our hopes and expectations; black holes and revelations

Today begins the last year of my twenties. Anything I should do before I become a for-real adult? I’ve already seduced and betrayed, and been done unto in turn. I’ve been to Iceland and I will have been to London. I’ve written a few novels; haven’t sold one yet. I have a job and a nice car. Got a 401(k). What have I missed?


and these children that you spit on as they try and change their world

Short day today, so I’m going to you for content.

First, post a link in the comments to your favorite videos on TED.com. If you don’t have a favorite yet, visit the site and browse.


Second, if you got invited to speak at TED, what would you speak on? You don’t need to be a world-renowned expert. But it does need to be a subject that you can speak passionately and creatively about, and it needs to suggest changes (small or large, personal or social) that you think would improve the world.

If I got invited (and I reserve the right to change this if TED calls me up tomorrow), I would speak on how to take advantage of revolution cascades to change a culture. I’d have to spend a few minutes laying out Timur Kuran’s theories of preference falsification. Then I’d get into concrete steps:

  • Promote awareness through spectacle.
  • Change people at the margins first.
  • Decide where your strength lies (endurance vs. speed, ingenuity vs. tradition) and ramp it up.
So that’s my talk. What’s yours?

Of course, if you can dance, you can always dance. But it’s got to be good.

one thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach, all the damn vampires

People of the Internet! I declare the final showdown. I give you the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

This is your one and only chance, ever, to convince me that Joss Whedon lives up to the hype.

I’ve long maintained that Whedon scripts dialogue beyond his actor’s capabilities, putting A-list screwball in the mouths of B-list actors. That his much vaunted “strong female roles” simply put a new gloss on the same girly stereotypes that we’ve seen in every sitcom for the last fifty years. That his cutesy moralizing is, well, cutesy and moralizing.

But I could be wrong! It’s happened before.

In order to give Joss Whedon the full benefit of the doubt, I will watch an entire season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I’ll watch every episode, beginning to end. I’ll even take notes.

So what do you, Whedonophiles of the Internet, have to do? Easy. Tell me which season to watch. Because I’m only going to watch one.

“Oh, but you really have to watch these episodes from Season X-1 in order to get Season X.” If that’s true, then Whedon fails as a writer and everything I’ve ever said about him is true. Network television is episodic – it uses a formula to fill a structure. A viewer should be able to pick up any episode of a good TV show and follow along. I might laugh a little more at recent episodes of (say) The Office if I knew that Dwight and Angela used to sleep together, but the episode should still work as a story if I don’t know that.

“Oh, but they’re all good.” Then pick the best one.

“Oh, but you should watch Firefly instead.” I’ve seen Firefly. Fun, but hardly amazing.

I’m a busy man and I’ve all but made up my mind on Whedon. But I’m holding out because of the incredible passion my friends have for him. So, in the interests of fairness – and because it’ll make good weblog fodder, if nothing else – I’ll give him a shot.

So, discuss with your Slayer friends which season I should watch, fill out the attached poll, and make me a believer!

I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now

Sorry to cut and run, guys, but they’re firing up the time portal and I’m about to jump sixteen years into the past.

Quick question, while we’re on the subject: what three pieces of advice would you give your twelve-year-old self?*

* “Invest in Google” doesn’t count.

superstar, but he didn’t get far

I’m visiting family in Baltimore, taking the train down this morning and back on Monday, so don’t expect much.

If you’d like to contribute, please recommend a book that’s available on the Kindle. Please note: anyone who recommends one of the first twelve items listed at that link gets five across the eyes.

there’s something in my head, but it’s not me

Got home and promptly went to bed at 6:30 last night. Slept until the alarm went off this morning, whereupon I called in sick to work and slept another few hours. That seems to have put a real dent in this head cold, so I think I made the right call.

Plenty of odd dreams though. In the first, I visited my old offices at the Company. After chatting with my former supervisor, I left the building, only to see that there was now a food court abutting the office. “Good use of all that extra space we had,” I said to myself, until I realized I couldn’t find where I’d parked. I wandered through a hotel that had been constructed on the parking lot’s grounds, getting lost in an eight-bed suite.

In the second, I was playing some fighting video game (it looked like the latest in the Soul Calibur series, but wasn’t). I wanted to select one character whom I’d been doing really well in using, but couldn’t.

In the third, I was in Baltimore. I was driving down Padonia Road to get somewhere. I tried to pass this SUV that was driving abysmally slow in the right lane, only to see it change lanes right in front of me. Then I realized it wasn’t changing lanes – it was being pushed over by this massive gust of wind. I struggled to keep my car from sliding into oncoming traffic while still navigating the double reverse curve. When I regained control of the car, all the traffic in front of me had stopped. Something had happened at a school – no one knew what – and no one was moving.

The recurring theme, if any: being unable to get back the way I came. Not sure what it means.

# # #

In cheerier news, I’m buying myself an iPod Touch for my birthday. The question: which one, and when?

I have just shy of 16 GB of music on iTunes. A lot of it sees only occasional use, so I could do some rigorous culling. And it’s another $100 to get the 32 GB Touch. However, even if I trim down a full GB worth of music, I’ll still be expanding my catalog in the future.

Also, Apple’s announced the release of the 3.0 OS for the iPhone (and iPod Touch) this summer. I don’t know if it’s worth waiting for that upgrade, or if I should just buy now and pay the $10 to upgrade this June/July/whenever.

So I’ve made a poll! Validate my choices, Internet!

you don’t need no money with a face like that, do ya honey?

My iPod – the fourth generation model, 40 GB, no color display – had been freezing about once a week and requiring a hard reset. Last Friday it finally died while charging, giving me the iPod frown.

I’ll take it to the Geniuses to see if they can salvage it, naturally, but I had been thinking about upgrading my portable music solution anyway. So I turn to you, Internet, for advice.

Two questions:

  • First, if I do go iPod again, as I most likely will, which model should I get? I like the slim convenience of the Shuffle, but I don’t know if 500+ songs that I can’t choose from will be enough variety for me. Music controls my moods in a powerful way. I like to have lots of different playlists depending on what I’m going for – quiet reflection, pumped-up energy, just feeling like a cool cat, etc.

    So if I decide storage space trumps convenience, I may go for the Classic (80 GB). It’s more expensive, but I can experiment with watching videos on the train. Like the cool kids do.

    I’m not likely to go all the way for the iPod Touch, but you’re welcome to give feedback if you have one and love it.

  • Second, if I don’t go iPod, what non-Sony product would you recommend? CNet speaks well of the Sony NWZ-S738F, the Archos 605 and the (hyurrrech!) Zune. The folks at Consumer Reports like SanDisk and Creative. Your thoughts?