Thursday, October 28, 2021

Friday Links!

We're limping along this week, obviously, but here's an abbreviated link set for everyone. Again, thank you for the incredible kindness you've shown Eli and me this week.

C. Lee contributed in a big way. First, and let's all stick it to the man, it's His boss said the spy camera proved he was lazy. His response was brilliant. This is brilliant: Group uses extra clothing, turbans to rescue stranded hiker. This is terrific (from the Digital Antiquarian): I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream. This is tremendously thoughtful (about C.S. Lewis): The Problem(s) of Susan. This is helpful: Ultra vs. High Settings in PC Games or: Why Ultra Quality Settings are Dumb. And if you think that's dumb, boy, have I got something for you: Congratulations, Mini, You Made The Stupidest Turn Signals Ever.

Bond. James Bond (nerds): You only live once: Epidemiologists analyze health risks in all the James Bond films. This is quite amazing: Can anyone explain the physics behind this? From the comments, I learned that centrifugal force is not actually a "force," and the correct explanation is centripetal force.

From Wally, and it's excellent: CG short film on the extinction of the dinosaurs | "Dinosaurs: The true story" - by P-L. Aeberhardt

The Dilemma

I'm trying really hard to embrace the shitty moments, which are legion, so that I can still laugh at the lighter moments. 

Eli 20.3 is doing it, too. And it's hard. 

We talked last night, and I remembered something that happened to me earlier in the day. 

"Okay," I said, "I have a hypothetical situation for you."

"Go ahead."

"I was sitting at the kitchen table, just about to start editing, and I'd strained my back the night before in my sleep."

"I don't know how you do that, but keep going," he said. 

"I spend a few minutes adjusting a heating pad until it's in the right place for my back. I finally get it in the perfect  place, and right when I start editing, I see the crumbs."


"Crumbs from my English muffin breakfast. There's a small amount of them on the table. So I sweep them onto a blank page. And I can't work, because I can't stop thinking about them."

"I don't like where this is going," he said. 

"I have two choices," I said. "I can either get up and put the crumbs in the trash, which means I have to start all over again with the heating pad--"

"Don't tell me the second choice."

"Or I can eat the crumbs." I pause for dramatic effect. "Now, what would you do?"

"I'd take the page the crumbs were on, wad it up, and toss it behind me so I couldn't see it," he said. 

This is why the boy is at Oxford.

"Okay, that's brilliant," I said, "but I didn't think of that option. What do you think I did?"

"I think we both know what you did," he said, "and it wasn't get up."

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Costume Count

This is the week for Halloween costume count, and let's still do it. I need to do some normal things in this hurricane. 

You know how it works. Write down the costumes of the kids who come for candy, and send me a list (in an Excel spreadsheet, if you can, because I can compile it much more quickly that way). I'll publish the list about a week later, and we'll see how many kids come in Squid Games costumes. It's always interesting to see what's newly hot. 

I think we've done this for what, fifteen years now? Let's keep going. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021


I'm both stunned and incredibly appreciative of all the email you've sent me since I put up the post yesterday. It has been uniformly kind and incredibly generous, and some of it moved me to tears. 

I'm going to respond to each one, but please be patient, because it's going to take a while. 

The series of posts I'm working on talking about what I've learned (in hopes that it might help some of you) is both very painful and extremely complex, so it may be coming out slowly, but it will be written. Like I said, if it helps even one of you, it will be a comfort during this senseless tragedy. 

John sent me this last week and I think we can all use it right now:


Monday, October 25, 2021


There's no other way for me to tell you. Brace yourself. 

Gloria was returning Sunday night from a trip with two of her friends On October 10 when they were all involved in a car-pedestrian accident. Her friends were both injured, but will fully recover. Gloria's injuries were much more severe, and she never regained consciousness. She passed away last Monday.

She didn't suffer. And she escaped what would have been the cruelest life imaginable, because she had suffered severe damage to her brain. It was a horrible, tragic outcome, but the only other possible outcome would have been even worse. 

Eli 18. 3 came home last Sunday and flew back to Oxford today. We have done everything possible to be as healthy as possible, including talking to my therapist at length about grief. Eli is a healthy, strong man, and he will emerge from this a better person. We both know this, even as we go through unimaginable pain.

I know that many of you have gone through something like this, but others haven't. I've learned so much about what this is like, and there are so many things I wish someone had told me before it happened. 

I get to be that person for you.

I'm not sure how much I'll be able to post this week, but over the next week or so, I'll explain everything I've learned that might help you if you ever find yourself in this situation. 

I hope to god you won't. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Please Note

I won't be posting until next Tuesday. I'll explain what's happened then. I have so little free time right now that even posting these three sentences is a luxury. Take care.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Help, Please

If you work for Microsoft or Google and would like to help me understand something, please email me. I may not get back to you immediately, but I will before the end of the day. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021


It's been a long time since I didn't post for a week--over a decade, at least, if I've ever done it at all--but this may be the week. I've got a family emergency (not Eli) and it needs my full attention. I'll try to drop in if I can, and I'll do my best to at least get the Friday Links post done. 

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, a stunning development in treating depression: Brain implant relieves patient’s severe depression in “landmark” US study.

This is also excellent: Physics Nobel goes to complexity, both general and climatic

This is extremely clever: There was an attempt to stop the use of backpacks

DQ Artist Fredrik Skarstedt sent in this wonderful link: The crane that fell for her keeper

From Wally, and good grief, people just throw their money out the window: Investors Spent Millions on ‘Evolved Apes’ NFTs. Then They Got Scammed. So strange: Hundreds of three-eyed 'dinosaur shrimp' emerge after Arizona monsoon. Badass of the week: Hero Goat Saves Chicken from Hawk Attack

From Jonathon W., and it's a Disney nerd alert: Mapped: The 50-Year Evolution of Walt Disney World

From Mark H., and these will get better: AI movie posters. These are tremendous: 2021 Finalists: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Stellar links from C. Lee, as always. First, and it's fascinating, it's Sparta Was Much More Than an Army of Super Warriors. This is an astonishing story: When Injury Killed His Humble Dream, He Built a Whole Miniature World Instead. I had no idea: Who Was the Real James Bond? This is an excellent enhancement: Google Maps tracks global warming with new “Fire” layer, Tree Canopy tool. These numbers are incredible: Visualizing a minute on the Internet in 2021. A true innovator: Japanese Twitter falls in love with lifehack for making perfectly neat but stuffed sandwiches.


Some nasty shit about Facebook came out this week. 

Facebook was already mired in it, really, but this just confirms what many of us already believed. Here's the money quote (Facebook “is tearing our societies apart,” whistleblower says in interview):
...a significant change the company made in 2018 to the News Feed algorithm, which prioritizes the content that is shown to users. Those changes, she said, pushed divisive content to users because that’s what drove engagement and profits. “Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money,” she told CBS.

You'd think that after a serious accusation like that, Facebook would respond with imaginary concern. Nope. They did this, instead: 
Facebook’s vice president of policy and global affairs, Nick Clegg, sent a lengthy memo to employees in advance of Haugen’s interview, claiming that social media in general and Facebook in particular are not responsible for rising political polarization in the US and elsewhere. “The idea that Facebook is the chief cause of polarization isn’t supported by the facts,” Clegg wrote.

I read that quote, and I had a realization: Facebook is this era's Philip Morris. 

You remember Philip Morris. No matter how many scientific studies came out linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer, Philip Morris put out a blanket denial, never conceding the most insignificant point (yes, insert your political joke here). They had an army of scientists running dubious "studies" to muddy the water. 

And they did it because they were making billions of dollars, and in this country, making billions of dollars is its own morality. 

Facebook is the same. No matter how many studies come out (they're not hard to find) indicating that Facebook has significantly increased polarization, they'll just say the studies were poorly designed and aren't conclusive. Buying time to pump that money machine a while longer.

Self-reflection? Morality? That's for suckers. 

Wednesday, October 06, 2021


Eli 20.2 called yesterday and we had a nice talk. 

It's all going great, which is not surprising. He's at what's considered to be the friendliest college at Oxford (Oxford has a bunch of compartmentalized colleges, with about 600 students in each), people are nice, and he couldn't be happier. 

Plus, a surprise, which I'll tell you about next week. 

Here's some pictures:

The last picture is from a little breakfast place near campus that looks very plain on the outside, but if you go through to the back, it has this amazing patio. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Eli 20.3 Makes His Flight

He made all his flights, actually. And he made it through customs. and he made it to Oxford, to the university, and to his dorm room. 

As hard as it is to believe, Eli 20.2 (who I started writing about when he was Eli 1.0, believe it or not) is at Oxford. 

It felt so strange the day after he left. I was having a totally normal day, and he was halfway across the world, and absolutely everything he was doing was brand new and so exciting.

I'd just seen him the day before! 

I'm hoping this will be as great an experience as everything else has been for him in his life. I told him before he left that while we've had so many adventures together, and keep having new ones, I was so happy that he gets to go have his own adventures now, ones I never had, and I get to hear all about them. 

I'll put up pictures when he sends them. 

Monday, October 04, 2021

Better Late Than Never

One of the things I've been working hard on is trying to understand why I react the way I do in certain situations. 

There are times when I react to something like I did when I was 20. Or 30. 

I mean, I still feel like I'm 30 sometimes, but damn, I'm not. I'm an old-ass 60 now. But I'm still reacting like I was back when I was a totally different person, in what was really a different life. Why would I do that?

I remind myself that I'm a different person now--and I am--but it's hard to respond as you are now, instead of how you've always been. 

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