December 23, 2002

I wanna tell you a story about the too-soon-departed Joe Strummer.

My (and my pal Mike's) friend Dave is a big Clash and Strummer fan. Collector of editions type guy. Loves it, introduced me to "The Last Gang in Town", he and I caught the last two performances by Joe and his band here in Chicago.

So a few months ago a friend of his in NYC is moving, and his buddies put on a big shindig for this friend. Because Dave is self-employed and in the midst of some project, he was unable to attend. Not that his buddies didn't try to put the screws to him. "C'mon, Dave! You have to attend! It'll be a whole weekend thing, we're gonna go see Joe Strummer play one night, drink a lot, etc. We gotta show off in style, and you HAVE to be there!"

But Dave can't make it. Work is a harsh taskmaster in our capitalist society.

So he stays here in Chicago, and his buddies whoop it up in NYC. That weekend they're wandering around in the St Marks area, scoping out the stores. They pop into a little record store down there, and who should be flipping through the vinyl but Joe Strummer himself.

So they approach him and say "Joe, Mr Strummer, er. Look, we have this friend Dave, and he's a huge fan..." And they did embellish a bit. "He introduced us to the Clash. He's really a big fan." And they get to the point. "Do you think we could ask you to sign an autograph for him?"

Joe's a gentleman. "Of course. You have anything to write on?"

A mad scramble ensues. Joe has a sharpie on hand (always be prepared), but no paper. Dave's pals don't have any either. They look around.

"Hold on!" says Joe. "We'll get him a card."

And so Joe Strummer goes tearing out of the record shop, across the street to some sort of card shop with post cards. Dave pals are running behind Joe trying to keep up.

Joe proceeds to flip through the poscard rack. "No, no. This is no good. This one? No, not that. Hm. Aha!"

Joe picks out a card. He won't let Dave's friends pay for it. They try, but he's not having any of it.

Opens the sharpie. It won't write!

Plays with the pen a bit, gets the ink to flow. Signs the card, something like:

"To Dave. Keep spreading the word. Joe Strummer"

Dave's friends send Dave the card. It's obviously a prized possession, not least because the guy who signed it was not just a great musician, a great writer, but he was totally a class act.

Joe, we're gonna miss you, more than you'd ever know.

Posted by esinclai at 01:09 PM
December 22, 2002
Der Lauf der Dinge

Several months ago at the Wexner Center Clearance Sale (while we were in Columbus), Mark Gunderson encouraged me to purchase the video "The Way Things Go (der Lauf der Dinge) by Fischli and Weiss. It was cheap, so I went for it.

Yesterday, after connecting the VCR in anticipation of visitors who may require entertainment, I finally watched it. It's very, very cool. Kinetic art ala Rube Goldberg, fire, foam, movement - everything you could want.

There's a preview available at this sales venue. It's quite good.

Related, Purdue University has a regular Rube Goldberg contest (includes some video) as does Argonne National Laboratory. And, of course, Rube Goldberg, Inc

Posted by esinclai at 05:18 PM
December 21, 2002
FLASH!: Creative Commons

One of the highlights of this past year's OSCon was Lawrence Lessig's address (mirrored here).

Another project Lessig has been involved in has been (as most may know) Creative Commons. They had their launch a short while ago, and part of that launch included a video/flash entitled Get Creative to explain the goals and motives of the Creative Commons work. It uses many of the same strong rhetorical techniques Lessig used in his preso (repetition, humor, an appear to popular (geek/tech) culture.

And it refs the White Stripes / Redd Kross work as an example (which I have tucked away somewhere, ask if you want to hear it).


Posted by esinclai at 01:32 PM
December 19, 2002
More on AOL

Dan Gilmor has some remarks on the AOL patent, especially as it relates to some PLATO (ah, PLATO - one of the first internetworked computer systems I used, I believe, that wasn't modem oriented).

The link, to a nice page about Plato's TERM-talk, is keen, and worth following. A whole site about PLATO!

Posted by esinclai at 06:13 PM
December 17, 2002
I Heart Domains

A few weeks ago Anne and I went ahead and moved forward a bit on our WQAX Project plans and registered the domain. The site formerly housed under the namespace has been copied to its new home.

All it needs now is a heaping shovelful (beakful?) of work. Corrections are already queued up (and what was I thinking when I went for that yellow?!? Yeesh. This is why I'm not a designer.

Posted by esinclai at 10:01 PM
AOL Patent

AOL (well, AOL as assignee, the inventors worked for Mirabilis) has been granted a Patent 6,449,344 in the US for the essentials of the ICQ (and by extension AIM) messaging system.

An interesting development. has a bit about it as well.
While it seems pretty broad (and thus I would wonder about the enforcability), it brings back memories of late nights on our own invention documentation.

Ah, youth (he said, aged after a three year gap)...

Posted by esinclai at 09:11 PM
December 15, 2002

Until this year I never encountered Butternut Squash soup. Now it's on every restaurant's menu (or so it seems, and all the kids are cooking it too.

Of course, it -is- delicious (if you like squash, which not everyone does.

Posted by esinclai at 03:26 PM

It takes some easy shots, but Technical Difficulties, aka is a nice piece of agitprop.

Posted by esinclai at 03:18 PM

Prowling around various collaboration tools this morning....

And more... It seems like the activity in this area is taking off coincident with the slowing (to my mind, or perhaps direct interest?) in the real-time communication space. The standards there taking so long to settle out, but the more webby standards most of these tools are using (RDF, RSS, yadda) seem to be dynamically organizing themselves into useful toolsets.

Of the tools, the only one with readily available code is Spaces (and an active mailing list, too). Last run I had was .2 alphas ago. Haystack looks like a pretty fluid tool, if the code comes out beyond screenshots.

Things to watch, quietly, as I continue poking at the realtime space.

Posted by esinclai at 12:24 PM
December 14, 2002
Poke it with a Stick

Sometimes when one has problems with technology, it helps to poke at the problem with a stick.

Because if you get too close, it might bite.

Posted by esinclai at 11:35 AM
December 11, 2002
More Red Slams

One of my favorite occassional read weblogs, The Making of a Restaurant, takes on the "reviews as included in the Red Eye. Succinct yet detailed, their summation makes a good read - one which could (from some now foggy reads of the oh-so-slender publication) apply handily to their cultural coverage as well.

But my current beef about them? They produce a newsheet that is "designed" for a 20 minute L ride (meaning those of us who live in realer neighborhoods further from the loop are even more out of the target demo), they do nothing to encourage recycling of their disposable product. So I see the logo poking out in mass quantities of the trashcans when I get of the L each AM.

(now I consider changing this log's name to "The Making of a Grumpus")

Posted by esinclai at 09:50 PM
December 07, 2002
Brush up that Resume!

According to this article in the HT, the next president of IU should be able to expect a "compensation package" of approximately $600K.

I'd make a deal to the trustees. I'd not only take less than that, I've got a house to live in, saving further real estate expenses. Just run me a T-1.

Posted by esinclai at 10:54 AM
December 06, 2002
Greek Theatre Which side of the greek mask does this fall on:

A woman, wearing slingback heels, no hosiery, standing on a Chicago Winter corner at rush hour, trying to hail a cab.

Posted by esinclai at 05:44 PM
December 05, 2002

Last weekend AZ and I went down to Bloomington IN, my hometown, the place we met, the place we go every couple months to visit people and places. As usual, a swell time was had, more than justifying the drive of some 4 hours to get there.

There's much to be said, per usual, about such trip - perhaps some developments to report. But I did take note of two curious things there, oddities in the commonplace, basically.

We stayed at the Grant Street Inn this trip, a pleasant bed and breakfast (though we are always busy meeting people for breakfast, so don't get to take advantage of that). We were put in "The Annex" (or, as AZ put it, the "slaves quarters"). This is a second house that sits next to the primary Grant St Inn. It was restored to look like the main house - an older home as so often seen in Bloomington. But when they did our bathroom, they appear to have mismeasured, leading to the destruction of some molding.....

As an aside, when I moved back to Bloomington after college in 1989, I lived in a different annex to this house. That was when the building was on 7th Street next to a church; my friend Wes and I lived for 4 months in a tacky siding-laden bolt-on to the main house. We were displaced when the church that owned the house sold it to the present owners (who restored it to fine glory), on the condition that the house be moved to make way for a new parking lot they needed for their growing parishoners.

Also on this trip we made it to Soma coffeehouse, where we spent a chunk of time talking with our friend Jason visiting from SF (oddly, we spent much of the time this trip with friends from SF.

Soma has a cool bathroom

What isn't well captured here is that the throne is on a raised platform, on which a person of my height cannot QUITE stand up straight. It truly feels regal, somehow.

Posted by esinclai at 06:55 PM