# 02 Aug 2006, 06:43PM: Comic Sense...Tingling!:
India-centric comic books. I've now read an issue of The Sadhu (interesting) and a collection of the first few Indian Spiderman issues (Brian K. Vaughn has nothing to worry about there). I'll try out Devi, Snake Woman, and maybe Brothers, but I've had enough of the Ramayana for a long time.
The artists and critics in the SFGate article loudly and persistently recognize the awesome, canonical work Amar Chitra Katha did; for a long time, it was the first and last word in Indian comics.
# 03 Aug 2006, 04:09PM: It's All The Greek Ideal To Me:
Kathy Sierra provides Fitness hacks for geeks, including heart rate monitors, accelerometers, and Dance Dance Revolution.
# 07 Aug 2006, 07:28AM: I Still Miss You, Will Franken:
The Whitest Kids You Know are back from filming a season of their new series for Fuse TV. Saw them last night and they're in top form. Really enjoyed Roger Hailes and Aziz Ansari's work as well. Hailes made a funny, feminist joke about strip clubs, if you can believe that. He also was the first comic I've ever heard to point out that prayers too often devolve into to-do lists. Oh man, so true it's simultaneously hilarious and not funny at all.
Hailes hosts "Flying Blind" at Rififi on Tuesdays; I'd like to go sometime. Improv/extemporaneous standup sounds promising.
Seeing bad standup makes me want to do good standup. Seeing good standup just makes me deeply, deeply happy.
# 10 Aug 2006, 02:55PM: Water Cooler:
Conversation ended up pondering which would happen sooner, if at all: my reproduction or the end of cheap oil. "Oddly enough, both of those depend on Alaska senator Ted Stevens."
# 10 Aug 2006, 03:54PM: In The Application Of My Seat To A Yoga Mat:
Once upon a time, my brother-in-law-in-law wrote a bit about working out, Daylight Savings Time, doing stuff alone, and same-sex marriage. John's an interesting guy, and I find all of those topics worth exploring, but right now fitness weighs heavy on my mind.
My sedentary lifestyle and love of candy and Leonard's food have caught up with me, so now I'm actively working to increase my fitness and stamina and decrease the amount of room and mass that I take up. Both my parents have diabetes; I've started thinking long-term.
I started a TiVo Season Pass to a show on Lifetime, Denise Austin's Daily Workout. Denise Austin is a Mr. Rogers-style workout coach. At least two other people have blogged about the humorous incongruity between her sweet, friendly encouragement and the pain of working out. But any personal or impersonal trainer will evince that sort of thing. Two things that I find weird about Austin:
- She publicly and strongly supports George W. Bush, which makes me wonder about the science she spouts about metabolism, calories, etc. Does she think human-caused global warming is some unproven hypothesis?
- She was born in 1957, yet looks younger than I do. Not just her body, but her face looks about twenty years old.
But she doesn't creep me out, and I like the workouts.
Food, sex, money, the body: all these fraught topics disappear if I wholly involve myself in something. This works even if the activity centers on one of those topics. If I let the milquetoast Daily Workout electronica energize me and get my kicks higher and higher, I can escape. As I get better at gaming my body, I hope exercise escapism approaches the quality of literature escapism and comedy escapism.
I have been daniel.u ("I feel like my body is a station wagon in which I drive my brain around...") and now I'm stopping. Once I get the hang of remembering that I'm a physical organism, I'll incrementally improve at living consciously in my body, but right now it's triage. Get up and moving every day. Stop eating tons of starch. Stop eating free candy at work. (Now that I haven't had candy at work for weeks, sometimes I crave it, but sometimes I can't imagine eating handfuls every day, as some coworkers do, and as I used to.)
Perfect is the enemy of good, or done; half a loaf is better than none; doing something, for me, here, is better than doing nothing. I haven't joined the rapid prototyping cult, but I understand them better now.
# 13 Aug 2006, 10:12PM: Reality Check:
Residents of the USA: 2/3 self-identified white, around 76% self-identified Christian. In both cases, lower than I'd thought.
# 13 Aug 2006, 11:01PM: Means of Production:
The Poor Man says funny things about Mel Gibson and Daniel Davies causes me to enter this post in three of my four blog categories (Comedy, Religion, and Taxes).
If Leonard leaves the house, I find it easier to clean. Why is this? Other people who live with spouses or significant others: can you comment?
Anyway, that means that I had a spasm of cleaning today. Also, today I wrote and almost finished a new column on a funny problem with a naturalization exam study sheet. Well, that's where it starts, anyway.
# 14 Aug 2006, 07:08AM: Miscellaneous:
On Saturday Leonard and I (and some Fog Creek people) visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I got to see a Georges de la Tour that I'd long admired. I especially love this detail of a woman's face. In other art news, a print of The Death of Jennifer Sisko now hangs in our living room.
Learning to listen, learning to interrupt. I used to interrupt far too often; I've gotten better about that. Now that I work in tech and almost all my colleagues are men, I have to learn to keep talking when it's my turn.
Shukr provides modest clothes and tries to treat its workers well. Wouldn't an Underwriters Labs/kosher-type certification for modest clothes be cool? LDS, Muslim, bashful, etc. people could check it when shopping. But different denominations and levels of reserve would call for different thresholds on skin coverage, tightness, conservatism in color and plumage, etc. And big-busted women will always find it difficult to find tops and dresses that don't call attention to bosomage.
What in the world is going to happen with China? We bet that engagement would lead to democratization. Were we wrong? DeLong and his commenters puzzle over that billion-person question mark.
# 15 Aug 2006, 03:13PM: Two, Two, Two Columns In One Post:
Last week's MC Masala and this week's went up on the web today. The pursuit of happiness analysis:
I'll never make it as a self-help book author because I can't reduce creating happiness to a formula. Sometimes it comes from accomplishment, discovery, comfort and emotional validation. And there is another happiness, as I feel with my husband, that I can't pin down to vivid moments; it comes from years of growing together, and I thank God that I'll have a lifetime to name it.
We make tradeoffs, we try for craftsmanship, we mix artistry into our lives.
I've figured out how to persuade a hairdresser to cut my hair short, like a man's. I tell her that I want to look like a man. To those of you who chuckle quietly at how long it's taken me to figure this out, I remind you that the scenic route makes for more column material.
"I want to look like a man," I said, "or a stereotypical lesbian." I flipped to two pages in a fashion magazine where regular-haired men appeared, deep in the backgrounds of photos where they pinned up some Rapunzel monstrosity.
# 19 Aug 2006, 02:13PM: Managing Chance, Managing Change:
Scott Rosenberg shouts in favor of incremental change, reminding me of Leonard's maxim: "A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked."
Scott also points to Josh Kornbluth's hilarious anecdotes on dealing with the unexpected on live radio.
Leonard's old colleague Karl Fogel has just written a terrific book, Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project. The concept reminds me of Steven Weber's The Success of Open Source, but Fogel provides a detailed HOWTO on all stages and aspects of software production. I'm currently drinking in his chapter on money. Karl used to work on Subversion at Collabnet, so he speaks from experience in "Be Open About Your Motivations".
This is not to say that you can't ever come out in favor of a specific solution. But you must have the patience to see the analysis you've already done internally repeated on the public development lists. Don't post saying "Yes, we've been over all that here, but it doesn't work for reasons A, B, and C. When you get right down to it, the only way to solve this is..." The problem is not so much that it sounds arrogant as that it gives the impression that you have already devoted some unknown (but, people will presume, large) amount of analytical resources to the problem, behind closed doors. It makes it seem as though efforts have been going on, and perhaps decisions made, that the public is not privy to, and that is a recipe for resentment.
You can read Producing Open Source Software online for free. It's a tremendous resource for project and product managers of all sorts of software, not just F/L/OSS projects.
"And maybe we're supposed to see how a really human life means seeing there's no numbers there and breaking out the crayons anyway."
# 20 Aug 2006, 01:38AM: Disturbing Slash Pairing:
# 20 Aug 2006, 02:30PM: MC Masala on Tests of Americanness:
"Who discovered the USA? Christopher Columbus."
"Is this still right?" she asked.
Man, oh, man, all the things I wanted to say. Before any white people from Europe came along, indigenous people lived in North America, variously called Native Americans, American Indians, and Indian-no-the-other-one. But if they came over on the now-underwater land bridge from Asia, does that mean they discovered America? Leif Ericson came along before Columbus, but he hit Canada. And no one "discovered" the United States anyway; we created the USA, and we create it every day, no matter who was first on North American soil.
But I didn't want to try her patience or her limited English, and would it help her anyway?
# 27 Aug 2006, 09:46PM: MC Masala on Scars & Marriage:
Math teachers, parents, husbands, and tables all get under our skin.
I left home for college, cut my hair, and took off my earrings once and for all. But my mom asked me to wear some jewelry in memory of home and God, so I did: a little Ganesha idol on a chain around my neck, and a small ring. My finger grew accustomed to the ring, as fingers do.
Today, just a few months after getting married, I marvel that my ring finger has already adjusted to my wedding ring. I peek at the skin underneath and find it shiny and pale, the flesh narrowing to accommodate the ring. A scar, of sorts.
# 29 Aug 2006, 02:51AM: Dragging Everyone I Know To See:
Will Franken! September 7th-28th he tours NYC, including a couple of stops at my usual haunt Rififi.
# 29 Aug 2006, 10:32AM: How To Make Me Steamed:
Take some US citizens, don't charge them with any crime, but keep them from returning to their home in Northern California, and deny them their constitutional rights. Especially when one is a teenager, and they're South Asian.
Federal authorities said Friday that the men, both Lodi residents [and citizens! -ed.], would not be allowed back into the country unless they agreed to FBI interrogations in Pakistan.....
By the way, anyone with brains would refuse a polygraph, since they don't work and are often not admissible in court (Wikipedia link, National Academies Press smackdown).
"We haven't heard about this happening -- U.S. citizens being refused the right to return from abroad without any charges or any basis," said [Julia Harumi] Mass [their attorney with the ACLU].
McGregor Scott, the U.S. attorney for California's eastern district, confirmed Friday that the men were on the no-fly list and were being kept out of the country until they agreed to talk to federal authorities.
"They've been given the opportunity to meet with the FBI over there and answer a few questions, and they've declined to do that," Scott said.
Mass said Jaber Ismail had answered questions during an FBI interrogation at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad soon after he was forced back to Pakistan. She said the teenager had run afoul of the FBI when he declined to be interviewed again without a lawyer and refused to take a lie-detector test.
So if some random Berkeley classmate of mine, or one of my twenty or thirty cousins whom I've met once, makes up a bunch of names to placate his interrogators, and I happen to be visiting my parents in India when the government collates that list and finds me on it, they'd stop me from coming home to my husband and job and home until I submit to unconstitutional treatment? My response is unprintable.
If you have any kind of probable cause, any kind of tip to follow up on, then do the kind of police work that the Brits did that led to the arrests a few weeks ago. Legal, thorough, warranted in every sense of the word. But when the US government has a network of secret prisons and interrogation facilities specifically set up in countries where the law on torture is unclear or nonexistent, why in the world should a US citizen like me submit to overseas interrogation, especially in Pakistan?
Fly these folks to a jail in the US with air marshals handcuffed to them, if you're so afraid. They live in the US, they're citizens of the US, and the only plausible reason you want to interrogate them abroad is so it'll be less visible if you violate the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to our Constitution. (Not to mention at least Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.)
I haven't even touched on the problems with the no-fly list. This administration's folly is fractal.
# 31 Aug 2006, 03:58PM: Sort-of-manipulative Tricks:
How to handle chronic complainers: actually listen to them and empathize, saying, "I don't know how you put up with it."
From the discussion of Joel Spolsky's timeless "Fire and Motion":
So, I took my apartment keys of out the pocket of my swimsuit, and threw them in the opposite end of the pool.
Cogito, Ergo Sumana by Sumana Harihareswara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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