the times on firefox

The NY Times has a snarky article on the Firefox release and Microsoft’s reaction. I enjoy a good razzing of Microsoft as much as the next guy, but maybe this goes a little over the line. Of course, I use Firefox and think it’s pretty damn good. In fact, I almost considered uninstalling IE (I did on my Mac) except it would probably break Windows.

Hmmm… uninstalling IE : like hurling a brick at Windows.

The number of people who still use IE and complain about it is astounding. I guess the idea of looking for an alternative never occurred to them. Chalk one up for browser bundling — a brilliant strategy, to be sure.


I went book shopping today — the Mission is littered with them, so I could afford to be picky. Some day later I’ll do a review of all the stores, but some shops I poked my head into today were notable.

Dog-Eared Books gave me a choice of three translations of The Master And Margarita, of which I chose Glenny’s, for better or for worse. It’s the one I read, and is not the most modern, and has no footnotes, but it still moved me. I also picked up a copy of Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance, to make a pair of books as a present for Liz. For myself I got a play from South Africa called Woza Albert! which I read on the BART ride back. It seems like it would be amazing to watch — two actors perform all of the roles in a story of how the Second Coming happens in South Africa.

Then the hat store on Valencia, where I tried on a pork pie and a stingy-brim fedora. The latter looks better on me, but I had my heart set on a pork pie. Unfortunately, my pocketbook wouldn’t let $79 go floating on a luxury like that, so I had to bid the very nice gentleman who was hitting on me adieu. He did have excellent hat advice though. Maybe next month…

I also peeked into the McSweeney’s pirate store, which was like being in a life-sized version of the magazine. Somehow that which is ironic and witty on the page ends up being gauche and overbearing in person. It’s chock full of tchotchkies and a few publications. An expensive knick-knack store, but piratical in nature. The hats were pretty and had huge floppy brims. The best part of going in was hearing a woman ask one of the employees if they had any crystals. When shown the few crystalline objects, the customer asked “do they mean anything?” I almost laughed out loud, but managed to control myself.

Finally, also McSweeneys related, was Adobe Books, which artist Chris Cobb has rearranged so that all the books are by color. It has to be seen to be believed. Despite the complete disarrangement, I found a copy of Osborne’s A Patriot for Me.

To start things off I had lunch with Ann at Tartine. A grilled sandwich with prosciutto and provolone, macaroons, a merengue with cocoa nibs in it, and a cappuccino. Delish. Of course, now I’m much poorer, but I got to walk around the city, take in the air, and read. I’m much more centered and ready for the trip home tomorrow at the crack of dawn. Time to pack.

characterizations of entropy

I was looking up axiomatic characterizations of entropy today and figured I’d share. There are two different axiomatizations I found while rooting around my books. I’m sure there are more, but these have nice plausible arguments. The entropy of a random variable measures the uncertainty inherent to that random variable. Earlier I argued that one should think of this uncertainty in terms of praxis — how many bits it takes to resolve something, or how many bits it can resolve. Here the question is more fundamental: what do we mean by the uncertainty?
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the spam was getting to me

So I upgraded to the free version of MT 3.121, with the snazzier and better version of MT-Blacklist. So far, so good, although I kept putting the images in the wrong place. Commenting should work again, although it was broken all afternoon.

And now — project reports. I like to call this little detour “structured procrastination.”

Emperor Norton I Bridge

Some in the Bay Area wish to rename the Bay Bridge the Emperor Norton I bridge. Norton, a 19th century eccentric, lead a full and exciting life as the only Emperor of the United States. His many decrees and letters can be found online, and are good for a mid-day chuckle. I was first introduced to him in the Sandman comic, collected in Fables and Reflections. I suppose if I had been here before reading it I would have known all about him, but I figured Neil Gaiman was making it up. Truth, as they say, is stranger than fiction.


Doesn’t the government in Orissa have something better to do with its time than institute a crackdown on snake charmers? It’s one of the poorest states in India, with a ridiculously high illiteracy rate. Its 40% Dalits and Adivasis, who are already plenty oppressed by the government and society in general. Perhaps there are bigger fish to fry…

call numbers

The Library of Congress prefix for the Bible is “BS.” So is the Bible in Latin, and so on. Although it probably stands for “Biblical Studies” or something, it still made me giggle when I was in the Graduate Theological Union library today.

My Man Godfrey

My Man Godfrey is a screwball comedy about a wealthy family that takes a homeless guy (a “forgotten man” in the parlance of the film) and makes him their butler. The play opens at a public dump near the East River in New York. Two wealthy sisters scramble down and the older one offers Godfrey (William Powell), a resident, $5 if he will go with them to the Ritz hotel. They are competing in a scavenger hunt, which, in the words of the younger sister, is like “a treasure hunt, only instead of looking for things which everyone wants, we look for things which nobody wants.” For their hunt they need to bring in a forgotten man, and Godfrey would fit the bill nicely. Godfrey, for his part, sees this little power game for what it is, and pushes the older sister into an ashpile.
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