Look at me

May 31st, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

If you like photography at all, definitely check out Look at Me.

Bangla Aloo Sem

May 22nd, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

There’s something weirdly gratifying about being the only Caucasian in an Indian grocery store. It feels like being let in on a secret.

Fake persuaders

May 21st, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Do you think that scientific papers should be retracted because of the machinations of a public relations firm? Would it bother you to learn that just such a thing happened recently?

Guest editorial by Method Man

May 16th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

The latest “Please renew your subscription” letter from Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham includes the following line right after the signature:

LHL: rza

Which totally impresses me, because far too few of America’s magazines employ members of the Wu-Tang Clan as secretaries.


May 13th, 2002 § Three comments § permalink

It was a beautiful weekend to be in San Francisco. I spent Saturday afternoon at SFMOMA, and although I was particularly excited about the Eva Hesse exhibition, my favorite work was Video Quartet, a video collage by Christian Marclay. It was shown in a long, rectangular room, with four video screens lined up side by side on one of the long walls; from dozens of movies1, Marclay extracted a 10-minute symphony. Besides being a remarkable work of art, it offered one of the best arguments for fair use that I can imagine. If the entertainment industry had its way, it would be technologically impossible to create a derived work like this one.

I expected to enjoy Perfect Acts of Architecture as well, but that exhibit was dominated by self-righteous modernists who don’t give a tinker’s damn about such petty concerns as whether a space meets its users’ needs. Perhaps it’s worth focusing purely on theoretical questions as a thought experiment; what bothers me is the extent to which some of those architects’ work is informed by the cold vacuum of theory. On the other hand, the exhibit succeeded in making me genuinely angry, which was a nice reminder of the power art can hold.

Before SFMOMA, my brother took me to Vik’s Chaat Corner, a hole-in-the-wall place in Berkeley that he described as “the BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT EVER.” I’m not inclined to disagree. When I told one of my Indian coworkers that I’d been there, he mentioned that he used to drive down to Berkeley occasionally just to go to Vik’s. Good sign.

  1. A sampling of the movies I remember picking out: My Fair LadyMr. Holland’s Opus;Woodstock; footage of Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Frank Sinatra; The Music Man; a Marx Brothers movie; and M. There were many others. []

It’s peanut butter jelly time!

April 30th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

More Flash weirdness. If watching pointless Flash movies is wrong, I don’t ever want to be right.

Big picture

April 29th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

I decided to set A Pattern Language aside for now and read Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities instead. A Pattern Language is fascinating and engaging, but because its scope is so broad, it elides much of the reasoning and experience behind each pattern. Jacobs presents a more detailed argument about a narrower topic, which is what I want right now.

In other news, I (heart) Throat Coat tea.

Blobby goodness

April 26th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Ready to get your weekend off to a cheerful start? Mr. Nice can help.

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, etc.

April 24th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Good things about Sunnyvale:

  • Flowers everywhere. The roses in Sunnyvale are spectacular—even the most neglected gardens have perfect roses, flowers the size of saucers, with creamy petals that look good enough to eat.
  • A surprisingly nice library that stays open until 9 p.m. on most weeknights.
  • The farmers’ market, the very best thing of all.


April 24th, 2002 § One comment § permalink

A coworker and I went for a walk during our lunch break today, and we started discussing the next version of a Web application we both work on. I complained that some of our developers had thrown away one of my ideas for the UI and implemented something far less user-friendly. As I explained the problem, though, I realized that my original idea wouldn’t have worked. Then I came up with a new idea that will.

After work, I came home, picked up A Pattern Language, opened it to pattern 131 (“The Flow Through Rooms”), and chanced upon this paragraph:

The following incident shows how important freedom of movement is to the life of a building. An industrial company in Lausanne…installed TV-phone intercoms between all offices to improve communication. A few months later, the firm was going down the drain—and they called in a management consultant. He finally traced their problems back to the TV-phones. People were calling each other on the TV-phone to ask specific questions—but as a result, people never talked in the halls and passages any more—no more “Hey, how are you, say, by the way, what do you think of this idea…” The organization was falling apart, because the informal talk—the glue which held the organization together—had been destroyed. The consultant advised them to junk the TV-phones—and they lived happily ever after.

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