Toodle-oo, ’22

Not bad, 2022, not bad. Military aggressors and self-important blowhards pwning themselves; wrongdoers held to account; monopolies declining; voting rights, climate solutions, and labor on the rise. 2023 are you paying attention? (Previously.)

  • [Friend comments, “Fuck this shit” when Betty White dies right at the end of 2021.]

    I like how another FB friend put it: “History will align the end of this dark period with the passing of Betty White. She sacrificed herself to usher in a new era of health, joy, and kindness.”

  • [Friend posts link to article, Why bitcoin is worse than a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme.]

    Counterpoint: We All Need to Stop Only Seeing the Dark Side of Crypto

    As far as cryptocurrency as an investment is concerned: yes, it is a seedy gambling den right now, no argument here.[*] Without a doubt the vast majority of crypto investors have no good sense of those coins' intrinsic value and are operating only on FOMO and the greater-fool theory.

    To be fair, though, I don't see a ton of difference between that and the conventional stock market…

    Anyway, the promise of crypto is only very little about its value as an investment and much more about what can be built on top of this technology.

    Here's how I described it recently to my congressman, who asked his FB followers to help him understand what this is all about:

    “Crypto appeals to different people for different reasons. To some it's a libertarian fantasy. To the politically and economically oppressed it's a potential lifeline. To investors it's a baffling but exciting new way to gamble.

    “To me and very many technologists, however, the appeal is that it feels just like the Internet did in the 80's. We had little inkling then of what the World Wide Web would become, and most of us would have scoffed at the idea of the Internet being used for commerce. But we did know it made new things possible, and that was enough to fire a lot of imaginations.

    “When the Internet's big innovations arrived, they were because of the underlying technology's openness and ability to democratize publishing and communication, disintermediating the gatekeepers. The future innovations of cryptocurrency will be the same, but in finance.

    “Yes, Bitcoin mining is wasteful and awful right now, as is much else in crypto. So was the early Internet. It'll get better. It's too interesting not to.”

    My congressman responded skeptically, “If you had told me about the internet in the 1980's, I would have instantly gotten it.” So I added:

    “No doubt. Of course what you would have “gotten” — e-mail, file sharing, bulletin boards — would barely have prefigured what came later: retail, streaming, publishing, and a lot of our essential infrastructure.

    “Here's what there is to “get” about cryptocurrency right now (even if these turn out not to be the main use cases in the future): the ability to define tokens that are immune to runaway inflation; and a handful of transaction types, like escrow agreements and collateralized loans, not to mention simple payments, that can be performed without the need for a trusted third party.

    “There are probably a couple of other examples but this should give you the flavor of what, at bottom, crypto is actually, legitimately good for today.

    “Tomorrow is anyone's guess.”

    [*] – I do not speak for my employer.

  • [The writer David Gerrold posts, “I have been staring at the same four word sentence for fifteen minutes.”]

    “The night was sultry.”

  • [Friend posts a photo of his cat in a box.]


    (My wordplay reflex now works in Italian. Thanks, Duolingo!)

  • [Friend posts that it is 69,696 days until 6 Sep 2069.]

    This is like catnip to me.

    • [Friend replies, “I knew you would love it, almost tagged you!”]

      “Tell me you're a nerd without telling me you're a nerd.”

  • Random puzzle!

    What's the next word in this sequence?


    • Thanks for playing!

      First Blood
      The Second Chance
      The Third Man
      The Fourth Protocol
      The Fifth Element
      The Sixth Sense

      (The last two movies with the same leading actor, interestingly.)

      Heaven, Son, Sign, and Seal are all correct (as are a few others). Samurai is in the right ballpark but we're talking ordinal numbers, not cardinal.

      Surprisingly there were no great choices for “Second” (where great means “widely seen film people easily remember”). I went with a Robert Mitchum thriller from the fifties.

      [Friend who replied “Doody”], I hereby challenge you to write a treatment for a movie called The Seventh Doody.

    • [The “Doody” friend replies:

      The Doodys were a peaceful farming family, working a small plot of land in newly opened territories.

      They had seven children: Ezekiel, Rebecca, Jacob, Hezekiah, Sarah, Rachel, and Moses (affectionately nicknamed Moe).

      But the railroad is coming through, right across their plot, and powerful interests took notice.

      Cornelius “Corny” Crapper is a wealthy land baron who wants to launch a new town and put a train stop right on the Doody land. He sends mercenaries to clear the Doodys off their land. They kill all of them, but the youngest, Moe.

      Cut to 15 years later, Moe has grown up and he has spent every waking moment since his family was killed learning to be the greatest gunfighter in the west. 30 men have already tasted hot Doody lead.

      Now he's back in Crapper's Corner to exact his revenge. “You tell that Corny Crapper that Moe Doody is coming!”

      “The Seventh Doody: The Revenge of Moe Doody”

      You're welcome.]

      OMG. Greenlit

  • Seeing headlines today about the fifteenth anniversary of the iPhone, and how it changed the world. As usual, everyone pretends it was the first Internet-connected, music-playing, picture-taking consumer smartphone.

    In fact the first Internet-connected, music-playing, picture-taking consumer smartphone was the Danger Hiptop, a.k.a. the T-Mobile Sidekick, for which this year is the twentieth anniversary.
    The future that everyone forgot

  • If you know me, you know I love Star Wars, The Godfather, Casablanca, and many other classic films.

    But if you don't know me, then knowing that I love those movies tells you nothing about me. LOTS of people love those movies.

    What are five movies you love that WOULD tell someone something about you? They must not appear in the IMDb Top 250 (

    Here are mine:
    – The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
    – Benji
    – Chef
    – The Muppet Movie
    – Pocketful of Miracles

    • [One friend includes My Favorite Year in his list.]

      My Favorite Year was not in my top five, but it is in my top ten.

  • [Friend posts funny voicemail transcript beginning, “this is a message for mr fish boss i hope you're not…”]

    Mr. Fish Boss.

  • [Friend posts purchase options for online item: 1 for $10.19, 3 for $34.99, 6 for $75.64.]

    Innumeracy tax

    [Friend replies, “I thought that was the lottery.”]

  • [Meat Loaf dies.]

    His name was Robert Paulsen.

  • [Friend's Facebook account is cloned, urges everyone not to accept friend requests, asks why “these losers” can't make their own accounts instead of “stealing” other people's. “Are they so desperate for friends?”]

    They are desperate to harvest the private data people share only with their FB friends.

  • Monday diversion:

    Crockett and Tubbs
    Sanford and Son
    Tom and Jerry
    Stiller and Meara
    Abbott and Costello
    Cagney and Lacey
    Trinidad and Tobago
    Frankie and Johnny
    Laurel and Hardy
    Starsky and Hutch
    Nichols and May
    Turner and Hooch
    Woodward and Bernstein
    Turks and Caicos
    Hollywood and Vine
    Gilbert and Sullivan
    Bob and Ray
    Benny and The Jets
    Heckle and Jeckle
    Marley and Me
    Shields and Yarnell
    Twist and Shout

    Can you keep it going?

    • Fish and Bine (a pretty obscure one – tip of the hat if you recognize it)

    • [Friend suggests “Darmok and Jalad”]

      Rebo and Zooty

    • Burns and Allen
      Chad and Jeremy
      Rodgers and Hart / Hammerstein
      Thelma and Louise
      William and Mary
      Electra Woman and Dyna Girl
      Troilus and Cressida
      Ferdinand and Isabella
      Sharkboy and Lavagirl
      Luke and Laura
      Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice

    • Queen Alexandra and Murray 2000 Year Old Man talks about William Shakespeare

    • Steve and Eydie
      Ben and Jerry
      Chip and Dale
      Tippecanoe and Tyler too

    • [Friend suggests “Mr. T and Tina”]

      1,000,000 points

  • [Friend posts graph showing rise in Merlot consumption until 2005, followed by a decline, after the movie Sideways included the line, “I am not drinking any fucking Merlot.”]

    I can relate. I never went into another Florsheim store after seeing this scene.

  • [Friend posts link to article about the fiftieth anniversary of the PBS show Zoom.]

    Nancy 4eva – my first crush

  • You may already know about ETAOIN SHRDLU, but those are overall letter frequencies in all of English. When you confine yourself to five-letter words, the distribution is different (SEAROL ITNDUC), and when you look at the separate positions in five-letter words, the distributions are different still.

    Position 1:

    Position 2:

    Position 3:

    Position 4:

    Position 5:

    The Go program that I wrote to compute these:

    (I fed it the standard Unix file /usr/share/dict/words, a list of English words, as input.)

    • And incidentally (or not):

      Wordle 226 2/6


  • [Friend posts link to funny Twitter thread about record albums the Star Wars original-trilogy characters might have released.]

    Daaaaamn. It started out “cute,” then “worth a chuckle,” then dipped into “tiresome” before emerging into “mind-blowingly awesome.”

    Too bad it omitted Han's back-to-back spoken-word recordings for kids, “I can imagine quite a bit!” and “We're gonna have company!”

  • [My Congressman posts, “Cryptomining is becoming a lifeline for dirty, planet-killing coal.”]

    Perhaps this is the way we get the simple, important idea of a carbon tax passed into law: framed as a way to rein in wasteful bitcoin mining.

    When you want less of something, you tax it, say economists. So tax bitcoin mining.

    But the government does not know who is mining bitcoin, nor should it. That would require monitoring how people's and businesses' computers are used. No thanks!

    On the other hand, the government does (or can) already know who's using unusual amounts of electricity from the grid. So tax that – and balance it with a reduction in income taxes. Boom: a carbon tax.

    The One-Page Plan To Fix Global Warming

  • [Anti-Bitcoin friend is amazed it's not “even” good for criminals, after a couple of those were arrested based on Bitcoin transactions.]

    It's a feature, not a bug. We want criminals to believe that Bitcoin is untraceable.

  • [Friend posts news about Dolly Parton paying all higher-education costs for all Dollywood employees; comments, “She's like the antiformerguy.”]

    Let us all be the antiformerguy.

  • Tatooine was supposed to be a miserable backwater, a desolation where nothing ever happens, a place that Luke Skywalker would be burning to leave in search of adventure.

    Instead, turns out it's the center of the galaxy, storywise. smdh

    • It's as if George Lucas went to Hollywood and Hollywood started making movie after movie about Modesto.

  • While listening to a familiar piece of music yesterday I had the thought, “This is what I would play for Mozart if he suddenly appeared before me, eager to know how music changed since his time.”

    I won't say yet what the piece was. What would it be for you?

    • [After several suggestions.]

      All solid choices. For me it was Raymond Scott's Powerhouse. I just know Mozart would love it. Powerhouse

  • [My Congressman posts about Marjorie Taylor Greene's gazpacho police gaffe; writes, “It has forced me to endure a barrage of soup-based puns from my colleague Rep. Dan Kildee, the worst of which was: ‘she's pandering to her bouillabaisse.’”]

    Eh, to-MAY-to, ge-STA-po

  • Today my son, whose pickiness about food used to drive me to despair, taught me to like pepperoncini on deli sandwiches.

  • Woke up in the middle of the night certain I knew what today's Wordle would be.

    I was 20% right.

  • It's not our fault. When you're little, you laugh at the silliest things. Then you get a little bigger and the silliest things make you roll your eyes, but in the most entertaining way. You spend years training us, and then one day you're a teen, disparaging “dad jokes.”

    Well it's you who's to blame for making us b-lame.

    – All dads

    PS: We were funny enough once to win your moms' hearts.

  • [Answering a query about the correct order in which to watch the Star Wars movies.]

    The correct order is: 4. I have very much more to say on this topic.

    • And here it is:

      Ask anyone and they'll tell you that The Empire Strikes Back is one of the great movie sequels, and probably the best of the Star Wars series.

      They are wrong. But don't take my word for it: the next time someone says this to you, ask them to explain why they think so. They won't be able to. If they're honest, they'll admit that they're repeating an opinion that they overheard somewhere, or simply absorbed from the culture.

      The BBC reporter Nicholas Barber gets it:

      Why Star Wars should have stopped at just one film
      Why The Empire Strikes Back is overrated

      Here's my own earlier writing on this topic:

      The exegesis strikes back

      In that article I touched on several shortcomings of Empire as a movie on its own, but didn't address the larger picture: its role in the continuing story. And that's the problem: it did not continue the story. Oh it brought back beloved characters, spaceships, and weapons. But the story threads begun in Star Wars were ignored by Empire. In a sense, Star Wars never got a sequel.

      The Rebellion's victory against the Death Star appears to have meant nothing in terms of weakening the Empire or strengthening the Alliance. Luke's desire to “learn about the Force and become a Jedi like my father” is forgotten − until Obi-Wan's ghost reminds him. The nature of the Force abruptly changes − either that, or else Luke stumbles unknowingly into its ability to move inanimate things around, and then has no reaction to that. And what about his attraction to Princess Leia?

      To be fair, serialized storytelling in summer action flicks was crude in the late 1970's because it was brand new. It was nothing like what we now enjoy decades later in, say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So let's give Star Wars the MCU-worthy sequel it deserves once and for all.

      [From my long-simmering project to write “Star Wars 2.”]

  • [After Facebook rebrands as Meta, and Zuckerberg coins a new word for his employees.]

    I can't stop almost-seeing the word “meat” in “Metamates.”

    • For how many Facebook employees, I wonder, who may already have been on the fence about leaving the company, was this the last straw? “I'm a what now? That's it, I quit.”

    • [Friend predicts the anagram “Metateams.”]


  • [Friend posts link to article claiming a 1/3-lb burger failed because too many Americans thought it was smaller than a 1/4-lb one.]

    And without a doubt they would never go near a “150 gram” burger, even if it is bigger than a 113.

  • Does it bother anyone else that “Wordle” is six letters long?

  • When we finish a box of dog treats, there are crumbs and dog-treat dust at the bottom.

    Some time ago we started saving that stuff in a little container, and occasionally sprinkling it on top of Pepper's food.

    Now when we fill Pepper's food bowl, she'll come running, look in the bowl, then sit down very pointedly and give us a single indignant “bark!” Which means, “Where are my sprinkles?”

    We need to add only the tiniest pinch to make her start eating.

  • [Friend describes a dream about Molly Ringwald.]

    On a long, boring night flight over the North Atlantic in the 90's I realized I couldn't remember the name of John Hughes' favorite actress, the star of Sixteen Candles and Pretty In Pink and The Breakfast Club. I mentally ran through the names of all her costars, all the character names I could remember, snippets of dialogue, etc., in an effort to activate adjacent nodes in my semantic network, but to no avail. I was blocked, and getting annoyed.

    So I used the alphabet trick to try to remember her name. A? No. B? No. C? Etc. When I got to Z and it hadn't worked, I decided I needed to try every two-letter combination. Aa? No. Ab? No. Ac? No…

    After 327 two-letter combinations I got to Mo and the mental logjam finally broke. Still glad that the passenger beside me was asleep when I suddenly said “Molly Ringwald!” out of the blue.

  • [Comparing Quordle outcomes.]

    Daily Quordle #27
    ⬜🟨🟨⬜⬜ 🟨⬜⬜⬜⬜
    ⬜⬜⬜🟨🟨 ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜
    🟨🟨🟨⬜🟩 ⬜⬜⬜🟨⬜
    🟨⬜🟨🟨🟩 ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜
    🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬜⬜⬜🟨⬜
    ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ ⬜🟨⬜🟨⬜
    ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

    ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜⬜🟨🟨⬜
    ⬜🟩🟨⬜⬜ 🟩⬜⬜🟨⬜
    ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜🟨⬜🟨⬜
    ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜⬜🟨⬜⬜
    ⬜⬜⬜🟨⬜ 🟨⬜⬜🟩⬜
    ⬜⬜⬜🟨⬜ 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩
    ⬜⬜🟩⬜⬜ ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛
    🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛

  • When I was growing up, the phone ringing meant someone had to get up and go in the other room to answer it.

    We used to call out “free!” to mean “not it!” – i.e. “someone else answer the phone!” If everyone else called “free” and you didn't, you had to answer.

    Was this just my family or was this a thing?

  • [Friend posts an anti-Biden meme about his ability to confront Putin in Ukraine.]

    You do realize, don't you, that this meme originated in a Russian troll farm and has the goal of keeping Americans disunited, weakening opposition to Putin's war?

    • [Friend's friend asks, “But is it a lie, though?”]

      Let's put it this way: in September 1939, when Hitler marched into Poland, Roosevelt's political opponents ridiculed his preparedness for such a crisis, too. History has done worse than judge those people harshly: it has totally written them off.

  • [Friend posts a celebratory meme about Pluto's first complete “rotation” since 1774.]

    Coupla things.

    First, shouldn't this say “Happy Pluto Revolution Day”? A Pluto rotation – the time it takes to spin once on its axis – is about six and a half days long. A revolution is an orbit around the sun.

    Second, isn't every day Pluto Revolution Day – the completion of an orbit that started 248 years earlier? What's special about 1774?

  • [Mark Hamill tweets “no” in reply to a question.]

    @HamillHimself That's not true. That's impossible.

  • [After Quordle, friend posts her discovery of Octordle.]

    Please no mordle!

  • [After returning from a trip.]

    Andrea: We should put away the luggages.
    Me: “Luggages”?
    Andrea: Luggagi?

  • Everything I read about “should I mask or should I not mask” talks about the risk of infection to me. But masking is only secondarily to protect the mask wearer. Primarily it is to protect others in case the mask wearer is contagious.

    Why has no one learned this? Why doesn't any of the reporting talk about this? And how should I think about whether or not to wear a mask if protecting others is my main concern?

    • [Friend replies, “I seek anti-mask harassment, so that I can walk right up to them and whisper in their ear, ‘I was just diagnosed yesterday. I'm wearing this to protect you.’”]

      Exactly what I've imagined myself telling any hypothetical harasser.

    • [Friend observest that since masking two years ago, she hasn't been sick at all.]

      Same. It's kinda weird, actually. I wonder if this is good for our long-term health (being sick takes a toll!) or bad (immune system not getting the exercise it needs!).

  • [Friend posts link to article, Crews rescue same 2 men from Saginaw Bay for the second time this week.]

    There seems to be a lot of this going around! Hiker Rescued Twice in Two Days on Same Arizona Mountain

  • I really enjoy cooking! But tonight as I was prepping ingredients for a mushroom carbonara – chopping shallots, whisking egg yolks, etc. – in my head I suddenly heard Hannibal Lecter didactically saying the word TRANSFORMATION to Clarice Starling and now cooking might be ruined for me.

  • [Friend posts pie chart of “Things that blew your mind as a kid,” with the biggest slice being “Seeing a teacher outside of school.”]

    Not just as a kid.

  • I am still enjoying The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but they are getting lazy with their period research and it's bothering me. In one recent episode they referred to Zagreb, in Croatia; but in 1960, when the show takes place, they would have said Zagreb is in Yugoslavia. In another, one character tells another they were “insanely great,” but that phrase didn't exist until the 1980's, and didn't have any real currency until Steve Jobs used it in the early 2000's.

  • [Friend posts remarkable meditation on two years that were confusingly heartbreaking and joyous.]

    I don't know what achieving enlightenment actually looks like, but I would not be surprised to learn it looks a lot like this.

  • [Friend posts link to the latest geopolitical prognostications from Francis Fukuyama.]

    Thank goodness history ended, eh?

  • [Friend posts picture of reading glasses destroyed by dog.]

    Dog, thinking: “If I chew these I can read like Mom.”

  • [My Congressman touts progress of a bill eliminating Daylight Savings Time.]

    The phrase “bread and circuses” comes to mind. We may end up living in a one-party state aligned with Russia but at least we won't have to “fall back.” Yay? #VotingRights

  • [Friend posts link to vintage Letraset transfer sheets, comments, “Want.”]

    If you dig those, then (a) you are my brother and (b) you might enjoy this bit of concentrated nerdery. Star Wars mystery FINALLY solved

  • Saw this photo online yesterday. Asked Jonah (home for spring break) how many of these characters, actors, movies, or shows from the 70's he could identify. He shrugged and first said, “None?” But then he pointed to Richard Roundtree.

    Jonah: Is that “Shaft”?
    Me, excited: Yes!
    Jonah: I don't know anything about Shaft.
    Me: He's a baaaad mother-
    Jonah: [silence]

    I have failed.

    • For me the answer is “all of them.” Except that I had to look up the name of William Conrad's show. And although I could name the characters from The Mod Squad and CHiPs, when it came to the actors' names, it was so-and-so, so-and-so, “…and the white guy.”

    • [Friend asks, “Well, okay, but if there was a similar drawing of shows from the 2010s, would you be able to identify all the characters in it?”]

      To be clear, I'm not saying I failed because Jonah doesn't know a bunch of obscure pop-culture references from the 70's. But knowing how to respond when someone says that Shaft is a baaaad mother-? That's just basic life skills.

  • [Friend points out some nice touches in how Better Call Saul expands on throwaway lines from Breaking Bad.]

    Just wow.

    This only makes me smdh that much more at George Lucas's approach to writing prequels. “Darth Vader built C-3PO lol!”

  • [Friend maintains a running commentary on the Academy Awards.]

    Just wanted to let you know that your FB wall is how I'm “watching” the Oscars. You are performing an essential public service. Thank you!

    • Also does anyone still call it a “wall” or is it just us olds?

    • [Friend replies, “Glad to do it. Although I had to pay for streaming because I don't have cable, and almost bailed because of it.”]

      I will contribute to your Oscar-streaming GoFundMe

  • [Friend comments in real time on the 60-years-of-James-Bond montage at the Oscars, has thoughts about who should play the role next.]

    What cultural role did James Bond movies originally fulfill? They reinforced the Playboy lifestyle, showing men what the life of a swinging bachelor can be like. They celebrated the technology of the day. And they gave our hero opportunities to uphold the post-WWII liberal world order.

    I submit that the next James Bond movie should fill corresponding cultural roles for today. Instead of depicting the life of a swinging bachelor, they should show Bond navigating today's kaleidoscopic sex and gender roles. Bond's technology is cutting-edge not because of what it can do (which, let's face it, we've all caught up to anyway) but because of how lightly on the earth they allow him to live and operate. And his mission should be about rescuing democracy from the global threat it faces.

  • I miss ThinkGeek, and never more so than on the first of April.

  • [Friend posts a gorgeous photo of straw-colored hills while traveling in Ireland.]

    Hey, that doesn't look very emerald.

  • [Friend shares Robert Reich tweet about inflation being due to corporate greed. Friend's anti-Biden friends say Reich doesn't understand the economy.]

    Robert Reich has advised four presidents of both parties on economic matters. He has been a professor in economics or public policy at UC Berkeley, Harvard, and Brandeis. He was the founding editor of The American Prospect and has served as editor or contributor at The New Republic, Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Time magazine named him one of the ten best cabinet members of the century, and he is sixth on the Wall Street Journal's list of influential business thinkers.

    But yeah, he clearly has no idea that competition in the free market limits price gouging. Ha ha, the dummy.

    Or maybe – wait – maybe he does know that basic fact but is also taking other things into account? Like the fact that after decades of consolidation and toothless antitrust enforcement, we no longer have a functioning, competitive market? Maybe there are additional complexities to this issue that are hard to appreciate properly without his decades of education and experience?

    What do you know about the economy that Robert Reich does not?

    • [Dismissive responses.]

      “I know that inflation isn't happening bc of corporate greed.”

      Well, I'm convinced.

      “Blame anything but the people actually responsible.”

      And those are?

    • [More-forceful “It's Biden's fault” claims.]

      So, this is what you understand about the economy that Robert Reich does not?

      Doesn't affect prices:
      – A global pandemic with millions dead and cities locked down
      – A war in Europe
      – Profiteering monopolies
      – Extreme weather events, culling diseased livestock, crumbling infrastructure, supply shocks from the breakdown of just-in-time inventory practices, etc.

      Does affect prices:
      – Joe Biden

    • [Another friend points out Reich's habit of cherrypicking data and building a narrative around it.]

      Completely agree. I too sometimes chafe at Reich's oversimplifications. Everything is almost impossibly nuanced. There is so, so much more to think about when making public policy.

      But when one side of the debate appears only to have the capacity to shout “Hillary's emails! Hunter's laptop! Sleepy Joe!” at the tops of their voices, maybe nuanced commentary from the other side would not provide the balance you seek.

  • [Friend writes, “Sour pickles > kosher dill > dill > half sour ≫ sweet (basically trayf). Fight me.”]

    Anyone that wants to fight you on this will have to go through me first.

  • [Friend posts graphs showing that, while people used to get more conservative as they age, now they get more progressive.]

    That is extremely interesting. Any speculation as to why? Have the liberal vs conservative goalposts moved? Did the passing of the Depression or WWII out of living memory decrease our collective sense of threat? Has disintermediating the media gatekeepers had the liberalizing effect that the early Internet techno-utopians imagined?

  • I was in the supermarket circa 2003 when I suddenly, randomly wondered whatever became of William Figueroa, the schoolkid who corrected Vice President Quayle's spelling of potato – and was immediately able to look that up. It was a brand new kind of power that we all now take for granted.
    The Sidekick Was the Best Smartphone Ever

    • N.b. years before the first iPhone.

  • [Friend posts a meme saying (in part), “Teaching kids about frogs isn't grooming them to be amphibians. Reading a book about Einstein won't make your kid smarter…”]

    I appreciate the sentiment behind this meme but reading a book about Einstein will absolutely make you smarter.

  • [Friend posts Twitter exchange showing Laura Ingraham getting caught telling a made-up story about student-loan-repayment hardship (to make an anti-student-loan-forgiveness point).]

    Ingraham's story may or may not be true, but it is definitely “truthy.” Whether or not she personally has a story like this, plenty of people genuinely do.

    What do we say to those who suffered and so resent alleviating the suffering of others?

    We ask: When we can end a war, should we prolong it instead for the sake of those who died in it?

  • [Friend shares a meme featuring a glorious comment from Carl Sagan about books.]

    God I miss him.

  • [Friend writes, “I'm cutting out sugar and grains in May. I'm calling it Mayprivation but am open to suggestions.”]

    Mais non

  • [Friend writes, “It's my half-birthday.”]

  • [Friend posts photos of her kid, writes, “Can't. Handle. How. Cute. Must. Post. Sorry.”]

    “Can't. Handle. How. Cute. Must. Post. You're welcome.”


  • The fifteenth anniversary of Mom's last good day makes for a melancholy Mother's Day. Miss you, Mom.
    Mom's last good day

    • [Cousin fondly recalls getting her first car at 18 and driving first to see my mom. Returning to her car, the trunk had been popped and the contents stolen!]

      Ah, New York in the seventies.

  • [Archer's coach selected as California's first-ever State Competitive Cheerleading Coach of the Year.]

    Well duh!

  • [Friend shows graph of trust in science, broken down by party affiliation: very low for Republicans, but not terribly high for Democrats.]

    Not trusting is on-brand for science.

  • Two Facebook friends, neither of whom knows the other AFAIK, both posted selfies laying in beach chairs within minutes of each other today, both from the Silver Point beach club in New York, both captioned “Back at my happy place.”

  • [Doctor friend relates stories from the front lines of Covid.]

    “school nurses telling parents NOT to test”

    Reminds me of an old aviation joke about what to do when the engine quits.

    In daylight, find a level field with no obstructions, glide down into it, and perform an unpowered touchdown.

    At night, glide down to 50 feet above ground level and turn on the landing light. If you like what you see, land. If you don't like what you see, turn off the landing light.

  • [Friend posts article headline about the flyby of an asteroid “the width of 2,000 ferrets.”]

    Is that 2,000 ferret-widths, or 2,000 ferret-lengths? How many smoots? Smoot

  • [Friend posts “A Venn diagram of my Sunday,” with two non-overlapping circles: “Things I want to start” and “Things I need to finish.”]

    I feel seen.

  • “Have a nice day” is fine. But please, the next time you're tempted to say “Have a nice rest of your day,” stop yourself and say “Enjoy the rest of your day” instead.

    • [Friend writes, “Have a good one.”]

  • O strawberry

    Plump and sweet
    Juicy treat
    Fit to eat
    Were I more fleet

    But I delayed
    And you decayed
    Thy red hue made
    A greyer shade

    Thou wert fair
    Ere thou hadst hair

    • [Friend asks, “Ode to a small lump of grey mold that you found in your fridge one midsummer morning?”]


    • [Friend writes, “Proof that when you snooze, you lose.”]

      “But I did snooze
      And thy red hues
      Now greyish ooze
      I do not choose”

  • [Friend saw an original 70mm print of Star Wars shown at an Academy Museum event, writes, “no special editions needed here – and there was thunderous applause when Han shot first.”]

    How wonderful!

    Here are a few things that may be of interest.

    First, are you aware of the “Despecialized Edition” of Star Wars? It's one of a few serious efforts at fan-preservation of the original to the form it had in 1977, removing special-edition elements, yes, but also repairing some awful color degradation and other damage suffered by the original negatives and the various transfers made from them over the years. They even added back some “gate weave.” Nerds after my own heart.
    [1] Harmy's Star Wars: Despecialized Edition
    [2] Harmy's Despecialized Edition
    [3] The Star Wars George Lucas Doesn't Want You To See

    Second, speaking of that degradation, here is an excellent long read about how it happened even to such an important cultural touchstone: Saving Star Wars: The Special Edition Restoration Process and its Changing Physicality

    Finally, don't say “Han shot first.” Say, “Only Han shot.”

  • [Friend shares tweet, “The part of the Star Wars mythos where the incompetent elites who failed to stop the system from sliding into fascism simply go into hiding and do nothing waiting for a bunch of kids to grow up and fix the problem themselves hits pretty hard right now.”]

    OMG yes. I have been complaining about this forever.

  • I get it now.

    I could never understand why anyone would oppose policies meant to improve equality. You don't want a gay marriage? Don't get one! What's the big deal if others do?

    And then yesterday [a friend] alerted me to Dall-E, an AI system that can draw any picture you can describe to it, in any style you can describe. My first reaction was, of course, amazement. Go check out that gallery, holy cow. (It could draw a holy cow.)

    But that amazement was followed quickly by a weird sense of threat. I could draw things like “a monkey in a funny hat paying taxes” if someone asked me to. There are many others who could too, of course, and always have been. But now that I've learned about Dall-E, there's a whole new class of things that can, that couldn't before. It felt like an intrusion. A demotion from the privileged position I didn't even realize I enjoyed.

    That feeling was itself no big deal, because after all, being able to draw things based on text prompts is a negligible part of my identity. But what if it weren't? What if it mattered very much to me?

    The way being the husband in a “traditional” male-dominated household matters to some men?

    The way being trusted to decide things for others mattered to the landed gentry before universal suffrage?

    The way being able to express thoughts like the ones you're reading right now matters to me?
    DALL·E: Creating Images from Text

    • I wonder if Dall-E feels about Dall-E 2 the way I feel about Dall-E.

      DALL·E 2

  • [Friend asks (rhetorically), “When you go to a restaurant and order food, do you: (A) Test all the food you ordered before you (or your family) eats to ensure that it is safe? (B) Trust that both state and federal regulations as well as food safety inspections ensure that the food is safe to eat?”]

    While your point is well-taken, you left out the option that predominated for centuries:

    (C) Believe that if the establishment has bad food-safety practices, reputational damage would have driven it out of business.

    • [Friend points out that (C) is just a variant of (A) where someone dies first.]

      I guess what I really meant was a little meta, along the lines of (C′) trust that the establishment's fear of reputational damage is strong enough to ensure reasonable food-safety practices.

      When you compare “fear of reputational damage” with “fear of enforcement action” I don't see that there's a lot of practical difference between B and C′. Except that, compared to past centuries, there are just too many people and it's too easy to hide in the noise.

  • [High school classmate writes, “I don't recall learning about Juneteenth in high school. Probably because it's not mentioned at all in Bailey's American Pageant, the dreadful textbook we all suffered at Hunter.”]

    The American Pageant is one of the textbooks discussed in the eye-opening and infuriating Lies My Teacher Told Me.

  • You don't have to like abortion, or gun control, or the EPA, or the separation of church and state, or gay marriage, or voting rights to want to reform the Supreme Court.

    You just have to want things to be fair.
    Take Back the Court Action Fund

  • [Friend shares Twitter thread about math guy ordering a 9-inch pizza, being told they were out, getting two 5-inch pizzas instead, and explaining that that adds up to less pizza area than one 9-inch.]

    Reminds me of this old blog post, from before we knew that widescreen TVs were the future. World Widescreen Web

  • Everyone's talking about Neal Stephenson's prescience in envisioning the metaverse, when what they should really be talking about is his terrifying vision of “Ameristan” in his novel “Fall; or, Dodge in Hell.” From the Slate book review:

    This part of the novel is set about 25 years in the future, in an age when self-driving cars are the default and a de facto border exists between the affluent, educated coasts […] and the heartland they call “Ameristan.” The latter is a semi-lawless territory riddled with bullet holes and conspiracy theories, where a crackpot Christian cult intent on proving the crucifixion was a hoax (because no way is their god some “meek liberal Jesus” who'd allow himself to be “taken out” like that) literally crucifies proselytizing missionaries from other sects. You have to hire guides to shepherd you through this region, men who mount machine guns on top of their trucks “to make everyone in their vicinity aware that they were a hard target.”

    How did things get so bad? For one thing, residents of Ameristan, unlike [one main character] and her well-off pals, can't afford to hire professional “editors” to personally filter the internet for them. Instead, they are exposed to the raw, unmediated internet, a brew of “inscrutable, algorithmically-generated memes” and videos designed, without human intervention, to do whatever it takes to get the viewer to watch a little bit longer. This has understandably driven them mad, to the degree that, as one character puts it, they even “believed that the people in the cities actually gave a shit about them enough to come and take their guns and other property,” and as a result stockpiled ammo in order to fight off the “elites” who never come.

    The Mind-Body Solution

  • The 2024 election is being stolen right now. “This scenario isn't just plausible, it's probable.” The Nightmare Scenario SCOTUS is Plotting For the 2024 Election Takeover

  • [Niece McKenna's birthday; she writes it's her last year in her twenties.]

    It doesn't have to be! Made everyone laugh

    We love you, McKenna
    We miss you, McKenna
    I know that I've said it before

    But this birthday greeting
    Is well worth repeating
    For the niece that we adore

    Happy birthday!!!


    We have never fulfilled it. We have usually tried. It is worth continuing to try.

    We have occasionally pulled back from trying. We are doing that now.

    Without a doubt, we will resume trying.

    How long between now and then – and how much damage is done – is up to all of us.


  • [In a thread about Star Wars breakfast cereal in which someone casually mentions that The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the Star Wars series.]

    Sorry to hijack this thread, but I wonder if you're willing to articulate why you think The Empire Strikes Back was the best?

    I have a theory that no one actually likes it or even remembers it as well as they think they do, and instead they just repeat the common wisdom that TESB is the best.

    • [Friend writes, “This is part of your movie heresy collection along with Godfather II, isn't it?”]

      “Movie heresy collection” 😃 Yes. Here's the original article I wrote on this topic: The exegesis strikes back

      (But don't take just my word for it. The BBC reporter Nicholas Barber gets it, too: Why Star Wars should have stopped at just one film; Why The Empire Strikes Back is overrated.)

      In my article I touched on several shortcomings of Empire as a movie on its own, but didn't address the larger picture: its role in the continuing story. And that's the problem: it did not continue the story. Oh it brought back beloved characters, spaceships, and weapons. But the story threads begun in Star Wars were ignored by Empire. In a sense, Star Wars never got a sequel.

      The Rebellion's victory against the Death Star appears to have meant nothing in terms of weakening the Empire or strengthening the Alliance. Luke's desire to “learn about the Force and become a Jedi like my father” is forgotten − until Obi-Wan's ghost reminds him. The nature of the Force abruptly changes − either that, or else Luke stumbles unknowingly into its ability to move inanimate things around, and then has no reaction to that. And what about his attraction to Princess Leia?

      To be fair, serialized storytelling in summer action flicks was crude in the late 1970's because it was brand new. It was nothing like what we now enjoy decades later in, say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So let's give Star Wars the MCU-worthy sequel it deserves once and for all. I have some thoughts…

  • There are some things my kids do that are annoying. The usual things: taking too long in the bathroom; leaving lights on; not putting things away; etc.

    This close to being an empty-nester, though, I'm finding that my usual reaction to such things (viz., getting annoyed) keeps being short-circuited by the certainty that, in a few weeks, not only will they no longer be an issue, but I'll actually miss them.

  • [Actor/writer Wil Wheaton shares a post telling right-wing trolls that “Geek culture isn’t suddenly left wing… it always was.”]

    “You became the villain in the stories you used to love.”

    On some level, conscious or not, I believe this is exactly the point for a lot of people like this. “Society seems to hate me, so I'll give them a reason to hate me.”

  • [My Congressman posts a photo of “My new neighbor,” an owl sleeping in a tree.]

    Ask it how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.

  • Woke up before five this morning to take my kayak down to Sausalito and watch the sun rise over the Bay.

    Sunrise. Sausalito. Summer. Who sees the problem with that plan?

    • It was still a really nice time to be out on the water.

  • The Subject line in yesterday's email newsletter from The Atlantic was:

    Democrats in … array?

    This was funny! And then, a moment later, sad, when I realized that what made it funny was just how surprising it was.

  • [Friend writes, “Going through some old Dr. Demento classics… ‘Kinko the Clown’ did not age well.”]

    I used to think Julie Brown's “The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun” was a laff riot. That was only possible while the premise was outlandish. I miss those days.

  • [Warner Bros. announces it won't release the almost-completed Batgirl film.]

    To the Hollywood marketing genius who saw a terrible preview and realized the way to get everyone to come see it anyway was to say “this is too terrible, we will never release it.”

  • [Congressman starts including a picture of his cat with every policy post, on the theory that Facebook is more likely to show it in people's feeds that way.]

    To be fair, this is what the Internet is for.

  • [Friend posts, “Oh no!” on news of Olivia Newton-John's death.]

    Guess mine is not the first heart broken

  • [Friend is outraged when the FBI serves a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.]

    “There is zero justification for the raid on Trumps offices this morning.”

    What makes you say so?


  • [Of the top-secret files found at Mar-a-Lago.]

    Of course it was the documents with the highest dollar value.

  • [Friend eulogizes her cat.]

    A remembrance so beautifully written that even I, who never met Tori, miss her now too.

  • My Congressman posted a link to Paul Krugman's latest column, “Why Republicans Turned Against the Environment,” with the comment that it rings true based on his ten years in Congress. Tl;dr – culture war. Why Republicans Turned Against the Environment

    I posted a reply that I wanted to amplify here:

    I prefer a different explanation, or an underlying one. In the 90's, Bill Clinton moved the Democratic Party to the right, embracing some positions that had been traditionally Republican. Although this frustrated American liberals, it was generally very successful.

    Too successful. It forced the Republican Party out of its lane. To remain distinct from the Democrats, they had to move farther to the right, down a slippery slope to fascism.

    The party has nothing left now other than “we're not those filthy Democrats.” Whatever we're for, they have to be against: voting, justice, lifesaving medication, air and water, it literally doesn't matter what.

    • [Friend wonders, “When will the radicalized right lose their fetish for this nonsensical stance?”]

      I'm no expert, but I think history suggests that if we can back away from this moment peacefully, it will be pretty unprecedented.

      Which is not to say it's impossible. The future is not written and unprecedented things happen all the time.

  • [The boys' high-school French teacher reports she'll be teaching Spanish this year too; writes “¡Vámonos!”]

    When my wife wants me to accompany her somewhere in Sonoma, she now says to me, “Sonoma, vámonos,” because she knows I can't say no to a palindrome.

  • [Writer friend posts, “I'm looking for a careful reader who would like to earn some money this weekend. The job would reading a book manuscript about the founding of a ‘green’ tech company and checking for problems of story continuity…”]

    Is the grammar error in your post a screening test?

  • After I had been a parent for a while, I developed some advice that I offered to new parents. It included this item: “Your most beloved possessions will be lost, broken, or made sticky.” I must now amend that to say, “…or eventually disappear off to college.”

  • [Friend humorously describes the stages of a bout of Covid.]

    Struggled with the LOL vs the “care” reactji. Glad you're well enough that I was able to choose LOL without guilt.

  • [In a thread where conservatives inveigh against student-debt relief.]

    Indeed, why make anything better for anyone, when people in the past didn't have it as good?

  • In 1993, Andrea and I went to the late, lamented “Clean Well-Lighted Place For Books” for a book signing with author Mark Frost. We were less interested in his new novel, “The List of Seven,” than we were in hearing about his experiences writing and producing the recently concluded TV show, Twin Peaks.

    We had been big fans but, like most of the world, found it in the end to be too interested in surreality at the expense of its storylines and characters. The resolution of its central mystery, in particular – who killed Laura Palmer – seemed to have been tossed into a ratings-week episode in the middle of season two as an unsatisfying afterthought.

    So after Mark Frost's reading, and a decent interval of questions about him and his new book, and after the discussion had inevitably turned to that recent major TV phenomenon, I politely asked my question: “Did you really have the whole Laura Palmer story planned out from the beginning?” Frost answered briefly in the affirmative without much substance or conviction. It was the same kind of unsatisfying as the show itself had been – which was sort of its own answer.

    All of which I mention to contrast with the stated assertions of the writing team for Better Call Saul: that they didn't have the whole story planned out from the beginning. They changed their minds about everything as they went along, even about who the important characters were. Walk-on characters and characters whom they'd planned to kill early ended up being central to all six seasons. “Saul” himself was a walk-on in the predecessor show Breaking Bad, but arguably turned out to be the main character of both shows.

    Better Call Saul recently ended in a deeply satisfying way. Its resolution depended critically on the character of Kim Wexler, whom the writers have said was included as an afterthought at the beginning. That resolution, in turn, depended on a years-long sequence of events that seemed to be highly structured, but apparently was not. Instead, the writers picked their way through the individual weekly stories they wanted to tell in order to discover the overall arcs, something that other shows routinely try to do and fail at. How did they do it? How? And why can't other writing teams do it? I am in awe.

  • [Actor/writer Wil Wheaton candidly recounts details of his unhappy childhood.]

    I am so sorry that you had to suffer neglect and abuse that I wouldn't wish on an enemy, let alone someone whom I respect and admire as much as I do you.

    And yet.

    I am grateful for your candor and courage in speaking about something that is (thankfully) outside my personal experience, but that it is nevertheless important for me to understand. Without your writing on this topic I'm not sure I ever properly would have. And I am grateful for the positive energy and healing wisdom you continually put out into the world. Undoubtedly your awful experiences shaped much of who you are today. So in a way I am grateful for those, too, which feels very wrong.

    Do you experience the same contradiction? Please help me understand how to think about this.

  • Belatedly christened.

    Not pictured: the curious sea lion pacing me over my left shoulder.

  • GOD do I want to see this version of Superman get made. Sean Kelly's Twitter thread.

  • [Friend posts excerpt from a symposium announcement whose wording was conspicuously and unnecessarily complex.]

    In case you've never seen this (it's much older than this particular Reddit post): 'Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration…

  • Should this be “We clean your clothes eco-friendlily”?

  • [Rosh Hashanah.]

    May you be inscribed for a sweet year.

  • [My Dad posts his latest drawing, an uncanny likeness of Christopher Walken.]

    Wow Dad you, have, a real talent for, capturing celebrity, personalities!

  • Earl of Sandwich: No need for cutlery, my good man. But I prithee enclose my meal twixt a pair of bread slices, lest my hands become greasy.


    Customer: Your sandwiches are the best in town! What's your secret?
    Chef: I don't simply toast the sandwich, I grill it in butter.
    Earl of Sandwich's ghost: Noooooooo

    • [Friend contributes, “My good Earl, behold this heated canine – shall it adopteth thy good name?”]

      Get thee gone, cur! An thy morsel bear my name, wherefore should not any pie or pasty?

  • In my dream last night, we were at a fair. Andrea and I were watching some kind of performance. Our sons were at some other attraction. We were supposed to keep in touch by phone.

    The performance ended, Andrea and I walked away, and I realized I didn't have my phone.

    It was going to be one of those dreams: frantically searching for a missing thing, to make an important connection you can't make.

    But, psych! – my phone was right where I left it, there was a message from the boys, and we met up and all was well.

    What does that kind of dream mean??

  • If I ever invent a perpetual motion machine I'm going to call it “Trump's mounting legal peril.”

  • We learned we can protect the earth from a rock in space millions of miles away before learning whether we can protect the earth from power-mad dictators who are right here.

    • [Friend points out, “The social sciences are subject to much greater uncertainty than the physical sciences.”]

      Where's Hari Seldon when we need him?

  • [Niece McKenna offers a birthday poem.]

    A verse from my niece
    McKenna Hardt!
    Result: an increase
    Of the joy in my heart

  • [Friend writes, “I hate the fact that my gmail becomes pretty much unusable for several weeks before election day, because I made the mistake of using it to give money to a political candidate once.”]

    I implemented my own solution for this problem and have been using it for a couple of years now. It works pretty well, but it does require you to trust me and my code. See Unclog – U Need Contact Labeling On Gmail

  • How you know the leftover pea soup's gonna be good.

  • This date in 1969 was the first day Suzanne Glickstein existed, and the last day the Internet did not exist.

    I love my sister. I hate being far from her on her birthday. I love being able to celebrate her anyway. Happy birthday, Suze!

  • When the spacebar on my fancy mechanical keyboard stopped working this morning, I took it apart to fix it and immediately had two thoughts:

    1. So that's where all my hair went.
    2. How much time do I spend sitting in front of this thing?

  • [Friend shares thoughts from Kurt Vonnegut about getting out and interacting with people.]

    Tangentially, these two articles appeared in the past few days:

    Why talking to strangers can make us smarter

    Talking to strangers might make you happier, a study on ‘relational diversity’ finds

  • [Friend shares photo of an old college essay.]

    Dot-matrix printing. Vintage!

    • [Friend replies, “Honey, we're all vintage now.”]

      If I ever forget that, my knees are always quick to remind me.

  • [Friend shares tweet: “You know you're old when you get pleasure from putting a measuring cup back in the cupboard because it only had water in it.”]

    Wow, I've been old for a very long time.

  • [Friend posts link to article, New York City Is a Lot Safer Than Small-Town America.]

    That reminds me of this passage from the 1892 Sherlock Holmes story “The Copper Beeches,” which presents another reason to prefer city living. In this scene, Holmes and Watson are riding a train out of London and see some lovely country homes. Holmes remarks on the many crimes they probably conceal.

    “Who would associate crime with these dear old homesteads?”

    “They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”

    “You horrify me!”

    “But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard's blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.”

    • [Friend asks, “Wondering if anyone else reads that and hears Jonny Lee Miller's voice in their head.”]

      Jeremy Brett always and forever.

  • [Friend posts selfie in a Statue-of-Liberty pose, wearing a foam Statue-of-Liberty crown.]

    The even-newer Colossus.

  • [Musk takes over Twitter.]

    Where is Google Buzz when we need it?

  • I've been wondering about the slide into totalitarianism. Are there examples from history, I've been asking myself, where a society on the verge of losing democracy somehow turns things around and preserves it after all?

    Then I realized that there is a prominent recent example: America itself, in the 2020 presidential election.

    “That doesn't count,” you say. “That only slowed things down a little.”

    I've got news for you: slowing things down a little is the best we can ever do. What the recent past has taught us is that the forces of anti-democracy are ever-present. There's a reason they say that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

  • I have hoped for the best. I have not planned for the worst.

  • [Friend is tiling part of his house in a Mandelbrot-set pattern.]

    You're a Rorschach Test on fire
    You're a day-glo pterodactyl
    You're a heart-shaped box of springs and wire
    You're one badass fucking fractal

    Mandelbrot Set

  • It's a truism that the more anniversaries you have, the less you make a big deal of them. My gift to Andrea today, for example, was to shave off the beard she hated. Hers to me was uncovering the album of pre-dawn photos we had taken at the Magic Kingdom the morning after our wedding ceremony.

    So yeah, the importance of the day may be shrinking, but only because the specialness of every day keeps growing.

  • [Friend posts a 1958 article from McCall's magazine giving very dated, sexist advice to women for finding a husband.]

    I would say “jeez” but there aren't enough e's in the world to adequately capture my reaction.

    #76 [“Double-date with a gay, happily married couple – let him see what it's like!”] makes me mourn once again the loss of the old meaning of “gay.” I don't begrudge its appropriation by a historically oppressed group, but man, what a great word, and we've got nothing close to it as a replacement.

  • [Friend marvels at the NY Post's comically dismissive headline about Trump's candidacy: “Florida Man Makes Announcement (page 26)”]

    Yeah, “funny.” Foreign billionaire kingmaker throws figurehead under the bus and tells us how to think about it via an organ actually depended on by many as a news source. Meanwhile millions of us have less say in our national politics than that one guy, but hey at least it's funny.

    Alexander Hamilton has spun in his grave so much by now he must have drilled halfway to China.

  • [Friend shows that a recent election in which a Democrat won might have had a Republican winner with ranked-choice voting; asks “To RCV or not to RCV?”]

    RCV all day.

    RCV isn't meant to rescue us from Republican voters. It's meant to rescue each party from its extreme fringes. Today the GOP is most in need of that. Tomorrow it may be the Dems.

    As we say in software engineering, this is “working as intended.”

  • Welp, I'm out of there. @geebobg is history.
    Elon Musk Reinstates Trump's Twitter Account

  • [Friend shares before-and-after flight-prep photos.]

    Beard off so mask fits better?

    Shirt off for… quicker security scan?

    Best of all: smile on to lessen the misery of air travel for everyone around you.

  • Remember the early days of social media, when no algorithm decided what you should see for the sake of showing you ads and the business model of keeping your cortisol levels high didn't exist and instead of those things you clicked around to see what looked cool and thought, “I'll follow THIS account!” and some people made it their business to curate the cool things and you thought, “I'll follow what THEY follow!” and there were no bots and no trolls or if there were you were insulated from them because nothing was shoving them in your face?

    It's like that right now on Mastodon and will be for the foreseeable future. I may even set up my own Mastodon server – and if I do, I can take my current Mastodon account there with me, because it's all open and portable and decentralized, just as the Internet gods intended.

  • [Friend has watched almost all of The Expanse.]

    The best thing to do after watching all six seasons of The Expanse, I can tell you from personal experience, is to read all nine novels and all eight short stories collected in “Memory's Legion.”

    (Among very much else, they explain what the heck was going on in the Laconia scenes in season six.)

  • Office Deposed.

  • Happy National Peppermint Bark day!

    Ten years ago, when it was time to name our new dog, this very box of candy was sitting on our table and that's why Pepper's full name is Peppermint Bark Glickstein.

    National Peppermint Bark Day

  • The other forty-five ways to leave your lover. You're welcome, Paul Simon.

    Fake your own death Seth
    Get thrown in the tank Hank
    Head for the hill Bill
    Hop on your bike Mike
    Hide in a cave Dave
    Say that you're gay Ray
    Don't be filled with dread Ted
    Go for a swim Jim
    Just up and scram Sam
    Leave her some dough Joe
    Get a new job Rob
    Wish her good luck Chuck
    Don't make a scene Gene
    Make a clean break Jake
    Don't stop to grieve Steve
    Get on your feet Pete
    Ain't hard at all Paul
    Put on your shirt Burt
    Wait for the tide Clyde
    Book a night flight Dwight
    Pack up your tools Jules
    You prance and you mince Vince
    Head for the fjord Ward
    Just drop the bomb Tom
    Say “had it with this” Chris
    Wait until dark Mark
    Hold back your snarls Charles
    Get yourself gone John
    Practice your zen Ken
    Tell her pish-tosh Josh
    Make like you're deaf Jeff
    Find a new spot Scott
    Just shake a leg Greg
    Tell her goodbye Ty
    Say it was fate Nate
    Set out ‘cross the heath Keith
    Give her a shrug Doug
    Enter the void Floyd
    Go when it's dawn Sean
    Don't even stress Jess
    Change your locale Sal
    Don't strain your brain Wayne
    Lace up your shoe Lou
    Walk jog or sprint Clint
    Just turn and burn Vern

    • I asked the new chatbot at OpenAI what lines it would add to the song. It said:

      Here are some additional tongue-in-cheek pieces of advice that could be added to the song “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover”:

      – Pretend you're moving to Timbuktu, but don't forget to pack your shoes
      – Leave a note that says “Gone fishing” and never come back
      – Tell your lover you've been abducted by aliens and need to be taken to their leader
      – Claim that you've won the lottery and are moving to a tropical island
      – Blame your departure on a sudden case of amnesia and claim that you can't remember who they are
      – Tell your lover that you've been offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the circus and run away to join the clowns
      – Claim that you've been called up for jury duty and will be gone for the next five years
      – Say that you've discovered that you're actually a long-lost royal and have to return to your kingdom to claim your throne
      – Tell your lover that you've been offered the chance to be a contestant on a reality TV show and need to leave immediately to start filming
      – Claim that you've decided to become a professional mermaid and will be living in the ocean from now on.


  • Me: How might I determine whether you are a machine giving human-like responses, or a person pretending to be such a machine?

    ChatGPT: One way to determine whether I am a machine or a person pretending to be a machine is to ask me questions that only a machine learning model like myself would be capable of answering accurately. For example, you could ask me to perform a complex mathematical calculation or provide detailed information on a specific topic that requires a large amount of knowledge. If I am able to provide accurate and reliable answers to these kinds of questions, it is likely that I am a machine learning model. On the other hand, if I am unable to provide accurate answers or if my responses are vague or incomplete, it is possible that I am a person pretending to be a machine. Ultimately, the only way to be certain would be to verify my credentials and confirm that I am indeed a machine learning model.

    Me: In other words, if you are a machine, I can probably be sure. But if you are a person, I probably can't.

    ChatGPT: That is correct.

  • [Friend who shared photos of deep snow on his property now shares the reappearance of autumn leaves after the snow melts.]

    Cryogenically preserved!

  • They abbreviated Maximum, might as well abbreviate Height too I guess?

  • [Friend shares PornHub's 2022-year-in-review top-searches-by-state map.]

    Massachusetts [“College”] and Utah [“Mormon”] are a little on-the-nose. No, I don't mean that in a dirty way.

  • [Friend shares grammatically challenged sign, complains about “there” vs. “their.” The sign ends with, “We are very sorry for Inconvenience.”]

    They make up for it by apologizing for (apparently) the entire concept of Inconvenience.

  • [Friend shares that the CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand is named Peter Dickens.]

    Nominative determinism

  • [Friend asks for favorite variations on Scrabble.]

    If we can't play a good real word, but we can come up with a made-up word and a definition for it that meet with general approval, we can play it.

    • [Friend asks, “A word that really ought to be a word?”]

      Or that elicits enough laughter.

  • The only bad Maui sunset is the last Maui sunset.

    E hoʻi mākou.

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