Friday, February 20, 2009

A frightening Scenario

Imagine the following scenario: you live in a world full of threats. You are in charge of guarding your home against creatures about five times as big as you. One day, a huge creature starts messing around with your door. You yell threats: "Go away! I'm warning you! Don't you dare try to get in!" And after a minute of your threats, the creature leaves. Then the next day same creature comes again, and you once again drive it off. Every day this creature comes poking around. Think of the fear, the feeling of responsibilty, the stress.

This is exactly how the dog feels about the mailman.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Interesting William Gibson Quote

If one had gone to talk to a publisher in 1977 with a scenario for a science-fiction novel that was in effect the scenario for the year 2007, nobody would buy anything like it. It's too complex, with too many huge sci-fi tropes: global warming; the lethal, sexually transmitted immune-system disease; the United States, attacked by crazy terrorists, invading the wrong country. Any one of these would have been more than adequate for a science-fiction novel. But if you suggested doing them all and presenting that as an imaginary future, they'd not only show you the door, they'd probably call security.

William Gibson one of the first popular cyberpunk novelists, most famous for his novel Neuromancer. From an interview by Leonard (2007).


Leonard, A. (2007). William Gibson. Rolling Stone. Issue 1039, November 15.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

25 Random things about me

1. I think cranes (the kind that help people build skyscrapers) are really beautiful and I gaze at and photograph them all the time. You can see some of my photos at

2. I think George Michael has the best voice in pop music. I think LL Cool J has the best voice in hip hop. 

3. When I was a kid I laid a towel down on the ground and asked God to cover the surrounding grass with dew and spare the towel, promising to do his bidding forever if this happened. I'm still an atheist. 

4. I think that of all the endeavors humankind has ever embarked upon, artificial intelligence has the most promise to solve all of our problems. 

5. When I first heard "Pump Up The Volume" by M/A/R/R/S, it was like a revelation, like how lesbians describe their first kiss with another woman. I requested it at my local radio station, and they said "That's an urban record. We don't think Glens Falls is ready for it."

6. In general I have a disdain for anything old or considered classical (e.g., ballet, antique furniture, classical music, classic literature. Greek myth is a notable exception). I like to say "I try not to read anything by dead people" to get a rise out of conversation partners who keep yammering on about Spinoza.

7. I am highly skeptical of the entire field of nutrition.

8. My favorite books are, in order, The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, by Oliver Sacks, Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond, and The Beak of The Finch, by Jonathan Weiner. I find I have trouble enjoying fiction lately. 

9. Every year my man Lou and I come up with some ridiculous new year's resolution that we try to hold to for one year. We've been doing this for over 20 years. You can see the list on my FAQ:

10. I am a man of routine and scheduling. I get miserable if my life is too unstructured. When I don't have external structure, I impose it on myself. I make little rules for living that make me productive and happier. When people hear about these rules, they often think I'm overthinking my life. 

11. I was mean to someone once, and I want to apologize, but I can't find the person.

12. As a kid I was insecure about my attractiveness. Now I understand that just about everyone else was too. 

13. I share a birthday with David Hume and Jet Li.

14. I invented a new kind of calligraphy, but have not made the time to turn it into much profit or recognition. 

15. My favorite movie, Kiki's Delivery Service, is about a 13 year old girl who has to make her way alone in the world. I've seen it over and over, and cry with joy every time I do.

16. My mother said she thought I was the best boyfriend she's ever heard of, and I'm really proud of that. It makes me want to live up to it.

17. I used to wear a pencil behind my ear. At weddings I would wear a shiny black "dress pencil."

18. Around 1993 I decided that I would not allow any picture to be taken of me with a straight face. It only lasted about two months, but my folks are still annoyed by it. I ruined several pictures, including my college graduation

19. I wanted to get the word "late" tattooed on my wrist, where the watch goes. I used to write it on there with a pen every day. People would ask the time and I'd say "it's late!" and then show them my wrist. They would roll their eyes. But I didn't get the tattoo because people would sometimes see it and say "you're late." I got sick of correcting them: "No, *I'm* not late, *it's* late."

20. I have two birthmarks on my right arm. They kiss when I bend it at the elbow.

21. I have crohn's disease. Sometimes it flares up and I have to go on steroids (prednisone). Once I was on it and in a burst of energy got an A in every class. I asked my doctor if I got drug-induced A's. He said no, you just have forgotten what it's like to not have crohn's. I get frustrated if I think of what I could have been without this disease. 

22. I think it's rude to try to guess the answers to jokes. 

23. I smuggled a Tibetan tanga out of China. It features a creature eating her son's heart. 

24. As a child I participated in the "Olympics of the Mind." My dad called it "Mind Dwarfs."

25. This is perhaps the first viral thing I've participated in, but I've really enjoyed reading 25 random things about other people.