October, 2007

Oct 07

Overthrow, by Stephen Kinzer

I read Kinzer’s All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror a few years ago, and really enjoyed it.

For this book, an account of the last 100 years or so of our American regime changing tendencies, the subject matter, while incredibly discouraging, was a lot better than the actual writing. His thesis is that we Americans do this sort of thing a lot, and this behavior is pretty much uniformly disastrous. (news flash)

I guess I knew this about US foreign policy since the Dulles brothers amped things up in the 50s, but I hadn’t really internalized that it goes back another 50 years prior, at least, to Hawaii and maybe before.

Anyway, discouraging. Important history to know, but you’d think we’d figure this out sooner or later.

Oct 07

California, by Kevin Starr

I’ve had this book on my shelf for maybe a year now — it’s part of the Modern Library Chronicles series, which I’ve really enjoyed, and written by Kevin Starr, the preeminent California historian. I’ve always been really interested in California history — it seems like such a metaphor for the American experience — but have been a little bit intimidated by Starr’s exceptionally thorough treatments of particular decades (they’re super-long).

This book, as you might guess, is probably a little thinner than it should be for the subject — in only 300 pages, it’s tough to tell a reasonable history of a very large state. I found it interesting enough — and liked his tours through Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and our water-oriented history. But probably wouldn’t recommend, unless you’re interested in California, but only enough to read a too quick summary.

Oct 07

Mozilla, Firefox, and China (谋智,火狐,中国)

We have so many things going on at Mozilla that it’s tough to keep track of them all — and by personality, I tend to focus on all the areas that need work, more than I focus on all the stuff that’s working great. (for confirmation, check this recent post.)

So it really cheered me up today to see Li’s post about the Mozilla Manifesto translated into Chinese.

Our work in China is something that’s gone incredibly well this year — at the start of this year we had a very small market share there (something like 0.5%), and no team really focusing on it (but a community that was ready to be energized). But Li is doing great — we’ve got an office and a small full-time team working hard now, we’re working hard to engage the community, and our market share has at least tripled, to something between 1.5% and 2%. This is really good news, because getting to 5 or 6% market share will mean that a whole lot more sites in China will start testing against and working with Firefox.

I personally have learned a ton about China through this work — have gotten to go meet some interesting and amazing folks (including our own team there) 3 times, and am looking forward to more visits. Notwithstanding ongoing weirdness with redirects there, the Chinese consumer Internet is being shaped right now, and I’m excited we have an opportunity to make a difference.

I’m going to be incredibly interested to watch reaction to the Mozilla Manifesto there.

Oct 07


some weeks, you want to call “do over” on and try them again — but not this week. this week, just looking forward to it ending.

(in other news, just installed leopard. some bits driving me crazy — translucent menus are the dumbest idea ever — but other bits are nice. seems snappy.)

Oct 07



Okay, the good news is that we don’t actually have moles in our front yard. The medium-to-bad news is that we have gophers. Or, rather, gopher (singular), we think. A new piece of home lawn care trivia: moles present as big mounds of dirt in your front yard. Gophers present as a gradual & widening area of dead grass and soft spots in your lawn. And moles are carnivores, looking for grubs & such, while gophers are vegetarians, only hoping to eat the roots of all the plant life that you love.

Somehow I’m comforted by the thought that it’s a gopher and not moles, and not just because I feel an affinity with Bill Murray now. Somehow moles seem incredibly alien & unknowable to me, while gophers seem more like your friendly mammal-next-door.

All the same, my favorite gopher is a dead gopher, at least in the vicinity of my front yard, so we’ve set a trap for the critter, so we’ll see how it goes. (Yes, I know that this is an incredibly unhip and unfriendly post to write on Blog Action Day, but it’s eating my yard, man. Gotta get this fixed. FWIW, our “mole guy” is a super-smart & friendly entomologist from UCSC who’s found that Silicon Valley types (and Woodside folks in particular) are happy to pay $55 per critter for removal.)