Friday, December 20, 2002

Final Thoughts on 2002

It wasn't as bad as 2001 in that I didn't witness one of the most horrible things ever seen this year, but it was a year of challenges. There has been sadness. I buried my great-Uncle Fran. My wife lost her job in May. We had no kitchen for almost three months. I lost 10 pounds, then gained 20. I've witnessed the things I hold dear about this country be dismantled. And the threat of war looms.

But, but. I have watched my daughter grow from a baby to a little girl. I spent time in sunny California with family and friends. Rachael and I hosted a great Thanksgiving dinner. I have a new, beautiful kitchen. I got good news in March that will make 2003 very interesting. I've been gainfully employed the whole year doing interesting work for a decent wage. I've made some new friends and reconnected with old ones. I've spent hours on warm beaches and in the crisp snow. I've read some good books and drunk $40 bottles of wine. I have had long talks and good dinners with my beautiful wife.

I'm listening to The Flaming Lips song "Fight Test" as I write this and the lyrics echo everything I'm thinking, so maybe I'll just write those down and wish all three of you who read this blog the very best, a happy holiday season, and a bright new year.

"I don't know where the sunbeams end and the starlight begins, it's all a mystery...I'm a man, not a boy and there are things you can't avoid, you have to face them when you are not prepared to face them...I don't know how a man decides what's right for his own life. It's all a mystery."

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Movies of the Year

I haven't seen any of the big-name end of year films (About Schmidt, The Hours, Gangs of New York, etc) yet (except The Two Towers). So excepting those, my list is pitifully small this year. Bowling for Columbine, Posession, and Spider Man are my only real picks this year.

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TV of the Year

Hasn't been the greatest year for TV. Even some of my favorites (Survivor, The West Wing, and Six Feet Under) haven't been as top-notch as they've been in the past. The Sopranos is still too uneven. Really, only two shows have constantly delivered over the last year: Alias and The Daily Show. Alias has Jennifer Garner as the most bitchin' secret agent since Diana Reed in The Avengers and enough intrigue and twists to satisfy X-Files/Twin Peaks buffs like myself. The Daily Show, even minus some of the brilliant correspondents it used to have, still has the best, most insiteful, political commentary around.

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Thursday, December 19, 2002

Slow Company

This Fast Company article doesn't correlate to my own experience at all. Sure, people want to start companies. Of course there are a lot of talented people that can be recruited for cheap. But the bottom line is that there is 1) no venture to be found and 2) few clients/customers to be found to even sell your services to. Big, established companies can't get people to buy their services and products. How are Joe and Jane Schmo going to get them to?

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Police State

I really don't like the America we're now living in, where those who cooperate get detained because of their ethnicity. Ben Franklin's 1784 proclamation that "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" keeps echoing through my mind. This is not what the Founding Fathers (not to mention all the American vets of all the wars since then) fought and bled and died to create, sustain, and preserve.

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Music of the Year

Some of these might not have come out this year, but this was the year I heard them for the first time. In no particular order...A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay. Stereo/Mono, Paul Westerberg. Maladroit, Weezer. Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, PJ Harvey. Jimmy Eat World, Jimmy Eat World. 18, Moby. Heathen, David Bowie. musicforthemorningafter, Pete Yorn. Summer Teeth, Wilco. Lapalco, Brendan Benson.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2002

New WTC Architecture

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. unveiled more proposed designs for the World Trade Center Site today, some of which features buildings taller than the previous WTC.

I can understand the reasoning for it ("We'll show them!"), but the danger of providing another high-profile target like The Tallest Building(s) In The World really weighs heavily on my mind. As it should on anyone who watched the planes crash into the original buildings.

That said, I do like some of these designs, especially United Architect's Blade Runner-esque one and THINK Team's off-beat double-helix Eiffel Towers.

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I Believe in Yesterday

As if I needed another reason to hate Yoko Ono, she's trying to stop Paul from swapping his name with John's on "Yesterday." A song he wrote alone, with no help from Lennon. At times, Yoko has been paid more than Paul for the royalties on the song, and that's just wrong.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Books of the Year

It's that time again when everyone does their best-of lists, and I'm no exception. I'll start with books, since I don't think I'll get through many more of them by year's end. In no particular order...
The Little Friend, Donna Tartt. Shogun, James Cavell. The Lovely Bones, Alice Seybold. Desolation Island, The Fortune of War, and The Far Side of the World, by Patrick O'Brian. Emergence, Steven Johnson. Our Band Could Be Your Life, Michael Azzerad.

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Comments Working Again

Wow, comments are working again! Every time I get them working, within two days, they disappear. We'll see how long they last this time...

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Monday, December 16, 2002

Al, We Hardly Knew Ye

Gore stepping aside pretty much guarantees Bush another four years, IMHO. None of the other current Democratic candidates stands a chance against him, so characterless or annoying (or both) are they.

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Nobel Peace Prize Winner: Sean Penn?

What I want to know is: Did Sean Penn punch out any photographers on his peace trip to Iraq?

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Thursday, December 12, 2002

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Articles like this one about heating subsidies make me ashamed of how we treat the poor and disadvantaged in this country. It's sick how rich we are as a country, and how wide the (growing) gap is between our rich and our poor.

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In praise of

I've become a huge fan of the photoshopped images on, like this one that gives the bankrupt United a new logo. They are a brilliant combination of low-brow and high-brow humor. What is really interesting is how some pretty obscure pop-culture references get worked in, as well as recurring characters and themes. There's a Ph.D. dissertation waiting to written about how various motifs return over and over, becoming an "inside" joke on the site.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2002

The Future of Desktops

Steven Johnson, whose books I have read and admired, has written an interesting article on the new (and divergent) UIs for Windows (Codename "Longhorn") and Mac (OX10 and iApps). Microsoft is trying to make one interface for all types of data, while Apple is trying to provide different interfaces for different data types. Interesting.

I'm of two minds about this. First, I can understand easing the learning curve. Learning how MS Word works helps you with Excel. There are millions of people who only need to do unsophisticated things with their machines and should only have to know a limited amount of things to accomplish their goals.

But...the data is different. I need to do radically different things with my MP3s than I need to do with my Photoshop files. Thus, I need different tools to manipulate such things. I'm sure people use Excel in much more sophisticated ways than I do, much as I'm sure I use Visio in more sophisticated ways than many.

Is the answer the dreaded modes? Stay tuned, I guess...

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Monday, December 9, 2002

PVRs Changing TV

After reading this article about Personal Video Recorders, I can't see how, in a couple of years or so, how we watch television (and how it is delivered to us), won't be totally transformed. My bold prediction is that by the end of the decade, one of the big broadcast networks will become like HBO: a subscription-based service.

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Friday, December 6, 2002

It's the economy, Stupid

Considering my talented wife hasn't been able to find work in months, this report on unemployment is no shock to me. What is shocking is how little attention is being paid to the economy. Yes, yes, the war on terror and all that, but a couple million people are looking at a holiday season without work. Maybe the resignation of these jokers will make things better, but don't hold your breath.

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Thursday, December 5, 2002

Admiring the Horrible

It's Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday today. I didn't know that, at the age of 41, he volunteered to fight in WWII and flew a glider into Normandy during D-Day. Christ. Although I've often loathed his Cracker politics, I have to admire his cojones.

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Show Me the Weapons

Can't we wait until the weapons inspectors have done their jobs before preempting them? Or, simply, show us the proof. If the Bush Administration has evidence Iraq has these weapons: show us. Make a case. If thousands of people are going to die, don't they owe us that much?

Posted at 01:42 PM | comments (2) | trackback (0) | link


Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Design Limitations Cause Bad Design

The more I think about it, the more I am starting to think that most bad design decisions aren't made because the designer didn't anticipate them or was a bad designer, but because of the limitations of the project (time, budget, technology, resources (human and otherwise)) prevented a more complete solution. Sometimes in product development, compromises have to be made to get the product out the door. And, not to sound like Microsoft here, but sometimes even a greatly-flawed product is better than none at all.

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