In a nutshell

wpid-Photo-31.-des.-2012-0752.jpgI don’t mean to keep ripping on G+, but this photo is currently topping the “What’s Hot” topics, with several thousand pluses (“likes,” in Facebook parlance). I mean, where else do you find so many people patting themselves on the back for using a social media service? Furthermore, half the posts you come over seem to be about G+ itself. Sure, it’s everyone else who are narcissistic. Though I suppose it’s very meta.

31.12.2012 • Permalink

The truth is that in a chaotic situation, even highly trained police officers often kill bystanders. The idea that some accountant who spent a few hours at the range would suddenly turn into Jason Bourne and take out the killer without doing more harm than good has no basis in reality.

from Ten Arguments Gun Advocates Make, and Why They’re Wrong.

One thing I never figured out or become familar with while living in the US was the American gun culture. Chalk it up to culture crash or whatever. It’s not like most of my friends had assault weapons lying around. The Sandy Hook killings are horrible, but sadly not unique. From my outsider’s point of view, at least, it seems more and more ridiculous to insist that laxer gun laws will make everyone safer, when evidence of the contrary makes itself painfully clear every few months. 

17.12.2012 • Permalink

Sitting for a picture is morbid business. A portrait doesn’t begin to mean anything until the subject is dead. This is the whole point. We’re doing this to create a kind of sentimental past for people in decades to come. It’s their past, their history we’re inventing here. And it’s not how I look now that matters. It’s how I’ll look in twenty-five years as clothing and faces change, as photographs change. The deeper I pass into death, the more powerful my picture becomes. Isn’t this why picture-taking is so ceremonial? It’s like a wake. And I’m the actor made up for the laying-out. Don DeLillo, Mao II

12.12.2012 • Permalink

E-readers vs tablets

iSuppli claims e-readers are doomed, because sales are down from last year, and one of the glories of the free market is that there’s no room for niche products. Still, I hope it’s not the case. I have both an e-reader and a tablet, and prefer reading on the Kindle by far. Off the top of my head, a few of the reasons I feel e-readers beat tablets for serious reading:

  1. One Thing Well. The same mantra heard in software for years can easily be applied to hardware as well.
  2. Battery life. My kindle lasts weeks on a single charge. No iOS or Android device can match that.
  3. No distractions. For some odd reason, focusing on reading is easier without incoming emails, chats, calls, notifications, etc.
  4. E-ink. For reading, e-ink beats LCD by the proverbial country mile. Again: One thing well.

Of course, I’d also posit that an actual book does these things even better than an e-reader, but hey…

10.12.2012 • Permalink
Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck

I’m beginning to understand myself. But it would have been great to be able to understand myself when I was 20 rather than when I was 82.

Dave Brubeck died today at the venerable age of 91. I hate to be one of those people and join the ranks of those hangers-on who simply must share their usually less-than-profound thoughts on the passing of any celebrity, but Brubeck came to mean a lot to me over the years. My father first introduced me to Take Five, which I suppose is something of a cliché, but damn if it isn’t a fine piece of music. Listening to him brings back fond memories of many a late night at RISD, cursing and furiously working to meet some looming deadline or other, and how he became a late-night companion, offering brief respite when it all got to be a bit much. Dying at 91 after a fulfilling life is no tragedy, but still: a twinge of sadness to mourn a stranger who brought me so much joy hardly seems excessive.

05.12.2012 • Permalink