Tuesday, February 26, 2008


The Advantages of Closing a Few Doors is a nice take by John Tierney on the power of letting go -- accepting realistic limits on how many possible futures you can entertain.

Xiang Yu was a Chinese general in the third century B.C. who took his troops across the Yangtze River into enemy territory and performed an experiment in decision making. He crushed his troops’ cooking pots and burned their ships.
He explained this was to focus them on moving forward — a motivational speech that was not appreciated by many of the soldiers watching their retreat option go up in flames. But General Xiang Yu would be vindicated, both on the battlefield and in the annals of social science research.

And thanks to Time putting some of its archives online, I can provide the name for the trope of the closing door: Torschlusspanik, as felt in East Germany, 1961:

Last week a curious and serious malady was affecting Communist East Germany and reaching almost epidemic proportions. The name of the disease was Torschlusspanik, which literally means "fear of gate closing." Everything East German leaders did to shut off the flow of refugees to the West seemed, instead, to spur it on.

So the fear of a closing gate spurs people to finally take the hard path to the desired outcome.

There seems to be a lot of Torschlusspanik in the air these days.

unreleased Marumari EP

Has been available from the source himself for quite a while now, here. It is quite good, as usual. Simple, blissful, wordless electronica. I would have paid money for it...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Name Mangler

New version of the file renaming utility formerly known as File List. I have used several such utilities and this one's the best. Powerful regexes and conditionals, though I still manage to find things I can't make it do. Probably my fault. New version Leopard-only.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

more tropes

Tropes of the Times -- words which occur more frequently in the NY Times than anywhere else.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Biometric database

Did you see the story about the gov't's biometric database? Storin' your iris patterns, etc.

What will be convenient will be when the gov't underwrites the cost of the program by renting access to the database, because it will mean I can buy a Coke just by winking at the Coke machine.