjectives as the titles of Disney movies will end. I blame Lost (another Disney production).
  • I’ve seen The Sting any number of times; and I’m the former Quotes Editor of the IMDb, with (what I like to think of as) a special ear for movie dialog. But it took Jonah to notice, when we watched it last night, that Paul Newman uses the phrase “two, three hundred” twice to estimate a number of guys. Proud of my boy.
  • [Christmas morning.] Good morning, and merry Christmas! I am enjoying the half hour of caffeination time that I negotiated with my kids last night before the wrapping-paper carnage begins.

Kings of old

We all live like kings of old
With running water, hot and cold
By armed defenders towns patrolled
When we command it, stories told
At night, soft beds do us enfold
No need to wear a crown of gold
Or prove oneself with exploits bold
We all now live like kings of old

Wit remit

2012: the year in Facebook status updates. (Previously: 1, 2.)

  • [After a visit to New York.] If I lived in Manhattan I’d eat at Grey’s Papaya for lunch every goddamned day.
  • Is it my imagination, or did bananas used to be easier to begin peeling?
  • Who is the mad genius who first came up with chicken-fried bacon?
  • Tonight I had the opportunity to say, “I remember Husker Du.” But no one got the joke.
  • Once again I am near a drug store and can’t for the life of me remember what I’m supposed to pick up at the drugstore.
  • When I shave, the beard goes first, then the mustache. The sides of the mustache go before the middle. There’s always a moment of micropanic: “If I’m interrupted RIGHT NOW, I’ll look like Hitler.”
  • The Arby’s on El Camino in South San Francisco is straight out of a David Lynch movie.
  • When I start a band, our first album will be called, “Reboot the Franchise.”
  • Of all the songs to get stuck in my head — “Non Dimenticar”? Really?
  • If I ever open a beauty salon, I’m calling it Fiat Looks.
  • Is anyone else troubled by the fact that Anonymous is now a name?
  • Nothing against Donald Sutherland, but Robert Culp would have made a _perfect_ President Snow.
  • What are some things that have made you say, “Now I’ve seen everything”? For me, one was seeing competitive goat-pantying at the Arizona Gay Rodeo Association rodeo this past weekend. Yes: a team of two gay rodeo cowboys putting panties on a goat as fast as they can.
  • [When Rush Limbaugh called a woman a slut for wanting contraceptives covered by her health plan.] Outspoken conservative blowhard says something outrageous. Entire liberal world goes apeshit — playing right into his hand. What else is new.
    • I can just imagine Limbaugh’s latest performance review. “We haven’t had a major dust-up in a while, Rush. Come up with something quick, and it better be a good one.”
  • Here’s my problem with Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol (besides too many colons in the title). The premise is, the team’s on a mission that goes horribly wrong, so they’re “disavowed” and are then completely on their own for completing it, as if that’s a big deal. But that’s the normal state of affairs for the Impossible Mission Force. “If any of your team is caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions” means you’re ALREADY ON YOUR OWN.
  • I spent decades joking that I ought to start needing glasses any day now, like all the other people around me who spend all their time on computers. Now that I finally actually _do_ need glasses, I’m experiencing outrage every time I can’t see something clearly just by pointing my eyes at it like I’ve always done.
  • Though Geraldine played hard to get, Geraldo knew he’d woo her yet.
  • New txting shorthand: LOLMCWWU. (Laughing out loud making coworkers wonder what’s up.) Help spread it!
  • Lessons of middle age: you can eat after 9pm, or you can sleep through the night, but not both.
  • Paid for coffee and croissant at Peet’s with my phone. Magic! Japan says: welcome to the 90’s.
  • Today’s puzzle-of-the-day-calendar puzzle was an algebra word problem: some friends have to chip in for a cake, but then some back out and the remaining friends have to pay more, etc. I read it to my kids and asked, “Does either of you know how to approach this problem?” Archer didn’t miss a beat: “Sneak up on it from behind.”
  • Nowadays every night / Flashes by at the speed of light
  • I’m a muppet of a man [Followed by one of my favorite-ever status replies: “I KNEW it!”]
  • I holler, you holler, we all holler for challah bread.
  • The latest craze at home: vintage Gilligan’s Island episodes on Amazon Prime. I didn’t remember just how sweet Mary Ann was on Gilligan, or how much Ginger teased the Professor. Hot stuff!
  • The eternal paradox: the number of different keys in which a group of people sing Happy Birthday together is always greater than the number of people singing.
  • The law of conservation of behavior: When one child is in big trouble, the other one behaves himself really well.
  • Five years no mom.
  • Of course I’m thrilled that Obama came out in support of gay marriage. But if he fails to tie that support to a broader narrative about fairness and justice, he’ll be missing a real opportunity to educate a nation that wouldn’t recognize civics if it ran up and bit them on the ass.
  • Thanks Joss, that was awesome.
  • I was deeply unhappy after seeing 2010’s deplorable “Piranha 3D.” But I gotta hand it to the filmmakers, they got the sequel name right: “Piranha 3DD.”
  • A paradox: the man who knows he’s no better than anyone else, actually is.
  • Folding cardboard “gable-top” milk and juice cartons: They worked fine for generations, and were biodegradable to boot. Adding a plastic spout to them is like mounting a steering wheel on the back of a horse’s head. Yes, it works; yes, it makes one device resemble a similar but more modern one. But what problem does it solve, exactly?
  • Superficially, Moonrise Kingdom sounds a lot like 1979’s Rich Kids: 12-year-old lovers spy on/flee from clueless parents whose relationships are in shambles.
  • Every Tuesday there’s a meeting. If the president names someone at that meeting, that person dies. Tell me again why we rebelled against King George III?
  • Goodbye Ray Bradbury. Thanks for the mind-expanding dreams and nightmares both.
  • [For my nephew.] Your twenty-first birthday today! / But drinking would be so cliche / So I recommend / Surprising your friends / By having a cafe au lait
  • I keep waiting for star systems to start slipping through the fingers of the tightening grip of conservatism, and it keeps not happening.
  • “I know all about yer standards and if ye don’t mind my sayin’ so there’s not a man alive who could hope to measure up to that blend o’ Paul Bunyan, Saint Pat, and Noah Webster ye’ve concocted for yerself out o’ yer Irish imagination, yer Iowa stubbornness, and yer liberry full o’ books.”
  • Two episodes in on “The Legend of Korra” (on Amazon Instant Video). To my pleasant surprise it is shaping up to be a worthy successor to “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
  • Prometheus: among the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I don’t get that many date nights with the wife. Why was I not duly and unambiguously warned? Film critique profession, you have failed me.
  • [For my niece.] Birthday limerick! “There once was a girl named Mckenna / Who wanted to visit Vienna / The airfare was high / So rather than fly / She sent herself there by antenna.” Happy birthday Mckenna!
  • A couple of days ago, Andrea did something out of character for her: she started humming a TV theme song. It was the theme from The Andy Griffith Show. Today Andy Griffith died. For $50,000 she will hum another TV theme song of your choice.
  • Saw Rocky again last night, first time in forever. No wonder it launched Stallone into stardom. Considering what followed, it’s a surprisingly sincere, authentic, big-hearted character drama. Everything’s fresh, nothing’s cliche (yet). The best friend is actually a jerk. The slimy loan shark is actually sympathetic. The wise old trainer is actually just an embittered opportunist. Even the training montage isn’t just a training montage — it was THE ORIGINAL training montage, included because it helped show character development, not depict mere training like all the training montages that have come since (including in Rocky sequels).
  • Goodbye to Donald Sobol, the man who taught me that opposite faces on a standard die always add up to 7 (and who figured out how to hang a mystery on that fact).
  • This must be a milestone of some sort: while Jonah was drinking a glass of milk yesterday, Archer got him to spit it onto the table with the well-timed display of his cartoon drawing “lady with big naked boobs.”
  • All those damn seeds in my teeth. How does anyone like raspberries?
  • [After the movie-theater shooting spree in Colorado.] One of the great sorrows of life is having to learn how to live in a world where events like the Aurora shooting not only can happen, but do with some regularity.
  • No one is allowed to make movie sequels ever, except for James Cameron and Christopher Nolan.
  • [More about Aurora.] I have a GREAT idea. Every now and then, when a handful of our young people are senselessly murdered and maimed, let’s give the killer all the notoriety he was seeking, let’s utter the same platitudes and rote expressions of grief as the last time, and let’s change nothing at all. Because America’s perfect just as it is!
  • How many lovely afternoon naps have been ruined by a telemarketer or a wrong number? And yet do I ever silence the ringer? No, of course not, because that would mean I was actually thinking.
    • It’s too much to hope that if I’m thinking enough to silence the ringer before my next afternoon nap, I will also be thinking enough to turn it back on when I wake up.
  • Thanks Suzanne Glickstein, you were right: Safety Not Guaranteed was a great movie.
  • Oh my God does “Weird Al” Yankovic put on a good show.
  • Archer just performed as Don John in Act I, Scene 3 of Much Ado About Nothing at the conclusion of three weeks of Shakespeare camp. He was amazing.
  • The word “iconic” is hereby off limits. You all just can’t be trusted with it.
  • [After watching the season 5 episode, “Dead Freight.”] The writers of Breaking Bad are twisted and brilliant.
  • Have seen all three of the Marin Shakespeare Company’s productions for this season (kids too!) and have loved them so much we’re about to see one of them again.
  • “There _is_ no William Windom.” “DON’T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT? THERE WAS, BUT NOT ANYMORE!”
  • In. Stop. Park. Walk. Yield. Enter. Exit. One way. Jane Street. Jones Street. Park Avenue. No right turn. No left turn. What can he do? Gas. Car wash. Subway. Don’t walk. No parking. Tow-away zone. Uptown. Downtown. First Avenue. Home sweet home!
  • Recently I was craving a bottle of beer, only the phrase that kept popping into my head was the old-timey expression, “I could murder a bottle of beer.” What’s up with that?
  • If I ever open a pho restaurant, I’m going to call it Pho-nom-e-nom.
  • [After reading the Vanity Fair article about the stunning craziness surrounding Tom Cruise and his marriages.] Just imagine all the stories about Scientology that don’t leak.
  • “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips.
  • One great thing about the vastness of space: years and years of “Voyager nearing the edge of the solar system” articles, and all of them are right.
  • Huh. Varicose veins. Getting older is awesome. [Andrea later informed me they’re merely spider veins.]
  • Since hearing the news about Neil Armstrong I have had an irresistible craving for Tang.
  • [On 9/11/2012.]A detail I remember from 9/11/2001: a majority (or so it seemed) of the eyewitnesses lacked any language for describing the sight of the catastrophe other than variations of, “It was just like a movie.”
  • [For my friend Joelle.] I wanted to write something clever for your birthday but couldn’t think of anything. J’oh well.
  • The BBC’s “Sherlock,” apart from being excellent in itself, really rewards viewers who are familiar with the original canon.
  • Even an outlandish premise can make for a good movie, if the internal logic is coherent and the other elements add up; and I’m a willing suspender of disbelief. Afterward, if the movie was crap, I will gladly blame its stupid premise if it’s warranted; but it’s the rare film whose premise I can’t grant up front. So help me, I just cannot make myself pretend to believe in cars and trucks that turn into giant battling anthropomorphic robots. [Followed by another great status reply: “But they turn into giant robots that fight! Did you not get that?”]
  • Which one of us is the one we can’t trust? You say “I think it’s you,” but I don’t agree with that.
  • Earlier, someone asked me if today’s date was the fourth of October. In confirming that it was, I failed to answer, “10-4.” #regret
  • The International terminal at San Francisco Airport has six main entrances. They are prominently labeled “DOOR 01” through “DOOR 06.” What exactly are the leading zeroes accomplishing there?
  • Guys: When you get a Facebook friend request from a hot-looking woman you don’t know, whose Friends List is all men, and you accept it, be aware that the Friends List is really a gallery of pathetic losers, and now you’re on it too.
  • In 1988, I was annoyed that the movie “Beetlejuice” used dumbed-down spelling in its title because audiences would have had no idea how to pronounce Betelgeuse. Now I work for “Google.”
  • [On my birthday.] So this is 46. I have GOT to learn to stop asking my knees to do things they haven’t been capable of for years.
  • [Also on my birthday: the Giants won the pennant.] What a nice birthday gift the Giants just gave to me, personally!
  • Everyone who knows comedy agrees that Bob Newhart was a groundbreaking comic genius. That may be true, and I have my own fond memories of being entertained by him, but don’t make the mistake I made, of putting those memories to the test by watching a 1972 episode of The Bob Newhart Show. Unwatchable with 2012 eyes.
  • My most vivid fantasy is to spend a weekend with a reincarnated scientific luminary from the past, bringing him up to date on advances in science and technology that he’s missed. Does that make me weird?
  • With John Michael Higgins’ performance in Pitch Perfect, this generation has finally found its Fred Willard.
  • [Birthday limerick for my friend Greg.] “About a fine fellow named Greg / Folks said he’s a pretty good egg / There most men would end / But women append: / I wish he would show some more leg.”
  • [Hurricane Sandy struck while my sister Suzanne was visiting from NY.] It’s Suzanne’s birthday, and if you ever doubted how awesome my sister is, I direct your attention to the tantrum that New York is throwing due to her absence for a mere day. Other people leave the city now and then, and they don’t shut down the subway!
  • [On Suzanne’s birthday.] The Giants won the pennant for my birthday. They won the World Series for Suzanne Glickstein’s birthday. Happy birthday, sis!
  • [After Disney acquired LucasArts.] OK Disney, this is your big chance to get on the fans’ good side. GREEDO DID NOT SHOOT FIRST. Make it right. The power is yours.
  • Stupid Subway. I asked for a 6″ Cold Cut Combo with mustard, mayo, and lettuce, not a 6″ Cold Cut Combo with mustard, mayo, lettuce, and bacteria.
  • [In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.] In nine months there are going to be so many babies.
  • [Election day.] Think of that big idiot you know, the one with the deplorable politics. The responsibility for canceling out that dummy’s misguided vote — by casting your own tomorrow — is yours and yours alone. Everyone else has their own idiot to cancel.
  • [The next day.] It’s almost like the whole campaign never happened. (*checks shower for Patrick Duffy*)
  • [Hostess bankruptcy.] Be honest. How many Twinkies have you bought lately? It’s all your fault.
  • [Almost identical to a sentiment posted earlier in the year. I must have really meant it.] Opportunities for sleeping in are so few. You’d think I’d have learned by now to unplug the phone before bed.
  • I know more than I ever cared or expected to know about Transformers — names, personalities, capabilities — and it occurred to me, this is not very different from the days I knew more than I ever cared or expected to know about Thomas the Tank Engine. Transforming trainbots battling for control of the island of Sodor — that’s something I’d pay to see.
    • Sir Tophamus Hattron: “You have caused confusion and delay. Prepare to be destroyed!”
  • That frisson of outrage when Angry Birds ends your level just as the last pig is about to fall.
  • Help me, children of the 70’s: a memory popped into my head today of a watery orange drink we used to get all the time from the school cafeteria and/or ice cream trucks. It wasn’t orange juice, it wasn’t Tang, and it wasn’t soda. It probably came in half-pint cartons. What was it? [One friend came through: It was Sun-Dew. Another replied, “I just had a total sense memory when I read the name Sun-Dew. It was not a good feeling.”]
  • I am below [symbolic weight threshold] for the first time in years. Eliminating sweets, soda, and salty snacks actually works — like, immediately. Who knew?
  • Just spent a fair chunk of my Sunday going back through the Facebook timeline of Steven Stern, curator par excellence, building a YouTube playlist out of all the videos he’s ever shared.
  • [After the shooting spree in Newtown, Connecticut.] Back-of-the-envelope calculation: if the federal government offered to purchase every privately owned firearm for its fair market value plus $1,000, and if 50% of gun owners took advantage of this offer, it would cost about 100 billion dollars, or about 11% of what we already spend on national security.
  • [More about Newtown.] Somewhere in America, right now, NRA lobbyists are hard at work, calculating how to contain the damage, keep lawmakers in line, and fan the suspicious belligerence of their base.
    • That they are in crisis mode right now is a testament to the great job they did last time around.
  • Today I am fully one month ahead-of-plan toward my weight-loss goal. I am *not* going to celebrate with a cupcake.
  • All these interview candidates with impressive CS degrees and high-powered-sounding programming jobs at big companies you’ve heard of, and barely one in twenty can code worth a damn.
    • …which is what I call “job security.”
  • Here’s what bothers me about the latest idea in pop cosmology: that we’re living inside a giant computer simulation. First, it suffers from if-the-only-tool-you-have-is-a-hammer problem: in our modern age we are inclined to see computers everywhere. But more importantly, it does nothing to answer the question, “What is the nature of reality?” I mean, if _our_ reality is in some cosmic information processing device somewhere, it only begs the question, what is the nature of the reality containing that device?
  • I’m not the same man I used to be. Time was, the line from It’s a Wonderful Life that best spoke to me was George Bailey railing against the forces keeping him in Bedford Falls: “I want to do what *I* want to do!” Now, merely contemplating watching that movie again, the thought of hearing Mary say, “Remember the night we broke the windows in this old house? This is what I wished for” causes my throat to close right up and my vision to go all watery. I blame Andrea Glickstein.
  • Pendiculating.
  • [On 12/21/2012, which we now know wasn’t the end of the world.] Eating like there is a tomorrow.
  • It is better to give than to receive. Proof: as happy as my childhood memories of Christmas are, they’re nothing compared to the feeling I get from making new happy childhood Christmas memories for my kids.

Mercy rhyme 2

Well this is turning out to be an odd specialty: writing clever poems to cheer up young women as they recover from serious injuries sustained in major disasters. (Previously.)

This time it was a cheerful colleague from YouTube named Sara. She received serious burns in a very narrow escape from a devastating apartment fire last week in San Francisco. Being YouTube, a lot of us recorded a get-well video for her. My message was the following poem.

To show that I care a
Lot about Sara
I’ve placed in my hair a
Silver tiara.

Does she rail and swear a-
Gainst chance so unfair, a
Cause for despair? Uh,
Never our Sara.

With her savoir faire, a
Smile she does wear. “Ah,
C’est la guerre” a-
Nnounces our Sara.

And here’s Sara at the hospital yesterday, reacting to her video greeting:

News haiku

In addition to miscellaneous status updates I also post “news haiku” from time to time, originally on a now-defunct site my sister was involved with, then to Facebook and more recently to Google+. Here are some examples.

News of the future:
Madoff shivved, owing inmates
Fifty billion cigs

Bin Laden kept porn!
Evil though he might have been
He was one of us.

Super committee:
Failure! Suggestion: Super-
duper committee.

Eight trillion in loans
Profits, just thirteen billion
No wonder banks fail

Cain reassessing:
“Am I heading for mere loss?
Or for epic fail?”

Your Senate at work
Yes: tax hike on workers. No:
Habeas corpus

Post office bankrupt
Path to profit: Make snail mail
Even snailier

Newt? Seriously?
Nostalgia and all, sure, but
Seriously: Newt?

Iraq War over
World War Two-type victory
Eludes us again

Miss Michele Bachmann
Bows out of the race. I won’t
Miss Michele Bachmann

SOPA, PIPA shelved
The public’s confused response:
“We won one for once?”