Monthly Archives: January 2006

FACE

Amazing Flash-free web page animation techniques: FACE (Faruk’s Animated CSS Enhancements). DOM manipulation via CSS+Javascript. Open source, and with a very clean API. Follow the Examples link for more. “Almost, but not quite entirely unlike Flash.” Wow.

Music: The Feelies :: Fa Cé-La

Shatner’s Kidney Stone

File under Truth Is Stranger:

William Shatner recently passed a kidney stone … and put it up for auction. It gets better. The winning bidder, GoldenPalace.com, paid $25,000 for the rock, which Shatner said “Was so big you’d want to wear it on your finger.” Proceeds from the sale were donated to charity.

This is a bold new addition to our fleet,” GoldenPalace.com Chief Executive Officer Richard Rowe said in a statement. The money will go to Habitat for Humanity, which builds houses for the needy.

GoldenPalace.com is the same online gambling outfit that last year purchased the right to name a newly discovered monkey species, and bestowed the hapless creature with the name “GoldenPalace.com monkey.”

Tipping Points

Debate on climate change has been shifting from one on whether humans are responsible for global warming to one on whether there’s anything we can do about it. The Washington Post:

Now that most scientists agree human activity is causing Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that, within decades, humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend. … There are three specific events that these scientists describe as especially worrisome and potentially imminent: … widespread coral bleaching that could damage the world’s fisheries within three decades; dramatic sea level rise by the end of the century that would take tens of thousands of years to reverse; and, within 200 years, a shutdown of the ocean current that moderates temperatures in northern Europe. The debate has been intensifying because Earth is warming much faster than some researchers had predicted.

Meanwhile, one of the few things that could force us to significantly decrease our oil dependence — scarcity of the stuff — is being rapidly nullified by the increasing feasibility of mining Canadian oil sands. The politics of oil may change from U.S.-Middle East to U.S.-Canada. The “keep driving!” message sent by the push to move oil extraction from Iraq to Canada isn’t going to do the world’s oceans any good. And when the oceans fail, we all fall down.

The other meanwhile: Environmentalists are having a hard time convincing American consumers that maybe they don’t need to be wiping their noses (and booties) with virgin timber. This one has always baffled me — why would anyone even consider buying non-recycled personal tissue? But not only do people consider it, they insist on it (except for Germans, who are for some reason driven by common sense).

Music: The Roches :: Nurds

Community Agroecology

Fair Trade certified coffee is a great system for ensuring that exploited coffee farmers get more of the due for their labor. Even better is Community Agroecology, a system by which Costa Rican farmers send coffee directly to your house, bypassing all middlemen and ensuring that the farmers really get their fair share.

All funds from the coffee sales are returned to the Cooperative. This returns to farmers over five times more than those who sell their coffee in the conventional system and three times more than certified Fair Trade standards.

Ex-UCB student Joshua Deutsch, via email from Costa Rica, where he’s on currently working with coffee farmers and observing how commerce with America affects local economies: “This organization uses the term “fair trade direct” and aims to create a global network of direct purchasing between producers and consumers. The organization also guarantees that the coffee is grown in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Amy and I are giving it a shot (no pun intended).

Update: Looks like it’s also possible to order coffee directly from Zapatistas.

Rock. It. Man.

In 1992, I moved to Boston to become Pagan Kennedy‘s pre-arranged husband. Fun while it lasted, but, in retrospect, doomed to failure (I should have known in advance when she sent me a letter with a bug squished on the page, circled in pen and labeled with my name).

Anyway, Pagan had her own TV show on local cable access, and one particularly amazing episode was themed around William Shatner’s delicious 1978 reinterpretation of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” at the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards. At the end of the episode, a friend of the family re-created Shatner’s performance note-for-note, puff-for-puff.

If you’ve never seen the original, it’s worth five minutes of your life. Gawker has it. The highlight comes 3/4 of the way through.

Hosting FAQs on WordPress

Overdue for a thorough going-over of the Hosting FAQs, but before I dove in, wanted a clean publishing back-end for them (I’ve been maintaining them through phpMyAdmin out of laziness — the thought of building yet another CRUD back-end fills me with dread). Also wanted to build in a search engine for users. Flirted with the thought of making the FAQs a Movable Type site, but decided to try something new and employ WordPress as a CMS instead.
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.05 Seconds

Designers take note: Internet users judge Web sites in less than a blink. Computerworld:

In just one-twentieth of a second — less than half the time it takes to blink — people make aesthetic judgments that influence the rest of their experience with an Internet site.

Unfortunately, no tips there on how to make a positive first impression…

Music: African Head Charge :: Breeding Space

Sleep Elixir Eno

Bedtimes for Miles have become more time-consuming in recent months, as he finds more ways to push all the right buttons. “Please stay Daddy. I love you, and I miss you so much when you’re at work.” Cripes, what are you going to say to that? So I lie with him, tell another story… eventually try to leave the room and “the arm” reaches out, hooks me by the shoulder. “Please… please… stay.” Get firm about it and either he wails or gets up and walks into the living room. Bedtime has become a nightly two-hour ritual.

Then, last week, I brought a CD player into his room and put on Brian Eno’s “Thursday Afternoon.” Suddenly, things were different. He drifted off within minutes. Totally at peace with bedtime. Burned copies of Apollo, Compact Forest Proposal, and Plateaux of Mirrors for him (summary review). Not always perfect, but even when it doesn’t work, few things could compare to the absolutely peaceful feeling of napping at the end of a long day, listening to Eno by night-light with your three-year-old son’s arm wrapped around you.

Then, tonight, halfway through Apollo, he suddenly sat up and asked, “Daddy, what is this? Sad music for a doctor’s office?”

Music: Brian Eno :: Bottomliners

On Foobar

snodgrass mcfudd jr writes:

foobar is

F-U-B-A-R

FOWLED “*****” UP BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION

SNAFU situation normal all fubarred up

asap as soon as possible please correct your spelling!!!!

Dear snodgrass: Since you failed to leave a real email address, I’ll use this space to send you here.

Foobar is a common placeholder name used in computer programming. It has been described as “the association of two metasyntactic variables: foo and bar”. These variables are often used in computer programming examples.

The entry goes on to explain foobar’s probable etymological roots in “fubar.”

Music: Mission of Burma :: Weatherbox