Abstruse Goose: Technical Assistance

I’ve just been through several bouts of technical assistance and I have to say that 1) the ESL problem still exists but is much better than it used to be; and 2) a new sentence in their checklist is “Why yes, we can fix that;” 3) the last one thanked me for being such a […]

Charles Hard Townes Made Things Happen

Charles Hard Townes died a week ago, aged 99.  He was a physicist at Berkeley who came up with the principle of the laser; at age 98, he’d stopped coming into the office every day. His obituaries are thorough and their praise is justified.  I’d met him for reasons the obituaries don’t mention.  He helped […]

Conversation with Sharon & Geoff: Starship Fusion

Last week, Lockheed announced it had a small team working on what it calls a Compact Fusion Reactor.  Fusion is the opposite of fission that’s used in nuclear plants today; it can produce enormous amounts of energy; the fuel for  itis cheap and plentiful; a small fusion engine would solve the world’s energy problems. I […]

Happy Lady Ada Day

I’m not, in general, huge on holidays. I often wish that those of us in the U.S. would observe the weeks between Halloween and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day with a nice long nationwide nap. But I feel differently about Ada Lovelace Day, founded by British digital-rights activist Suw Charman-Anderson in 2009. Now, every year in mid-October, the world has a chance […]

Redux: Ixnay on the iPod: In Praise of Crap Technology

Tom Hayden, an ex-LWONian whom we miss beyond measure, posted this on Nov. 2, 2011.  At the time it seemed to hit a national nerve, but knowing Tom, we bet every detail of it is still true. I’ve been thinking about my Zune a lot since Steve Jobs passed away. You know, the revolutionary portable […]

Redux Post: The thin white line

This first ran 12/17/2012. The subject is timely and so is the take-home: don’t be too ready to hand over the keys. It was hardly the first time a ref had gotten it wrong. But the error at the 2010 World Cup was the last straw. Germany (the machine) was only beating England (the perpetual […]

Redux: The Knowledge

 This first ran on Nov. 18, 2011, before Sally took indefinite leave.  We just know you’re missing her so here’s the next best, the redux Sally. A transatlantic phone call ended badly the other day. “You can just turn left at the next light,” I heard my friend tell the New York cab driver over […]

How losing my smart phone made me smarter

A few weekends ago, I hiked a deep canyon with a couple of friends. As has become my habit, I toted my smart phone along. I set it to mute so that I’d remain undisturbed by pings and rings, and I pulled it out of my pack only to take a few photos. After the […]