Timing is everything

On my Mac PowerBook I have a folder called Downloads where my web browser (Safari) dumps everything that it downloads. Every RealAudio stream, every PDF, every software installer…. Right now there’s about 2.2GB of stuff in there.
This morning, I thought about cleaning up my disk, opened Downloads, and typed Cmd-A to select all of the items, so that I’d get a count at the bottom of the window. 314 items. Wow. Too much to tidy right now, I’ll do it later… oh look, there’s that PDF I was reviewing… let’s take another look…”
What I intended to do was click the PDF, thereby deselecting everything else, and then double-click it to launch Acrobat. What I actually did was to double-click it. And, obediently, Finder started opening all of the selected items – all 314 of them. Finder windows popped up, disk images started mounting, audio streams started playing, all sorts of applications started running. And of course this left no cycles to respond to UI events. So I did the only reasonable thing. I power-cycled.
Maybe the Finder needs to be a little less literal-minded.

It'll all come out in the wash

I was just reading Neil Gaiman’s blog (always a delight), and he was talking about how he’s making progress on his new novel, “Anansi Boys”. And then he said:
The weirdest thing about the book is that it begins as a comedy, then slowly shades into something a bit like horror, and I realised a couple of days ago that the rules of fiction mean you have to tread slightly warily as you go, if you’re going to do something like this. In a comedy, part of the underlying agreement is that good people and bad people will get what they deserve, and that happy endings will be earned, and the universe rewards nice people and sensible ones. In horror the underlying agreement is that there is no justice and that good people may be fed to the lions at authorial whim. Which realisation induced a moment or two of panic, and then I shrugged and figured it would all come out in the wash.
And it struck me how well that describes many of the engineering projects I’ve been involved in recently….

CD of the week: "Four Sail" by Love

This is not a new album. And it’s not Arthur Lee’s masterpiece Forever Changes. So why is it my album of the week?
Lee had finished up Forever Changes, and the original band was falling apart (mostly due to drugs), but the contract with Elektra was unbreakable. Arthur Lee owed them one more album. So he hired three studio musicians, power rockers who were clearly hooked on Blue Cheer, Spirit, and Moby Grape, and they recorded “Four Sail”. (For some reason, Amazon.com calls it Foursail. Whatever.) I bought it the day it came out back in 1969. I still have the vinyl, but a year ago it was finally re-released on CD, so now everyone can enjoy it.
What makes the album work so well is the interplay – and the tension – between Arthur Lee’s songs – wistful, sardonic, pensive lyrics over jazzy, Latin-influenced melodies – and the power rock trio behind him. Michael Fremer’s review on Musicangle gets into the details better than I can, but the result is a glorious album of rock’n’roll. It can stand up to any of the great rock albums from the late 60s by folks like Steve Miller, Spirit, even the Stones. Sadly, it’s been largely ignored because it isn’t Forever Changes – but it doesn’t pretend to be.
Four Sail is one of those albums that I find myself slipping into the CD changer in my car every few months… and then no matter what else is in there, Four Sail is what I listen to. It’s a “roll down the windows, crank it up and cruise” kind of album. And that’s what I’ve been doing this week….

Things that leave you speechless

On Tuesday, according to the Washington Post, Bush uttered the following absurdity: “Including Turkey in the EU would prove that Europe is not the exclusive club of a single religion.”
If any other politician had said this, there would have been an uproar. With Bush: nothing. Its the kind of inanity to which we’ve become accustomed. How pathetic.
P.S. Given Bush’s recent attempts to tell the EC what to do about Turkey, it’s worth noting that the USA would not qualify for EC membership. No state that employs the death penalty is eligible to join. The 13th Protocol of the ECHR is the operative text. [And thanks, Gene, for pointing out my Freudian slip.]