Google Continues Quest to Index All Atoms

September 8, 2008 | personal, technology
Google has begun digitizing old newspapers, making certain old Onion stories a bit less funny. I hope it goes without saying that I love technology, but…at the same time, there’s something I used to find infinitely more gratifying about having to use card catalogs, paper indexes, and microfiche. That romantic nostalgia makes me keep my diaries in Moleskines and sketchbooks, causes me to allow piles of books to keep refuge in my apartment, strikes fear into my heart when I see the disturbingly...

The Geek Globetrotter

September 7, 2008 | personal
This was kind of funny, until it really processed that I’ve got three more confirmed trips this year and a fourth in planning stages with a fifth likely—and that’s only good enough to be #2 in my network. I might want to admit I have a travel addiction.

WALL•E's Soundtrack

June 30, 2008 | personal
In my earlier review, I compared WALL•E—at least the first half—to a silent film. (True, the sentences, “Directive?”, “WALL•E,” “EVE,” and “Classified!” are indeed spoken, but since that’s it, I’m willing to fudge a little.) Silent films were, of course, not actually silent; a pianist—or, for larger locales, an organist, or even an entire orchestra—provided music to accompany the visuals. I had hoped that WALL•E would honor that tradition by having an outstanding soundtrack. I was not...

WALL•E: The Last Great "Silent" Film

June 29, 2008 | personal
I was more excited about the arrival of WALL•E than I have been about any movie in a very long time. WALL•E would be one of the last Pixar films with minimal Disney influence, promised to make us fall in love with a pair of robots, and, I hoped, would give the Pixar a chance to redeem itself from Cars (also known as “Doc Hollywood with less nudity and more automobiles”). Besides, the trailer for this post-apocalyptic G-rated adventure used part of the soundtrack from Brazil. What wasn’t there to...

The Ultimate Philosophers

April 11, 2008 | personal
Whenever someone asks me who my favorite philosopher is, my answer usually elicits either a blank stare or a chuckle. My answer is always Bill Watterson. Watterson’s comics meant a lot to me when I was growing up. Even though I was hardly an impossible-to-manage kid (cough), I empathized strongly with Calvin’s view of the world. As a constant daydreamer myself, his blurring of reality and fiction spoke to me in a way that few other works, comic or otherwise, really could. As I grew older, Calvin...

An Ode to Primer

April 10, 2008 | personal
One of my absolute favorite movies is Primer. Written, directed, and scored by an engineer who also serves as the film’s leading actor, Primer stands as a testament to what science fiction can be. Too many science fiction works either are nothing but social commentary that use science as a glorified MacGuffin, or else have plots that exist primarily to rant about new scientific ideas. Primer has neither fault, beautifully embracing hard science while having a riveting interpersonal drama based...

Life of the Simple Folk

March 31, 2008 | personal
For most of my life, I’ve been deeply involved in technology. My father taught me GW-BASIC when I was five. I had traced Smalltalk down to the bytecodes by the time I was twelve and from there to 68k assembly a year later. I insisted on disassembling most of the objects we had in the house in an attempt to figure out how they worked, and to build my own (which, unfortunately, tended not to work as well as the originals). In many, many ways, technology has defined me for most of my life. Yet at...

A Gentle Story for the Sabbath

March 28, 2008 | personal
Not remotely related to science or technology, but this nice story of a mugging taking a beautifully positive turn is more appropriate for the end of the week anyway.

NYC Police

December 27, 2007 | personal, politics
Bloomberg announced today that New York City will be deploying new cops to crime-ridden areas of Brooklyn in an attempt to decrease the city’s crime rate. That’s a really spiffy idea, and I support it, but, personally, I think that maybe stemming the mass exodus of qualified police officers—perhaps by increasing their salaries so they’re at least competitive with nearby cities and towns that have a lower cost-of-living—might be a better idea. In order to finance a pay raise, I propose a $100...

Mental Break

November 25, 2007 | personal, politics
As the world gets more insane, I sometimes need a mental break. For example, President Bush covering U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday. Am I bad for liking this version more than the original?