Wednesday, September 30, 2009

tragic FML

From FMyLife:

Today, I open my front door and saw a covered basket with a card from my girlfriend on it. I picked it up and read, "Hope this cheers you up." I uncovered the basket to find a golden labrador puppy. Its eyes were closed and it wasn't breathing. FML

The comments:

> oh my god... :[ did she give you a dead dog on purpose...?

> either way a dead animal is a pretty evil gift
> unless its a cow
> yum


> It sucks that its eyes were closed.

> > "It sucks that its eyes were closed"
> REEAALLY? THAT'S what you got out of the story??? Wow. WOOWWW.

This reminds me of an incident that happened at Google a long time ago. Someone emailed the company-wide mailing list to say "Free cocker spaniel to a loving home." The contents of the email described the puppy.

Chef Charlie did a reply-all, "I have a great recipe for stewed spaniel."

Monday, September 28, 2009

C.S. Lewis discourse on money vs power

This writing by C.S. Lewis about money and power is very interesting:

The difference between us is that the Professor sees the ‘World’ purely in terms of those threats and those allurements which depend on money. I do not. The most ‘worldly’ society I have ever lived in is that of schoolboys: most worldly in the cruelty and arrogance of the strong, the toadyism and mutual treachery of the weak, and the unqualified snobbery of both. Nothing was so base that most members of the school proletariat would not do it, or suffer it, to win the favour of the school aristocracy: hardly any injustice too bad for the aristocracy to practise. But the class system did not in the least depend on the amount of pocket money. Who needs to care about money if most of the things he wants will be offered by cringing servility and the remainder can be taken by force? This lesson has remained with me all my life. That is one of the reasons why I cannot share Professor Haldanes exaltation at the banishment of Mammon from ‘a sixth of our planet’s surface’. I have already lived in a world from which Mammon was banished: it was the most wicked and miserable I have yet known. If Mammon were the only devil, it would be another matter. But where Mammon vacates the throne, how if Moloch takes his place? As Aristotle said, ‘Men do not become tyrants in order to keep warm’. All men, of course, desire pleasure and safety. But all men also desire power and all men desire the mere sense of being ‘in the know’ or the ‘inner ring’, of not being ‘outsiders’: a passion insufficiently studied and the chief theme of my story. When the state of society is such that money is the passport to all these prizes, then of course money will be the prime temptation. But when the passport changes, the desires will remain.

It is from this post which I saw from Wes Bigelow's blog.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

wallace and grommit would understand

Misha: "How do you like EC2?"

Me: "It's good so far. It's been reliable, and they're adding features quickly, like auto-scaling."

Misha: "How much is it?"

Me: "It starts at $72 / month."

Misha: "That's a lot!"

Me: "Don't you spend that much per month on many other things?"

Misha: "Like cheese? Well, yes."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

it's like the IT Crowd episode with "FriendFace"

Jade: "My dad told me that he joined MyFace."

Me: "Oh, what's that?"

Jade: "He got mixed up between MySpace and Facebook."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


In the popular article about MIT students launching a camera into space, this segment was striking:

Four hours after the launch, Lee said, the team thought all was lost.

"We were like placing bets on whether we thought it would work or not," the 23-year-old mechanical engineering grad student said. "Early on, we were optimistic that it would work. About 4 hours after, [when] we hadn't heard any news about the device, we had sort of given up hope. We'd thought we'd lost it."

Dejected, the group drove back to Boston to Lee's apartment.

They checked his computer and found an unlikely signal: The camera had landed in a construction zone outside Worcester, Massachusetts, about 25 miles from the launch site.

"We were so excited, we jumped right back into the car, and we drove out to Worcester, and we found it. That was a great moment," Lee said.

They were amazed with the results. The camera was unharmed. The hand warmers were still hot. And the photos were amazing.

I imagine the three students driving out to the construction site. Who was the first to spot the styrofoam container? Were they quivering with anticipation when they pressed the Canon image-preview button?

When they saw the phenomenal photo with the black of space, did they experience an irrationally destructive temptation to press the delete button? Similar to standing by a cliff and repressing an unexplained impulse to jump off, which most of us have felt at one time or another.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Two British students, Jade and Dan, just told me about a restaurant in London called Inamo. The tabletop consists of a video screen, which customers use to place their orders.

Jade: "After you order, the screen shows an image of your food in front of you. So you can see what you'll be eating, while it's being cooked."

Dan: "You can play battleship while you wait."

Jade: "The food is really good. It's Oriental fusion."

Dan: "You can watch the cooks on a webcam from your screen."

Jade: "The prices were really reasonable too. My entree with a drink was 15 pounds."

Dan: "The table computer has maps. You can pull up a London map, and plan where you'll go the rest of the night. It has a tube map too."

I am totally sold. Next time I'm in London, I will be going to Inamo! It sounds like uWink, with much better execution.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

MIT charm school

Recently my friend, a MIT graduate student, told me that MIT has a charm school for guys, to learn social skills and how to woo women.

I am skeptical that attendance would be high. (Any MIT people want to confirm or deny?) Most guys I know who would most benefit from this service are also the ones most likely to shun it. Their motivation is lower than their actual skill. The low motivation is probably what led to the undeveloped skills in the first place.)

These guys say things like, "Why should I lend a woman my jacket when we're out at night? She should've thought ahead and brought her own jacket!"

The logic is reasonable, so it is usually useless to argue.

Misha says his retort to all these arguments is, "Dude, do you ever want to get laid?"

That would make a good tagline for the MIT charm school for men.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


amusing faq I just read

My friend posted a personal FAQ in response to his company getting acquired:

It depends how you define rich. If you define rich by the amount of $ you have, someone will always have more $ than you. Conversely, you will always have more $ than someone else, even if you are unemployed. Under this definition, you'll be half inferior/half douchebag - so don't go down this path.

I found this amusing and well-said.

Monday, September 14, 2009

guess where

There's a game on Friendfeed where people guess where a photo was taken. My friend Gary is the reigning expert at this game.

In that vein, guess where this photo of me and my brother Tom was taken. It's from last month:

As a hint, on the same day, we went to a delightful museum where we saw these works:

Islamic vase. The blue used in Islamic art is very eye-catching. I am curious whether Istanbul is as exotic to visit as the sense you get from the art.

Courtyard inside the museum. It's good when museums have natural lighting.

I find it impressive when artists can mold glass into their desired colors and textures.

Vases can be very interesting, because they combine form and function. The shape is basically defined, and yet there are infinite variations.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

cute love story

Susan forwarded me this Salon story, which is cute.

Gerd: This is also something that keeps us together, you know, the jokes and laughing all the time. I really have problems to take life seriously. Believe it or not, I'm happy when it's raining. Because if I'm not happy, it's still raining. My whole life is like that, you know? I lost a leg to diabetes, and I'm happy. I never get cold feet anymore. I only need one shoe when I go shopping.

Dina: The last three years was hard time for me. When Gerd had lost ... and then the other leg started ... Then he had bypass, then kidney. He had a lot of problem and I'm only by myself with everything. Was not always easy.

Gerd: This is also big, big, big thing in our marriage, that she takes care of my handicap, without any question whatever. It is just there, every day and every day and every day. If I try to go to the refrigerator with my crutches to pick up a Coke, she's right behind me, "Sit down! I do that. I have two legs, you only have one, I do that!" And this is much more worth than say every five minutes, "I love you," which is mostly just said to say something.

And it's also 100 percent sign that she loves me because I might meet 250 people and I tell them all the same joke and she's still laughing. She doesn't have to yell at me, "I love you. I'll kick your ass, you don't believe it!"

Dina: So we are both a little older and smarter. Much, much happier than before. This was a very different life, and a much, much better life.

Gerd: We thank her ex-husband every day. Actually, every year on the divorce date, we send him a thank-you note.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Last month, after a bout of troubles with git (source control system), I wrote this tweet:

git is like a bad boyfriend: problems committing, demands to go over your history constantly, wants to be called "master"

The funniest response was from my friend Ted:

typical. git blame the man.

At a group dinner later in the week, we discussed how useful it would be if you could issue git commands in real life.

If someone makes comments that get on your nerves, just git-ignore them.

More useful is a checkpoint system. Any time that you detect a potential problem coming up in the conversation, you can shout out "checkpoint". Later, you can run a rollback command to restore to the saved state. Here's how it would work:

Girl: "We need to talk."

Guy: "Checkpoint."

Girl: "This isn't working between us. I want to break up."

Guy: "Rollback."

Girl: "This isn't working betw -- "

Guy: "Rollback."

Girl: "Where do you want to go for dinner?"

I think this will be very useful as long as you remember to checkpoint at appropriate moments.