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Three Men and a Container Full of Bath Toys

These past few weeks I've been listening obsessively to Eminem. It started innocently enough - a VH1 special back in March, a pleasant evening spent watching 8 mile. Next thing you know, I've turned into Michael Bolton from Office Space, shocking the cows with explicit lyrics as I zoom by on the morning commute. I realized that things had gotten bad today when I walked in on the


Physics 2, Business Administration 0

"When a program agrees to spend less money or accelerate a schedule beyond what the engineers and program managers think is reasonable, a small amount of overall risk is added. These little pieces of risk add up until managers are no longer aware of the total program risk, and are, in fact, gambling. Columbia Accident Investigation Report, pp 139 One of the most sobering conc…


Things I Have Learned About Foam From the Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report

Insulating foam falls off of the external tank on every Shuttle mission, usually in popcorn-size pieces.

No one knows why foam falls off the tank.

On about 10% of missions, foam falls off of the left bipod ramp, part of the Y-shaped structure that holds the Orbiter's nose to the external fuel tank.

No one knows why this happens, either.

Pieces of foam that fall off of t…


In an Ivory Tower

This afternoon I paid a visit to the Getty, the unearthly palace of an art museum perched high on an L.A. mountain, overlooking everything.

Single people of Los Angeles: you must run, not walk, to the Getty Center. If you have a date, there is no other place you want to be, because the Getty Center is the architectural equivalent of a Barry White recor…


A Night in Pasadena

Henry David Thoreau writes in with some timely advice:

This spending of the best part of one's life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it reminds me of the Englishman who went to India to make a fortune first, in order that he might return to England and live the life of a poet. He should have gone up to the garret at once.…


I Have a Poor Attitude

Premature mid-life crisis continues. I have been imagining myself facing a lineup of younger versions of me, and explaining what exactly I am doing here at the Society of American Archivists annual meeting. My twelve-year-old self asks why I am not in the Navy, my twenty-year-old self is shocked that I sold out to The Man, my six-year-old self freaks out at the fact that I'm still in the St…


Our Man in Afghanistan

Ben Hammersley is going to Afghanistan!

Movable Type meets Mujahedeen. It's going to be fun.
Pretty soon we're going to have to buy this gentleman a whip and a Stetson hat. Good luck, Mr. Hammersley, and please be safe.…


Parallel universes

The unbearable weather continues - at seven in the morning I go for a jog, and the air is already stifling. It smells like a hamperful of gym socks pulled out of the drier ten minutes too soon. It rains every day. I ventured out into the garden today to look for ripe tomatoes, only to find that half of them had split open, unable to take the pressure. The most promising survivor, large and…


Boring RSS Post

"I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on a full suit of armor and attacked a Hot Fudge Sundae or a Banana Split." - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. That quote sums up exactly how I feel about the fight now brewing over weblog syndication formats. There's a prime case of tilting at sundaes up …


Hotel California

I've arrived in Los Angeles, waiting for the Big One to throw me out of the eighteenth floor of the Century Plaza Hotel. My room overlooks Beverly Hills and downtown Los Angeles, visible as a faint set of vertical lines through the brown mist. Nineteen years ago, I lived just a mile or two from here in Beverly Hills. My mother was a housekeeper for a funny old bat of a woman named Mrs. Ta…


Our Lucky Winner

We have our one millionth blog, and you'll never guess who it is. Who knew? I guess it's especially appropriate, since I'm listening to the book on tape as I type this. …



Sometime this morning, the Blog Census will pass the million blog mark. I'm tempted to call these BogoBlogs, in homage to Linus Torvalds and his dislike for dubious, arbitrary statistics. But however bogus the count, hey - we got a million!…



Sometime this morning, the Blog Census will pass the million blog mark. I'm tempted to call these BogoBlogs, in homage to Linus Torvalds and his dislike for useless, arbitrary statistics. But because I had to wake up early to fix the number formatting code to put in the second comma, I feel like indulging in a little attention-seeking. Not to be con…


Upper Vistula, I've Been Missing Ya

I used to cringe when people told me they were thinking of visiting Warsaw. It was like hearing that someone was planning to go to a Bob Dylan concert. You knew that, unless they understood the complicated historical trajectory involved and had an immense reserve of good will, chances are they would have an awful time. I have always been a great fan of my home town (and Bob Dylan, for that …


The West Coast is the Best Coast

Next week I am going to be in Los Angeles for the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists. I am not an archivist, just a dabbler, and I figure this is a good chance to learn from people who actually know what they're doing. I had visions of cardigans and wire-rim glasses in my head, but these archivists are a surprisingly active bunch. The list of pre-conference tours includes a…


Warbloggers are from Mars

If you're a political blogger, then chances are you have a penis! Read all about it on the new Blog Census weblog. My own theory on the scarcity of female warbloggers is that they're kept too busy ironing all those brown shirts.…


Waypath RSS feeds for search

Waypath is now offering RSS feeds for individual search queries. That means you can monitor changing search results in your aggregator. Very cool. We had per-search feeds working on LazyWeb for a while, but then I broke the search engine altogether... Kudos to Steve and Martin for continuing …


Addison County Fair and Field Days

Tonight we tested the better half's newly acquired vegan principles in the crucible of the Addison County Fair and Field Days, the local summer agricultural fair, where every animal on display is also conveniently available served hot on a kaiser roll.

Winner: Fair and Field Days, by a margin of…


The Most Boring Weblog

I've found it! The most boring weblog on the Internet!…


Supreme Ultimate Fist

Yesterday I went with the better half to my first lesson in Supreme Ultimate Fist. The instructor calls it by its Chinese name, T'ai Chi, but I think that's doing a disservice to the unsung marketing genius behind it. Go ahead and study "the way of harmony of the spirit" , "empty hand", or even "the way of foot and fist"*, nancy boy. I'll just be …


Winer Watch

The Berkman Center Ourobouros strikes again: an essay about the importance of linking to others, where all the hyperlinks just point back to himself.

You can't make this stuff up.…


Two Articles

Two articles you shouldn't miss. The first, via Slashdot, is a lawyer's take on the strange Talmudic intricacies of copyright law:

It is, for example, technically against the law for Girl Scouts to sing "This Land Is Your Land" and "Puff, the Magic Dragon" around a campfire withou…

Idle Words

brevity is for the weak

Greatest Hits

The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel
The story of America's most awesome infrastructure project.

Argentina on Two Steaks A Day
Eating the happiest cows in the world

Scott and Scurvy
Why did 19th century explorers forget the simple cure for scurvy?

No Evidence of Disease
A cancer story with an unfortunate complication.

Controlled Tango Into Terrain
Trying to learn how to dance in Argentina

Dabblers and Blowhards
Calling out Paul Graham for a silly essay about painting

Attacked By Thugs
Warsaw police hijinks

Dating Without Kundera
Practical alternatives to the Slavic Dave Matthews

A Rocket To Nowhere
A Space Shuttle rant

Best Practices For Time Travelers
The story of John Titor, visitor from the future

100 Years Of Turbulence
The Wright Brothers and the harmful effects of patent law

Every Damn Thing

Every Damn Thing

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