In light of the GOP debates this past week someone linked to this excerpt of the fourth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy but I have forgotten who it was. It’s the sort of thing you need to read in its entirety so I am not going to quote it. Just go read.

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Yo, Young Adults, do you SEE WHY those of us who lived in the 80's laugh when we see you guys in your 80's garb?

It was a very confusing time.

Damn good music though.

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I think I just found my new favorite cabinet member.

Was anyone in your family impressed when you won the Nobel Prize in Physics? Probably, but who knows? I called my mother up when they announced the Nobel Prize, waiting until 7 in the morning. She said, “That’s nice — and when are you going to see me next?”</p>

Is it true you don’t drive a car? My wife does, but I no longer own a car. Let me just say that in most of my jobs, I mostly rode my bicycle. </em>

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While I think this animation is good, and it helps illustrate the flow of money and greediness of everyone involved, I think the This American Life episode "Giant Pool of Money" did a better job in pointing out not every risky buyer was trying to get away with something. Here they are drawn as overweight, tattooed, smoking, and having too many kids to suggest them as "risky"… Whereas the TAL episode detailed the predatory nature of the lenders actively searching for people who shouldn't have been looking to buy a house.

Still, I think the video is worth watching.

</embed>
The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

The TAL episode can be purchased here. It's worth it.

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thanks.gifworf.gif

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I happened to read two articles on sub-cultures on the same day. A piece on Internet Trolls from the NY Times and Adbusters' article on Hipsters. Both affected me enough to roll around in my head all day while I worked.

It's possible that with our little girl on the way my attention to "the future world" is a bit more focused. We're no longer planning a couple years in advance but decades, and of course, everything matters a little bit more.

So Alex wrote a very thoughtful reaction to the hipsters article (I initially found it by way of his twitter post) and it was met with thoughtful responses. It's a nice post and conversation, and somehow ties in the with the NY times troll article and even Derek's post on comments that has also been on my mind lately (gee, I think a lot).

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Patrick Smith writes an excellent piece in the NY Times about the state of airport security. You might remember Patrick has a column in Salon called "Ask The Pilot" and a book by the same name.

If you're a nervous flier I can't recommend his book enough. Ever since I read it flights have been much more enjoyable and easy to get through.

Security not so much.

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I'm not much of a conference goer. I find web conferences terribly frustrating as I sit in my seat and think "I should be programming" or "In the time we all talked about this we could have pair programmed something interesting." Conferences in general just make me anxious.

But this conference titled The Traveling Box: Containers as a Global Icon of our Era fascinates me to no end. I would so go to that conference. It even includes a tour of San Pedro!

found on delicious/straup

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I saw this story about a photo used in a Virgin Mobile ad that acquired a photo from a Flickr user. The photo in question has now been switched to a strict copyright, but it previously existed with a Creative Commons license that permitted commercial use.

Outside of a model release, I think it's interesting to see a mostly clueful company "linking back" to the Flickr source in their ad per the CC license, and lawyers and Flickr license grantors mostly clueless about what that license means.

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Don't Vote for Chicken John.

And not just that, don't give the guy any money, taxpayers were already forced to.

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My best of 2005 doesn't really stick to any one medium. I tried listing my favorite music this year, but some of it was recorded in 1993. I tried listing some favorite movies, but I couldn't think of anything I got on Netflix this year that wasn't a TV show or made in some year like 1993. So then I thought about books and there was just the one I thought was worth reading.

So here are my favorite things of 2005. In no particular order.

Fisher Space Pen

I just bought my second and third Fisher Space Pen. I accidentally left my first one in the car I dropped off at Hertz so I bought two more. I like to find something that works and stick with it, and right now it's these wonderful pens. Sure they write through blood and water, and you can write upside down, but the secret to why it's so great is that when closed it's about 3/4ths the size of a normal pen, when you take the cap off and place it at the end of the pen the size grows to a normal size pen. Add in the very simple, black matte, metal, "bullet" design and a ball point that seems to begin delivering ink a micrometer before it touches the paper, and you have the best and only pen you'll ever need. (Unless you are all about precision, in which case I have to recommend my previous favorite pen, the Sakura Microperm).

Camper Shoes

This year I went all out on Camper Shoes. I now have seven pair. Moving to San Francisco has meant I'm on my feet more, and some of the shoes (not all) do very well for walking. Now that the Camper stores are popping up in the larger US cities, they aren't as rare, so they don't make me feel nearly as unique as they did when I'd be on this page hoping I wasn't ordering a shoe that would fit on a keychain.

The Mountain Goats - "The Sunset Tree"

Mat got me into the Mountain Goats this year. It's an album. A real full album like the old days when you'd drop the needle on the record and sit in your room and follow along (not that I really ever did this but I'm told by old people with Who albums that they did). It feels like sharing any song from the album is like sharing a chapter from a book out of context, but before I heard the album Mat had given me this recording the MGs had done on the John Peel show which got me interested.

John Darnielle also has my favorite thing said this year, from this interview done in haiku:

Q. Preparing yourself
for an ominous ending
What is the magpie?

A. Only a traitor
undresses his metaphors
As if they were whores

Graph Paper

Hell yeah I said graph paper. I love graph paper. I'm going to buy stacks of it. I like to use the 8 squares to the inch though that 16 square looks HOT. When was the last time you used graph paper?

iTunes TV Shows

I totally missed the boat on the TV show "Lost" due to work and moving. I hate jumping into something mid-season and so I figured I'd wait until it showed up on Netflix. For the holidays I was able to catch up using the iTunes Music store and that rules more than graph paper. I work a lot more on my laptop than I did at my old job. The fact that I can call up a TV show for $1.99 is pure joy. Though I have to wonder, why does 99¢ seem like a bit much for a song I could conceivably listen to 100 times, and $1.99 about right for a TV show I'd watch once? I can't figure that one out.

San Francisco

This town is swell. We love it here. The weather isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be, we're still in California after all, so Christmas Eve, when I was getting ready to drive down to my parents house it was clear and sunny, and I didn't need a coat. I dunno why everyone is all crazed about this weather, I've seen bad weather and this isn't it. I love being able to walk and get a beer, or coffee, or ride the train to downtown without worrying about parking. I do hate that I don't have easy access to stores like Target and Home Depot, though. Back in Long Beach it was easy to get to those stores if you had a lot of stuff to buy, now you have to plan a bit more. Plus I don't have my truck so you have to get creative with getting large things into the house.

To say it's a bit segregated would be an understatement. There are things about this neighborhood (Noe Valley) that annoy me and I think I'd like to be closer to the Mission if I could, but overall I like San Francisco and it beat out Italy when I made this list so that's pretty good.

Quicksilver

Along with TextMate, Quicksilver is an application for Macintosh that I use religiously. I find it better and more agile than Tiger's Spotlight, and the plugins made for it are pretty varied. If you have a Mac you should try it out. Then check out Merlin's post on using its append to text file feature for your todo lists.

HipsterPDA

Speaking of Merlin, you should really meet Merlin. He's an interesting guy with great ideas and great hair. Seriously.

Anyway, Merlin "invented" the HipsterPDA and it's become my favorite organizational tool behind my .Mac residing todo.txt file. I've owned several palm organizers and learned how to chicken scratch letters on them only to have them trickle down to the bottom of my pile of crap I have no use for. Also, it's cheap!

Products

Like I said in my Fisher Pen item above, when I find something that works well I stick with it. And this year was all about three products: Tom's of Maine Toothpaste, Dr. Bronner's Soap, and an array of Kiehl's  products.

When I was a kid I remember toothpaste being toothpaste and not candy. It seems like toothpaste now is so sweet and candied that I don't feel like I'm getting my teeth clean so much as coating my mouth with stuff that smells good. It's like air freshner for the mouth when I really need to be cleaning it. Tom's of Maine just works. And it's in a simple tube that doesn't make me feel like I'm not only buying toothpaste but funding some toothpaste manufacturer's R&D budget to make some crazy dispenser.

Dr. Bronner's Soap isn't a very new product, it's apparently been around a while and I've seen it in people's bathrooms and heard about it from friends but didn't really come around to using the soap until this year. It comes in a bottle straight out of crazy world and being a sucker for packaging I bought a couple bottles when I saw them at Trader Joe's. Of the three companies I'm talking about, Dr. Bronner's wasn't featured in any Seth Godin book I know of, but it should. It's the purple cow to end all purple cows, and it's damn good soap.

I am a sucker for good marketing and good packaging. When I first saw a Kiehl's store I knew I was going to buy a cartload of stuff. The fact that I think the products (specifically the shaving cream, non-alcohol toner, and shampoo) work so well is why I keep buying it. Only later did I find out it was a Lancome company with a trumped up back story. Being a fan of Seth Godin's books means that sometimes you either feel like a total hypocrite or just an informed shopper when you fall for stuff like Kiehl's. It is good though.

Other Stuff

A few things that were good but not great last year:

<ol>
		<li>A <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007TFLLC/nutshell-20">PSP</a> and
			<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006FSLC/nutshell-20">Wipeout Pure</a> for
			my trip to Italy. Sitting on the train or waiting out jetlag in the hotel went by quickly
			with this game. I still can't hear the music and not think of Rome or Venice.</li>
		<li>Any game I was insanely excited about after E3. Nothing really kept me playing this year. All the
			GTA:III styled
			games turned out to be the yellow-fade of the gaming world. &quot;Ooh, I get to drive a motorcycle around and
			run over people. That's a game?&quot;
			Even <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007PIEAQ/nutshell-20">Psychonauts</a> became
			tedious and grating after a few hours. I did nearly finish <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0009I6S0O/nutshell-20">Shadow of the Colossus</a> but
			it was during a time when I was swamped at work and couldn't really devote my evenings to it. I'll probably
			finish it up in the next month.</li>
		<li><a href="http://www.netflix.com/">Netflix</a> is a great service, but it feels like they hit a brick wall in terms of building their application.
			It's the same service it was (to me) as it was a year ago. They added some friend features and cleaned
			up the interface a bit, but nothing that really made me feel like they were devoting much time to its future.
			Where are the video games? Where are the PSP movies? Netflix is rapidly becoming the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cdnow">CDNOW</a> of online rentals.</li>
</ol>

Stuff That Didn't

There were a few things I had been excited about this year that turned out to not be what I had hoped for. While PHP turned 10 years old, Ruby on Rails (or, as I lovingly refer to it: Ruby on Rims) went 1.0. I know, Ruby on Rails runs best on LightTPD, PHP runs best on nearly everything. I think Ruby as a language is wonderfully simple and a good language to be introduced to programming on, I think I just didn't mesh with the RoR way. I can't wait to do an app with it, I just didn't trust it when I first tried. It really isn't you, Ruby, it's me.

Gamefly was a huge disappointment. Their turn around times are atrocious and it's like their interface people have never used Netflix before. When I first signed up it took nearly 2 weeks to get my first games, and my original calculation of $50 a month for one game vs. $30 for unlimited games seemed to be thrown off. Waiting a week or so to see a new game in the mail is hardly what I expected.

Not to sound like some tech-pundit blowhard but what is Microsoft doing? They're almost completely off my radar now that I and nearly all my friends work on Macs. I realize that's dangerous, but come on, isometric views of my apartment? Big whoop.

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Dear friends, buy this shirt. All profits are going to the Red Cross.

SOS on Wikipedia

Remember when Redd Kross was the shit? I do. Was that just an LA thing? Possibly. That is Redd Kross and not Kriss Kross. I must admit, in like 92 I put my pants on backwards on purpose for like 10 minutes and walked around the house. Watching The Box while unemployed and bored made me do shit like that. I will tell you all a story about my Taylor Dayne inspired shenanigans some other day.

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A horrible piece of writing, but I thought it was interesting that it happened, even if the "victim" sounds like one of those people who screams at the ice cream clerk that he didn't get enough sprinkles. The end tries to make you FEEL BAD FOR THE LITTLE $2 BILL NOBODY WANTS. Poor bill!Lame. Anyway, I have one at home I can't seem to spend. It's pretty.

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By coincidence I watched Black Hawk Down last night, followed by a Frontline episode titled A Company Of Soldiers.

The Frontline episode, incidentally, is causing some commotion over the 13 expletives the soldiers utter during the filming. For all the violence and senseless dog killing, saying "goddamn" after an unarmed citizen (who at the time is writhing in the back seat of his car) is killed by a ricochet is a big no-no.

My local PBS station ran the censored version, which was surprising considering the article says the LA affiliate was going to run it. I'm wondering if DirecTV requested a different feed or KCET flaked at the last moment.

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I am currently in San Francisco visiting friends and waiting for my flight back on Tuesday. The bartender at the bar down the road noticed that my drivers license was expiring today (my birthday) and I realized that attempting to fly with an expired license was probably a bad idea. (Terrorist are notorious procrastinators. It's a fact.)

While waiting for my giant, bingo-like number to be called—G241—I had time to think about the last time I renewed my license. It was my birthday and I didn't have a house. I hadn't created FilePile. I hadn't written five years worth of code at work or solved five years worth of problems. I lived in the heart of LA and spent Sundays on the floor picking through the LA Times while I drank coffee.

I was 27 and had recently made a bit of money by cashing in some stock. Life was pretty good and I remember feeling like my future was still pretty wide open. Lot's of people were pretty optimistic.

Of course, life got even better. It keeps getting better. There's a bit of excitement when your number gets close...G237...G239...G240...

When I'm 37 and it's my birthday, and I've forgotten to renew my license again, I just know I'll be at the DMV, smiling at how fortunate I've been.

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