Getting kicks at 66

Getting kicks at 66:

Funny, a few months back my 16-year old son asked what the point of “range” was with radio. He’s a digital native who is used to being zero distance from everybody else on the Net, including every broadcaster.

[I grapple with this all the time, as even my 8 year old has a different reality about music and video.]

Meanwhile here I am with a giant pile of trivia in my brain about how AM and FM broadcasting works. It’s like knowing about steam engines.

[I know a lot about various steam engines as well… sigh. At least the development world keeps me honest about the newer stuff.]

But mostly I keep living in the future. That’s why I’m jazzed that both VRM and personal cloud development is rocking away, in many places. Following developments took me on three trips to Europe in May and June, plus two to California and one to New Zealand and Australia. Lots of great stuff going on. It’s beyond awesome to have the opportunity to help move so much good stuff forward.

Speaking of distance, the metaphor I like best, for the birthday at hand, is “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.” Composed in the ’40s by Bobby Troup, the jazz composer and actor, it has been covered by approximately everybody in the years since. The Nelson Riddle sound track for the TV show Route 66 was evocative in the extreme: one of the best road tunes ever written and performed. In addition to that one I have ten other versions:

  • Erich Kunzel
  • John Mayer
  • Chuck Berry
  • Nat King Cole
  • The Cramps
  • The Surfaris
  • Oscar Peterson & Manhattan Transfer
  • Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby
  • Manhattan Transfer
  • Asleep at the Wheel

My faves are the last two. I’ll also put in a vote for Danny Gatton‘s Cruisin’ Deuces, which runs Nelson Riddle’s beat and muted trumpet through a rockabilly template of Danny’s own, and just kicks it.

Anyway, my birthday is happy, so far. Thanks for all the good wishes coming in.

[Because any blog post that mentions Radio, Route 66, *and* Danny Gatton is a sure winner. Bless you Doc! Many happy returns.]

Source: Doc Searls Weblog

Is there a good monoculture?

Ants are laying siege to the world’s chocolate supply – Ed Yong – Aeon:

P infestans is only one of the many plant pathogens that changed the world. Back in the 19th century, Britain’s drink of choice was coffee, and its colony Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) was the world’s greatest coffee producer. That all changed with the arrival of the East African coffee rust fungus, which found a ready-made feast among Ceylon’s dense, back-to-back plantations. The British government sent Harry Marshall Ward, another pioneering plant pathologist, to deal with the problem. He issued a now-familiar warning: planting crops in vast monocultures is an invitation for virulent epidemics. No one listened. Within two decades, the fungus had slashed Ceylon’s coffee production by 95 per cent, forcing the industry to relocate to Indonesia and the Americas. The crippled plantations were replaced by tea bushes, and tea displaced coffee as the quintessential British beverage.

If Marshall were around today, he would probably be disappointed that his advice still goes unheeded. We still tie the fortunes of entire regions to single staples. Around 90 per cent of the world’s calories come from just 15 types of crops, most of which are highly inbred monocultures planted over sprawling acreage. These monocultures skew the evolutionary arms race in favour of pathogens, and create the conditions wherein old threats can easily evolve into new virulent strains.

[It appears that monocultures are “unnatural” in the most significant sense… they run counter to evolution. Diversity seems to win every time.]

Your app makes me fat

BLOG — Serious Pony:

And that’s all awesome and fabulous and social and 3.0ish except for one, small, inconvenient fact: zero sum. What you consume here, you take from there. Not just their attention, not just their time, but their ability to be the person they are when they are at their best. When they have ample cognitive resources. When they can think, solve-problems, and exercise self-control. When they can create, make connections, and stay focused. 

Is that “content” worth it?  Maybe. But instead of “Is this useful?” perhaps we should raise the bar and ask “Will they use it?” (and so, yeah, I’m more than a little self-conscious about typing that as I consume your cognitive resources. But I didn’t start Serious Pony to save your cognitive resources; I want to help save the cognitive resources of your users).

[I complain about various bits of cognitive drain to my wife all the time. No doubt a self fulfilling prophecy for her… I’ll have to work on that. On the upside, I bother my team at work about reducing it for others all the time. It’s zero sum game at every level.]

Fast Time and the Aging Mind

Fast Time and the Aging Mind –

The question and the possibility it presents put me in mind of my father, who died a few years ago at age 86. An engineer by training, he read constantly after he retired. His range was enormous; he read about everything from astronomy to natural history, travel and gardening. I remember once discovering dozens of magazines and journals in the house and was convinced that my parents had become the victims of a mail-order scam.

Thinking I’d help with the clutter, I began to bundle up the magazines for recycling when my father angrily confronted me, demanding to know what the hell I was doing. “I read all of these,” he said.

And then it dawned on me. I cannot recall his ever having remarked on how fast or slow his life seemed to be going. He was constantly learning, always alive to new ideas and experience. Maybe that’s why he never seemed to notice that time was passing.

So what, you might say, if we have an illusion about time speeding up? But it matters, I think, because the distortion signals that we might squeeze more out of life.

It’s simple: if you want time to slow down, become a student again. Learn something that requires sustained effort; do something novel. Put down the thriller when you’re sitting on the beach and break out a book on evolutionary theory or Spanish for beginners or a how-to book on something you’ve always wanted to do. Take a new route to work; vacation at an unknown spot. And take your sweet time about it.

[All the excuse I need to always continue programming, music, woodworking, photography, and everything else. One should never stop learning.]

Good enough

I rode away from everyone and everything early in the morning on a hill that leveled to a faintly breezy ridge that opens to a blurry river at the farthest border of useful vision. Shortly, in the shelter of a piney forest, my cadence, such as it was, slacked to a stop. I took a drink, and enjoyed the bird song and quiet as my own breathing fell to less of an uproar. Thankful, I rolled around and nosed into the descent. The thick wall of trees and the piles of fallen needles absorbed the sound of my passing. The enchantment would vanish, the way it always does for riders like me, when the road would turn up again. I’d shatter and fail in a vain attempt to ride the hills with grace and panache. No easy and endless energy. No elegant spin and position.

I found an imperceptible furrow in the wind and gained speed. I traced it for a few more minutes, down that hill and up others and across some brief false flats. I rode like me. And for a brief while that too was good enough.


The dopers roll merrily on

Zabel: Nobody Forced Me To Take EPO:

He confessed six years ago to having tried EPO one time, in 1996, but now in light of the positive test a year later, he has finally admitted to having doped from 1996 through at least 2003.

Zabel added, “I never had a structured doping plan, never had any experts around me, and so never saw myself as a superdoper. I only had recommendations.”

[Now we have the birth of the “superdoper”? “I was just a simple lad dosing myself with EPO. No structured plan, and the needles were uphill both ways!” Of course. The disease that causes doping is a lack of honesty. To allow someone to draw a line between themselves as dopers and the newly incarnated “superdoper” is to allow the disease to continue to perpetuate.]


My friends Matt and Christine got married today. Yesterday in…:

I have never ridden a segment in my life. I ride rides. To feel and fall into and be a celebrant of a road’s rhythm is better to me than to be a king of a thing that does not exist on that road. Someone read from The Song of Songs at Christine and Matt’s wedding, and Linus said, “Those of you who titter about the Song of Songs have no imagination.”

[I find both statement spectacularly true.]

Source: True BS

Devices are vertical, services are horizontal

ē Services, not Devices:

The crux of the problem is in that second paragraph: no one is asking Microsoft to design its “customer interaction” to “reflect one company.” Customers are asking Microsoft to help them solve their problems and get their jobs done, not to make them Microsoft-only customers.

The solipsism is remarkable.

The truth is that Microsoft is wrapping itself around an axle of it’s own creation. The solution to the secular collapse of the PC market is not to seek to prop up Windows and force an integrated solution that no one is asking for; rather, the goal should be the exact opposite. Maximum effort should be focused on making Office, Server, and all the other products less subservient to Windows and more in line with consumer needs and the reality of computing in 2013.

Devices are vertical, services are horizontal

Devices are vertical, services are horizontal

[And getting services right is not easy. I see where Microsoft is making some inroads, but as Ben said, they’re stuck between worlds… the old one based on Windows, and the new one based on services. In many ways I think Apple is stuck there too, although for very different reasons.]

Source: stratēchery

Solving problems sometimes requires work.

Solving problems sometimes requires work.:

Biz Stone said something very clearly and concisely that defines the way tech is funded these days. He says if he can’t figure out an app in a minute, he moves moves on.

[snip -ed.]

Why does it matter? Well, software is, in every way, the leading edge of the technology. If we limit the edge to simple ideas, ideas as simple as an advertisement, what chance do we have of solving the massive problems that face us? we face? Many of those problems are technological in nature, and require thought and organization. Tools that tackle those problems can be pretty simple, but not so simple that they pass the The Biz Test.

[Nailed. And frankly, a reason to find other ways to fund the solutions we need to the more massive problems.]

Source: Scripting News

The Nate Silver Effect: Political Media Tries To Protect The Horse & Buggy Industry

The Nate Silver Effect: Political Media Tries To Protect The Horse & Buggy Industry | The Daily Banter:

Sports media is often even worse than political media in this respect. I hope Silver continues to write about politics, but it will be fun to see him rebut the asinine arguments of so much of the ESPN crowd. They often insist sports is “guts” and “heart” when it often comes down to statistical superiority.

The horse and buggy crowd love to grouse about the future passing them by, but eventually it almost always is inevitable.

[Should be fun.]