RDF: The next operating system

Speaking of Danny, he’s pointed to two terrific RDF resources:

The first is ActiveRDF allowing access to RDF data from Ruby-on-Rails. This one I can’t wait to try.

The RDFRoom — using RDF to create a virtual 3D room. Appropriate after my last post.

I wonder how OPML could be used to create a 3D room? It would probably consist of one, looong, staircase.


VRML: your time is now

Larry Borsato responded to Om Malik’s glowing review of Hive7 — some kind of virtual community run on Ajax. He writes:

While the AJAX version may be new, the concept isn’t. Almost 10 years ago, back when VRML was in vogue, there were 3D chat programs. You got yourself an avatar, and you could wander around the place chatting with people around you. And frankly, even on those archaic machines, it was a little faster than Hive7 is. Mind you, you couldn’t really tweak it at all. But you got the same general sense.

I remember the VRML 3D chat rooms and designing your own avatar. I loved VRML, and never could understand why the technology didn’t take off. Here you had the ability to create 3D worlds that ran in all operating systems, on most browsers, and which weren’t that CPU or memory intensive. It was such a fun tech–I wonder if we could stick 2.0 on it’s backend and bring it back?

Anyway, I won’t go back to the Hive7 site — it causes all sorts of havoc, and I’m not sure about the ability of other people to control and add content that then gets broadcast to everyone who turns in — I’ve already seen the site taken over with something that redirects the page to a porn site.



Another good reason to have a weblog is when you come away from a morning appointment that leaves you with the jangles and you just want to find a place to go with the flow for a bit until you can open up your Eclipse installation and write some Java code and tweak an Oracle database, and later in spare time, work on that nifty JavaScript application.

Luckily, one of the first posts to show up in my aggregator today was one titled Your Passion Underwhelms Me, by Dare Obasanjo. Dare responds to a post by Mini-Microsoft on the recent Vista slippage. In particular, he’s responding to Mini’s exultation of the passion of Microsoft employees:

And this partly explains the passion of the comments you will read on this post at Mini-Microsoft.

Skewering the Microsoft leadership. Calling for heads to roll. Frustration. Disgust. Dark humor. Cynicism. Optimism. Pessimism. Rage. Love. Hate.

Another reason — big reason — why the Microsoft commenters are so passionate: They give a damn. Whatever else you may think about their comments, their Give-A-Damn meter is registering in the Green. Sure, it may seem like I’ve got it ass backwards and they’re pegged out in the dreaded Red zone.

Rather than respond directly to Mini’s passionate embrace of the passionate Microsoft employee, Dare points to an must-read post by Rory Blyth: Ten Minutes of Sincerity – Enthusiasthma. What is Enthusiasthma and why is it bad? According to Rory:

Again, like communication, passion is a good thing. It’s good to talk. It’s good to be excited.

But, it’s gotten to the point that the passion has become a sort of disease. I call it “Enthusiasthma” (if you haven’t figured it out yet, that’s a combination of the words “enthusiasm” and “asthma”). People act so excited about things that they can hardly breathe. And they live their lives this way. They show up for meetings out of breath, and present on topics with their voices notched up a whole octave. You can really hear the passion.

Except that you can’t, really.

This notion of constantly being excited is exhausting. It’s not healthy. It isn’t normal. It’s downright stupid and counter-productive.

Rory’s writing is triggered by the recent Microsoft discussion, but what he’s describing is pandemic — it’s scarier than bird flu. It’s this notion that one has to be continuously up, brimming with enthusiasm, embracing new and newer, embuing our speech–written or verbal–with a chain of exclamation points, sticking up like barbed wire at a Gulag. As if by sheer will, by passion we will beat life until it submits to our will, dammit.

What happens instead is we’ll die young, but not so young that we won’t bore most folks around us, first.

I am a tech, and I enjoy working with technology. I enjoy it more now than ten years ago because there’s so many terrific technologies with which one can work: Ruby and RoR, PHP, MySQL, RDF, the fact that XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript finally work with most browsers–I’ve even rekindled my appreciation for Java, thanks to Eclipse. But I find that every time I get passionate about something, my ability to work with my team and my effectiveness to the team decreases as the passion increases. I have a hypothesis as to why: the rushing of blood to my head drowns out what other people are trying to say. The only thing I can hear, then, are the folks who are echoing my words.

More than that, though, is that I come away feeling let down when other people don’t rush to passionately embrace what I passionately embrace. It’s the same feeling you get when you’ve eaten a piece of very surgary cake, and have managed to bounce around the walls for a time, but now the sugar’s out of your blood and you have a headache, and you’re tired and you just want to sit and drink a cup of tea. The primary difference between the two is that you don’t annoy other people when you eat cake.

Critters Photography

For the birds

The cloudy weather broke for a few hours yesterday morning, but it was still cold. I took my telephoto to the park to take photos of birds. Not flowers, or derelict buildings, cute children, or dogs in costume — birds.

There’s a pileated woodpecker that frequents one of the parks. I’ve heard him and others have seen him, but in four years, all I’ve heard is his loud tap, and all I’ve seen is the very last of his feathers as he flies away. To odd further to the injury, he would usually laugh as he flew.

“Ah Ha HA”, he would go, just like Woody the Woodpecker. “Ha ha HA!”

However, Woody the illusory woodpecker aside, there are other pretty, flashy birds about. Now is the time to take cardinal photos as the males find a branch on high somewhere and sing out their courting song. At the park, I followed the song from tree to bush, to tree, but the only bird I managed to take a photo of was this robin.

Finally I came upon one bright red male, strutting his stuff high in the air. I quickly took as many photos as I could before he flew off.

As I started to turn away, a bit of bright red directly to the side caught my eye. Not only was there a cardinal close by, it didn’t seem to be frightened of me, and actually eyed me as it preened and fussed with its feathers in the morning breeze. The day was my day for bird, after all.

Books Religion Writing

A story in parts

I’ve linked to 3 Quarks Daily before, and it has fast become one of my favorite sites. It’s up for a couple of different Koufax Awards: Best Group Weblog and Weblog Best Deserving of Wider Recognition. This quality site needs some votes, so take a few minutes and send an email with your vote for 3 Quarks Daily. In the meantime, check out the article on the melting of the polar ice, and the new beachfront property soon to be on sale in New Jersey.


Phil reviews the Brian Wilson album, “Smile”:

Smile would always have been a very strange album; now, it’s an extremely strange one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very beautiful album and probably a great one. I’d recommend it almost without reservation to anyone seriously interested in music: you won’t have heard anything quite like it, and you won’t forget it when you have heard it.

I checked out the album in iTunes, and from the 30 second examples, it’s not what I expected from a Brian Wilson album. I wish it was available at eMusic.

Karl was a mite peeved about the new Red America weblog at I should say, old, new because the young man in question, a Ben someone or another, resigned after accusations of a) plagarism, b) making blatant racist statements, and c) accusing Coretta Scott King of being a commie.

I don’t follow the primarily political weblogs. Well, none other than Norm Jenson, but that’s because Norm has such a wicked sense of humor. Oh, and PZ Meyers, but that’s because we both like squid, and PZ is a terrific scientist…who also has a wicked sense of humor. Personally, I thought it was hilarious that the had to pick a 24 year old plagarizing racist in order to staff it’s “conservative” weblog. Seriously — there wasn’t anyone better?

I would have had more respect for Atrios, and Josh Marshall, and others of the liberal persuasion if they had focused on what’s important: global warming, lack of universal health care, a growing move to criminalize illegal immigrants, not to mention a certain set of events happening over in the Middle East. Which is, to say, the reason I never read political weblogs anymore.

Loren met a poet who gave him a poem about owls in the Nisqually. The next day, he found the owl in the Nisqually. What a wonderful bit of serendipity–a moment of absolute delight. Yet another reason why I’m moving back to the Northwest.

Don from Hands in the Dirt had a wonderful post on Jane Austin. In one paragraph, he captured her essence.

She didn’t write about the emerging empire or the social issues of the day, or politics. She wrote about families, about domestic life, about parents and children, about dreamers and hard-hearted social climbers. It was how she made sense of her world.

Don also mentions in his comments about …feeling much but with little to say. That’s how I’ve felt lately. Sometimes, you want to sit quietly in a seat and let life flow over you, like butter on an artichoke.

Melinda at Sour Duck did a terrific writeup of the panels she attended at SxSW. She also pointed to the podcast site for the sessions for those interested. Of the “Women and Visibility panel” she had this to write:

While the panel outline had wings, it could never get off the ground because men’s part in keeping women invisible was the elephant in the room no one wanted to acknolwedge. The penalties for bringing this point up are pretty obvious: you can be accused of hating men; of blaming others when really you should get off your own butt and just “make it happen” (the “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” argument that is so loved in America); you might even be accused of being a (man-hating) lesbian. (Oh wait. That’s already happened, despite the panel’s tippy-toey approach.)

In fact, the discussion progressed as if women were living in some vacuum completely sealed off from men. The irony, then, is that men as part of the problem of women’s visibility were completely invisible in that room. Instead, women were painted as the problem. All this had the cumulative effect of implying that women created their own difficulties. (For what? For kicks? As a hobby?)

I actually started writing a post on much of this that’s grown beyond being a weblog post and now I’m not sure what to do with it. At a minimum it’s a long essay; I’m even thinking of turning it into a book, but I’m already working on a book.

(Yes, I’m writing a new book for O’Reilly, working with my favorite editor, Simon St. Laurent. I’ll talk more on this when I reach the half way point. If I talk more on it now, I’ll jinx it.)

It’s interesting but I never noticed until recently how the people I read on a regular basis come from such different religious backgrounds. They (you) range from being atheist to Budhists to Jewish to Muslim to devoutly Christian, and variations inbetween. Oddly enough, I connect more with a person’s faith when they talk about every day things: taking care of their cats, their gardens, doing dishes, taking pictures of birds, delighting in Spring’s first rose. Sometimes I feel there’s a plate set at your tables, just for me — gives me hope that someday we’ll work this religion thing out.

Rob from UnSpace has been writing a story in parts: about his past, his Christian upbringing, and his reconciliation between his convervative faith with his friendship with Deb, a lesbian. I suggest starting in Part 1 and working forward.

In his next to last post he writes of being exposed to AIDS while working as a paramedic.

I had been a deacon for two terms in my church, and after the required year off, I wound up an elder. So it only seemed natural to get the church to pray for me. I asked the minister what the best way was to ask for that.

I’m still naive, no matter what I’ve seen as a medic, and I was no different then. The minister said something that, at the time was horrible. It’s still horrible, but he had to do it. He told me that I should not tell anyone in the church. He didn’t tell me why, and maybe if he had, it wouldn’t have hurt so much. At the time I thought that it was to avoid people fearing that I would expose them to HIV. That was part of it. But the minister also knew that people would suspect that I was gay. They would think the exposure a cover for a sinful hidden life. Whatever rejection would have come from fear of the disease would have been amplified a thousand times. I never thought of that aspect at the time. The idea that anyone might think I was gay never crossed my mind. If I were gay, I suspect I’d have noticed.

All I knew was that I was in fear for my life and my wife. My church expected me to be there for it, but it could not be there for me. I tried to be a good Christian soldier and accept it. I tried, but inside it ate at me. I was angry.

Rob reads my weblog and I read his, and we don’t always agree and I know I’ll never find God in the way Rob’s found God. But that doesn’t matter as long as there’s understanding, tolerance, and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of humor, and of humanity. Rob’s writing doesn’t seek to sell, to convince, to preach, to excuse, or to change. What he does provide, is insight. And it’s insight we need if we do seek to make this religion thing work out.

God is dead! — Neitzsche
Neitzsche is dead. — God