June, 2007

Jun 07

Boom King

Our favorite new show is Flight of the Conchords, on HBO, about a struggling New Zealand band (well, duo) who’s moved to Manhattan to make it big. Fantastic show — it’s so quick and sharp it almost takes away some of the drab grey drabness of a world without Arrested Development. Love the inferiority complex NZ has about Australia, and all the Lord of the Rings references. But the music is the star of the show — here’s a song from last night’s episode that is just tremendous (even legally linked from the HBO site — way to go HBO!):

Jun 07

All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy is one of my favorite writers, as I’ve written about here and here and here. His prose is astounding, and the images he creates stay with you for a long time. The NY Times compares his writing favorably with Faulkner’s — and I have to say that it’s more meaningful to me than anything I’ve read by Faulkner, which I find, um…difficult.

All the Pretty Horses is the first novel in the Border Trilogy, which McCarthy started in the early 90s (the other two books are The Crossing and Cities of the Plain). It’s a series of Westerns set in the border country on the edges of Texas and Mexico.

This is a pretty simple story about a couple of adolescent cowboys who leave their homes in Texas to make their way as ranch hands in Mexico, and what happens when they get there. The prose is sometimes serene, sometimes sweeping, and sometimes very difficult, but this is a great book, like the others I’ve read by McCarthy. It’s not quite as staggering an achievement as The Road, and doesn’t have quite the pacing of No Country for Old Men, but is nonetheless excellent.

Jun 07

The Supreme Court, by Jeffrey Rosen

I keep circling back around to reading books about the US Supreme Court — it’s a topic I’ve been interested in for a while, most recently reading Rehnquist’s history. This new book from Jeffrey Rosen that serves as a companion to a new PBS Series of the same name, is very good.

Rosen focuses on judicial temperament, more than judicial philosophy — in other words, he focused on the way that justices interacted with each other. The book is in 5 parts — the first 4 look at pairs of contemporaneous figures (mostly justices): Marshall & Jefferson, Harlan & Holmes, Black & Douglas, and Rehnquist & Scalia. It finishes up by taking a look at our current Chief, John Roberts.

It’s all good stuff. The Marshall-Jefferson was a very stormy one, but set up the basics of the way our judiciary works (establishing judicial review, which has proven handy throughout our history :-)). I’d always assumed Oliver Wendell Holmes was an impeccable jurist — I suppose because so many things like schools are named after him — but it doesn’t appear that that’s true. The Civil Rights era of Black & Douglas is amazing — and a real broadening of basic American rights, whether justified in the constitution or not. And the path of Scalia and Rehnquist is interesting for obvious reasons.

I’m encouraged by the way that Rosen describes Roberts — as a Chief who’s interested in the Court acting as a Court, instead of a collection of academics each with specific opinions. He’s working hard to turn back the personalization of jurisprudence that goes hand in hand with the politics that threaten to overwhelm it.

Not my favorite book about the Court, but an interesting one nonetheless. If you have a few hours, though, I’d really suggest you catch the PBS series — illuminating.

Jun 07

New Library for Sunnyvale?

This is something I’m very excited about: at Tuesday evening’s Sunnyvale City Council Meeting, the City Council voted to put a ballot measure on the November 2007 ballot asking voters to support a$108M bond measure that would allow us to build a new library for Sunnyvale — one to replace our 40+ year old library.

It’s a beautiful library currently, and taken incredible care of by the staff, but it’s time for something new, and I’m incredibly excited to start working on getting support for the bond.

As some of you know, I’m on the Board of Trustees for the Sunnyvale Library, and it was some (very small) amount of our work, plus the (very large amount of) work by Sunnyvale Library Staff & the City Manager that got things this far, plus the will of a determined City Council.

I’ll blog about it some more in the coming weeks, but likely not as a Board of Trustees member (my work in that capacity w/r/t the bond is done, I think), but as a member of a group that will be called something like “Yes for Sunnyvale Libraries” or something like that — to work to get this bond funded by the 2/3 vote that’s required.

I’ve not done a campaign like this before, so am excited to get started.

It’s not every day you get a chance to make a 30+ year impact — I feel very lucky to be involved now.

photo credit: Murali Achanta
(this statue is one of the really iconic bits of our library — The Reader, if you will)

Jun 07

firefox add-ons: allpeers & me.dium

This week I’ve met with 2 great founding teams this week, both building their businesses to start as Firefox extensions: Kimball Musk from me.dium, and Cedric Maloux & Matthew Gertner from AllPeers.

They’re both doing really interesting stuff in the area of adding people to the browser as a first class item. Along with experiments from Flock, Mozilla Labs, del.icio.us and others,  it feels like more & more about the people you interact with and the context that they’re in is becoming relevant to the way that some folks use the web. (And other applications, too, like this provocative idea from David Humphrey about e-mail.)

I’m excited to see things like me.dium and AllPeers — following in StumbleUpon‘s amazing footprints, they’re using the giant petri dish of interested, engaged, and articulate Firefox early adopters to figure out things that stick and really build great products for users.

Justin Hall, who’s doing PMOG (Passively Multiplayer Online Game), is coming in today to talk, too, so I’m excited to hear about what he’s up to next. That’s a fun project that’s really thinking about the web as a giant canvas.

Great stuff, great innovations.