August 31st, 2024

A Butterfly for Brian

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  • And so when my attention is drawn or pointed often I yawn. The Monarch butterflies dancing about the tops of the Jerusalem artichokes out the back window hold more interest for me. But I have a glance, think neat, and move on. I don’t really think about it. Maybe I should. Maybe there’s something there, about connnectedness.

    I want to meet Brian Moffatt someday… just shake his hand, look him in the face and grin complicitously. Golby too. Ray. I’ve had that pleasure with some of the blogging crowd. Almost makes me want to quit quitting drinking if only to have a beer with them. We’ve had our ups and downs here, together — writing and not writing, railing and raving, shouting truths to the deaf, illuminating a path for the blind. And yes, we’ve had the occasional yawn. I respect these men among others, and rather than call out a litany of writers around the world whom I also respect, I’ll trust that you know who you are, most of you, and there are others I’d call out who won’t be reading here anyway.

    Oregon’s Cascade mountains — from Mount Hood to Mount Jefferson — are exploding with bright orange butterflies that pulse in massive swarms through forests and meadows.

    Thick clouds of them are slowing cars on Santiam Pass and swirling like snowflakes on the road to Timberline Lodge, in some locales splattering windshields, in others producing near-whiteout, or orange-out, conditions.

    The boom of California tortoiseshell butterflies is not rare, but it is mysterious. Many are probably offspring of a monster swarm that started in California in early summer and later swept into Oregon, said an expert who tracks them.

    The tortoiseshells appeared around Santiam Pass about 10 days ago, said Joe Harwood of the Oregon Department of Transportation. They’re not implicated in any accidents, but Harwood advises drivers to have plenty of windshield wiper fluid.

    Think of the butterflys, floating on the breeze, a chaotic jumble of diffuse airborne intent, ignorant perhaps, and certainly not unhappy. Think of the bloggers and their intentionality, and their off hand inter-referential allusive community. It’s better for a butterfly to collide with his neighbor than with the windshield of a random oncoming car.

    Sometimes when I try to be funny I’m not, and sometimes of course I make a fool of myself without really trying, but in Toronto there’s a community online and a web industry that includes the likes of Miss Chickie and Brian Moffatt, Jon Husband and Elliot Noss, and dozens - yes hundreds and hundreds of creative people drifting like monarchs on their way to Mexico, enjoying the breezes of a summer day, and bound for a goal we needn’t comprehend.

    I’m sorry I caught you when you were feeling fragile, Brian.

    * * *

    No butterflies were harmed in the making of this post.

    August 31st, 2024

    Pimping the Party Cove

    Ben Paynter’s feature this week in Kansas City’s Pitch spotlights a jaded yet curiously repressed swinging soft-core set partying in a polluted cove on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The language sometimes is a little rough. Ben describes a day and a night of dissipated debauchery, licentiousness that leaves you less excited than depressed.

    The way I read it Ben has a good head on his shoulders and pretty much keeps his pants on, but when I read something like this I’d rather he was covering the suburban little league beat.

    After his divorce in 1998, Hinrichs began staging hot-body competitions at the Cove. In 2024, he added the Web site. He says profits have allowed him to buy a home near the lake that he will soon use as a base of operations. He’s now known to Party Cove regulars as Mr. Happy, in part for wearing a G-string with a smiley face on the bulge and in part for his tolerance. He has since outgrown the suit, but he claims that he can still drink 80 beers a day.

    August 31st, 2024

    The Tussle

    David Clark, et al. (the ubiquitous Al, a guy who really gets around, a true multidisciplinarian) wrote a paper called “Tussle in Cyberspace: Defining Tomorrow’s Internet”.

    One of the tussles that define the current Internet is the tussle of economics. The providers of the Internet are not in the business of giving service away. For most, it is a business, run to make a profit. This means they are competitors, and look at the user, and each other, as a customer and a source of revenue. Providers tussle as they compete, and consumers tussle with providers to get the service they want at a low price.

    How can we, as engineers, shape the economic tussle? In fact, we have great power to shape this tussle, but first we have to understand the rules that define it. A standard business saying is that the drivers of investment are fear and greed. Greed is easy to understand—it drove hundreds of billions of dollars worth of investment in telecommunications over the last decade, much of which now [2002] sits at risk of bankruptcy. But fear is more subtle. The vector of fear is competition, which results when the consumer has choice. The tussle among providers and consumers in a competitive landscape is the most basic attribute of a marketplace. Most economists of a “western” bent would argue that competition is good: it drives innovation, disciplines the market, insures efficiency, and removes the need for intervention and regulation of a market. To make competition viable, the consumer in a market must have the ability to choose. So our principle that one should design choice into mechanism is the building block of competition.

    A year later, Clark followed up with a paper that altered our understanding of end-to-end design principles. In it, he said:

    Perhaps the most radical idea from this analysis is that the simple, end-to-end transparency model should be replaced with the more complex idea of controlled transparency. This implies active elements in the network, which in turn implies a tussle over who controls these devices. It also implies that we need to specify what impact these devices have on the semantics on which the applications depend on.

    Subtle stuff.

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