# 01 May 2007, 07:34AM: Unused Premises:
Yesterday was the first or second time I heard about the Ryan North anthology project, so I mildly thought about writing and submitting something but decided to watch Bananas with Leonard (talk about madcap) and study a bit instead. I had two premises: that parents-to-be would test their fetuses and selectively abort those whose deaths sounded unpleasant or early, and that a political scientist would find some human symbol of the US, e.g. the Statue of Liberty, to test in hopes of learning how the US would "die."
# 01 May 2007, 07:56AM: Am I The Only One?:
When a blog refers to "the Maliki government" I sometimes misread it as "the Malki government".
# (2) 01 May 2007, 08:11PM: Now I Have A Mas:
That is, I'm done with my first year of the two-year Columbia MS. Whoo!
# 01 May 2007, 11:45PM: NYC Webcomics Meetup Tomorrow:
Wednesday, May 2 -- at least a few people will show up for the Meetup, it seems. You, too, can be one of them!
# 05 May 2007, 10:26AM: Free Comic Book Day:
Via BoogaBooga: Salon's guide to the samples you can grab on Free Comic Book Day (which is today). The Fantagraphics Unseen Peanuts collection looks the coolest.
As long as I'm hawking comics, I may as well put down for posterity the stuff I've bought. I mostly got these at Midtown Comics at Times Square, with a smattering from Forbidden Planet NYC, Comic Relief on Shattuck (formerly on University) in Berkeley, and Comic Outpost (warning: music starts playing if you click that link) on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco.
- Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan. If you don't count the Amar Chitra Katha and four or five random superhero or PSA comics I read when I was a kid, Y was my intro funnybook. I believe Sheerly Avni is to blame. Volume 9 of the anthologized trade paperbacks comes out next week -- Wednesday, specifically. It will probably sell out, if my experience is any guide. It collects issues #49-53, and since there will be a total of 60 issues, that means there's only one collection to go, maybe two. I like knowing that reading Y is not an open-ended commitment.
- Ex Machina, also by Vaughan. Recommended even by people who aren't me.
- Runaways by Vaughan. Notice a trend?
- The Escapists six-issue limited series by Vaughan, and the third Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist volume, which contains an Escapist story by Vaughan
- Doctor Strange: The Oath, issue 1 of 5, by Vaughan - I should get the rest of these.
- Pride of Baghdad, a standalone graphic novel by Vaughan
- Fables volumes 1-3. Hal at Midtown recommended the series, but it got boring so I didn't finish the third collection, but maybe I'll try again.
- The 9/11 Report graphic adaptation (terrific)
- Action Philosophers volumes 1 and 2, as well as some single issues. So awesome.
- She-Hulk (the hilarious 2000-era reboot), volumes 1-4. Collecting this gets confusing because of changing series names and issue renumbering. Hey, at least I'm not trying to keep up with Marvel's Civil War.
- Telgemeier's two Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels
- DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore, including the legendary Batman story The Killing Joke. Highly recommended.
- Superman: Red Son (great)
- Batman: Detective 27 (bleh)
- Alan Moore: Top Ten, volume 1. Not compelling enough to keep reading.
- "What Were They Thinking?" from Boom!; Leonard and I love this series.
- Three Tales from the Public Domain issues from the possibly defunct Baaar-Sum Comics. Also a Leonard favorite.
- Cthulhu stuff from Boom! for Leonard. He's the judge of that.
- Issues of Ambush Bug and Son of Ambush Bug - also for Leonard.
- A few issues of The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman - basically Chomsky meets Tufte.
- The first two issues of New Universal by Warren Ellis and Salvador Larroca. Maybe I should just read Transmetropolitan like everybody recommends before going further with this admittedly entertaining story, since New Universal looks pretty epic and therefore time-consuming.
- Some of the new Indian Virgin comics, e.g., Sadhu issues 1 and 2. Boring, if pretty.
- Marvel's Spiderman: India, volume 1. Blah.
- Dr. DeBunko: Debunker of the Supernatural, issue #1, by Chris Wisnia, from Salt-Peter Press. Very funny.
- Elephantmen issues 1-3, which I got because one had Ganesha on the cover, and which I have not actually read. I'll remedy that this weekend.
I'll do a different list sometime for the webcomic collections. And I've read some classics (most noticeably Watchmen and some great Batman tales) that aren't on this list because I borrowed them. Given that, wow, this was a longer list than I'd expected to write. No wonder Midtown Comics is still in business.
Today's recommendation: Find your local participating comics store, get the Peanuts sampler, and buy the first volume of Ex Machina, an issue of Action Philosophers or What Were They Thinking?, or the paperback DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore. Unless you already have comics predilections, in which case you should comment on this entry or write your own blog post with recommendations and arguments. (Zed, thank you for She-Hulk -- now give me more!)
# 08 May 2007, 07:49AM: "We Get To Sell Stuff, But You Can't":
Via Ben Pollack: Guess who wishes that your right to sell your own stuff didn't exist?
# 08 May 2007, 08:10AM: Tiny Updates:
The Elephantmen comic is okay.
My mom is visiting us. Last night we watched Altman's The Company. I fell asleep. Is there a plot in there? I've read a couple of reviews now and evidently I missed the Altmanesque point. But we liked Gosford Park so much!
I'm reading Quicksilver again, after dropping it in favor of schoolwork a few months ago. I had to backtrack several pages to remember all the moving parts but I'm back in it. I'm even reading it on the subway, which is kind of ridiculous since it's a thousand-page hardback.
# (2) 08 May 2007, 10:49PM: The Difference:
It gets so exhausting trying to talk to someone across the lumper-splitter divide.
# 10 May 2007, 04:13PM: Eurovision:
I have the urge to watch the Eurovision Song Contest live on Saturday afternoon. American Idol is constant and domestic and recent where Eurovision is yearly, international, and 51 years old. The rules summary in case you love voting systems, Leonard.
A recurring theme at lunch: systems, especially identification/authentication/authorization protocols, and how they might be gamed. Do geeks in Europe constantly think of ways to scam the Eurovision votes?
# 11 May 2007, 09:11AM: Free Mother's Day Copilot, and IE7/Vista Ponderings:
My boss has decided that on Mother's and Father's Days, Fog Creek Copilot shall be free! Free for all! he waved his scepter. It's an easy-to-use desktop sharing tool that Fog Creek developed to make customer support easier. When I was doing tech support it was a boon. I can only imagine how much of a relief it is for the geeks who constantly have to help friends and family.
Joel suggests that you take this opportunity to kill the malware and toolbar crud and install Firefox. (Yes, just as most computer users use Windows, most parents use Windows.) An old Lifehacker guide says you should also install a firewall, do a Windows Update, uninstall unnecessary programs, and run a defrag. Another holiday guide reminds us to do backups and organize files.
Those are old, pre-Vista, pre-IE7 guides. And lots of help-needing parents must be using one or both of those. For a while it was impossible to get a new Dell computer without Vista on it (they've retreated because of customer demand, so now you can get Windows XP again), so surely a few have to remotely support relatives on Vista. I waited several months after IE7's October 2006 release, and got the "yeah, it's safe to upgrade now" nod several weeks ago when I sought it from the Fog Creek systems administrator.
I've sought a checklist of "here's how you harden Vista and/or IE7 and make them easy for neophytes to use," and haven't found it. Is it possible for such an animal to exist?
# 14 May 2007, 06:04PM: Indifferently Mixed Together:
Some MC Masala columns, on hair (it's okay) and raisins (better). An awesome Robert Haas poem.
My mom was in town. She loves to watch figure skating, so I got figure skating videos off YouTube and Google Video to show her. We also watched a bunch of Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies, e.g., "Follow the Fleet" and "Flying Down to Rio," although for some of them we just fast-forwarded through non-dancing scenes. One fun line in "Broadway Melody of 1940" did reward our attention: "I thought you were a bill collector." "Collector? Well, I used to collect stamps....before people stopped writing to me."
My mom invariably calls Fred Astaire "Fred Stario" or "Fred Rogers".
We did get to hear Irving Berlin's crazy Yam song from "Carefree" and his "Get Thee Behind Me, Satan" tune in "Follow the Fleet." There's some surreal mirror/ghost stuff in "Carefree" and "Flying Down to Rio." Because we fast-forwarded past the entire plot of "Carefree," we missed a hypnosis arc. "Flying Down to Rio" includes a scene where white characters crash-land on what they think is a deserted island, then they see black men and assume they're barbarian natives, then it turns out they're in Haiti near a golf resort and a black guy with a golf club and a British accent directs them to the airport. What I am saying is, just because a film is sixty years old does not mean it is less freaky than "Adaptation."
The last film in the Mother's Day/Weekend Marathon: the surprisingly good "Holiday", starring Hepburn and Grant, made in 1938, yet not horribly sexist. I had hopes for it from the moment I saw George Cukor directed it, though the sight of "based on a play by Philip 'The Philadelphia Story' Barry" lowered them. Wacky supporting characters, a drunk brother acting like King Lear's Fool, and class politics!
Now to stop being boring, finish a press release rewrite, and go home for another hundred pages of Quicksilver.
# 16 May 2007, 03:04PM: Please Turn To The Next Book When You Hear This Chime:
I've finished Quicksilver and gone straight into The Confusion. Boy, I'd appreciate that now-defunct Baroque Cycle wiki right about now. As an alternative I would also accept a decent tenth-grade World History course that, as promised, covered Europe up to the present day, instead of the version I got that ended substantive instruction around 1600.
Leonard is reading a biography of Samuel Pepys, so both of us had to seek out relevant primers. Were we really dedicated we'd use a more scrupulous source than Stephenson + Wikipedia to grok European history. "Yes, the moral decay of the kids these days, it's horrible." Leonard's historian sister Rachel is probably shaking her head in shame right now.
Anyway, the 900-page Quicksilver is not as imposing as I'd feared. The intellectual bits don't melt my brain; the science and math we now get in high school, and I've read enough philosophy to follow the arguments easily.
However, keeping track of the exposition gets formidable. The reader has to keep a lot of data readily accessible in her head, so I don't recommend that you read it as I did (read 100 pages, six-month hiatus, start again and read 250 pages, four-month hiatus, try to continue from bookmark and eventually backtrack 50 pages). For example, about 50 pages from the end, two characters allude to something that happened eleven years prior, and I couldn't figure out whether Stephenson had mentioned it (and I'd forgotten) or he was being coy. The surfeit of aristocrats leads to the same problem I had in reading Tolstoy: remembering that "Peter Shale" and "Count Vlogistaire" and "Rocko" are the same person. I didn't see the Dramatis Personae relational database till the end of the volume.
I realize that I sound whiny, but I liked Quicksilver; today I blarghed about it and Stephenson in general for about ten minutes at Michael. Stephenson knows how to make me laugh and ooh and turn the page. I'll quote my upcoming column on amateur anthropology:
On the level of plot and setting, it's about seventeenth-century Europe, political intrigues, scientific discoveries, banter in coffeehouses, and the movements of markets. But it's also about the false distinction between people of thought and people of action -- to paraphrase Einstein, thought without action is lame and action without thought is blind. And it's also a giant meditation on a theme that Stephenson can't stop thinking about: what it takes to "condense fact from the vapor of nuance", to quote his earlier book "Snow Crash."
For future reference, once I've finished the series: Andrew Leonard's Salon reviews of Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3. I think Andrew Leonard really gets Stephenson, so let's see if I'm (and he's) right.
# (1) 17 May 2007, 12:10PM: The Social Net and Working:
I dragged Leonard to a Chris DiBona talk at Google NYC last night. I didn't hear much that I hadn't already known (the topic: Google's use and promotion of open source software), but I did see some interesting PR behavior. DiBona can politely apologize when Google corporate policy prevents him from answering a legitimate question, e.g., on Google's use of and strategy regarding software patents. I usually only see "No comment" deployed wearily and defensively. DiBona actually sounds sorry when he says, "I'm sorry, I'm not at liberty to talk about that." Refreshing!
Leonard got to meet Rohit Khare, and I got to meet Benjamin Stein (it turns out we'd already met online when I'd been wondering what shredder to get). Mr. Khare and I saw each other's name tags and thought we had met before, but kept making near misses as we tried to figure out where ("Oh, so you know Anirban!" "No, I know an AnirVAN...") -- I think he and I must have just seen each other's names in Leonard's blog. The name badges could have been better.
There's a bit in Quicksilver where Stephenson describes Daniel Waterhouse's reluctance to drop in on his welcoming relatives -- he can't imagine someone would want to open the door and see him there. Face-to-face social networking at these events means getting over that quite natural diffidence, and since I'm more extroverted than the average techie, that means I often make the first move. I start conversations using boilerplate small talk ("Did you have to walk a long way here in the rain today?"), and if friends see me doing this, the patent artificiality of the behavior can embarrass me. Geek/business networking me is not just friendly me. I understand better now why friends in the audience at your play distract or dismay you -- they'll find it harder to suspend disbelief and enjoy the theater, because they know you so well in a different role.
A lighthearted link to round this off - in the deleted scenes on the Office Space DVD, we see hints that blue-collar workers don't in fact have it better than cube slaves.
# 21 May 2007, 10:22PM: Heard But Not Seen:
Leonard and I went to Washington, DC to see my sister graduate (twice! MBA and MA) and help host a party. Then we came back and I watched a taping of The Daily Show. If you watch tonight you may hear me.
# 21 May 2007, 10:50PM: Talkin' 'bout Slang or Canon?:
"Achewood is in the same universe as Brick."
"Is it also in the same universe as St. Elsewhere?"
# 23 May 2007, 06:29PM: Rollr Coastr:
Heart-pounding and relief after a work review. The set of new marketing pages is okay, thank goodness. And then a case of the sniffles after reading Leonard's latest musings.
# 24 May 2007, 10:07AM: Fear Of Fans:
Hmmmm, maybe I shouldn't have been so hasty in tossing off a column about Batman (for this coming Sunday). *shielding myself from a zillion cogent critical letters*
# 24 May 2007, 11:50AM: Creating Value & Expressing It:
In reference to business models and the ability to respond appropriately to different stimuli, as well as Built to Last (current Fog Creek reading):
The communications you make with your vendors, your business partners, your customers, your investors, your employees will stress different bits of your business model, because people will ask "what's your business model?" and mean different things.
Everyone's an entrepreneur, investing the capital of their own lives - you, yourself, might want to consider your "business model."
# 29 May 2007, 08:38AM: Batman's New Sidekick, MC Masala:
MC Masala on Batman!
Today's comic books are like big, old cities where villains and bystanders vanish down alleys and new visitors need guides.
I wonder what it was like when New York was just a sliver of town south of Wall Street, or when Batman was just another Detective Comics character. Did ordinary people know what they were beholding?
# (1) 30 May 2007, 10:27AM: Tip For Keeping Resume To One Page:
Copied and mildly edited from my comment yesterday on the Joel On Software discussion board. The original poster, two years out of college, had asked whether to keep his college internships on his resume - and if so, how could he keep the resume down to one page?
Like any fairly ambitious person your age, you've got enough accomplishments, internships, gigs, volunteering, awards, etc. to fill at least two resume pages (reasonably typeset). That's great. So create that and keep it updated. That's your mega-resume. For each job, you have several bullet points listing all your tangible accomplishments and regular tasks you performed.
Then, for each individual job that you apply to, distill down a relevant one-page resume, with each item specifically selected for the job description and the research you've done on the organization. (You label your past gigs as "Selected Work Experience" so it's clear that this isn't all you've done. "Additional work experience and references available on request" is the last line.)
Once you're distilling a new resume for each job application, you clearly see that sometimes you should include internships, and sometimes another experience earns that space on the page. By the time you're 7-10 years out of college, you'll almost never find space for an internship on the one-pager.
If you're lacking space for a particular one-pager but want to convey your leadership skills, your experience in teaching could go in your "skills" section.
A few slightly off-topic tips:
1) Acquaintances and friends of friends are a better source than posted job ads. Talk to the most connected tech people you know, even if they're just acquaintances, and ask them to keep their ears open for opportunities for you. A personal introduction is a less brittle stepping stone than a resume.
2) Your mileage may vary, but the fact that I put "stand-up comedy" in my public speaking skills/experience line on my resume has piqued hirers' interest more than once. If you have a non-creepy hobby where you've accomplished a lot, think about putting it in the Skills section.
Cogito, Ergo Sumana by Sumana Harihareswara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by emailing the author at email@example.com.