February 17, 2002
Demo 2002

Dan Bricklin, who is probably exhausted of hearing the phrase "he of Visicalc Fame" has posted a typically nicely done photo-log of his visit to the Demo 2002 conference.

Some interesting stuff being done out there in the world, indeed. A log of companies that have been mentioned a year ago suddenly have things to show....

Posted by esinclai at 10:30 AM
February 16, 2002
Urban Etiquette

Though written for New York City, the principles, humor, guidelines and opinions of this piece from The Morning News holds true for visitors and residents of Chicago. The only item not covered fully here is the principle of moving to the center of the car when you board a mass transit train. Others will undoubtably want to come on behind you, and honestly have no interest in tripping over your bags, no matter how funny their pratfalls may seem to you.

Posted by esinclai at 12:58 PM
February 15, 2002
Auto vs Computer - Fight!

So yesterday I go to my local public library (Chicago Public Libraries, the somewhat scandal-ridden Sulzer branch (more about that topic another time!). It was a minor, and somewhat humorous, adventure

I'm there seeking a copy of Computer Lib/Dream Machines, by Theodor Nelson. This is a classic work of computer theory, where the concepts of hypertext and so forth were carefully laid out more fully than earlier thinking, like Vannever Bush's "As We May Think".

So I look it up in the online catalog available at chipublib.org and it shows up in the Juvenile Collection. I suppose this should have been my first clue that something was amiss.

But the call number - TL298.S7 should have been a second clue. That's an automotive LC classification, not computers.

So I go to look for the book in the juvenile stacks. No luck. Nor is it in the QA76's, where it would actually live. I look upstairs in the adult stacks, thinking it may have wandered off. No luck. Digging deeper, nothing has been done with this book's record since 1995.

This book, which touches on the ways humans and computers interact, has probably been misfiled and misregistered in the Sulzer computers. Oh, the irony that using a bunch of hypertextual systems leads me not to find a core book on hypertext at all...

So now I wait for the friendly librarian's request that a copy from another library be sent my way. We'll see.

Meanwhile, the Microsoft Press (!) edition from 1987 is out of print and unavailable except at reasonably heinous prices. Pity.

Posted by esinclai at 08:34 AM
February 14, 2002
This is the way creationism ends - Not with a Bang But With A Whimper

William Saletan has a nice piece in Slate that discusses the failing - on what are effectively first principles - of the "Intelligent Design movement (Creationism for the New Century...)

Some choice quotes:

A theory isn't just a bunch of criticisms, even if they're valid. A theory ties things together. It explains and predicts. Intelligent design does neither.

It offers no predictions, scope modifiers, or experimental methods of its own. It's a default answer, a shrug, consisting entirely of problems in Darwinism.

Worth a read.

Posted by esinclai at 08:04 AM
February 13, 2002

The weblog b-may has some very humorous behind-the-scenes info from the olympics. From ruminations on the speed skater phenotype, to the kindnesses of Utah mans-rooms, it's a entertaining read...

Posted by esinclai at 04:05 PM
Mail Art

Many years ago, when I was doing the Marginal Press Project, one of the people that helped me out was John Held, Jr. A correspondent just very helpfully pointed me to John's home page. While it looks like his book is out of print (ABE Books, here I come...), he's got a fair bit of information up for those interested in Mail Art and what he calls Networker Culture. Interesting stuff....

Posted by esinclai at 10:53 AM
February 12, 2002
Thinking Again?

Recently I've been reading (actually, starting anew - I picked this up some time back, but put it down for being too heavy at the time. Now it's just engrossing) Kaddish by Leon Wieseltier. It's a very enjoyable bit of history; insight into judaic thinking of history, learning, generations, and conceptions of knowledge; and autobiographic. More to come later, but it ties back to a sequence of percolating discussions on the nature of knowledge vs wisdom vs experience (where vs is not necessarily in opposition).

Posted by esinclai at 10:42 PM

Apparently many more of us are alone and hiding it.. Me, I've taken care of matters already (note, this was in the NYT a few days ago, and I forgot to cite it. Mea Culpa.

Posted by esinclai at 04:18 PM
February 03, 2002
Club Brunch

This morning, Anne and I got together with some friends for brunch, as you will of an ocassional Sunday. This time we went to a place called the ClubHouse, in Oak Brook IL. This was a nice occasion, whose slight flaws didn't detract from the enjoyment, but did from the holistic illusion...

The ClubHouse is a designed restaurant space, like so many (see Cheesecake Factory, many Lettuce Entertain You restaurants, etc). They pull off the design impeccably. It's supposed to be based on a country club experience - clean and neat staff, cushy comfy chairs, lots of dark wood and ambience. And it has all that. The bathrooms have full-height and heavy doors, the fixtures are all solid and seemingly both well made and (the touch of elegance, actually) well maintained. The furniture was all heavy, the serving plates and silver nicely crafted. The food was nice, the service attentive, and all things seemed wonderful. Except for the one flaw that tweaked the experience.

They insisted on marketing themselves too heavily. They have some sort of "ClubHouse Club" where you get discounts and merchandising awareness sent to you. They pitched it - the waitron we had actually said "I have one thing more that I have to tell you about" - before and after the meal. I know the important aspect of any business is not so much the gathering of custom but the repetition of it - the attention paid to "same store sales" and the rest is not lost on me. But to do so in this venue is, frankly, out of keeping with the implied (albeit ersatz) character of the place. The hallmark of a club is not the existence of it, but the quiet exclusivity of it. You know you're in, the others on the in know you're in. But you don't advertise how cool it is to be in.

It's too bad. It won't keep us from going back, but it just exemplified the "so close, so very close, and yet so far" nature of it.

Overall a good experience, and recommended if you're not likely to brood upon the subtlest flaws.

Posted by esinclai at 03:46 PM
February 02, 2002
Giving Life to the Dead Letter Office

Noted that the USPS is now auctioning off items found in their mail recovery centers (formerly Dead Letter Offices). As one who lost more mail this summer due to blown forwarding on the part of some portion of the system, I'm chagrined. But the opportunity to purchase old videos and music for cheap may make up for it.....

Posted by esinclai at 10:09 PM