Both infuriating and in a way, hilarious. The crazy thing is that not only have many of us had equally bad (though different) experiences with Comcast, many of us with loud microphones have as well, like Ryan Block here. And yet, Comcast keeps growing and sucking up all in its path.

Comcast undoubtedly would say that’s because our incidents are isolated and people love Comcast. That, of course, is bullshit. It’s because there is little-to-no competition in the market. In many places, if you want television and/or internet, you need to sign up for Comcast. And Comcast buying Time Warner Cable is only going to make that worse. 


East 5th Street, 1980 © Brian Rose/Ed Fausty


East 5th Street, 1980 © Brian Rose/Ed Fausty

… busyness has acquired social status. The busier you are the more important you seem; thus, people compete to be—or, at least, to appear to be—harried.
Elizabeth Kolbert — “No Time”, The New Yorker

… I try to find some little nugget that, for whatever reason, is interesting to me. The less thematic or philosophical or political the better. Kind of like a seed crystal in Biology class: You put it in the dish and it starts to grow, organically and on its own. As soon as I start steering toward some moral or intention, my stories tend to go flat. Part of the artistic contract is: no preaching. And knowing how a story is going to end before you start it, and why it has to end that way, and what it will “mean,” is (at least when I do it) a form of preaching. It has an inherently condescending quality, and any sensible reader would be offended/bored. So the trick is: How to proceed without knowing where you’re going? And “craft” and “process” are just words for enacting that practice of following the gut …

A story will appear to have a big unsolvable problem, but that’s because I am operating under a too-restrictive vision of what it is. It’s like if you had a kid who was destined to be a great shot-putter and you kept viewing her as a future sprinter. She would constantly seem to be failing. But if you could be quiet and listen to her, you’d see that her “failing” was just that she had other thoughts about the matter.

George Saunders

Giant Screens Display Fake Sunrises in Beijing When Smog Blots Out the Real Sun
It was his view rather that every act soon eluded the grasp of its propagator to be swept away the clamorous time of unforeseen consequence … Acts have their being in the witness.
The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy

A New Book by Christopher Alexander




Here is the new cover for Battle. It is quite simple yet pleasant to look at.

It’s scheduled publication date is October 24, 2012. Get a physical copy of the book wherever you can (preferably, however, from CES). An electronic version of this book will not suffice.

This is one of those books, like all of Alexander’s books, that you will read and re-read over a lifetime. It is a special investment.

In effect, what these theorists were saying was that without the phenomenon of entanglement, space-time would have no structure at all. Or as Dr. Maldacena put it, “Spooky action at a distance creates space-time.” If true, this insight would be a step toward a longtime dream of theorists of explaining how space and time emerge from some more basic property of reality, in this case, bits of quantum information. The theorist John Wheeler, of Princeton, who had coined the term “black hole,” called this concept “it from bit.”
A Black Hole Mystery Wrapped in a Firewall Paradox
Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
Mark Twain

Removing Bad Tattoos in Antiquity


[In ancient Rome]…your visit would go like this: Clean the tattoo with natron and terebinth (turpentine). Bandage for five days. Day six: Return to the doctor, who pricks out the tattoo design with a sharp pin. He sponges up the blood and covers the mess with a layer of stinging salt. Now you run a strenuous mile or two to work up a lather and return to the doctor,  who applies a caustic poultice of  lye or powdered quicklime. Your tattoo will disappear in about 20 days. In its place, you’ll sport an ulcerated chemical burn that obliterates the old tattoo.

More at the link…

You are older at this moment than you’ve ever been before, and it’s the youngest you’re ever going to get.

A Manicure 53 Coats High
One way to view Detroit’s bankruptcy — the largest bankruptcy of any American city — is as a failure of political negotiations over how financial sacrifices should be divided among the city’s creditors, city workers, and municipal retirees — requiring a court to decide instead. But there’s a more basic story here, and it’s being replicated across America: Americans are segregating by income more than ever before. Forty years ago, most cities (including Detroit) had a mixture of wealthy, middle-class, and poor residents. Now, each income group tends to lives separately in its own city — with its own tax bases and philanthropies that support either excellent services or lousy ones. Detroit is a devastatingly poor, mostly black, increasingly abandoned island in the midst of a sea of comparative affluence that’s mostly white. Its suburbs are among the richest in the nation. But 1 out of 3 residents of the city is in poverty; more than half of all children in the city are impoverished. Between 2000 and 2010, Detroit lost a quarter of its population as the middle-class and whites fled to the suburbs, leaving it with depressed property values, abandoned neighborhoods, empty buildings, lousy schools, high crime, and a dramatically-shrinking tax base. More than half of its parks have closed in the last five years. Forty percent of its streetlights don’t work. Much in modern America depends on where you draw boundaries, and who’s inside and who’s outside. Who is included in the social contract? If “Detroit” is defined as the larger metropolitan area that includes its suburbs, “Detroit” has enough money to provide all its residents with adequate if not good public services, without falling into bankruptcy. Putting the relevant boundary around the poor inner-city is roughly analogous to a Wall Street bank drawing a boundary around its bad assets, selling them off at a fire-sale price, and writing off the loss. Only here we’re dealing with human beings rather than financial capital. And the upcoming fire sale will likely result in even worse municipal services, lousier schools, and more crime for those left behind in the city of Detroit. In an era of widening inequality, this is how America’s wealthy and middle-class are quietly writing off the poor.