Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I've always been so happy that cell phones aren't like pesky landlines, whose numbers are automatically listed in archaic phone books. As soon as I got my cell, I signed up for the national Do Not Call list. When my phone rings, I expect it to be someone I know and/or love, or the secretary at a medical professional's office, confirming my appointment.

In the last two weeks, I've been getting calls from these two numbers: 617-830-4620 and 617-245-9602. I don't answer (of course), and I googled each (of course), and lo and behold, the first is some nasty telemarketing company that tells me on its ethics page (a bad sign that it has one at all?) it respects the Direct Marketing Association's Do Not Call List, which uses info from the national Do Not Call list or state ones. My number is on both lists. So WTF?

The second number's source made me sad. From, where I found the numbers:

"I got a call from this number today. It was someone who asked me to donate to Barack Obama's campaign. I said that I was a supporter of Barack Obama, but that I don't give credit card info or money to cold-callers. I offered to donate on the web or at a local campaign office. The person on the other end wouldn't accept this for an answer, and fed me some line about the campaign needing money immediately."

Is it an aggressive Barack campaigner with no skillz, or is it an imposter, trying to steal my money? Probably the latter.

I want to know how my cell phone number leaked into world in the first place. Did Staples or J Crew or Crate and Barrel or the Boston Globe sell it? An idea: Let's boycott these companies! And stop shopping online! And write letters to our congresspeople!

I'm just kidding. My real idea is to never answer the phone again, unless I have a planned phone appointment set up in advance with a trusted friend. That'll show them.

Robot Crush

This is Keepon, my new crush. He was developed by Hideki Kozima who's also kind of cute. Although most people just want to take Keepon home to play, he/she/it/this alien-like life form actually has a purpose. Supposedly he helps autistic kids learn to engage socially. I'm a little torn on this one. He's incredibly engaging -- I must've hung out with him for a total of 40 minutes on and off. I spoke to his maker for a while. I just stood and stared for a long time. I danced with him. But I'm not sure if all of that adds up to anything more meaningful than a cute distraction. My understanding is that autistic kids will fixate on certain objects for long periods of time. That's an intense kind of engagement in itself so in that sense I'm sure Keepon would be a bot of interest. But there's nothing about this cutie that makes me think there's potential for social learning. I'd be more convinced if there were some kind of scaffolding process where the child learns a form of turn taking and incrementally builds on acquired skill sets. But that aside, if they can figure out a way to keep Keepon affordable (and they're working on it), I bet they'd sell millions.

On a slightly different note, check out this video of Keepon that Wired Magazine produced:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Grandma Sez...

If indie musicians can afford to spend $420 on "working girl" jumpers, perhaps they should be paying me and not the other way around. Thx to rcrd lbl for this reality check and the image. Well, I got some Santogold for free on the internet and it's alright but not something I would spend money on (she's got the "look of the moment" below). Grandma's just feeling a little grumpy right now because there was no public transportation tonight, the cabs were full, it was raining, I had no umbrella, and I was carrying canned goods in ripping paper bags and had to walk the entire way home. Maybe I need to rethink my lifestyle.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Reminder, musical version

Kate's post reminded me of the existence of one of the most beautiful Radiohead songs, a song I only have on tape. This song was the second-to-last track on side A of a mixtape this guy my high-school best friend had a crush on made for her. I think it was followed by the Clash reading a poem over some music.

It's called "A Reminder" and you can stream it here. What a great high school mixtape song: 

"If I get old, remind me of this
the night when we kissed,
and I really meant it.
Whatever happens, if we're still speaking
pick up the phone
play me this song"

It's from the Airbag EP, which came out after OK Computer, one of my favorite albums. God, that was a great mix tape, and I wish I could listen to it right now. (It is in another state.) Why are people nostalgic about old formats like tapes? I think it's because with tapes you had a ritual--especially when making a mix. It's like kneading dough to make pizza, or smashing cardamom pods with the back of a knife. You don't have to do these things but they are incredibly pleasurable. A comforting, hands-on thing that puts you squarely in the moment. I dated this guy who was a coffee fanatic, and said he hated decaf. But when he had to quit caffeine he started making decaf every morning--because of the ritual. Grinding the fresh beans, putting a pot of water to boil, nestling the Melitta filter in the cone, slowly pouring in the water with a slight swirl of the wrist. Cooking up a mixtape used to mean lots of hands-on rewinding. You had to sit there while the song played out, there was no instant drag and drop. It was a hands-on, loving process.

We want to post mp3s here on the blog but so far have failed to figure out this 21st century ritual. We don't have a place to host them, I guess. When we get that figured out I will digitally reconstruct that mixtape. If you have tapes you are nostalgic about, that you regret not being able to share with friends or even listen to, check out Cassette from My Ex.

A Reminder

Found on a sidewalk in the Mission, SF.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Humans: Vorsprung Durch Unique

As if cupcakes weren't enough to settle the matter, today's New York Times Magazine has a poorly thought out essay on what makes humans unique. Now you might think that it is our superior intelligence that sets us apart from our simian friends. But Michael Tomasello, an evolutionary anthropologist at the Max Planck Institute, is eager to tell us that we'd be wrong. He recounts :

"To test this idea, my colleagues and I recently administered an array of cognitive tests — the equivalent of nonverbal I.Q. tests — to adult chimpanzees and orangutans (two of our closest primate relatives) and to 2-year-old human children. As it turned out, the children were not more skillful overall. They performed about the same as the apes on the tests that measured how well they understood the physical world of space, quantities and causality. The children performed better only on tests that measured social skills: social learning, communicating and reading the intentions of others."

Those "social gifts," he concludes, "make all the difference." The article then drones on about how Romper Room is our natural habitat and, much to my amazement, ends with this howler:

"Human beings have evolved to coordinate complex activities, to gossip and to playact together. It is because they are adapted for such cultural activities — and not because of their cleverness as individuals — that human beings are able to do so many exceptionally complex and impressive things."

I agree fully with Tomasello that humans can be stupid. One need go no further than reading the transcript of any presidential debate. But how does he arrive at sweeping generalizations about human intelligence by testing 2-year-olds and then comparing their scores with chimps? It is as if he concluded all humans were less than three feet tall because he could find no child above that height.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

All The Little Things

It is not an original thought, but one I've come to appreciate more and more--that the invention of the cupcake is what makes us uniquely human. The urge to enjoy this delectable, cute, vehemently sweet pastry is pervasive. A recent study from evolutionary psychologists claims the cupcake's hip to cup ratio appeals across all cultures to our innate sense of the Good. I recently witnessed a run on a cupcake store in Los Angeles. Sensational! The line extended all the way down Rodeo Drive. Even so, a good friend, sotto voce, dared to tell me that the cupcakes from Joan's on Third were better than those from Sprinkles.

While the cupcake is ripe for ridicule--it may with good reason be deemed something White People Like--I encourage everyone to indulge in this undeniable thing of goodness. (Please check this gooey center of goodness out!) It binds communities. It is sacrosanct. God almighty, it is good. God almighty it is good.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

hand drawn, to the extreme

a wall-painted animation by Blu

To follow up on my previous post about my love and appreciation of hand drawn illustrations and cartoons, I give you this video. I'm still in amazement. I can not imagine how long it took these guys to make this. Painting and repainting, over and over and over. Instead of 3000 sheets of paper and a few pencils, they probably used 50 gallons of paint, 20 miles of wall, and 250 brushes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Commodity fetishism! Yum!!

It appears to be video week here on the Wind-Up Blog.  In that spirit, here's a commercial break.

I just saw this Quizno's commercial, in which a woman eats a five dollar bill instead of a sandwich. This is shocking and funny because it's a play on what Marx calls commodity fetishism. A $5 bill is just a piece of paper, but thanks to the labor that it hides, it's endowed with a magical power that can turn it into lunch (which supposedly has more meat on it than similarly priced sandwiches from competing chains). I had a great laugh reading a communist newspaper in Harvard Square a couple weeks ago that advocated overthrowing the capitalist system, and quoted Lenin (really?? in 2008?!?). However, the original is still well worth reading. I know you heard this in college, but Marx himself, the original, is such a good writer on capitalism. He would see this commercial, and go, "EXACTLY!"

Creativity, Wisdom and the Brain

Since I'm always on the lookout for ways to feel better about myself, I was happy to read a recent article in the New York Times. Evidently, when a person is scattered and easily distracted (as I am), she is more likely to be creative.

From the article:
In a 2003 study at Harvard, Dr. Carson and other researchers tested students’ ability to tune out irrelevant information when exposed to a barrage of stimuli. The more creative the students were thought to be, determined by a questionnaire on past achievements, the more trouble they had ignoring the unwanted data. A reduced ability to filter and set priorities, the scientists concluded, could contribute to original thinking.

But the Times article wasn't written to help me rationalize my disorganization, although I do plan to refer to it in excuses and probably in general conversation as well. No, it was really about the brains of old people. It turns out that like younger, creative types, old folks have a hard time tuning out extra information (and conversely, a harder time focusing on specific details), which actually gives them access to a broad range of knowledge. The upshot: collecting all that information makes the 60+ crowd appear to be wise.

From the article: studies where subjects are asked to read passages that are interrupted with unexpected words or phrases, adults 60 and older work much more slowly than college students. Although the students plow through the texts at a consistent speed regardless of what the out-of-place words mean, older people slow down even more when the words are related to the topic at hand. That indicates that they are not just stumbling over the extra information, but are taking it in and processing it.

When both groups were later asked questions for which the out-of-place words might be answers, the older adults responded much better than the students.

“For the young people, it’s as if the distraction never happened,” said an author of the review, Lynn Hasher, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and a senior scientist at the Rotman Research Institute. “But for older adults, because they’ve retained all this extra data, they’re now suddenly the better problem solvers. They can transfer the information they’ve soaked up from one situation to another.”

Such tendencies can yield big advantages in the real world, where it is not always clear what information is important, or will become important. A seemingly irrelevant point or suggestion in a memo can take on new meaning if the original plan changes. Or extra details that stole your attention, like others’ yawning and fidgeting, may help you assess the speaker’s real impact.

“A broad attention span may enable older adults to ultimately know more about a situation and the indirect message of what’s going on than their younger peers,” Dr. Hasher said. “We believe that this characteristic may play a significant role in why we think of older people as wiser.”

So what's happening in the brain? According to the researchers, decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex from an injury is linked to an increase in creativity. But there was no mention in the article if the same is true of old-person wisdom.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Chemistry, Old School.

I visited Buffalo, NY this weekend and had the unexpected pleasure of walking through Rust Belt Books, a used book store in a cute part of town. Another unexpected pleasure: finding an amazing book of chemistry experiments called "The Question and Answer Book of Chemistry." This book is chemistry before people realized how dangerous chemistry can be. In short, it's awesome. And I made a mini video of it.

Yes Doug Can

Of course, he's Canadian, so he doesn't even get a vote. (Would that I were so lucky! Instead, I have to have a 30 minute conversation with people on why I don't vote (because I'm an agnostic anarchist) and perhaps why they shouldn't vote either (because they're most likely misguided, uninformed and irrational). But I digress. Twice.)

Politics aside, what's not to love about sans serif chalkboard rhetoric? Especially when the message is...has Obama slapped a copyright on this?....dum dum dum: hope.

The nugget Coupland elaborates on--that it is uniquely human to have a sense of time--impressed me when he first broached the thought in the best novel I've ever read involving office humor, start-ups, Microsoft, two dimensional food, emoticons, obsolescence and Legos. (Microserfs, you'll laugh and laugh. I promise.)

His character, Karla, makes an interesting point on this: how would we know we've grown at all if the past has been forgotten?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I can dance better than Prince

Flairs-Better than Prince

Flairs, a French electro-pop guy, makes some pretty bold statements in his song. Eat more stuff than Prince? Really?

The video was directed by Jonas & Francois, the guys that brought you the fun Justice "D.A.N.C.E." video with those animated t-shirts. They also codirected Kanye's "Good Life" and a Madonna video. I love all the bright animation with the black and white video. Working on a computer all day makes me really appreciate anything hand-drawn (or at least anything giving the appearance of being done by hand). For the Flairs video the animators used over 3000 sheets of paper, multiple black pencils, and a scanner. Well done.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What are you, a roast duck?

Selected Shorts, a podcast from Public Radio International, is a weekly program on which actors read short stories in front of a live audience. Most of the time it's pretty fantastic, and a great way to find new things to read. (I'm sure the Stuff White People Like blog will have a field day with Selected Shorts when and if they get to it--the tinkling piano intro, the seriousness of the host and the baritone edge in his voice as he introduces the best actors of the New York stage, reading live from the upper west side. I like it without irony.) Hearing stories read aloud, for me, opens up a more emotional reaction to them. In particular, I find I'm a lot more likely to laugh.

A good source of bittersweet laughter is the work of Grace Paley, an author I discovered through Selected Shorts. I heard "Wants."  Here's how it starts (I'm leaving out the paragraph marks):

"I saw my ex-husband in the street. I was sitting on the steps of the new library. Hello, my life, I said. We had once been married for twenty-seven years, so I felt justified. He said, What? What life? No life of mine. I said, O.K. I don't argue when there's real disagreement."

The conversation becomes more absurd, and he is meaner and meaner to her. "He had had a habit throughout the twenty-seven years of making a narrow remark which, like a plumber's snake, could work its way through the ear down the throat, halfway to my heart. He would then disappear, leaving me choking with equipment. What I mean is, I sat down on the library steps and he went away."

If you haven't read her, you really should. A warning. If you're a single woman, some of these stories might make you not even want to be friends with men. Many men in Paley's stories, especially the early ones, are physically alluring intellectual nullities, walking emotional disasters who will get you pregnant, then take off with a sneer, leaving you to raise the scamps, only to return five years later to criticize your parenting skills and possibly slap you and the kids around before taking off again. But things area always off-kilter in these stories, and she is a master at bringing out the absurdities of domesticity, the very strange things people will say.

Life goes on, and the suffering women in the stories sustain each other with conversation and by telling stories. Call me out here if you want. But it seems to me that in her dialogue and especially in her narrators' voices, Paley captures the rhythms of what in my experience is a female kind of conversation. Two close friends speaking very quickly, sometimes at the same time (but still listening to each other). An outsider listening might have no idea what they were talking about. This kind of talk is one of life's pleasures. It's idiomatic and, when you read it, silly in a very very good way.

 from "The Floating Truth"
" 'What's the matter with you? Don't put yourself on a platter. What are you--a roast duck, everything removable with a lousy piece of flatware? Be secret. Turn over on your side. Let them guess if you're stuffed. That's how I got where I am.'

"The organization of his ideas was all wrong; I was drawn to the memory of myself--a mere stripling of a girl--the day I learned that the shortest distance between two points is a great circle.

" 'Anyway you ought to think in shorter sentences,' he suggested, although I hadn't said a word."

from "Distance":
"I have to tease a little to grapple any sort of a reply out of her. It is something like I am a crazy construction worker in conversation with fresh cement. Can there be more in the world like her? Don't answer. Time will pass in spite of her slow wits."

photo from umami, thanks!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Run, Dino, Run!

Here is something really fun on the internet. Dino Run is a little game where you use the four arrow keys on your keyboard to try to guide a velociraptor away from meteor attacks and extinction.

I am aware I am playing like a total noob--I have been pressing my right arrow button so hard I think I might break it. I don't know how many levels there are, as I got to level 3. (Also, I only learned the term "noob" from lolcats in the first place.) It was all I could do as a child to get my brother to give me ten minutes to play Tetris on the first-generation Gameboy, so I never really got hooked into this stuff. That is exactly the kind of nostalgia this game is tapping into. It might also remind you of roller-skating, arcades, skee ball, licorice ropes, and trying to win a stuffed toy from those claw vending machines.

The game was made by an entity called Pixeljam, whose motto is "neo-retro fun for the good people of Earth." Alright, then! Pixeljam, the people of Earth thank you. Here's their blog, and here's where you can play all their games, including two where you guide a rat through a maze to pick up cheese, also super fun. (Thanks to Ewan for linking to dino run on facebook. If he or anyone else ever reads this blog, yeah, I should give him the credit!)

A Gödelian Puzzle

Can we know something is true but not be able to prove it? And what would that mean to how we conceive the world? Here's a puzzle I've been pondering over the last week. It's Raymond Smullyan's variation on Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem. Mull it over for at least three shakes of a cat's tail. I'll write the answer in the comments. Here goes:

Let us define a logician to be accurate if everything he can prove is true; he never proves anything false.

One day, an accurate logician visited the Island of Knights and Knaves, in which each inhabitant is either a knight or a knave, and knights make only true statements and knaves make only false ones. The logician met a native who made a statement from which it follows that the native must be a knight, but the logician can never prove he is!

Question: what statement would work?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

why I love Paris

I recently visited Paris for the first time. I absolutely fell in love with the city. One of the main reasons was the food. Everything was delicious, including my breakfast pictured above. We ate in a park with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower, and had lunch (a fresh baguette with mozzarella, tomato, and basil) later that day behind Notre Dame. Life doesn't get much better.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Shapes I Remember from Maps

I was reading my daily dose of web comics, one of which will soon cease to be We The Robots, and I got a little bit disgusted. I love this comic's cut-out, textured art and the jaunty hand-lettering (or the digital approximations of these things). I love the little deedle-bop antennas on top of the robots' heads. I love the flashing pixels when you mouse over the comic's name at the top of the page.

But really? Do I need to be hit over the head again and again by simplistic depictions of suburbia that shows robots oppressed by having to mow the lawn and work in cubicles, unable to escape the cyclops eye of the television and the song of consumer culture though they are fully aware of the hollowness of these things? Snooz. Mock the plastic bag all you want, at least American Beauty, another unhappy exposition of suburbia, suggested that art could uplift us supposedly caged, unhappy modern creatures (and had a pretty good soundtrack, as far as I can remember). In We the Robots today the main character falls asleep at his laptop while writing a memoir for a creative writing class he's taking to try to shine some light on his miserable existence (of course, his wife is supporting him only because she doesn't want to hear him complain).

Why am I going on about this? Right now I'm rereading a wonderful, wonderful book by Marshall Berman called All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity. (You should read it if you are feeling kind of confused about what modernism is or why people are so interested in Marx; it's very, very accessible.) We the Robots and so many other things like it are what Berman would call pop nihilism. All it has to say is "an endless, excruciating series of variations on the Weberian themes of the iron cage and the human nullities whose souls are shaped to fit the bars" (Berman is writing about Foucault here). Why bother?

I'm not a huge fan of the suburbs myself. I love the subway, and though I get passive aggressive and grumpy sometimes, I like being out on on foot in the city with all the other city people. Yeah, cubicles suck. And I have not been happy to watch (from afar) the gradual conversion of my California hometown from country orchards and fields into housing developments and strip malls. Still.

One of my very favorite pop songs addresses this question of city/suburbs playfully, ambivalently, and in a way that uh, adds more to the discourse. Well, at least until he starts singing baby noises. "The Big Country" by the Talking Heads--you can listen here and read the lyrics here and get your David Byrne fix here. Our hero is flying over the US of A in an airplane, looking down on all those states in between California and New York (so I imagine), and feeling contempt for "those people down there." But hey, it's healthy, they have fun with their neighbors and friends, and eat good food. No, no, no, "I wouldn't live there if you paid me to!"

"I'm tired of looking out the window of the airplane. I'm tired of travelling; I want to be somewhere. It's not even worth talking about those people down there. Goo! Goo! Ga, ga, ga!"

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Will Houellebecq Buy His Mum Flowers for Mother's Day?

What's not to love about French intellectuals? So full of contradictions--but what gifted minds aren't? Enter Michel Houellebecq. I have not read any of his novels, though a coworker of mine lent (unwittingly gave) me a copy of The Possibility of an Island. He is the reigning heavy weight champ among French literati and, as such, he is not without enemies. In a newly published memoir, the 83-year-old French writer Lucie Ceccaldi says of Houellebecq's work, "What's this moronic literature?! Houellebecq is someone who's never done anything, who's never really desired anything, who never wanted to look at others. And that arrogance of taking yourself as superior ... Stupid little bastard. Yes, Houellebecq's a stupid little bastard..."

Who is Ceccaldi? Houellebecq's mom!!

Le jour de la mère heureuse!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Poetry 2.0

If rock and roll and the novel are dead, then poetry went extinct sometime between the D.H. Lawrence ban and the Beatles. In an interview Doug Coupland recommended this Volkswagon ad for its beauty. (Product placement!!) It is a beautiful synthesis of word and image, doubtless, but more than that, I think it offers a window into the future of poetry. Ten years from now, I can envision one thousand and one Baudelaires roaming the streets with their cameras, raising the stakes and giving the future a poetry worthy of its vastness. And I shall be one of them. Next month, I will be driving from Boston to Los Angeles over the course of three weeks. And once I've collected enough video clips and once the muse has charmed me, I'll have a video poem for you when I get back. Meantime, enjoy the sonorous chimes of Dylan Thomas:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Encounters at the End of the World

At the precise magnetic location of the South Pole, at the end of a long rectangle of a tunnel carved through the ice, is a frozen sturgeon. In his new documentary Encounters at the End of the World, Werner Herzog shows us this fish, noting that the -70 degree temperatures in the tunnel may preserve the sturgeon for future alien archaeologists after other vestiges of long-past human civilization have crumbled. What will they make of us? What drives people to plant flags in the last, remote areas of the Earth? And do penguins go insane?

Herzog, director of Grizzly Man, narrates his surprise that the National Science Foundation funded his rare trip to Antarctica, even though he let them know these were the kinds of questions he was interested in asking. I saw the film a few days ago, when it closed out the Independent Film Festival Boston, so I warn that my recollection of certain details is hazy. The film has the same beauty and some of the same bleakness as Grizzly Man. I have only seen these two movies of Herzog's, both of which show a complicated vision of man's place in nature (a word Herzog would pronounce with some German-accented scare-quotes).

On the one hand, Antarctica is a world of magical, inhuman beauty. He shows us a scuba diver's bubble trail coalescing where ocean meets ice; a lone, deranged penguin waddling down the ice not towards food but towards the mountains, where Herzog assures us it will meet certain death; an unnamed, jelly-like, luminescent tube pulsating through the water. We hear the creaking of the ice and the clicking, whirring underwater noises of seals, which a researcher can only compare to Pink Floyd.

On the other hand, Herzog implies, we have made Antarctica into yet another stage for acting out our own absurd geopolitical and personal farces. Spliced in with his footage of the drifters, scientists, and drifter-scientists populating the south pole are a few minutes of footage of a man who's trying to break a world record on every continent by somersaulting or walking miles with a glass bottle on his head. Herzog is dismayed by the construction sites at the big base on the continent. The romantic in him wishes there were still someplace left on the Earth that remained unsullied by our antics and unspeared by our flags.

The dinosaurs' time was limited, and so will be ours. Mankind, he intones, is one of a series of catastrophes upon the Earth.

But in Herzog's vision of Antarctica, where there's death, there's life--and art. While people may be absurd, down way south, every construction worker is a dreamer, every scientist an artist. (Just as the cliché holds that the waiters in Los Angeles all dream of being actors, in Herzog's Antarctica, everyone is an amateur philosopher.) Herzog talks to a researcher who studies the movements of the sea ice that will melt as a result of cataclysmic climate change--and also to a diver-biologist looking for the origins of life itself. The biologist shows video of single-celled organisms that encase themselves in beautiful branching structures made from particles they pluck from the water, seeming to choose grains purposefully. A nice metaphor for the artist.

Towards the end of the film, one of the continent's many philosophers, a sparkle in his eye, quotes Alan Watts. (I may have that name wrong.) Through us, he said, the universe observes itself. Herzog does not answer his question about what drives us to plant flags. Perhaps more satisfyingly, he closes with a collage of beautiful, strange sounds and images, including a glimpse from under water up at hole in the ice that suggests both the camera lens and the universe's eye.

Blog is the new band

I was talking to my friend Kate about starting up a blog.  I described my idea to her--that this blog would be a creative outlet for my smart, awesome friends.  While the blogs I read on a regular basis stick to a single topic, this one would not.  I'd run it, and we'd just do it for fun and see what happens, and eventually get a designer friend to make it look good, and hopefully the whole thing wouldn't just die like so many blogger pages that contain only one post from 2002.  I don't want to impose on everyone from top down, I said, making hippie-like gesticulations with my hands.  If they want to write about why women drink whiskey or Soviet crime thrillers or why they hate the New Yorker, that's fine with me.  She said, "Blog is the new band."  So, let's jam.

And here's a link to Kate's blog, a digital lab notebook about her DIY optical engineering project: Light Pipe Dreams.