What I’m thinking about this week


  1. Boots! In January 1996, I was in London briefly, following a semester at Glasgow University. I bought a pair of Dr. Marten’s boots from the flagship store in . They were a sort of wingtip half boot, and I loved them. That’s them up on the right there. I’ve owned various boots over the years, and these were worn more and over a longer period of time than any others. Only a pair of boots acquired from Stompers in the 90s came close. The latter have been relegated to “garden use only” for a while now, and the Docs are just thrashed. Neither model is still made (though there are some things that come close). So last week, we went over to the Haight St. and I picked up a pair of Langstons in burgundy. And I’m in love all over again …
  2. Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix. Despite being married to someone who knows a great deal about art history, I basically knew nothing about this painting or the painter (though I knew the image). I listen to the wonderful In Our Time BBC podcasts, so I got a thorough introduction from Melvyn Bragg’s usual group of slightly dotty British academics. 
  3. The history of finance, and investment theory. Not my usual area, but I’m being guided by Adam Nash’s personal finance reading list and working my way through one by one. 
  4. Visual (and to some extent audio) design in classic science-fiction movies. (And one newer one.) The ones with the white palettes, san serif typefaces and shininess.  Think 2001 and Saturn 3.  Also Tron Legacy, but the shiny white bits rather than the glowy black bits. Plus sinister computer voices like Hal and GladOS from Portal. The fun part is this relates to the previous item (at least in my head).
  5. How most of the important developments & conflicts in online identity & authentication were predicted (sort of ) by Max Headroom
  6. Occupy Wall Street. There’s a lot to think about, but this post pointing out how strangely some of the OWS dynamic echoes Bruce Sterling’s 1998 book Distractions I had to reread it. Sterling has a knack for predicting future socio-political events in ways SF doesn’t usually quite do (see: drone assassinations in Islands in the Net). Distractions isn’t nearly as good a book as Islands in the Net, but it has it’s moments, and it certainly resonates today:

    “Why are there millions of nomads now? They don’t have jobs, man! You don’t care about ‘em! You don’t have any use for ‘em! You can’tmake any use for them! They’re just not necessary to you. Not at all. Okay? So, you’re not necessary to them, either. Okay? They got real tired of waiting for you to give them a life. So now, they just make their own life by themselves, out of stuff they find lying around. You think the government cares? The government can’t even pay their own Air Force.”

    “A country that was better organized would have a decent role for all its citizens.”

    “Man, that’s the creepy part — they’re a lot better organized than the government is. Organization is the only thing they’ve got! They don’t have money or jobs or a place to live, but organization, they sure got plenty of that stuff.”

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