Remember the Future

Masha Gessen ends on a somewhat positive note in her Nov 2016 essay Autocracy: Rules for Survival | The New York Review of Books:

Rule #6: Remember the future. Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either. Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election. They offered no vision of the future to counterbalance Trump’s all-too-familiar white-populist vision of an imaginary past. They had also long ignored the strange and outdated institutions of American democracy that call out for reform—like the electoral college, which has now cost the Democratic Party two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote. That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be.

Magic of Morning Moleskining

This morning, after a long break from writing journalistically in the black Moleskine I carry around in my backpack, I scrawled:

Stand back to see where my handwriting hand leads me right now. Early morning writing can sometimes be downright magical, illuminating hitherto dark spaces of the mind and heart.

What followed was a trance of fluidity that I rarely have when writing on my computer. What do we know about the difference between writing in a paper journal and on a computer?

Writing on a personal blog when there’s

Isn’t it positively quaint to hope that I will write in any meaningful way on this blog when so many of the cool writers on the web have migrated to Medium?

I’m actually inspired to get back to writing on this blog because Dreamhost, the current host for this blog, has made it free and easy for me to use HTTPS on my site (via letsencrypt.)   As silly as this may sound, I feel much more at home now on this blog, now I can write over more secure channels.   (yes,  I know: Medium also support HTTS –> so HTTPS cannot be the determinative factor in whether I write here.)

Help stop the renewal of the Copyright Term Extension Act

I just encountered (and signed) the petition to stop the renewal of the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), making me wonder what’s up with the Act. A quick Google search landed me on this Washington Post story story with the following paragraph distillation of the current state of affairs:

The copyright extension Clinton signed will expire in five years. Copyright holders like the Disney Corp. and the Gershwin estate have a strong incentive to try to extend copyright extension yet further into the future. But with the emergence of the Internet as a political organizing tool, opponents of copyright extension will be much better prepared. The question for the coming legislative battle on copyright is who will prevail: those who would profit from continuing to lock up the great works of the 20th century, or those who believe Bugs Bunny should be as freely available for reuse as Little Red Riding Hood.

Thank you, Dorothy Duff Brown, for teaching me about dissertation writing

In the mid to late 1990s, the Berkeley campus offered to its doctoral students a dissertation writing workshop for Berkeley run by Dorothy Duff Brown. I remember it after all these years as a lifesaver. Brown offered so much good practical advice. Don’t rely solely on my computer but also make use of print in writing large documents. Decide as a matter of personal discipline (and sanity) when to stop working each day, rather than on when to begin. After all, writing a dissertation is a process of guilt management. Even more valuable than the advice, however, was the kind sympathy that the Dr. Brown offered me and my fellow grad students — something that was, alas, often in short supply on the campus.

I will have to find out from the Berkeley Grad Division what has happened to the dissertation writing workshop. I see mention of such workshops in a list of offerings. I am, however, glad to see that folks at Michigan State University had captured some of Dorothy Duff Brown’s wisdom when she spoke there.

What we can do in response to the Oil Spill? (Running Notes)

What crowdsourcing activity has there been?  A blog post that has a pretty good analysis of the idea. — allows one to track and report incidents — based on the Ushahidi platform. — Android + iPhone apps to report where oil spill is. is not a bad place to start a deep dive.

Trying to get the real scoop, I am inclined to trust ProPublica, which has published a FAQ list:


Had no idea that the official site of the Deepwater Horizon Command is If you have a good idea, you might try calling: TECH/SUGGESTIONS (281) 366-5511

Morning pages and remembering my dreams: spreadsheets on steroids

For almost every morning over the last couple of months, I’ve been writing about three pages in my journal first thing in the morning, in n an exercise known to many as morning pages.  One of the side benefits of this exercise is how it helps me to remember dreams from the previous night.  Last night I dreamt about being at a talk by two shaggy hair guys,   Who had invented a new type of spreadsheet tha  for some reason had only two sheets but which could also handle millions of users and billions of variables because the  spreadsheet somehow exploited the fact that all these numbers were not independent of each other.  Great idea but I’ve no idea of how to implement such a spreadsheet, or how useful such a spreadsheet would actually be in real life.  Nonetheless, dreams are a reminder of how wacky our brains really are.

I want the money back — and where’s our apology?

As much as I’d like to see the bankers who pillaged our economy return every cent they stole from the system, it seems that there are few ways to actually recover their shameful bonuses. If that’s true, then I’m at least with Alan Binder, who wrote the following Economic View – Six Errors on the Path to the Financial Crisis –

For this litany of errors, many people in authority owe millions of Americans an apology. Richard A. Clarke, former national security adviser, set a good example when he told the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks that he wanted victims’ families “to know why we failed and what I think we need to do to ensure that nothing like that ever happens again.” I’m waiting for similar words from our financial leaders, both public and private. [emphasis mine]