Thursday, May 22, 2008

"He Wants Us to Move the Island"

I hated Season 3 of Lost on ABC. Every episode consisted of someone being brutally beaten, blood everywhere. I don't know how Ben and Sawyer haven't been concussed into total vegetative states at this point.

But this season is thrilling, with it's flash-forwards and flash-backwards, and some of it's strongest epidsodes ever. I was blown away by Episode 7, "Ji-Yeon", when Sun has her baby and Jin is rushing around trying to buy a panda. At the end we realize a flashback has been entwined around a flash-forward, I loved it!

And what about "The Economist", Episode 3, with Sayid in a flash-forward hunting a man for Ben in Berlin. The twists and turns were perfect. Great writing!

This is the first season I've started visiting the various forums about Lost. Check out this site -

I hope the writers don't go for the easy out with time travel. I prefer the notion that the island is actually a sentient being, but not in a gooey Gaia sense.

Look at a tree. It doesn't have sentience in the fashion that humans can understand...if we all had ESP, what would a tree tell you. But they aren't just inert organisms either. The NYT did a story about young birch trees in Alaska that produce a resin disgusting to snow hares, giving the young birch trees a chance to grow. That's pretty nifty, trees fighting back.

Maybe the island is sentient and fighting back, able to shift dimensions, a wormhole-quantuam-pyhsics kind of thing. Much better than overdone time travel.

I'm so going to hate it when this season is over.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Library book, bike, condom, clothesline: What do they have in common?


It sounds like a weird riddle: What do a bicycle, clothesline, library book, "real" tomato, ceiling fan, microchip and condom all have in common?

My friend and former competitor Eric Sorenson answers the question in a new book he wrote along with the staff of the Sightline Institute entitled "Seven Wonders For a Cool Planet: Everyday Things to Help Solve Global Warming."

The basic idea is that while we have some huge challenges, particuarly related to climate change, we also have some pretty effective technology to deal with those problems. So it's really about transportation, population, energy efficiency, renewable energy, our food supply, resource conservation (the library book) and the information economy. (May 2, 2008)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Those Damn Patrons

Russell Library in Middletown, CT is looking for a substitue librarian.

Details include the following:

Work subject to interruptions, noise, and exposure to computer screens. May need to lift and move light to medium weights. Must be able to hear clearly (correctable to within normal limits) to record telephone information, and to see (vision correctable to 20/20) to complete documents. Frequent interaction with patrons may cause stress. (my highlight)

What kind of patrons?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Truck Nutz

The Florida State Legislature is trying to ban these little adornments a-dangling down there. Maybe TruckNutz should open a shop in Kinshasa,Congo.

The Dreaded Penis Snatchers

I was wondering what the hell happened to me this morning.

Penis theft panic hits city..

By Joe Bavier
KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.
Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Maybe they should ban Harry Potter from our libraries if the evil bastards are running around doing this.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why Do Women...

Time for the gals...only 65,800,000 hits on Google.

Why do women live longer than men? (I'm going to ease my way past that one.)

Why do women have to be perfect? (Huh?)

Why do women wear bras? (Yeah, how come? It's annoying. If I was president I'd ban them.)

Why do women get plastered at fancy dress parties? (And why haven't I been invited, damn!)

Why do women like cads? (I don't know, but I know a great fancy dress party, sweetie pie.)

Why do women read romance? (Because they keep going to fancy parties with cads?)

Why do women fake orgasm? (I dunno, never happened to me.)

Why do women like gay men? (They dress better?)

Why do women's clothes button from the left, while men's button from the right? (I hate that, especially in the dark after a fancy dress party, it's confusing.)

Thank you Google, I feel a little smarter now.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Be Googling

I love Google. I like to type in random stuff and see what happens.

This time I typed...Why do men...and hit enter.

77,600,000 hits.

The number one topic seems to be, Why do men cheat?, followed closely by, Why do men fall asleep after sex? Hmm. Cheating sounds like hard work.

Next up, Why do men have nipples?, followed by , Why do men like boobs so much? Possibly because we have such little nipples.

One of my favorites...Why do men fart more than women? I think we have more fun making loud noises.

Why do men fight? Why do men like prostitutes? Why do men die younger? Why do men bareback? (I'm not sure what that means, and I'm sure I don't want to know) Why do men lose weight faster? Why are men smarter than woman? (OK, I made that up) Why do men go bald? Why do old men have breasts? (WHAT?) Why do men do what they do?

Only 77,599,985 hit to go...and here is my favorite..Why do men BBQ? Because we can!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Future of Library Computing

After a recent grad school assignment in which we had to purchase 10 computers for $815 each, including OS and anti virus, I'm beginning to wonder if traditional computing is the way to go.

Library budgets are tight and getting tighter, especially as communities react negatively to the prospect of their real estate taxes going up to fund their local library.

So throw away the computers, and outsource the entire thing to Amazon. Amazon has spent a gazillion dollars building up their infrastructure. Check out Amazon Web Services on the Amazon homepage - about halfway down on the left hand side of the page.

Amazon Web Services provides developers with direct access to Amazon's robust technology platform. (,2008)

And that is one big platform. Imagine a library full of desks with LCD monitors, keyboard, mouse and USB ports. No computers, because everything goes through the Amazon platform.

Forget floppy disks or CD's, everything is migrating to flash drives. I was beside myself when I picked up a 4GB flash drive in Best Buy for $40 last month. If I'd waited a month I could've picked up an 8GB flash.

8GB! And check out Portable Apps at Suite™ is a collection of portable apps including a web browser, email client, office suite, calendar/scheduler, instant messaging client, antivirus, sudoku game, backup utility and integrated menu, all preconfigured to work portably. Just drop it on your portable device and you're ready to go. (Portable Apps, 2008)

You can download the standard version that will take up 86MB of room, or the lite version which will take up around 30MB.

Forget Windows. Bring your flash drive with the portable office suite, plug into the library's USB port, research, do homework, go home.

I bet with a little imagination libraries could start to slash their tech bills dramatically.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

$1-a-book reserve fee urged for L.A. libraries

From the LA Daily News-

By Kerry Cavanaugh, Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 04/17/2008 11:48:52 PM PDT

In a sign of the increases Angelenos will face as the city grapples with a massive budget crunch, the Los Angeles Public Library is proposing a $1 fee to have a book transferred between branches.

The fee is one of several new charges and increases that could take effect July 1 to help the public library system cope with budget cuts brought on by the city's $406 million deficit.

How about firing a couple bureaucrats instead? Targeting libraries often targets those who can't fight back.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Libraries become more critical as economy weakens

From the Buffalo News -

By Michael Borges
Updated: 04/10/08 8:40 AM

New York’s libraries are about to get more popular.

No, it’s not because of the good books, great resources, helpful certified librarians or new services like online learning materials and downloadable audio books.

As they say in political circles, “It’s the economy stupid.” The price of gas is up. The cost of eggs, milk and bread is up. Unemployment is up and house foreclosures are skyrocketing throughout the state and nation. And so, too, is public library traffic.

I just paid $56 to put 13 gallons of regular in my car. I'll be visiting the library a LOT this summer.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Wouldn't want to be working the Return Desk when these books came back (up).

Edible books benefit libraries
Monday, April 07, 2008
NORTHAMPTON - Some took a bite out of J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in The Rye," while others munched on "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown. People who visited the Lilly Library in Florence yesterday were able to taste dishes inspired by books during the second annual Edible Book event.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Writers Blog Till They Drop...NYT

April 6, 2008

In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop


SAN FRANCISCO — They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece — not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home.

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

The only thing worse than blogging is reading the damn things, except for my wife's blog of course. She is talented, beautiful, sexy and a great writer.

Happy Birthday sweetie.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Special report: Should the public library no longer be public?

From the Tewksbury Advocate:

Tewksbury - As the national economy plunges further into recession, gas prices continue to hike, and the price of living continues to climb, local governments like Tewksbury that are already wrought with fees and cuts are exploring the notion of privatizing the public library.

Check out this link:

I suspect this is an issue that won't go away. Half the people in my town consider the main library one step up from a homeless shelter, and resent the taxes they pay to support the library.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Horrendous Violence

Here is a link to FITNA - A Movie about the Quran by Dutch filmmaker Geert Wilders.

The video first appeared on, but they had to pull it after their employees were threatened with violence. Mull that over.

The images are ghastly, be warned they show terrible things. I think it's important in the middle of a presidential race to remember 9/11 and why we are at war today. It's important to trim away the silly "Bush Lied, Soldiers Died" bumper sticker mentality and understand the US is confronted by an implacable enemy.

Be warned, the images are very graphic. But remember, these people don't want to be your friend, they don't want to negotiate, they don't want to co-exist. They want you dead.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


CPU hell. I have been trying to find benchmarks for CPU performance that I can understand without an advanced degreee in computer engineering.

This helps - - from PassMark Software. And I like this one from Tom's Hardware -

What's interesting is the faster the chip, the more power it uses and the greater the heat dissipation.

Monday, March 17, 2008

CMU's Library Arcade

Everyone having fun with their tech assignment from GSLIS 700?

I have a house full of computers, I know all about buying the damn things, I used to go to computer shows and have them assembled ala carte. But hewing to a strict budget is like raking leaves on a windy day, I can't seem to quite pin anything down.

Anyway, here is a little gem from Carnegie Mellon University (where I saw Roxy Music play in the gymnasium mid 70's).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sundays - Chicken S**t Bingo

Spotted in Wired Magazine in their Culture:Lifestyle web site...

Somehow I don't think this is going to make the New York Times Culture Pages.

AUSTIN, Texas -- During South by Southwest, out-of-town showgoers are increasingly seeking out a popular local institution: Chicken Shit Bingo, Austin's answer to Las Vegas' craps.

Every Sunday, locals jam into Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon, a tiny, dark honky-tonk. There they down Lone Stars, shoot the breeze and listen to Austin country legend Dale Watson tease some soul out of his coin-covered guitar. But mostly, they're waiting for an orange hen named Sissy to steal the show.

The low-tech concept of Chicken Shit Bingo is beautifully simple: Put a live chicken in a cage atop a piece of plywood marked with a grid. Sell tickets for each of the 54 squares, then let the chicken strut around the cage. When the bird relieves itself, you've got a winner.

Friday, March 14, 2008

John Cleese to the United States

To: The citizens of the United States of America:

In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect: You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.

1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix -ize will be replaced by the suffix -ise. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell- checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize. You will relearn your original national anthem, God Save The Queen.

4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

8. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

9. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline)-roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

11. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer,and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them.

12. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie McDowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

13. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try Rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.

14. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America . Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

15. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

16. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to en sure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

17. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; strawberries in season.

God save the Queen. Only He can.

John Cleese ********************

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Semantic Web? I Just Figured Out Web 2.0!

Web inventer Tim Berners-Lee about new Web developments -"the "current craze" for social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace would eventually be superseded by networks that connected all types of things — not just people — thanks to a ground-breaking technology known as the "semantic web".

The semantic web is the term used by the computer and internet industry to describe the next phase of the web's development, and essentially involves building web-based connectivity into any piece of data — not just a web page — so that it can "communicate" with other information. "

Web 1.0 was a snap. Web 2.0...not so easy. The semantic web...hell!

The article can be found at:

Quote of the Week

Ex-NYSE director Ken Langone about his nemesis, Eliot Spitzer - "We all have our own private hells. I hope his private hell is hotter than anybody else's."

Spitzer was a mean, prick bastard who was undone by his own prick.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Eaten Alive

I was channel-surfing the other day and landed on the National Geograpic Channel. I remember when TV nature shows were of a gentler bent.

First you'd see a pride of lions sleeping, the antelope nibbling on a bush, the lions now awake and alert, the antelope flicking it's tail and looking around nervously, the lions hunting as a pack, the antelope panicked and running, the lion leaping with outstretched claws, a pile of dust...then the lions are lolling around, cleaning themselves off while the cubs play tug-of-war with the leftover tail.

Today it's all about the mayhem. This time the lion leaped on the antelope's back, another got it by the throat, another took it's legs out, there was a frantic moment rolling in the dust as they disembowled the antelope like it had a zipper on it's belly...then the feeding began.

It was ghastly. The lions didn't waste time to finish the kill, and just began feeding right away. The antelope lay on the ground, it's rear leg twitching feebly trying to push the lions away, with it's head up watching the lions eat it.

I'm a boomer, and once I slipped past fifty, I began to appreciate the finality of life. The "It's not going to happen to me" attitude changes to, "I wonder how it's going to happen to me". I have pet ways I'd rather not go, like burned at the stake, airplane crash or being crushed.

But at the very top of my list, is being eaten alive. Part Two later

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Useless Pets

My lovely daughter brought home a turtle found wandering in six inches of snow. Turns out it's a Russian Tortoise, or Agrionemys horsfieldii ( Testudo horsfieldii), and there are web sites dedicated to these silly things.

Eventually I figured out why it was wandering in the snow...this is the most useless pet ever.

First we had to bring it to a veterinarian. Naturally you can't bring a Russian Tortoise to just any vet, it has to go to a specialist in exotic creatures a couple towns away from us. In the waiting room I enjoyed a caged pigeon and a ferret eyeing each other.

We'd named the tortoise Phoebe, but the vet happily showed us Phoebe was really a Phil, an experience I don't ever want to repeat. The rest of the session was kind of a blur, and my wife made sure I didn't see the amount of the check she wrote out.

My daughter spent a fortune buying Phil a cage and heat lamps, and we sat back to watch him. And you know what, Agrionemys horsfieldii didn't do a thing.

You can't teach it tricks. It can't catch a Frisbee. It doesn't roll over. It doesn't fetch. It doesn't chase mice. It doesn't bark and warn you if the house is on fire or a bad guy snuck in. It's not very bright, and spends useless hours banging it's head on the glass cage trying to get out. If you let it out of the cage, it tries to hide under something. If you so much as twitch a muscle it freezes and pulls it's head under it's shell. Best of all, these little horrors are loaded with salmonella, so every time you touch it, you have to scrub your hands.

To top it off, they're picky. The temperature and humidity in their cage has to be just right. They require a certain kind of sand and hay, can only eat certain kinds of plants, have to soaked occasionally in an inch or two of water (my daughter explained why and I immediately forgot). They have to go to the vet for regular checkups and their feces examined for parasites. Yuck!

I'm sure someone got tired of fecal parasites and scrubbing their hands for salmonella. Snow? Ahh, the damn thing will hibernate.

Monday, February 25, 2008

After 28 years on the trading floor of the NYSE, I jumped at the offer of early retirement, especially before my blood pressure cratered my brain like an old pinata.

Early retirement, the American Dream! Golf, fishing, leisure!

Except I hadn't really thought it through. I can't stand golf. Nothing happens. You have to wait your turn. When it is your turn, the ball goes into the woods. What kind of stupid sport is this? When fishing I have to wait for the damn fish to grab my hook, then it's a bloody, sticky mess yanking it off the hook. And don't believe you can revive a fish pulling it backwards in the water, the fish doesn't care when it's insides are stuck on your hook.

Leisure, humbug! I needed something to do.

Bill's Breakfast & Bait sounded idyllic, a little shack in an estuary along the North Carolina coast, cooking up breakfast and selling bait to the fishermen. Open at 4 AM, closed by 12 PM, home by early afternoon. My wife loved the idea. In fact, it was her idea.

I like to cook, but I'm not all cheerful in the morning, one complaint about my coffee would lead to a fistfight. And the first person to send his eggs back because they weren't runny enough would have the plate tossed at him. And the smell of bait mixed with pancakes leaves something to be desired. So Bill's B&B will stay firmly in cyberspace, where I don't have to smell anything, and if someone gives me a hard time, I just delete them. Oh yeah!

I'm going to ramble, some incidentals, some music, a lot about us baby boomers as we migrate off this mortal coil like a vast herd of lemmings. I just read about Frank Buckles, America's last living WW I veteran. What a strange feeling, to be the last. Someday my grandchildren are going to read about the last Baby Boomer alive. Articles will be written by journalists for a week or two, then we'll slide into oblivion, our legacy batted around by historians.