Text and Hubris |

Beginnings: A Reflection

I often find myself wanting to start again.

I am, you might say, enamored with beginnings.

I suppose, it makes sense. Beginnings are exciting. They are moments filled with possibility and anticipation. While fear may try to hold us back from taking that initial step, once that threshold is crossed, the momentum pulls us forward almost effortlessly. Well, at least it does for a while.

Beginnings feel like progress.

I am getting healthy, starting today.

I am going to write my book, starting today.

I am going to do something, starting now

By declaring a beginning we pretend that we have made some forward movement without moving much at all. This is, I expect, the reason that New Years Resolutions are so often adopted and so often failed.

The challenge is not in the beginning. I am learning this: the challenge is in the continuation. The challenge is in the process of living in the ongoing movement that a beginning sets in motion. It is waking up every morning and finding the time to make those healthy choices. It is sitting down and working on the projects I value even when things aren’t moving nearly as fast as I ...


Thoughts on Current Events

I was interviewed, a couple of days ago, about my thoughts and feelings regarding the shootings in Dallas and the Twin Cities.

I was not interviewed because I have any real answers to share. After all, in many ways I am part of the problem. My over-privileged self has long benefited from the inherent iniquities within the system. Rather, I was interviewed because I was sitting on a bench at the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa. A young reporter was looking for commentary from people on the street, and I was conveniently available. So we talked, and I tried to take the swirling mass of thoughts that had been in my head and boil them down into snippets. I am not sure I succeeded. Indeed, I am not sure it is even possible to provide short and brief answers to any of these questions.

Question: 1: What do you think/feel about the shootings in Dallas?

What do I think? Where do I begin?

I think, and this is what I told the young reporter, that violence begets violence.

We live immersed in violence. It is our bloody and sick birthright. We cheer it. We valorize ...


MIGC Workshop in Exploratory Programming in the Humanities with Nick Montfort.

I spent this afternoon attending an exploratory programming workshop with Dr. Nick Montfort. The workshop put on by the phenomenal Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference which is held annually at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. It was uniquely rewarding experience not so much for the content of the workshop but for the approach that Nick takes.

I was a systems guy for a long time, and in that time, I wrote a lot of programs. I used Python, Perl, hacked up some C, even a little Java, and created more shell scripts than I care to think about. I never called myself a programmer, though. That wasn’t my title. I would write code, but my code was patchwork, inelegant, often functional, aimed at resolving a specific problem or aiding in the determination and resolution of that problem. Code was a means to an end.

Now, that wasn’t how I started, and it certainly isn’t how I developed a passion for technology. That happened back in the lost days of the mid-to-late 80s. I still remember being in awe of my father’s brand new IBM PS/2 when it arrived. After unpacking it and setting it up, he ...


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