Quick Book Review: The Secret Life of Lobsters
I decided that my sanity would be better served by occasionally reading books than obsessively working on my laptop during frequent air travel. This means Vastly Important Notes will now have a section for very brief book reviews. First up, Trevor Corson’s The Secret Life of Lobsters:
This book illuminates the lives of lobsters (really fascinating), lobstermen (somewhat less so) and lobster scientists (not in the slightest). Promptly after finishing the book, I ordered a 2lb lobster at Jasper White’s Summer Shack and was immediately able to identify all the obscure lobstery bits that I never knew about before. Mmmm, mmmm, that’s good reading.
Best MP3 player idea
All I’m saying is that if someone where to make an MP3 player shaped like Soundwave from the Transformers, I would buy it. That is all.
Conference room name battle
[Update 8/02/04: Voting is closed – see the results.]
We’ve received dozens of good suggestions in the Name My Conference Rooms contest. Here are the
five six finalists:
Please vote for your favorite. Vote early, but only vote once. If I see suspicious IP address voting patterns, I reserve the right to throw away votes. So as not to upstage our upcoming national election, there will be no verifiable paper trail. The winner will receive random CoreStreet goodies and a $150 gift certificate from Amazon.com. The runner-up will just get the goodies.
Voting will close at 11:59 PM (eastern US time), Sunday,
July 31st August 1st. Winners will be announced on Monday.
[Nepotism alert: the “planetary mnemonics” entry was submitted by my brother, or someone pretending to be him.]
[Update: Sunday is the 1st, not the 31st.]
Boston is quiet
Predictions of a chaotic Boston snarled by convention security and impassable by car, subway or foot have so far proven to be a complete bunko. It seems like half the locals treated the warnings as a good excuse to get out of town for the week. The road traffic during rush hour is significantly lighter than on less newsworthy days, the subways are brisk and even downtown restaurants aren’t bulging at the seams. I have to believe that, convention hotels and temporary construction crews aside, the local business community is losing a bucket of money.
As promised I took the “T” down to the convention center to check out the action at about 7pm. It was underwhelming. Here are some snapshots. Click on the thumbnails for a larger view.
This is the view of the convention center from the entrance of the “Free Speech Zone.” I’m not a big sports fan, but my friends tell me that the crowds here are usually larger when the Bruins play whatever it is they play. Low temperature water-polo, I think.
Here’s a sign in front of the fenced-in free speech zone. It seems reasonable to me. I guess the official name for this is the "demonstration zone". Notice the lack of people pushed into the fence. This will be a recurring theme.
The inside of the fenced-in area has one raised stage with a podium. The stage was occupied by this group of protesters. Apparently this was the real group, not the parody, but who can tell for sure these days? There were maybe thirty people in front of the stage taking pictures and/or heckling. Someone had written “This pen is shameful” on the podium, but they wrote it in chalk so I had to blink a few times before the message parsed. The other side said, “Flee the pen!”, which makes sense in a “mightier than the sword” sort of way. Notice the razor wire on the top of the overpass – this was the only place with razor wire and it might have been more for keeping the pigeons at bay than for controlling the protesters.
The rest of the protest zone was almost completely deserted. There were a few signs hanging on the fences. About half of the signs were protesting the protest zone itself. It seems like the biggest controversy in this convention is the forum set aside for discussing controversy. The meta-protesters hung up their signs and mostly left. I can’t decide if this is true irony or just the sort of thing that Alanis Morissette would find ironic.
The only vocal group outside of the protest zone was a sizable gaggle of Lyndon LaRouche supporters handing out their strangely comma-suffused alternative DNC platform. Here’s an example sentence from the section entitled “Monetarists and Physiocrats as Such”:
Among domesticated cattle, except those raised and killed as fighting animals for public amusement, the preferred tactic is a combination of genetic downscaling of the mental capabilities and impulses of the captive, with culling of those specimens which are considered, for formally rational, or utterly capricious reasons, as undesirable.
I’m not sure why the LaRouche folks were allowed to chant outside of the demonstration zone. How many times are they going to be able to say “Physiocrat” at passersby before someone is willing to throw down?
All in all, the security situation seemed to be under control. People are staying away from downtown and, with any luck, the big story next week will be how all the media predictions of catastrophe were vastly overblown. Only two days to go.
[BTW, I’m not going to comment on those Kerry NASA pictures, except to say that if I were given the opportunity to crawl around a NASA rocket in a bunnysuit, I would look just as happy and a whole lot less dignified.]
Conference room contest last chance
There’s only a bit more than a day left in the Name My Conference Rooms contest. If you’ve got ideas left, now’s the time to submit them. We’ve received so many responses that I’m going to change the procedure a bit: Tomorrow evening, we’ll pick our favorite five entries and I’ll post them in a blog poll on this site. The first and second place winners will be chosen by an open vote.
Speaking of which, the plurality of you (36%) chose the correct answer in my last poll.
If somebody had told me four years ago that all protesters at the Democratic convention in 2004 would be corralled into a razor-wire enclosed holding pen un-ironically called the “Free Speech Zone”, well, I would have probably thought that they were more or less correct. It’s still mighty creepy though. I’m no student of architecture, but from seeing the place a couple of days ago I’m pretty sure it’s done up in early Camp X-Ray style. The design seems to be as much intended to keep potential protesters at home as to keep the people who actually manage to show up well behaved. This might all be necessary – it’s hard to know right now.
I think I’ll try to get down to the convention site in the next day or two just to see what the scene is like live and in person. I’m especially curious if the “free speech” area is only for protestors or for all demonstrators (pro and anti-convention alike). Some of the security arguments seem to get pretty weak if mobs of supporters are subjected to less supervision than mobs of protesters. Will a “Kerry / Edwards” sign really get someone closer to the action? We’ll see.
Reverse air rage
Put on your best Yakov Smirnoff accent and repeat after me:
“In Russia, drunken flight attendants beat up on YOU!”
Name my conference rooms contest
CoreStreet reached an important milestone today, and I need your help to, um, get to the next plateau. Or something.
Our main office finally got crowded enough that it’s not always possible to find an empty conference room, so we have to add the conference rooms as schedulable resources to Outlook/Exchange. This means we need to name them. This means we need a naming scheme. This is where you come in.
We currently have eight rooms to name, but the scheme should scale to more as we grow. Send me your idea for a conference room naming scheme as well as eight sample names. For example, you might submit the naming scheme, “Diseases of the Foot” and the room names, “Arthritis, Freiberg’s Disease, Gout, Kohler’s Disease, Ollier's Disease, Club Foot, Maffucci’s Syndrome and Seiver’s Disease.” This example would be syntactically correct, but would not win.
You can enter via the comments section on this post or by email to: phil*AT*corestreet*DOT*com. The names should be one part clever, two parts topical and office appropriate to taste. Winners will be chosen on Wednesday, July 28th by a committee of judges consisting of myself and whoever else is hanging around my desk at the time. The second-place winner will receive one each of whatever CoreStreet schwag (shirt, mug, exploding pen, etc.) happens to be in the marketing closet that day. The first-place winner will receive a $150 Amazon.com gift certificate plus the schwag.
I hope the blogosphere doesn’t let me down on this one.
"When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 2000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 2000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future.”
Daniel Hillis, The Long Now Foundation
Hearty congratulations to Tim Berners-Lee, the man most qualified to be called the inventor of the World Wide Web, on officially receiving his British knighthood yesterday. If it wasn’t for Sir Tim's work, I’d be maintaining someone’s Foxpro database right now.