Last Build Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 21:12:07 GMTCopyright: Copyright 2009 todd hoff
Sat, 19 Sep 2009 21:12:06 GMTRadio User Land was originator in the blog field, but now they are packing it in. So I've had to move. The new location for my blog is at:
Thu, 12 Mar 2009 20:23:38 GMTWhy Some Photographs Look Alive and Others Look Dead
Mon, 23 Feb 2009 19:37:39 GMTGrandma's Tips on Surviving Depression 2.0
Mon, 26 Jan 2009 00:20:54 GMTWhat I've Changed My Mind About: Was the Civil War the Best Way to End Slavery in the US?Each year the Edge Foundation asks leading world thinkers a big smart sounding question. In 2008 the question was What have you changed your mind about?. I'm not a leading world thinker, and nobody asked me, but I've come to change my mind on a serious issue and it's worth talking about because it's something that not too long ago I could never have pictured myself changing my mind about. The issue is: Was the Civil War the Best Way to End Slavery in the US? And by extension: is the military approach effective at solving a broad class of social problems?Growing up on the West Coast of the US the need for the Civil War to end slavery was unquestioned. After all, if there's something bad we appoint a czar and make war against it. Drugs are bad so we make war. Cancer is bad so we make a war. Illegal immigration is bad so we make a war. Terrorism is bad so we make a war. Saddam Hussein was bad so we made war against Iraq. This is a type of thinking we are comfortable with: X is bad so kill it. Kill or be killed. An eye for an eye. If we don't like it, kill it. It's an easy and conforting approach to problem solving. No thinking required.Interestingly though when it came to the one of the biggest evils of all--Soviet Union--we did not destroy them. In fact, we never directly attacked them. We played a long game. We outwitted and outlasted until now Russia is now more or less (often less) part of Western economic life and culture. China is being handled in a similar way. So when we think someone can hurt us we play the long game, but when we think we can win we play the short game of change through superior fire power. Notice that a long game based on values, patience, and intelligent structured interactions are the only games we seem to win.As a child I never questioned that the Civil War was necessary. Even as an adult I followed the "if X is bad kill it" way of thinking on the Civil War, even though this approach has been proven not to work against many if not most problems.I've recently read a book called the Greatest Emancipations: How the West Abolished Slavery by Jim Powell that changed my thinking on how the US chose to fight slavery. And I think the implication goes far beyond slavery and how we "fight" other "wars" as well.This is a fascinating book that is filled with a history that I had no idea about before reading the book. The key points:For thousands of years slavery went unchallenged as a way of life. In a single century slavery was abolished in the West.Only the US resorted to a Civil War to abolish slavery. The more violence involved in the emancipation process the worse the outcomes were.In the Civil War 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died. Perhaps more than 80,000 civilians died, most of them Southerners. Entire adult populations were wiped out in many communities. An estimate $1 billion to $1.5 billion in property was destroyed in the South. The South experienced runaway inflation. Most of the fighting occurred in the South and everywhere was ruin and desolation. The point is that the South suffered greatly. And like Germany after WWI, if you suffer there's not much room for change in your heart. It fuels vengence and hate and those twin powers can last forever. John Wilks Booth was outraged at the suffering of the Confederacy and showed his displeasure by murdering Lincoln. Booth did a good job furthering his cause. Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, was nothing like Lincoln and was prepared to let the South go its own way. The North won the war, but the white supremacists won the after-war. What I didn't know when I was younger is abolishing slavery in the South didn't really fix the problem. Without these elements Powell asserts a society can't be truly free:Constitutional limitations on government power.Rule of law.Equal rights.After the Civil War Blacks still had none of these. The problem was after such [...]
Wed, 26 Nov 2008 17:59:45 GMTFor a reason without reason I've always dreamed of riding in a zeppelin. No, not the Led variety. I'm not a groupy. I finally got my chance thanks to Airship Adventures. Here are a few pictures from the trip: Despite my lack of photography skills it was a picture perfect day. No wind and a blue sunny sky. Zeppelins are creatures of the wind. Too much wind and they can't fly. A couple on our trip were reschedulees from a wind day. We took the trip out of Moffet field. We originally signed up for the Sonoma trip but they had some issues with the landing field so we rescheduled. There's also an Oakland trip the goes out to the bay. I'm thinking I'll eventually hit them all. They also mentioned they eventually plan on a barnstorming type trip which will move along the coast. That would be a blast. Our trip went over 101 to San Mateo and back again. Not the fall colors of wine country but it was still gorgeous.If you are expecting something the size of the Hindenburg you'll be disappointed. These beasts are about 1/3rd the size and carry 12 passengers instead of 100. On the inside aren't the luxurious appointments of a gilded age, but functional seating meant for tourists on a short excursion. It's not claustrophobic on the inside (and I'm claustrophobic). All around you are windows so you can see from any angle. A few windows open so you can take pictures without window glare. The whole back end is a window with a window seat so you can look, sit, and contemplate. More than enough room and comfort for our 1 hour tour. And there is a tiny teeny bathroom if the need should arise (complementary picture included).Saying zeppelins are creatures of the wind gets directly to heart of what makes zeppelin riding different than a plane or helicopter ride. Zeppelins do not stay still. They are always moving. This makes getting on and off a zeppelin more of an adventure than expected. To get on the zeppelin is moving towards you and you have to scurry up the entry stairs on the fly. Same with getting off. It's quite a lot of fun and adds a bit of spice. The support people have all this worked out so you don't have to worry about anything going wrong. It's no problem.Seeing the world from a 1000 feet is a completely different experience. We are either high up in the air or on the ground. Trawling slowly close to the ground but still high above allows you to see patterns you may have never seen before. Some of my favorite pictures are of the sinuous river ways that lign the bay in contrast to the compulsively square shapes humans inflict everywhere. We humans love our boxes, right angles, and straight lines. Where is Antonio Gaudi when you need him? I Iike the contrast here: Someone went wild and made a circular shape: ALIGN=CENTER>How crazy is that? It stood out amongst the Roman inspired order of everything around it.Another noticeable pattern is you can tell where people have money. It doesn't take a genius to know when you've hit Atherton:Though most houses are boring, company campuses have a little creativity:And there were a lot of buildings where I wonder what is that?There's not much green space for people to play in. We cram every spare inch with a house or something. It's hard to exercise when everything is covered in pavement. It would be nice to plan that out a little better so malls weren't the only place to get away.I also really had no idea how much wet lands we had:Spectacular to look at from above. Endless gorgeous patterns. And that's what I'll take away from this wonderful trip.[...]
Tue, 14 Oct 2008 14:00:40 GMTWeb 2.0 Won't Die Because it Excites Young Minds
Thu, 04 Sep 2008 20:58:48 GMTRules For Superior Stories
Thu, 04 Sep 2008 20:48:24 GMTThe Lifecycle of a Typical New Product Announcement
Mon, 04 Aug 2008 16:02:21 GMTWhich Batman Villain are You?
Mon, 04 Aug 2008 04:55:34 GMTBatman and Voltaire: An Unexpected Dynamic Duo"Everything can be taken from a man but the last of human freedoms, the right to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances--the right to choose one's own way."--Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning Why do we watch all these silly cartoon super hero movies? What's the point really? I'm not from planet Krypton and the sun only gives me a melanoma. Chances are a toxic spill will never grant me spidy powers or turn me large and green. For me worrying about how to handle the "with great power comes great responsibility" existential crisis will never be a problem. Unless of course you think we all have hidden greatness inside of us and it's our responsibility to free it to make ourselves and the world better. OK, I might buy that in some abstract "we are the world" sort of way.Other than being a billionaire (can you see Bill Gates as Batman?), Batman has no special powers setting him above normal humans. Batman is all too human as we see in his childhood mythology. Young Bruce Wayne faced a life-changing tradegy that comes to all mere mortals in time: how to deal with an event so terrible you feel like you want to die and burn the world down with you. Typically such events traumatize normal humans. We feel a burning chaotic storm of fear, pain, guilt, regret and anger. And that's exactly how young Bruce Wayne reacted to the brutal and senseless murder of his parents. With fear. With pain. With guilt. With regret. With anger. All normal responses. Did he immediately rise up as a young child and pledge everlasting retribution against his enemies? No, that's what a cartoon character might do. It would be too superficial and too easy. We would have nothing to learn from such a reaction because it would be so unnatural no human could possibly emulate it. This is why I like Smallville. It shows Superman growing up, making mistakes, learning, and maturing. In Smallville Superman is not born a hero, he earns his super hero street cred.A single spark doesn't light a fire that transforms you from victim to an integrated empowered human being in one step. No, it's much messier than that. Movies have taught us to expect everything to be made better in two 30 minute acts. We see just how messy and how long it takes as a fearful young Bruce slowly changes into a mentally focused Batman. Bruce could have reacted like his enemies did in similar circumstances, by becoming a villain himself. But he didn't. Instead Bruce chose a different route. He made a moral choice to take a stand against evil instead of letting the unfairness of the world turn him towards the dark side. When the Joker experienced injustice, he reasoned justice did not exist. When the Joker experienced meaningless, he reasoned meaning did not exist. Without meaning and justice the Joker chose to become the chaos he saw in the world. As chaos' Avatar on Earth he hoped to shock people into seeing the hypocrisy of their beliefs. To what end is uncertain. The Joker plays a similar role as does Candide in Voltaire's book by the same name. Candide was raised to believe the Leibnizian philosophy that "this is the best of all possible worlds," a theory essentially stating: whatever is is good. The logic behind the "best of all possible worlds" thinking goes something like: God would not be so cruel as to let evil exist, yet we has human perceive evil. How do we reconcile a good God with evil? Well, evil doesn't really exist. We puny humans only see evil because we can not understand the wisdom of God's plan. We can't see the big picture. If we did we would understand that the evil we perceive is really for the best in the long run. This is really the best of all possible worlds. And because this world is the best, change goes against God's plan.This nakedly self-serving phil[...]
Mon, 21 Jul 2008 22:00:47 GMTThe Cynics Guide to Becoming and Staying Rich
Tue, 08 Jul 2008 01:45:35 GMTAre Web Icons a Modern Form of Illiterate Communication for the Dumbest Generation?
Complex Store Signs in Salzburg Austria
Another example of using pictures to communicate with non-readers is the amazing Salzburg street market pictured on the left. This is a very long street with markets running seemingly forever on either side. Imagine yourself a worker who couldn't read. How would you what stores were available just looking down the street? You couldn't know so the elaborately descriptive store signs evolved so people could tell what a store sold. Here's the sign for a McDonalds:
German Maypole's Use Pictures to Represent Town Services
Many German towns feature a maypole in the town square. In addition to being big and beautiful, a maypole communicates to an illiterate population what services can be found in the town with a picture symbolizing the service. Take a look at the maypole in Munich. It's gorgeous. Look closely and you'll see pictures of beer barrels which would tell you Munich has a beer available. And oh boy is that true! If there's a bakery you'll see a picture of a baker. If there's a wood cutter you'll see a picture of a wood cutter.
It's all picture based so you can just look and immediately understand what you'll find in a town.
Scan a webpage, an OS GUI,
or a cell phone interface and I think you get a very similar feel to
the ancient maypole symbols and store signs. I can't help but wonder if
over time text will drop out as people stop readining and we develop
ever more intricate graphical symbol systems to communicate instead of
relying on text? Everyhing old is new
Mon, 07 Jul 2008 23:24:59 GMTIs Oil China's New Black Plague?
Sun, 25 May 2008 19:58:26 GMTWhy Stressed Out-of-Control Americans Won't CarpoolGas now looks like it will be expensive until the sun burns dark. SUV and truck sales have flopped while sales of the tiny cars we've always sneered at have pulled a Robert Downey Jr. and have become stars once again. So why don't we American's do the smart and logical thing and carpool? Because we Americans need to feel like we are in control. Without that control we'll stay in our cars all lined up one-by-one in endless traffic jams even if at first it doesn't make rational sense. But this strange affliction does make sense and once we understand why we can design a mass transit system Americans are more likely to embrace, namely: A People Pod Pool of On Demand Self Driving Robotic Cars Automatically Refueled from Cheap Solar.The question of why don't we carpool was asked by a commenter in FuturePundit article American Car Drivers Cut Back Distance Traveled. When you read how the question is asked you'll wonder why you don't carpool either. Now, what's your answer to this? In the short run, I'm fascinated by the potential for carpooling. I don't understand why someone would switch jobs or homes in preference to carpooling (unless they wanted to anyway). It's easy, it's fast, it has no capital cost - 9% of Americans already do it. Modern telecom makes it easy to match people up - it used to be based on work site communication, but no more. It could reduce fuel consumption for an individual by 85% (4 people in a Prius), or for the nation by 25% (50% of US fuel consumption is light vehicles, and carpooling can be used for more than commuting) in a period of months, if we got serious. Also, car-sharing (igocars, zipcar) could share scarce PHEV/EV's - the average car is only used 1 hour per day, so 5M PHEV/EV's could be used by 50M people.My first reaction was well don't I feel like an oily dipstick. It's all so clear. So sensible. So reasonable. Carpooling is the future. Carpooling is smart, responsible, and good. Don't you want to be good? But I don't want to do it. I don't want to carpool. There, I said it. I don't hate the environment (as evidence of my virtue I both compost and recycle!). And I don't want to see mother nature stripped and turned out into the cold lonely night. But as one of those ugly Americans I feel deep in my plush leather seats and fine German engineering that I would rather starve my characteristically overweight American self into the normal weight range rather than give up and share MY car!Yes, I am well aware that this is totally irrational and irresponsible. I won't be the first or last time you notice this about me. Could there be some deeper psychological reasoning behind my madness? Let's hope so because a lot of people don't seem to like carpools and they don't like mass transit either. The Metro, a local San Francisco Bay Area weekly, published a wonderful article Fueling the Fire, on how we need to cure our car addiction using the same marginalization techniques used to "stop" smoking.A telling quote shows how difficult going cold turkey off our cars will be:Mitch Baer, a public policy and environment graduate student at George Mason University in Virginia, recently surveyed more than 2,000 commuters in the Washington, D.C., area. He found that people who drove to work alone were more emotionally satisfied with their commute than those who rode public transportation or carpooled with others. Even stuck in traffic jams, those commuters said they felt they had more control over their arrival and departure times as well as commuting route, radio stations and air conditioning levels. Commuters said that driving alone was both quicker and more affordable, according to the study. "They will [...]
Fri, 29 Feb 2008 16:54:48 GMTWeb 2.0 Suicide Monitoring Using Twitter and Emotional PresencePeople on anti-depressant drugs--like Prozac--are supposed to be closely monitored for suicidal thoughts that could indicate the drug is having a "paradoxical result." While many feel better on anti-depressants others drop fast and dark into an even worse suicidal depression. Paradoxical isn't quite the word I would use, but we must keep everything clinical.Monitoring allows a doctor to detect if a patient is entering the paradox zone. If so, treatment can be changed and further harm avoided. I was thinking one potentially Web 2.0 way to monitor people's internal subjective state--their feelings and emotions--on an unnaturally frequent basis would be to combine Twitter with emotional presence and a bot that would notify a doctor if certain downward emotional trends were detected.I've been doing some work on a Jabber IM client lately, and I've done some work using the Twitter API, and I've done quite a bit of research on emotion (patent pending), so a mashup of these services seems a pretty natural way of helping people stay alive through their dark times.In IM (Instant Messaging) your presence is broadcasted to your contact list so everyone knows what you are doing and you're availability to others. Using your IM client tells everyone you are available. Don't use your IM client for awhile and and everyone will learn you are away. Pickup the phone, mark your presence as "On Phone" and everyone's IM client will associate your name with a cute little phone icon. And when you close down your IM client everyone will learn you are now unavailable. There's also an idea of emotional presence, often represented by emoticons. If you are happy or sad or angry you can broadcast your emotional presence in the same way you can broadcast your physical presence. Select an option that matches your current feelings and the whole world will instantly know how happy you are that it's Friday and a long weekend awaits.Now let's extend the emotional presence to indicate presence information for thoughts of suicide. I don't know what these would be, but I'm sure doctors could work up something. Say you have a fleeting thought of suicide you could quickly change your emotional presence to indicate your new state. More severe thoughts could have different icons. And so on.Now let's bring in Twitter. Twitter is a microblog. Its purpose is to share brief bits of what is currently happening in your life. That's the perfect match for emotional presence. You could also indicate with each post how you are feeling. These responses can be directed to a channel using the "@reply" syntax in Twitter. Doctors could follow those posts for their patients by briefly taking a look at how they are doing. Or a specially created bot look for certain trends and notify a doctor if a negative trend developed. This would allow a doctor to intervene much more quickly than they could otherwise and the information they are making their decisions on would be much more accurate because it's harder for people to fudge on their self-reports when they are in the moment. With the perspective of time we all do a lot of self-editing, but in the moment you are more likely to be honest.Clearly privacy is an issue. Users need to be able to select who sees what kind of presence information. But that's necessary anyway and exists in some form now as privacy lists. The type of information to block or allow simply needs to be extended to more granular types of data.What's great about this approach is Twitter is everywhere users want to be. On cellphones, browsers, IM, and desktop applications. Users will always be in touch with their emotiona[...]
Mon, 31 Dec 2007 18:24:47 GMTThe New Mass Transit: People Pod Pool of On Demand Self Driving Robotic Cars who Automatically Refuel from Cheap SolarOur traffic in the San Francisco Bay area is like Dolly Parton, 10 pounds in a 5 pound sack. Mass transit has been our unseen traffic woe savior for a while now. But the ring of political fire circling the bay has prevented any meaningful region wide transportation solution. As everyone scrambles to live anywhere they can afford, we really need a region wide solution rather than the local fixes that can never go quite far enough.Commuters are Satisfied Not Carpooling You might think we would car pool more. But people of the bay don't like carpools and they don't much like mass transit either. In the Metro, a local weekly, they publsihed a wonderful article Fueling the Fire, on how we need to cure our car addiction using the same marginalization techniques used to "stop" smoking. A telling quote shows how difficult going cold turkey off our cars will be: Mitch Baer, a public policy and environment graduate student at George Mason University in Virginia, recently surveyed more than 2,000 commuters in the Washington, D.C., area. He found that people who drove to work alone were more emotionally satisfied with their commute than those who rode public transportation or carpooled with others. Even stuck in traffic jams, those commuters said they felt they had more control over their arrival and departure times as well as commuting route, radio stations and air conditioning levels. Commuters said that driving alone was both quicker and more affordable, according to the study. "They will have a tougher time moving people out of their cars," Baer said. "It's easier for most people to drive than take mass transit." The key phrase to me is: people who drove to work alone were more emotionally satisfied. How can people jostled in the great pinball machine that are our roadways be emotionally satisfied? That's crazy talk. Shouldn't we feel less satisfied?In Our Cars We Feel Good Because We Are in ControlSolving the mystery of why we feel satisfied while stuck in traffic turns on an important psychological clue: the more we perceive ourselves in control of a situation the less stress we feel. Robert Sapolsky talks about this surprising insight into human nature in Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. Notice we simply need more "perceived" control. Take control of a situation in your mind and stress goes down. You don't actually need to be in more control of a situation to feel less stress. If you have diabetes, facing your possibly bleak future can be less stressful if you try to control your blood sugars. If you are a speed demon, buying a radar detector can make you feel more in control and less stressed as you zoom along the seldom empty highways. If you are bullied, figuring out ways to avoid your torturer puts you more in control and therefor less stressed. Figure out a way to control and an out of control situation and you'll feel happier. That's what I think we are accomplishing by driving alone in cars. In our car we have complete control. Cars our are castles with a 2 inch air moat cushion. Most cars are plusher than any room in your average house. Fine leather, a rad sound system, perfect temperature control, and a nice beverage of choice within easy reaching distance. In our cars we've created a second womb. The result is we feel more control, less stress, and more satisfaction, even when outside, across the moat, a tempestuous sea of stressors awaits.Our Mass Transit System Must Supply Perceived ControlGiven the warm inner glow we feel from being wrapped in the cold steel of our cars, if you want peo[...]
Sat, 21 Jul 2007 04:34:30 GMTThe Penis and Muscles Develop Before the Brain
Wed, 11 Jul 2007 05:53:22 GMTStop Cell Phone Calls During Movies Now!
Wed, 18 Apr 2007 14:52:51 GMTTop 10 Things to Do Now that Your Blackberry has Crashed
Sat, 31 Mar 2007 18:45:44 GMTSpam is the New Role Playing GameSpammers must be getting out of work romance novelists to create spam. A lot of spam weaves wonderful little stories that invite you to play the lead role in an exciting other world. Often there is a comely damsel in distress and you are cast as the hero, if only you would open up your wallet and help. Not only will you get the willing damsel, but great riches await when you finally overcome your fear, climb the tower, kiss the princess, and collect your just reward.You see, the princess lives in a place not like where you live at all. You live in a safe boring world where one day is much like any other. She lives on the frontier where risk takers can still earn great fortunes battling nature and striking smart deals. But the frontier is dangerous. And an evil doer is out to steal her families' fortune, a fortune carved out of nothing from years of back breaking work. You can save them! You can make a difference! You are a hero with untapped super powers. Now is your time! You can get the girl, the money, and live happily ever after.This is wonderful stuff. It's like an email based Role Playing Game. The side of good is clear. Evil abounds, yet can be stopped by your heroic actions. You simply must roll the dice and play the game. My favorite example of the genre is Cynthia Benson's game:Dearest, Good morning! I decided to use this opportunity to communicate with you on who I am and what I am looking for. Please I hope you don't mind the way I contacted you. How are you, your business and family? I hope all is well. I am Cynthia Benson daughter of the late ENGR. FERICOH BENSON of Free town, Sierra Leone with my brother. I am a young girl from the family of two because my beloved mother died on the day my younger brother was delivered and my father refused to re-marry immediately because he is the only child of his parents and don't want anybody that will maltreat us due to the love he has for us. My late father Engr. Fericoh Benson was the Managing Director (MD) of BETAX PLC a Gold and Diamond Mining corporation company. During the time of his service he was a very devoted and God fearing person; this cause his fellow staff to hate him because he always refuse to collaborate with them in doing evil. So one sunny Tuesday evening when I was coming back with my Dad from shopping in his own private car we ran into bandits who were totally armed, they traced us till we reach home; there they attack us. My father pleaded with them to take everything he has and spare his life, but they took everything and also shot him three times on his chest they also shot me but to the glory of God I survived the gun shots but my father died in cold blood. How I was admitted to the hospital I don't know but I found myself on the hospital bed after two weeks of the incident when I re-gain conciouse. This happened eight months ago, as I am trying to gather my deserted life and that of my brother in place. Our father has being buried that was four months ago, the present problem we are facing is that my father's uncle that is the brothers of my grand father has took everything that our father left behind both money, landed properties and all his durable asset. They ejected me and my bother leaving only the sum of US$12,5M which my father deposited in a Financial Institution which they don't know about. They treated us badly also accusing us for the calamity that befall our family, now we are left alone in this world. But why I contacted you is because we want to start a new life outside our country[...]
Tue, 20 Mar 2007 19:45:47 GMTYou Can't Twitter at Relativistic Speeds
Sun, 11 Feb 2007 17:21:12 GMTPleasing Things - How am I like a lady-in-waiting from ancient Japan?It's exciting to think about what people were like in different cultures in the past. Are they like me? Did they have goals and motivations and dreams that I would understand? If some rift in time tossed us together how would we get a long? In a way, books our are rift in time. I recently traveled back in time when reading The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. Sei Shonagon was a lady-in-waiting for a 11th century Japanese empress and she wrote a book about her life in court. In her time writing a book was rare for a woman. It's even rarer for the book to survive, so people must love it or it would have long ago crumbled into dust. What's do readers find so enchanting? Sei Shonagon chronicles how completely poetry was integrated into elite culture, the vast separation between elites and commoners, the vast difference in roles of women and men in her time, the political structure of the court, the passing of seasons, the cycles of religious observance, and the ever tangled web of humans just trying to get along.It's hard to imagine a more different life between hers and mine. Both products of our times, I found myself continually recoiling at how effortlessly she dismissed anyone of a lower class than her, be they ugly, or poor, or just oafish. Yet there was an envious amount of beauty in her time as well. They would take walks at night to enjoy the moon. The would make snow piles in the winter and watch them melt as the seasons changed. They would compose a poem on the spot to make more remarkable any occasion. They would have poetry contests. A common game was to give a line of an old poem and see who could remember it. Far different than surrendering to must see TV.They also had an amazing form of 11th century instant messaging. A network of pages would take letters, deliver them quickly and bring back a reply. The receiver would often be expected to compose a poem on the spot. You would be judged by the quality of your reply. These poems would be shared in the court and gossiped about by all. Sei Shonagon excelled at this game because she was a master poet and quick wit. The messages would fly around the court and between houses, linking everyone together much like email and instant messaging do today.As different as we are, there were many passages in her book that crossed the gulf of time and connected with me. One such section is called Pleasing Things, which is where she describes what she finds pleasing:Finding a large number of tales that one has not read before.Acquiring the second volume of a tale whose first volume one has enjoyed. But often it is a disappointment.Someone has torn up a letter and thrown it away. Picking up the pieces, one finds that many of them can be fitted together.One has had an upsetting dream and wonders what it can mean. In great anxiety on consults a dream-interpreter, who informs one that it has no special significance.A person who is very dear to one has fallen ill. One is miserably worried about him even if he lives in the capital and far more so if he is in some remote part of the country. What a pleasure to be told that he has recovered!I am most pleased when I hear someone I love being praised or being mentioned approvingly by an important person.A poem with whom one is not especially intimate refers to an old poem or story that is unfamiliar. Then one hears it being mentioned by someone else and has the pleasure of recognizing it. Still later, when one[...]
Mon, 05 Feb 2007 17:48:20 GMTRich Buddha, Poor Buddha
Sat, 03 Feb 2007 20:04:32 GMTSmackdown #2: Scrolling Crushes Paging After 2000 Years of Dominance
Fri, 19 Jan 2007 14:50:01 GMTSlumming in Poor America is the New Adventure Travel