Life is a Mystery

23 March 2008 . Comments Off on Deutsch-Englisch


For those of you Mac OS X Leopard users who want to read or write German every once in a while, maybe for a note to Oma, maybe to translate a bit of theology: check out the BeoLingus Deutsch-Englisch plugins for Apple’s Dictionary program. Super easy to download and install, and free to boot. (Hat tip to Mary for passing this along to me.)

23 March 2008 . Comments Off on Happy Easter

Happy Easter

Does it seem early for the Easter bunny to be hopping by? We went to a wonderful Easter vigil service at St. Kate’s last night, but walking out it felt far more like Christmas than Easter. We have six new inches of snow on the ground. And today, Easter Sunday, the snow is still falling!

Why? It turns out that Easter is historically early this year:

Unless you’re 95, Easter 2008 is earlier than you’ve ever seen it.

And unless you live until 2160, you’ll never see it this early again.

Easter falling on March 23 is unusual, historic, notable — and in some cases, annoying.

So happy early Easter!

20 March 2008 . Comments Off on MIT Libraries fight DRM, and win

MIT Libraries fight DRM, and win

I’m so proud of the MIT Libraries. Today in LJAN I read that a yearlong effort to get the Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE) to drop their DRM plan has succeeded. Coming on the tail of the OCW/Elsevier announcement it is clear that MIT is really making a name for itself as a defender of openness. I can’t say I’m surprised by that, knowing a bit about MIT’s culture, but I am so very pleased.

Also commendable is the persistence the MIT Libraries displayed with the SAE matter and the involvement of faculty.

“We interested a couple of our faculty in the cause who are Fellows of the SAE,” [MIT librarian Tracy] Gabridge explained. “One in particular talked with colleagues at other universities and ultimately presented his objections to DRM at an SAE Publications Board Meeting last April at their national conference.”

One step at a time, marvelous work MIT!

20 March 2008 . Comments Off on MoveOn riding coattails?

MoveOn riding coattails?

I think MoveOn tried to trick me today, just a little. They sent an email message with a whole new style of donate button that looked a lot like the Obama campaign messages. In fact, the look was Obama-ish enough that for a few seconds I didn’t realize I was reading MoveOn email.

I’ve been on MoveOn’s list for a long time. They’ve used a red donate button on a white background for a long time now. It is distinctive enough that I’ve come to recognize it. Here is a recent example (sent yesterday).

Picture 15.png

Now here are a couple example s of recent Obama messages from the past month. They all share this blue background and red button (except for a few messages from Obama himself which have a simple red “Donate” button centered under the whole text of the message).

Picture 18.png

Picture 17.png

Then today I got this from MoveOn. Looks familar, no?

Picture 16.png

The Obama campaign has done such a good job of fundraising, I wonder if others are trying to ride his coattails already. I’m a supporter of MoveOn and I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong with their creating this implied closer relationship, but it is interesting to me. I also had not realized how familiar I’d become with the Obama “look,” familiar enough that this switch caught my attention. That’s a sign of strong branding and design on the part of the Obama campaign.

20 March 2008 . Comments Off on FFR: TagCrowd

FFR: TagCrowd

This looks like a simple way to generate tag clouds on the fly.

19 March 2008 . Comments Off on FFR: Web presence

FFR: Web presence

I should return to this post by Lorcan before I go too much further along the road of working on the DLF website. Though this post does not directly relate to the challenges the DLF faces on its site, I’m sure the UCD document referenced would spark healthy thoughts. A quick scan reminds me of my white paper to Ann when she arrived at MIT in the mid-90’s suggesting that we make “the web” a real “library” of the MIT Libraries, with a “head” and shared staff. That idea didn’t fly, but I still think it would have been a good organizing principle for our web presence.

19 March 2008 . Comments Off on Seeing clearly

Seeing clearly

“A German fighter ace has just learned that one of his 28 wartime ‘kills’ was his favourite author.” Horst Rippert learned that in July 1944 he shot down his favorite author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery. He says he would have held his fire had he known. “Who knows what other great books he would have gone on to write?”

I wonder what great books any of the other 28 victims of Rippert would have written. When we make a choice to kill, we must realize that we are killing endless possibilities.

“Men,” said the fox. “They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing.”


“They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?”

19 March 2008 . Comments Off on Sublime


Scott Horton writes a wonderful column/blog for Harpers called No Comment. Unfortunately the RSS feed for this blog is terrible (only headlines, no content), so I often miss what he has to say. But today he had an entry called “The Speech” and I was lucky to catch it:

[…] as the speech unfolded, I realized that it was nothing like what I had expected. I stopped my work and started to focus on it. The voice was level, unagitated but still intensely personal. The speaker tackled issues that by common wisdom could never help his political cause; that could only damage him. He spoke the unspoken truths about racial divide in America, and he spoke with a strong sense of wrongs, yet with no anger, and a clear vision of justice. The vision he presented was more than simply compelling in a political sense. It rang of dangerous truth.


This speech puts Obama on a level above his critics, and it is something that will speak over time and that should be heard over the vacuous chatter of the political punditry. It is something sublime.

If you still have not listened to the speech, do so now. Really.

19 March 2008 . Comments Off on FFR: XDrive

FFR: XDrive

AOL offers XDrive for up to 5GB of free storage. I’d like to use this to back up my hosted web service, but I would need a way to do this via PHP or a Linux command line tool. Right now that does not seem possible. But these Python scripts are promising. Check back and look for other options as well. Right now S3 looks expensive and Gmail also has no command-line tools. Maybe a second low-price account with a vendor who offers SSH access would be the way to go?

19 March 2008 . Comments Off on Five years in Iraq

Five years in Iraq

Fill in the blank…

The people of _______ have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told … It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are today not far from a disaster.

The missing word: “England”. The author: T.E. Lawrence. The year: 1920. (Hat tip to Scott Horton.)

We are five years in. I shudder to think of how many years it will take to get out. Two days ago MPR broadcast a troubling report on what the war really costs. An honest accounting: three trillion dollars.


Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 /