Monday, October 6, 2008

Obama's tax plan is the way to go, but ya gotta believe

Another post on, this time a reflection on the discussion of taxes during the VP debate.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pirates and Presidents

My lastest post on, an argument that charisma defines both who wins presidential elections, as well as why we like pirates.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bird on a Hot Rubber Roof

A bird got trapped for about 36 hours in a skylight above our second story bathroom. I wondered whether the following might have gone through his head, before, during and after his bird-brained ordeal...

It's hot out.

It's been
Three months, I think,
Since I pecked my way out.
Three times that the moon has been full.
I don't count too well.
But I think three.

Once it was hotter than this,
But this is about the tops.
It's hard to tell how hot
Something is, just
By walking on it.
But the black stuff,
Under my feet,
In particular,
Seems very hot.

And sticky.
Sometimes my claws get stuck
In the gooey blackness.
It's so different from dirt.
I know something about dirt, there are
Yummy worms below the dirt.
What could be below
This stuff?

Hey, what's that?
Yeah, over there.
I've seen this thing in the distance.
It looks like something cool
To go inside, why not?
Just a short flight.

OK, I'm here now, so
What is this thing?
It's clear on top, with some wire.
There are some walls with slats of wood
Leading down to the sticky black stuff, and
Maybe - dare I dream - to what's below. to get in, try
A few taps with my beak on the glass, ow!
That's not the way in.
You'd think I'd have
Learned that from
Other windows,
But no.

Standing on the black stuff, I can try
A peck on the wood, and
Move a little to the left,
Another peck, a look,
A peck, a little more to the left.
Hang onto that piece of wood.
I can do it with my beak.
Ow, don't get it stuck!

I'm not really wondering just what it is
That's inside, at this point, I'm
Just trying to find a way in.
It's an obsession.
I'm obsessed.

Peck. Step. Peck.
Look. Peck. Look.
Step. Peck. Look.

Occasional frenetic wing flutter.

Around to the other side.
Up to the lower edge of the glass,
Standing on top of the glass,
Looking down over the edge,
I stretch my neck forward, and
Look. With my head upside down,
Back to the sky.
I can do that.


A little give, into something soft, I
Push my head in a little farther.
I've stopped thinking.
I wasn't ever really
Thinking, I
Twist around, and I
Push my head a little more,
And my shoulders,
And my wings, and

Hey! I'm in!

This is not what I expected.
Where'd the door go? That
Door that I made.

Fuck. It wasn't a door.

OK, no matter, let's just see where we are.
Stuffy in here. Hadn't expected that.
Oh, there are two openings down below,
I'll just swoop down and


That's a window down below.
Shake yourself out a bit.
Try the other one, now


Another window.
What the hell is this place?
Let me fly around a bit,
Randomly, aimlessly,
Flap the wings,
Do some circles.
Poop on those windows down below.

I'm in some kind of cave,
Below all the black goo,
And there's a hat on the cave,
Above me, and walls
Around me.

Let's look around while we're flying.
Looking up, oh hey! The sky,
I can just soar up and


That hurt. It's not sky.
It's glass, with wire.
Have I seen that before?
My memory is questionable.
I'll try not to fly into it again.

OK, so up is that glass with wire,
Where only sky should be.
Below is that other glass.
It's about six feet from
Bottom glass to top glass.
Why all this vertical glass I don't know.

And side-to-side a rectangular prism.
How the hell should I know what a prism is,
It just came to me, but anyway
Maybe six feet by three feet,
Let me go back to the top now,
At least close, I think, to where
I came in.

Where was that door?
Right, no door, I pecked my way in.
Well there must be a way out.
I'll just look over here, under
The glass, where there's
Some wood arranged
In horizontal

Nope. Nothing there.
I'll fly back to the left.
Nope. Nothing there.
I'll fly back to the right.
Nope Nothing there.

To the left.
To the right.

Fly to the left. Nope.
Fly to the right. Nope.
Fly to the left. Nope.
Fly to the right. Nope.

I can keep this up all day.
Just try me.

Left. Nope. Right. Nope.

OK, I'll stop for a second.
Hard to get too much of a grip
On these wooden slats,
Up at the top,
But I can just squeeze in.
Better than sitting on that
Slippery glass below, where
I've just pooped so much.

OK, back to work.

Left. Nope. Right. Nope.
Left. Nope. Right. Nope.
Left. Nope. Right. Nope.
Left. Nope. Right. Nope.

You'd think this might get monotonous, but
It doesn't, I have a
Remarkable capacity to
Repeat the same pointless motion

I'll sleep some at night, and
Then try again in the morning.

Left. Nope. Right. Nope.
Left. Nope. Right. Nope.


I'm actually getting a little tired now.
It's quite hot and steamy in here.
And I haven't eaten or had
Any water since I came in,
Which was I don't know when, given
The aforementioned inadequate memory.

I do know I'm tired.
And Hungry.
And Thirsty.

I don't know about death.
I only know a few things,
Like flying and pecking
And eating and pooping
And this rectangular universe
Where I now uncomfortably live.

I'm panting.
I didn't know I could pant.
I didn't know birds could pant.
I'm surprising in my ability to step outside myself.
And yet remain ignorant of most things.
Most especially, how the hell
To get out of here.

So, what have I tried so far.
The glass at the top, with the wire, and
The glass at the bottom, with my poop, and
The other glass at the bottom, with more of my poop,
And flying back and forth a lot, and
Even flying in circles.

I could keep trying all these things
Over and over again.
It's tempting, but
It hasn't helped.

Let me try perching at the top again, even
This is getting difficult, I wonder
If I can rest a bit by
Poking my beak
Into one of
The cracks.

My beak gets a little stuck in something soft.
I wriggle, head back and forth a little, and
As I do, my head actually moves through
Whatever the soft stuff is,
And then my shoulders
And then my wings, so
Without even thinking,
Which I'm good at,
Not thinking,
That is,
I push
My head even further,
So that finally it emerges

Fuck! Whaddaya know, oh RIGHT!
THAT is how I got in.
I should have known.

I'm out now.
Back on the hot sticky black stuff.
Down by the trees, it seems,
There might be water, and
Some bugs to eat.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Those darned switching costs

In this age of cheap and easy development, it seems that every day there's a new online productivity tool that improves incrementally on the last. But there are diminishing returns to evaluating each new thing.

Today (in my daily struggle to get through the information deluge) I read about a new service called PutPlace that gives you access to all your files, wherever they may be, on any computer, and on any online storage system.

It reminded me a bit of another service I use, Sugar Sync, which I had learned about during a previous information foraging session. Sugar Sync is great. I can effortlessly synchronize my files between my home desktop and my work laptop, with backups stored online.

PutPlace adds the ability to track what I've stored on Flickr, for example, in one summary view of everything I have. But does PutPlace do the other things that I value in Sugar Sync? I don't know, and I don't feel like spending the time to find out.

Further, it took time to set things up in Sugar Sync, and it would presumably take similar time in PutPlace. It's not worth it to me to set it up again. Just as it's not worth it to me to try new social networks now that I'm already set up on Linked In and Facebook. I don't want to switch banks, because my online billing is already set up with my current bank.

These switching costs add up. And they create an increasing challenge for makers of better mousetraps to make their differentiators truly worthwhile. Innovators have more opportunity, of course, in fledgling sectors like the one where Sugar Sync and PutPlace play, but the window doesn't stay open forever.