When prophecy fails

What do technology startups and UFO communities have in common?

Years ago, when I was a graduate student in the American Studies department at the University of Texas, my professor asked me to research and write a paper about an American text.

Life of a mnemonist

I just finished reading A. R. Luria's Mind of a Mnemonist, a book about a man who had a fabulous memory. It reminded me of a short story by Borges, Funes el memorioso. Funes could remember everything that happened in his life, and would stay awake at night recounting his life's history. The subject of Luria's case history was referred to as "S" and he did not have an incontinent memory, like Funes, but he had a prodigious memory that he learned to cultivate by populating imaginary buildings with different memories, each in a separate room.

Pig lovers and pig haters

Nights like tonight, I re-read @wilshipley: "There are two kinds of startup founders: strip miners and farmers." http://blog.wilshipley.com/2011/04/success-and-farming-vs-mining.html

Tracking vessels at sea or anything in motion using scalable vector graphics (Snap SVG)

Check it out

I recently became curious about the Automatic Identification System used by vessels at sea. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_Identification_System), it enables anyone with an interest to track a tanker moving across San Francisco bay, or a containerized cargo ship moving across the vast Pacific. The AIS system broadcasts the vessel's identifying information, its course, destination, the type of vessel, even the dimensions of the vessel.

Quartz Composer: Who knew you were so dang amazing?

Years ago, I remember reading a blog post about Quartz Composer, a Mac OS application that seems to have been intended to create graphical filters, screensavers, and graphics-intensive applications. It's not an authoring environment, it is more of a visual programming language. There are little blocks of code called Patches and patches have inputs and outputs that can be wired up to each other, and can be combined to form larger blocks of code that are easier to manage.

Back to Yale for my class reunion

My freshman year a guy named Mark lived above me. He played the organ. After the library closed one night, he said: "Let's go to Battelle Chapel and I'll play the organ." I sat in the front row of the dark chapel while he played Bach. It was quite an experience. Not unlike the video below.

From pyramid to rectangle

America's morphing age pyramid

Longer life-spans and reduced birth rate means that the age pyramid in America has become a rectangle.

Remembering Gabriel García Márquez

When I was in elementary school there was a book that sat on the drafting table in the kitchen. On its cover was an illustration of a man and woman embracing, a reddish glow in the distance, some jungly growth crawling from below. The book was titled One Hundred Years of Solitude. One day when my dad was not around, I cracked it open and read a few pages, but put it down. This is a grown up book, I thought. I could tell by the illustration on the cover. I probably shouldn't read it.

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