Oh my…..

Video – Stephen Colbert At The White House Correspondents Dinner (and part 2 of same).


J. K. Galbraith and me

John Kenneth Galbraith died yesterday, age 97. I don’t want to debate the merits of his ideas, merely to mention his significance for me. Back in the spring of 1966 I was 15 years old, coming up on my GCE “O [Ordinary] Level” examinations, and trying to decide which three subjects to specialize in for 6th form. (Sixth form covered two years – “lower sixth” and “upper sixth” – and culminated in “A [Advanced] Level” examinations, and possibly even “S [Special] Levels”.) Mathematics was an obvious choice, but what else? Both classics and science appealed.
And then I came across a copy of J. K. Galbraith’s The Affluent Society, read it from cover to cover, and was seized with the economist’s world-view. I learned of Galbraith’s influence on American politics, especially the Kennedy administration, and I was intrigued by the idea of an academic discipline with a real political impact. (1966 was the first year that I really became politically aware, and even active.) I read more, including two journals in the school library (the Economist, which is still going strong, and the Statist, which disappeared a few years later), and bits of Lipsey‘s Positive Economics. I was hooked. Inspired by J. K. Galbraith, I would study economics. And I did so, right up to the end of my first year at Essex University, when computer science drove out everything else.
And what about my third “A Level” subject? I annoyed my classics master by deciding against Latin, and eventually settled on geography. (Thinking back, I’m not sure why; I remember liking the fact that it was the only really interdisciplinary syllabus.) However when I got back to school in September, I ran into a problem: the timetable couldn’t accomodate the combination of maths, economics and geography. Reluctantly I replaced geography with physics, which turned out to be mostly applied maths. There were still some scheduling issues – all but two of those who took maths and physics were also taking chemistry, and the science teachers occasionally traded lab slots – but it all worked out OK.


Heading home

I’m at the RCC (Red Carpet Club) in DIA (Denver airport) waiting for my flight home. Normally I’d be composing this on my Treo, but I’ve reluctantly decided to sign up for T-Mobile WiFi service. I’ve found myself in too many Starbucks, RCCs, and other locations where I really wanted WiFi access but felt too cheap to pay the exorbitant day rates. Yesterday in a Starbucks in Denver (near the Cherry Creek Mall, a really charming neighbourhood) I did the arithmetic and decided it made sense to sign up for a year.
It’s been a really enjoyable, productive, and above all instructive trip. I was surprised and grateful that despite all of the things going on at Sun this week (earnings announcement, CEO hand-over, Leadership Conference) both John Fowler and Greg Papadopoulos made time for me to chat on Monday and Tuesday. It was delightful to meet a number of ex-Sun colleagues from w-a-a-y back and hear about their experiences of “life after Sun”. And it was good to spend yesterday with Barbara Bauer (ex-STK VP) here in Denver, and get together with several colleagues for dinner last night. Forgive me for being vague about the substance of all of these conversations; let’s just say that we discussed current issues and future prospects in some depth.
Time to delete the current flood of blogspam (about 80 over the last 24 hours), grab some coffee, and get ready to board my flight.


That Egyptian hippo

Lisa (with who I had dinner this evening) requested that I blog about the fabulous Egyptian figurine of a hippopotamus from the Ashmolean in Oxford.
ashmolean hippo
I’m delighted to oblige. Mind you, as I pointed out to her, my favorite object from the Ashmolean is the Alfred Jewel.


On the seashore

One of the delights of working in SunLabs some years ago was the location of their headquarters: a building in Mountain View called MTV29. wading birdsBehind the building was a parking lot, and beyond that was a complex of paths through the salt marshes along the National Seashore. It was – and is – a wonderful place to take a short break from work, and enjoy the landscape and wildlife.
Well, SunLabs quit MTV29 a year ago; it’s now housed in the Menlo Park campus. But the seashore paths are still there, and this morning I spent a happy 90 minutes revisiting the area. You can see the photographs that I took here.


Potentially the strongest storm ever recorded

Now making landfall in Northern Australia: Typhoon Monica

The latest advisory from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center lists Monica as a category 5 cyclone with sustained wind of 155 knots (178 mph) and a central pressure of 879 mb. This is an incredibly powerful cylone that actually is stronger than Hurricane Wilma (the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic).

Winds are gusting to 218 mph. I can’t imagine what that would be like – can you?


Getting packed

As I mentioned, I’m off to the west coast for a few day’s networking, catching up, and administrivia. It all starts with a 6:10am flight out of Boston: you can imagine what time I’ll have to get up in order to get to the airport! I’ll be spending much of tomorrow at Sun’s Menlo Park campus and Tuesday at the Santa Clara campus. It’s a pure coincidence – honest! – that I’m going to be there the week that Sun announces its earnings and holds its Spring Leadership Conference. (Of course the rumours are flying thick and fast, despite Andrew’s well-placed cynicism.) Contrary to what one smart-aleck suggested, it is NOT the case that the best way to get an appointment with a Sun executive is to get laid off. (At least I don’t think it is!)
I’m meeting with lots of different people, though. Several are still at Sun, but most are Sun alumni. There are some I haven’t seen for many years; it will be good to catch up. It’s going to be a busy week: I have breakfast and dinner appointments every day, with lots of meetings (and driving) in between. Then on Thursday afternoon I fly from SFO to Denver, where I’ll have a full day of discussions on Friday. That evening we’re having a dinner for some of the ex-STK folks that I worked with on the engineering integration process. And on Saturday I’ll fly back to Boston.


Random 10

I need to get this out today; I don’t think I’ll have time while I’m travelling all next week:

  • “Moonwind” by Wavestar (from Moonwind)
  • “Sisotowbell Lane” by Joni Mitchell (from Song To A Seagull)
  • “Post World War Two Blues” by Al Stewart (from Past, Present & Future)
  • “Jazzion” by South Froggies (Featuring Allan) (from Saint-Germain Café: The Finest Electro-Jazz Compilation)
  • “Hang On Little Tomato” by Pink Martini (from Hang On Little Tomato)
  • “Helping Hand” by Pentangle (from The Pentangle Family)
  • “Sugar Mice” by Marillion (from The Best Of Both Worlds)
  • “I See You Baby” by Groove Armada (from The Best Of Groove Armada)
  • “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by the Beatles (from 1967-1970)
  • “Destiny Awaits No One” by 矢野義人 (from Soulcalibur II Original Soundtrack)

That’s quite a span – 38 years of collecting music.
The only item that is likely to be unfamiliar is “Moonwind”. Wavestar was a collaboration between electronic music gurus John Dyson and David Ward-Hunt. Very spacey instrumentals, reminiscent of early Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream. You can hear a couple of the tracks at Groove Unlimited.


Shearer – end of an era

Farewell Alan Shearer. One of the best centre-forwards of all time. (And it’s been 18 years!! Back in 1988 he actually had some hair!)

Film & TV

Mr. Plod gets in a snit, part 2

Remember Mr. Plod gets in a snit? The US authorities are just as clueless: they’ve banned an actor from the new movie United 93 from travelling to the US for the opening in New York. As before, if you can’t catch terrorists, you can always go after the actors who play terrorists. Good grief.