The secret to being a bore is to tell everything.Voltaire
Author Archives: ajh
On Reciprocity and Religious Deference
Irreverence is another person’s disrespect to your god; there isn’t any word that tells what your disrespect to his god is.
On Censorship and Authoritarianism
Where they burn books, they will in the end burn people too.
— Salman Rushdie
When you counsel someone, you should appear to be reminding him of something he had forgotten, not of the light he was unable to see.
— Baltasar Gracian (as quoted in A.Word.A.Day)
On Animation Optimization
The mobile graphics model […] is mostly focused on achieving smooth animation by taking pre-rendered textures or layers and zooming, panning and blending them.
(While one of the least generally applicable quotations on this site, the above is nevertheless a remarkably succinct summary of how mobile and web apps are encouraged to optimize rendering/animation performance.)
On Debating Generously
You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
— Daniel Dennett, sharing Anatol Rapoport’s rules of constructive argument and debate (via Nagesh Belludi)
On The Whole Point of Software
Using technology to ease the burden on the user is… kind of the whole point of creating software!
On Knowing One Has What One Wants
Why would I go and say bye-bye to Miami in the winter, bye-bye to Saint-Tropez in the summer and bye-bye to spring and fall in New York? I have a perfect life.
On a Lack of Strategy
A poorly functioning government is not inert. Instead, it lives the life of a pinball. The life of a pinball can feel quite busy.
On the Global Perpective Inspired by Spaceflight
You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’
— Edgar D. Mitchell, astronaut
On Direct Communication
“What I don’t like about Washington is people do not let you know how they feel,” he said. “They’re very nice to your face and then they take a shiv or a machete and they stab it in your back. I don’t like it. I’m a Wall Street guy, and I’m more of a front-stabbing person, and I’d rather tell people directly how I feel about them than this sort of nonsense.”
On The Upside-Down Smile Emoji
Wheeee, life is a horrible hall of mirrors and I am powerless to do anything but smile about it.
On Mixed Feelings Regarding the Internet
i love and don’t trust the web
— Greg Ziegan (via chat)
On Computer Programming and Who Is or Isn’t A Genius
I just explain things really slowly and simply to a very fast idiot for a living.
— noir_lord, attempting to dispel the belief that only a “genius” could program.
On Carrie Fischer’s Princess Leia
Even though her character was very young and mostly wore white, she wasn’t remotely virginal, her tone of voice was the auditory equivalent of an eye roll, and she never hesitated to inform Darth Vader that he was wretched and vile, and to tell his henchmen that they stank to high heaven.
On Russian Ties Trump Won’t Acknowledge
The elephant in the room is a bear.
Frank Rich in NYMag
On the Human Condition
How can a world have pandas…. and war? It makes no sense….
— David Rule (in internal corporate communication)
On a Failing Relationship
Things were getting worse faster than we could lower our standards.
— Carrie Fisher (in her HBO special, Wishful Drinking)
On How the Digital Sausage is Made
From the outside, Silicon Valley looks like a gleaming tower of technological perfection. Yet, once the curtain is pulled back, we see that behind that shimmering façade is a warehouse of good old fashioned humans, subject to all the same biases and fallibility, but with their results now laundered through the sheen of computerized infallibility.
— Kalev Leetaru (in an otherwise droll article on Forbes)
On Google’s 2015 Logo
The new logo retains the rainbow of colors but sheds the grownup curlicues: it now evokes children’s refrigerator magnets, McDonald’s French fries, Comic Sans. Google took something we trusted and filed off its dignity. Now, in its place, we have an insipid “G,” an owl-eyed “oo,” a schoolroom “g,” a ho-hum “l,” and a demented, showboating “e.”
— Sarah Sarson in the New Yorker (archive)
On Father-Daughter Dynamics
I either buy her the thing she doesn’t need and hate myself for giving in and spoiling her, or she makes my life miserable. No good can come from shopping with your daughter!
On Designers Ignoring Those For Whom They Design
When you design in perfect settings, with big, contrast-rich monitors, you blind yourself to users. To arbitrarily throw away contrast based on a fashion that “looks good on my perfect screen in my perfectly lit office” is abdicating designers’ responsibilities to the very people for whom they are designing.
On the Obligation to Speak Out
Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.
On Writing for No Audience But Oneself
I think just starting to [journal] every day impressed on me how much is going on inside that I otherwise would never have made space for. I know I make space for the ideas that I feel comfortable with, but when else did I take the time to not only have thoughts about other topics and also see them written out? Personal writing is evidence of an inner life that I cannot otherwise shake off.
— Faith Hanna (via private communication)
On Interesting Cities
And though “youth-driven food boom” may sound frivolous, it is anything but. Restaurants and cafes are a big part of the personality of a city. Imagine walking down a street in Paris. What are you walking past? Little restaurants and cafes. Imagine driving through some depressing random exurb. What are you driving past? Starbucks and McDonalds and Pizza Hut. As Gertrude Stein said, there is no there there. You could be anywhere.
These independent restaurants and cafes are not just feeding people. They’re making there be a there here.
— Paul Graham in his essay “How to Make Pittsburgh a Startup Hub”