Brain Crack

Merlin points out one of the great The Show episodes and I liked it so much I decided to embed it here:

Ze is absolutely right. If you don't ever follow through on your ideas then you'll never have to take a risk on failing and you can swaddle yourself in the comfort of the idea without ever doing the work to execute it.


I've been reading more. A lot more.

I've always been a reader. Whenever we move we end up carting along huge numbers of boxes filled with books. Our apartment has multiple bookcases including one Expedit that has books stacked two and three levels deep.

For the last couple of years I haven't been reading as many books as I usually do. Part of this has to do with the fact that I'm married now, and my wife and I will often go to events in the city, resulting in less time spent sitting around the house pawing through a book.

The other big reason is that Adrian was born nearly two years ago (!!!) and I spend much more of my free time parenting and pushing him on the swings. I would never think of trading that time for reading time, but I still miss it.

The real reason I'm reading less is that I lost my reading focus. Where I used to burn through books at the rate of one every couple of days, I realized in December that I had gotten to the point where I was in the middle of a dozen different books and I wasn't excited about reading any of them. Reading had become drudgery and something that I only did right before falling asleep.

The thing that has changed that for me is Facebook. Or, more precisely, I've been reading more. Living Social. It's not the greatest app in the world, and it can be extremely slow, but the way it tracks active reading queue keeps me on task and also gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Even though my queue usually has at least half a dozen books in it, I'm usually only a reading one of them at a time. When I'm done I get to check it off my list and think about the next thing to read. Sometimes I like to think about it as though I have a brand new video game called "Reading." Every time I finish a book I get a point. It doesn't have the constant adrenaline rush of TF2, but I'm learning a lot more playing it.

I'm also setting aside at least two hours a night to read, and sometimes more. Whereas, in the past I would put Adrian to bed and then browse the web for several hours, I'm brewing a cup of tea and sitting down in my comfy chair with my lastest find. Most of the books I've been reading are relatively short at two to three hundred pages, and if I'm enjoying the book and giving it the right level of attention I can burn through it in a single evening.

I also find that when I'm reading four or five books a week I have a different focus and expectation on what I'm doing. I don't assume that a given book is going to be part of my life for a long period of time. There's more freedom knowing that the next book is right around the corner and I'm happy to take a chance on something that's outside of my comfort zone.

Word Cloud

Word clouds have been popping up after every major speech and debate for the past couple of years. They're a great way of displaying word frequency in a beautiful way. I made one today that exposes the real truth about one of the most common blocks of text ever.

Black Hole Simulation

I love looking at beautiful astronomy pictures, but it's often easy to forget what violent and alien landscapes they depict. Black holes were only conceived of in the middle of the last century, and were only a thought experiment until even more recently. They're such an interesting class of objects that they have been featured in every story or movie that could be tangentially related to, and that ubiquitousness has bred familiarity.

Well, here's a movie that someone put together that attempts to depict what it would actually look like for a star to be consumed by a nearby black hole. You can almost feel the hard radiation sleeting through your fragile body.


November Fourth

Since Adrian was born, I tend to think about most things not in their relation to me, but in what they will mean to him and what his perception of them will be. Rather than being freighted with years of personal experience the weight of history, he's starting from nothing, and will build up his worldview based initially on our perceptions and then only later, his own.

I've been thinking about this election a lot, and how he'll look back on it. He's going to grow up in a world where the thought that anyone can be president isn't just a trope, it's reality. It won't matter to his generation what their background is, they'll have proof that anyone can become president, because they'll have the proof in the news every day.

Not coming from a political dynasty, Barack Obama is living proof that anyone of my son's generation can become president, that we can all make a difference if we have the drive, the discipline and the will.

My son really is going to grow up in a different world than the one I grew up in, and it's absolutely wonderful.

McCain's Long Shot

At this point McCain seems to be pulling out of Colorado, Iowa and New Mexico and hoping that he can win the presidency by winning Pennsylvania. For this to work he'd have to win Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Nevada, all of which he is behind in, and also win Pennsylvania.

If he wins Pennsylvania then he could have a shot, but look at the latest numbers:

Does that look promising?

A Chance for Something Amazing

I caught this on Andrew Sullivan's site, and this is be most amazing thing I've seen today. Andrew's right. This election is a chance for something amazing to happen, and if feels like it's time. When the country is in such trouble, when we have so many challenges to face, can we possibly see past our racial differences? I think we can.

Seeing Richard Trumka (Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO) speak so eloquently about the race issue gives me hope for the future. We can make a change. We can get this country back. But we need to work together to do it.