Saturday, May 31, 2003

Homeland Security: Getting Serious?

Attorney General Ashcroft is visiting an elementary school. After the typical civics presentation, he announces, "All right, boys and girls, you can all ask me questions now."

A young boy named Bobby raises his hand and says, "I have three questions:

1. How did Bush win the election with fewer votes than Gore?
2. Why are you using the USA Patriot Act to limit Americans' civil liberties?
3. Why hasn't the U.S. caught Osama Bin Laden yet?"

Just then the bell sounds and all the kids run out to the playground. Fifteen minutes later, the kids come back in class again. Ashcroft says, "I'm sorry we were interrupted by the bell. Now, you can all ask me questions."

A young girl raises her hand and says, "I have five questions:

1. How did Bush win the election with fewer votes than Gore?
2. Why are you using the USA Patriot Act to limit Americans' civil liberties?
3. Why hasn't the U.S. caught Osama Bin Laden yet?
4. Why did the bell go off 20 minutes early?
5. Where's Bobby?"

Friday, May 30, 2003

Learning to write

The last few weeks I've been teaching myself to write 'mass market' non-fiction.

I used to be a technical writer in Silicon Valley. I wrote over 300 technical manuals on networks, network protocols, network analysis tools, and UNIX installations.

Now, I'm writing a non-fiction book on documentaries. Writing for a general audience is hugely different than technical writing.

In technical writing, I had to make sure I included *everything*. If I didn't a manager would come storming into my office three months later, demanding to know why some obscure function wasn't documented. In mass-market writing, the goal is the exact opposite. The writer has to choose *one* slant on a subject--and write only about that.

In technical writing, the reader opens the book with a reason to read. In a mass-market book the writer must give the reader a very good reason to read, or the book will be unsold, unopened, and unread.

A technical writer who consistently adds anecdotes or humor to manuals will probably be fired. A mass-market writer who doesn't add anecdotes and humor won't have any readers.

It's an interesting exercise. It gives me an excuse to re-read my favorite novels and non-fiction books, and see how the experts do it.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Rent a Segway in Paris

A SLATE article about riding Segway in Paris. Soon, you will be able to rent them for $8.

Another reason to go to Paris!

Other articles about Segway in France:
A Forbes article about Segway in Paris.
The French city of Besancon has been using them since January, 2003.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Paul Krugman is worried about economic quagmire and deflation.

Closer to home, I've got my own economic quagmire. Having been out of work for nearly two years now. The up side is that I have lots of time to write, read, walk, visit friends and take photographs. The downside is no new purchases. No house repair, computer, travel, car, clothing... and i'm one of the lucky ones. Everyone I know is either out of work, or working longer hours for less pay. If deflation arrives, many of the tech workers in Silicon Valley are likely to be living under shopping carts, along with their wives, kids, dogs, cats and goldfish.

Friday, May 23, 2003

You'll make more money by selling advice than by following it.

-Steve Forbes

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Gatsby believed in the green light, in the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... And then one fine morning----

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

- F. Scott Fitzgerald
The War against American Tech Workers

The H1B visa program imports cheap foreign engineers and programmers to replace American workers. And, H1B workers pay no taxes! No social secuity, payroll, income, medicare, or income taxes. None. (To all my friends in Silicon Valley, ask one of your H1B colleagues for a look at his or her pay stub.)

How bad is it? The Department of labor numbers for 2001 -- in California alone:

State: CA
Number of Unemployed Californians: 1,030,252
Number of Employed H1B workers: 300,451
Average annual H1B wage: $55,478
Annual H1B payroll in Ca: $15,417,923,237.78

The '" website.
Tax scam article.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Back to blogging after two weeks of fooling with wifi antennas and amplifiers. I'm still working on a problem that prevents access from two machines.

Went to see Matrix Reloaded. A little to talky compared to the first version. Seems almost as if they're laying in storylines for a line of sequels or action figures. Several minor characters are introduced. I found them less interesting than the minor characters in the first Matrix. There's an air of pretentiousness about Reloaded that makes it feel like sitting in on a college coffeshop philosophy discussion.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Economist's take on Euro vs. Dollar

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Lunar Eclipse Calculator

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Paleo-conservative take on Euro vs Dollar US Achilles heel

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Thoughtout the world May 1 is labor day. In to the US it is historically law day.
This year it is to become loyalty day White House Proclamation

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