Archives » August, 2002

August 30, 2002

Which White House?

*Jesus Votes Republican*The poor White House. They’re getting it on all sides. The only domain they had the foresight to register was is owned by a small parody site, and is full of pages and pages of excellent satire that I’ve just recently discovered. I wonder: did they go after the last president so viciously?, of course, is and always has been run by Bill Clinton.

August 29, 2002

Netscape 7.0

Today is a busy day in WebbyLand. Netscape 7.0 has been released. The half-decade long Mozilla project, which was started to build Netscape 5, has come to fruition with its first stable, big name-branded release. It’s basically Mozilla 1.0 with Netscape/AOL branding slapped on it, but that branding is its greatest asset. Hopefully the Netscape name can recover from the pre-release beta fiasco that was Netscape 6.x and flourish. Hopefully this will make at least a few web developers stand up and take notice of web standards, when their bosses start shouting, “Why doesn’t our site look right in this brand-new browser?” And hopefully it will one day grace the doorstep of AOL for Windows (I wrote a little about that earlier).

Until then, it’s a fun new toy to play with. Not that it’ll pull me away from Mozilla, though.

Early Life Crisis

David Weinberger ran an NPR commentary last week (audio link), in which he said “humor is becoming the format for intellectual discourse, just as dry sobriety and rigor used to be.” I think that’s one big thing This Site is missing: humor. (Well, it’s also missing wit, good writing, and insightful commentary – not to mention intellectual discourse – but we’re tackling one thing at a time here.) I’m not funny anymore like I used to be. I mean, I still don’t take life, myself, or anything seriously, and I’m able to see absurdity almost everywhere I look. But that doesn’t come across when I communicate. I’m not known as the office cut-up, and my writing here is as dry and bland as ever. I guess it’s because I’ve entered my early late twenties, also known as “The Boring Years”. Too old to go wild, too young for a mid-life crisis.

I gotta shake things up somehow.

August 26, 2002


* Andy in Uniform *After my grandfather died this summer, we went through his things: papers, medals, photo albums that hadn’t been opened in twenty years. In one of them we found this photo; none of us knew when or where it was taken, but it seems like it must have been right after he signed up for WWII, before he shipped out. I try to think of what it must have been like back then, but I guess a wartime America was something you had to live through to understand. Even now, when we’re supposedly fighting a new global war, the circumstances are very different. There’s no draft, no rationing. And not nearly as much uncertainty as they had back then.

It’s tough to imagine what things must have been like when this picture was taken. Pearl Harbor had just been bombed, Hitler was rampaging Europe, and the Japanese were trying to take control of the Pacific. America was facing enemies on both sides, with no guarantee of victory. And in Brooklyn New York, a kid named Andrew Schrantz was walking to the recruitment office and putting his name on a list.

The kid in this picture was a young soldier like all the rest. I can’t begin to guess how many other pictures just like it were taken, and how many thousands of those ended up sitting on a mantlepiece as the only reminder of a lost son. This kid, though, was one of the lucky ones. Not that he knew it at the time. He didn’t know he was going to have the chance to get married, have kids, or have grandkids. He didn’t know he was going to travel the US and retire in California. He didn’t know what the next 60 years had in store for him. All he knew was that he was going to war.

My grandfather didn’t mind telling his war stories. He actually didn’t have very many of them; he was stationed on an aircraft carrier, and they were never supposed to get near the front lines of battle. But he was on the seas for two years, and he had plenty of memories about those times. Sometimes I thought I should listen closer, record his stories, jot them down, maybe put them on the Web. I knew that one day they’d be gone forever, and I’d regret not paying closer attention. Well, now they are, and I do.

I sifted further down through the pictures, past the War years and into the Family years. I got to know him a little bit better through those pictures. One photo in particular stood out: he’s sitting in the lobby of a hotel, dressed rather sharp, legs crossed, argyle socks showing, holding a cigarette and just laughing away. I don’t know what he’s laughing at or where the hotel was, but it’s one of those pictures that perfectly captures a moment. It made me want to be in that hotel with him, doing whatever he was doing. I had to leave that picture with my grandmother, and I didn’t get a chance to scan it in. But one day I’ll get a copy of it.

Those photos made me think of him as more than just my grandfather. I saw him as he was when he was younger, before he decided to settle down for retirement. I saw him as the raucous New Yorker he really was. He did have his faults; he was kind of loud and a bit of a drunkard, but all the same he was a fun guy, a good father, and a husband so loyal that he died in his wife’s arms.

My whole life I knew him as “Pop-Pop” – after his death I learned to know him as Andy.

Share Your Car

What would happen if car companies started treated carpooling the way record companies treat file swapping? Find out at BBspot!

August 25, 2002

Comments Here

My homegrown comment system is up and chugging. Go ahead and abuse it!!

August 22, 2002

Comments in the Works

I’ve got a commenting system in the works. I’m building it myself, so it might take a little while, and then it’ll be a little buggy. It’s Phase One of my quest to roll my own system for this page and move off of Blogger. The full project will undoubtedly take a while, but in the meantime it will be fun to see a little Comments [0] next to each post. I’m not deluding myself. I look at my logs, and I know that I get about three readers a day – mostly accidental, I’m sure. The commenting system is more of a programming exercise than an attempt to elicit insightful discussions. And if I do get somebody writing – hey, that’s a shock I can live with.

Playing God Department

They (and by they I mean They) are planning on taking 30,000 year old Wooly Mammoth sperm and impregnating an Indian elephant, making little baby Mammoths for a Siberian zoo. It won’t be completely like Jurassic Park, though, since “complete strands of DNA from mammoths are still hard to come by”. And defrosting Ice Age testicles is easier?

Full Story

August 21, 2002

Celebrity Bloggers

SFGate has an article about celebrity webloggers up on their site. Most of the sites mentioned are ones I had no idea existed before I read the article, and I intend to forget them before dinnertime tonight. It’s telling that the best bloggers on the list are also the most obscure names – Wil Wheaton and Adam Curry. I guess that’s because they’re blogging out of a desire to communicate, like the rest of us, rather than as some part of a PR machine.

And, even though I respect Jeff Bridges as an actor, I must say that my brain hurts after looking at his site. “I’ve got this cutting-edge idea, Jeff: Don’t type, just scan in your handwriting.”


Ethics and Regulation

Some good ideas from Bob Lewis on the recent corporate scandals and regulation:

Government regulation is what allows businesses to act ethically. Without regulation, those businesses that resort to any tactic to win have the advantage over those that restrict their behavior to conventional codes of ethics. Consequently, ethical CEOs should welcome government regulation, not fight it. It levels the proverbial playing field. The goal of an ethical CEO would be efficient regulation, not deregulation.

Now, my economic theory is a little rusty, but it seems to me that a perfectly free market isn’t a self-righting mechanism, it’s actually a system on the brink of chaos. Once any company has the slighest advantage, it starts a snowball rolling that gathers speed as that company gets larger and larger, gobbling up or crushing other companies, until it reaches the inevitable end result, a monopoly. The only things that can stop the trend are ethics and regulation. And if the past year has proven anything, it’s that we can’t trust business leaders to be ethical.