I have always felt that no matter how inscrutable its ways and means, the universe is working perfectly and working according to a greater plan than we can know. In the last few days, I have had to battle with the fear that everything is actually just random, that the universe is a howling void of meaningless chaos, indifferent to everything that I value. All hope has at times seemed unjustified to me. But groundless hope, like unconditional love, is the only kind worth having.

John Perry Barlow, eulogizing his fiancée in 1994

I choose to fit myself into most of Apple’s intended-use constraints because their products tend to work better that way, which makes my life easier. But that requires trade-offs that many people can’t or won’t make. Previous-me tried to persuade everyone to switch to my setup, but I now know that it’s not worth the effort. I’ll never know someone else’s requirements, environment, or priorities as well as they do.

Marco Arment on technical evangelism and product choices.

I have reached the exact same conclusion. I can tell you what works well for me in my particular setup, but I can’t tell you what will work for you, nor can I solve your particular technical problems.

I miss the radio dedication show. People would phone in, and dedicate songs to one another. This only worked because of serendipity: the voice on the radio would catch your attention by calling you by name like someone in the next room. They’d then say the name of someone that you knew, then play a dedicated song from them. It was a thoughtful gift traveling through waves in the air. The whole thing works under the presumption that you would be listening. Dedications don’t work if we don’t regularly congregate in the same place, so there is a part of me that fears it may be gone forever. What made the whole thing great was a special presence of a felt, but invisible connection. There was a thoughtfulness in the choice of the song, but also in the communal aspect of knowing that everyone else listening to the radio was hearing your song as well. And then it was gone. Vanished, evaporated, and you’re left with that warm feeling when something good passes.

Frank Chimero

[Drowning] is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) –- of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening.

Mario Vittone

Well worth a read. At a recent pool party I was keeping an eye on the kids in the pool, but I wonder if I would have actually spotted a drowning incident in time.

Senior officers say [PowerPoint] does come in handy when the goal is not imparting information, as in briefings for reporters. The news media sessions often last 25 minutes, with 5 minutes left at the end for questions from anyone still awake. Those types of PowerPoint presentations, Dr. Hammes said, are known as “hypnotizing chickens.”

Elisabeth Bumiller, “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint“, New York Times

Somehow I’ve gotten to a stage in my life where I can buy all the tech stuff I want, and it’s just no longer that interesting. I used to dream about new gadgets and imagine how they’d improve my life, but of course they never really did. […] But there’s something to be said for owning beautiful, useful objects that light up your home and make you smile every time you see them—and that always work just as expected, that will never crash, need a motherboard replacement, burn your legs, or talk back to you with indecipherable demands.

Designer Amy Hoy, in an interview about the technologies she uses to do her work.

I know what she means. I guess maybe I’m starting to grow up too.

This movement in the direction of emptiness is profoundly difficult for contemporary culture — and particularly American culture — to grapple with. Occasional recessions and other setbacks aside, we assume that our national trajectory always moves toward fullness, that our cultural progress can be measured by how much new square footage we’ve created and occupied. But that process has completely reversed itself in many of cities hardest hit by economic crisis.

Christopher Hawthorne, “The Burj Dubai and architecture’s vacant stare

Do your shoelaces always come undone? Do your shoelace bows sit vertically instead of across the shoe? If so, you’re probably tying a “Granny Knot”, and one simple change to your technique will result in a balanced knot that sits straight and stays secure.

Ian’s Shoelace Site

My eyes have been opened!

After Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans, eight years ago on Friday, we went to war and spent hundreds of billions of dollars ensuring that this would not happen again. Yet every two months, that many people die because of our failure to provide universal insurance[.]

Nicholas Kristoff

Imagine it is 1965. You’ve seen the curves Gordon Moore discovered. What if you believed the story they were trying to tell us: that each year, as sure as winter follows summer, and day follows night, computers would get half again better, and half again smaller, and half again cheaper, year after year, and that in 5 decades they would be 30 million times more powerful than they were then, and cheap. If you were sure of that back then, or even mostly persuaded, and if a lot of others were as well, what good fortune you could have harvested. You would have needed no other prophecies, no other predictions, no other details. Just knowing that single trajectory of Moore’s, and none other, we would have educated differently, invested differently, prepared more wisely to grasp the amazing powers it would sprout.

Kevin Kelly asks, “Was Moore’s Law Inevitable?”

[A]s night fell over the tumultuous capital, gunfire could be heard in the distance. And from rooftops across the city, the defiant sound of “Allah-u-Akbar” — “God is Great” — went up yet again, as it has every night since the fraudulent election. But on Saturday it seemed stronger. The same cry was heard in 1979, only for one form of absolutism to yield to another. Iran has waited long enough to be free.

Roger Cohen on the turmoil in Iran

Mr. Obama is the only popular politician left in the world. He would win an election in any one of the G-20 countries, and his fellow world leaders will do anything to take home a touch of that reflected popularity.

A.A. Gill in the Times

For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or in my case too early – to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit; stop whenever you want. You can change, or stay the same – there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.

— Benjamin, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (film)

Every golden age is as much a matter of disregard as of felicity.

— Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in [Iraq] have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.

A veteran US Air Force interrogator, in the Washington Post

“Wendy and Lucy” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has some swearing, a little drug use and a brief implication of violence, but no nudity, sex or murder. The rating seems to reflect, above all, an impulse to protect children from learning that people are lonely and that life can be hard.

A. O. Scott

[T]he characteristics derived from an expat childhood may be well suited to the challenges facing the new administration. The economic crisis, for one, demonstrates how interdependent world cultures have become, and its solution will undoubtedly require the unconventional thinking that comes more easily to a Third Culture Kid.

Ruth E. Van Reken, discussing Obama's cross-cultural childhood and his penchant for picking advisors with similar experiences.