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today at brunch

He pushed his plate forward and offered cheese fries to any takers.   I called him a “ketchup-spreader,” and the backyard brunch table reacted negatively.  All I did was characterize the way in which he indiscriminately sprays ketchup on his fries, but you’d think I had just called him a filthy muggle blood.   Got to be nicer.

Things I Learned 2015-06


Got a few proof of life pings on this blog.  A full calendar year since the last post would suggest I shut this shit down. On the other hand, an old friend, upon a recent visit here, commented that I seemed more angry and bitter.  No!, I countered, Life is sunny and my new writings will establish this.  Just you see.


The marginal increase in longevity, self confidence, and female attention that results from having six-pack abs does not, by my estimation, come close to offsetting the loss in joy from forbearance of those morsels otherwise forbidden. To reduce food– that daily blessing, that foundation of community, that distillation of a culture’s history, geography, and values– to the rank of mere VICTUALS, is to resign this life to chores.

Things I Learned – July 2013

  • In 2005, a new dungeon opened in World of Warcraft, which featured a boss villain that cast a contagious Corrupted Blood spell on players.  The spell inadvertently spread to other cities and areas of the game (via magical hunter pets that caught the disease), before being shut down by a patch fix.  The incident has since been used by epidemiologists to model how hum an populations react to epidemics (some panicked, others started spreading the disease intentionally).  [via]  [more] [wikipedia]
  • Lye attacks, holy fuck.
  • A DivaCup is a re-usable cup worn to catch menstrual flow.  [via]
  • horological – adj. – of or related to time-keeping devices [via]

Dan Aykroyd on SNL


In last night’s Saturday Night Live, Dan Aykroyd appeared in one of the episode’s many cameos.  Notice behind him on the shelf, are bottles of his own Crystal Head Vodka.  I’m assuming that product placement was a part of the price for agreeing to appear.

Aykroyd has a keen interest in the paranormal, as evidenced by this serious, joke-free commercial for his Crystal Head Vodka:

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It’s rather misleading that anyone featured in a pornographic film is instantly referred to as a “porn star.” I mean, isn’t there a hierarchy of fame, like in the non-fucking show business?  There’s got to be C-level porn actors and actresses, and then you have your Daniel-Day-Lewis-level genuine porn stars out there.  Consider that next time you uncover your high school teacher’s past.   Ask yourself, are they really a porn star?  Or did they just make 700 bucks, that one time, on a Thursday afternoon, betwixt sound life decisions?

Things I Learned 2013-02

  • Under Icelandic law, a baby may only be given a name from an official list of 3,000+ approved baby names (which fit icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules).  [src]
  • epiphenomenonn. a secondary phenomenon accompanying another and caused by it; specifically : a secondary mental phenomenon that is caused by and accompanies a physical phenomenon but has no causal influence itself.  [via]
  • More than one swan is referred to collective as “a lamentation of swans” [src]
  • “Venery” has two very different meanings  (definition #1 –  n. the art, act, or practice of hunting;  definition #2 – n.  the pursuit of or indulgence in sexual pleasure) or exactly the same meanings, I guess. [via]
  • The most common hypothesis for the cause of motion sickness is that it functions as a defense mechanism against neurotoxins.  Motion felt but not seen is being interpreted as a hallucination (e.g., caused by some toxic berries), therefore let’s vomit. [src]
  • Mississippi ratified the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution thereby abolishing slavery in… 1995.  [via]



The Awl: Why Times Square Needs a McWorld – a suggestion for a flagship McDonald’s in Times Square that serves food from all the different McDonald’s menus from around the world.  Fast food localizations is one of my favorite parts of travel.   Man, to be able to get a McVeggie…

The Verge: “I used Google Glass: the future, but with monthly updates”

But I walked away convinced that this wasn’t just one of Google’s weird flights of fancy. The more I used Glass the more it made sense to me; the more I wanted it. If the team had told me I could sign up to have my current glasses augmented with Glass technology, I would have put pen to paper (and money in their hands) right then and there. And it’s that kind of stuff that will make the difference between this being a niche device for geeks and a product that everyone wants to experience.

After a few hours with Glass, I’ve decided that the question is no longer ‘if,’ but ‘when?’

I’ll believe it when I see it.  Google has a horrendous track record with selling hardware, or selling anything, actually, to consumers.  See, Google TV which nearly wrecked Logitech and spawned this amazing TV remote; or Google Nexus Q, the streaming music device, which got press for being manufactured in the USA, but was shitcanned before a single unit shipped.

Nevertheless, this kind of technology in widespread use would be transformative.  And I cannot think of a better company to be leading the push. A company whose business model is selling advertisers access to your personal behavioral profile now wants to be integrated into your eyeball, complete put a personal video camera.   WHERE DO I SIGN UP

Rob Walker: Let’s Make A Mark:

… we need a new punctuation mark that resides in the emotional range between the just-the-facts period and the whoop-to-do excitability of the exclamation point. While the new mark would clearly signal positivity, it would save us from communicating with the unhinged emotionality of a note slipped between junior-high students.

The proposed icon looks like a stick figure playing with a mirror.  At least they didn’t give it a name like the “interrobang“.  Also, doesn’t the emoticon smiley face emoticon serve this exact purpose?  e.g., Thanks =)  Congrats =)  See you soon =)  

Things I Learned 2012-12

  • Shakespeare’s Sonnet 151 is considered one of the dirtier sonnets. (wiki)
  • Asians have the longest torsos relative to their body size. [WE WILL TAKE IT. -Ed.] (via)
  • The maximum prison sentence you can get in Norway is 21 years, war crimes and genocide notwithstanding. (via) Although, after which you can be preventively detained for 5 years at a time, so the man that massacred an island full of teens is probably never going to be freed. (via)
  • ineluctable – adj. Unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable (via)
  • TIP: You can remotely roll down your car windows by double tapping and holding the unlock button on the key-fob remote (on certain car models).  (via)
  • cornpone – adj. Informal – Folksy and homespun, as in manner or speech: a penchant for cornpone humor; cornpone political prose. (via)
  • “playa foot” – colloquially refers to a chemical burn on soles of feet due to exposure to alkali dust.  As found in Black Rock dessert (i.e., La Playa) where Burning Man is held. (via)  (See, also, a hula hoop  with video camera attached left on ground + Burning Man’s earnest sense of experimentation = male lizard brain food)
  • apiary – n. collection of beehives (via)
  • There once was a breed of dog called a turnspit, that was trained to work in the kitchen (okay, just to rotate a spittle over the fire, but still.) (via)
  • PATENT OF THE MONTH: Patent No. 6,469 –  Manner of Buoying Vessels over Shoals – by Abraham Lincoln, yes that Abraham Lincoln (via)lincoln patent


Time Warner password requirements

Must be 8-16 characters long
Must contain letters and numbers only
Must contain at least one number
Cannot match your username
Cannot repeat a value 3 times in a row
Cannot contain objectionable or prohibited words

Thank god, finally, someone’s doing something about the racist dictionary attacks.

Things I Learned 2012-07

  • Starting in the 1930s, in regions of Spain captured by the anti-communist Nationalists during the war, doctors and nuns abducted over 300,000 newborn babies from “red parents” and gave them to families that would raise them in accordance with Nationalist and Catholic beliefs. [via]
  • Martha Gellhorn had one helluva life: considered one of the greatest war correspondents ever, covering every major world conflict from 1930 to 1990; married Earnest Hemingway  (third wife), divorced him when he kept trying to block her from battlefield assignments; cancer stricken and blind at age 89, committed suicide by drug overdose.  [wikipedia] [via no idea, I think I was reading about Earnest Hemingway’s family tree. His granddaughters are runway models]
  • “six of one, half a dozen of another” – idiom. two things are almost the same or equal  [via]
  • The modern Olympic pentathlon seems like a random hodgepodge of events (épée fencing, pistol shooting, 200 metre freestyle swimming, show jumping on horseback, and 3 km cross country running), but its origins are based on simulating the experience of a 19th century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines: he/she must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with pistol and sword, swim, and run. [more info]
  • There is a species of termite that produces and stores toxic blue crystals in an external pouch on their abdomen.  When enemy termites attack the nest, older worker bugs are sent to the front lines along with soldier bugs (the younger bugs’ toxins are less potent). The poisonous blue crystals they have amassed react with salivary gland secretions to create a type of “toxic goo.” When an enemy takes a bite, the explosive backpack ruptures, covering nearby foes in a deadly, paralyzing venom that also kills the worker in the process.  Fucking suicide bomber termites.  [via]  [actual video of this]
  • Journalism sentence of the week:

    “Every now and again Isis disengages Deen’s cruller so that the camera can get a load of Proxy’s keister, which footage you should track down if you happen to adore the sight of a yawning, defanged lamprey with strep throat.”

    [via GQ: “The Well-Hung Boy Next Door,” a lengthy profile of male adult actor James Deen.  The article is a masterpiece of euphemism, and also almost entirely gratuitous.

  • Any human friendship  can be sundered.

96.8% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising1 and their motto is “Don’t Be Evil”?  Guess how this story ends…

  1. Google Q1 2012 Results []

Steve Jobs Remembrance

A list of my favorite links from the weeklong dirge for Steven P. Jobs.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs’ joint interview at the All Things Digital conference.   Fascinating dynamics, and good history lessons from two landmark figures in personal computing. (2007).  An excerpt here, full video on official site:

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Steve Jobs narrates Apple’s “The Crazy Ones” commercial, though a version narrated by Richard Dreyfuss was the one that aired.  (1997)

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Going In-House at Apple with Steve Jobs’ Former GC (2011)-  retrospective from the point of view of Apple’s general counsel.  Of course I’m going to have a lawyer/IP angle on here.

“He had the ability to shut things out of his mind and just focus very narrowly on one specific issue. I often said that his greatest strength was his ability to say no. Because you can imagine that over the years, so many people came at him with ideas about one product or another,” Cooperman says. “He focused very, very sharply on making excellent products that people would love, and not doing lots of other things that would distract from that mission.”

An extended conversation with Woz – by Dan Lyons (2011):

What was Steve’s biggest strength?

Everyone else will say vision, and gosh darn that’s important but that doesn’t go anywhere without operational discipline. Steve once told me that Apple only lost money when they built junk. It was his focus on good products that I believe was the biggest thing. All we have to do is make great products. If you have a big market. Apple had millions of fans, such a huge user base. Another strength was that he came back and put together a new board of directors. He organized the company to have good tight controls. Watching everything he could — that is operational excellence. Lots of CEOs just look at little points of data and make a decision. Steve was so much more than that. It’s rare.

Steve Jobs Presents to Cupertino City Council (June 17, 2011).  In one of his last public appearances, Jobs presents plans to Apple’s new campus to the city council. I’m shocked at how old and tired he looks. (via Kottke)

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And, finally, by far, my favorite thing I have watched all week, Steve Jobs’ closing keynote at the 1997 WWDC. Context: Steve Jobs had just returned via Apple’s acquisition of NeXT Computer and he conducts an hourlong Q&A session with Apple developers.  They pick his brain and through his answers, you can see every bit of Apple circa 2011 coming out of Jobs’ mouth in 1997.  Honest, elegant, well-considered answers from off-the-cuff questions.  Focusing is about saying no.  We have a unique opportunity because we control the whole stack.   Being overly proprietary is not necessary.

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Things I Learned 2011-09

  • Wikipedia article complexity comparison of the month: Worm vs Computer worm vs Sandworm (Dune)
  • The “Six Sigma” process was invited at Motorola. [source]
  • deipnosophist – a person who is an adept conversationalist at table. [via M. Park]
  • cloaca – the posterior opening that serves as the only such opening for the intestinal, reproductive, and urinary tracts of certain animal species, such as birds, reptiles, amphibians.  (Contrast: mammals have separate orifices for each process…) [source]
  • dyadic – two individuals (as husband and wife) maintaining a sociologically significant relationship.  [source: “If the data type of both operands of a dyadic arithmetic operator is exact numeric, then the data type of the result is exact numeric, with precision and scale determined as follows…”]
  • “vigorish”  is the longform of “vig” [source]
  • Adventures in Over-Writing on Wikipedia #1: “Before starting a verse, Wallace sometimes used onomatopoeic vocables to “warm up” (for example “uhhh” at the beginning of “Hypnotize” and “Big Poppa” and “whaat” after certain rhymes in songs such as “My Downfall”). – On Notorious B.I.G.
  • Adventures in Over-Writing on Wikipedia #2: “Although this might have just been dirty talk, a similar continuity error exists regarding the rank of Mack Gerhardt. In the season 1 episode ‘True Believers his wife says to him ‘come here Sergeant Major, and give me a report,’ but his rank is later established as Master Sergeant.”  – On The Unit
  • Orange in carrots is a completely human-bred trait from around 1700s. They used to be white, yellow, red, purple, etc. [source]
  • Ira Glass, host of This American Life, and Philip Glass, the composer, are cousins.

Things I Learned 2011-04 to 2011-08

Whoops, here’s a mega catch up post.
  • nurdle – a small amount of toothpaste akin to what consumers would use brushing their teeth [source]
  • Wikipedia article of the month: Calculator Spelling
  • Tongue eating louse is a parasite that attaches itself to a host fish’s tongue, causing it to atrophy, and eventually functions as a tongue replacement for the fish.   [unlikely source] [do not miss the photos]
  • pogrom (Russian: погром) is a form of violent riot, a mob attack, either approved or condoned by government or military authorities, directed against a particular group, whether ethnic, religious, or other, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres.   [Source: “Initially intended to express anger at the draft, the protests turned ugly and degraded into ‘a virtual racial pogrom, with uncounted numbers of blacks murdered on the streets’. “]
  • bricoleur –  visual art “jack of all trades”  [source]
  • No-break hyphen. Like the no-break space, this looks like a hyphen but isn’t treated as one; in Word, it’s accessed via Ctrl-Shift-“-“. Other useful dash characters are accessed in Word by holding down Alt and typing 0150 or 0151 on the numeric keypad; these dashes are longer than the usual “-” character.  [source]
  • tumescence – engorgement [source]
  • Founder of Zogsports had a close call on 9/11 [source]
  • Six Sigma was invited at Motorola