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Maybe This Explains Lassie

I’ve been saying for years that dogs are smarter than most people think, and cats far dumber than they’re generally thought to be.  It would seem there’s scientific research to back me up on the first part of that claim.  My theory is that people mistake a nearly total lack of comprehension for indifference in cats, and an eager friendliness for idiocy in dogs.  The mere fact that dogs can almost without exception be trained to perform tasks, and cats generally can’t, always indicated to me more intelligence in the canine species.

And before you all start e-mailing me about this smart cat you own or knew once, or about dumb-as-a-post dogs piddling on your shoes and refusing to be trained, I’ll freely admit that both exist.  Humans run the gamut of intelligence, so it should come as no surprise that other species have a similar range of cognitive abilities (or lack thereof).  Similarly, don’t bother telling me about how cats are so smart they ignore attempts to train them as being beneath their dignity, because I don’t buy it.  I’ve known too many cats.

Back In Cleveland

We just got back from Seattle, where I delivered a well-received keynote address at Web Design World and had a good time poking around the city with Kat in my few spare hours.  At the conference, I got to catch up with some old friends, meet some folks for the first time, and life was generally cool.  The weather was beautiful, actually; sunny and highs in the 80s and 90s.  Apparently this constitutes a heat wave in Seattle, since all the weatherpersons were telling people to take it easy and drink a lot of fluids.  We found this incredibly funny.  Well, I’m sure they think our winters are deadly cold, too.

Eric Meyer on CSS is starting to get reviews, and they’re good ones.  Check out the book’s companion Web site for details and links.  I think my favorite review line so far is this: “As you’re reading the book, you get the feeling Meyer isn’t fighting the medium, he’s working with it in almost a Zen-like way.”

Tuesday, 4 June 2002

The power supply arrived today, thanks to a “I’ll pay for overnight delivery” call to Arescom, and we’re back on DSL.  You can still expect me to take longer than usual to reply to any e-mail you may have sent, as I was effectively offline for three days and the latest session of my CSS2 course just started up on Monday.  So I’m going to be a touch busy.

Monday, 3 June 2002

The power brick for our DSL modem fried itself late Friday afternoon, so now I’m sipping the Internet through a 45.2Kbps straw.  Expect longer-than-usual delays in responses to e-mail and newsgroup postings.  I hope to have a replacement brick in hand by tomorrow… keep your fingers (as opposed to your wires) crossed for me.

Tuesday, 21 May 2002

Kat and I just got back from a six-day trip to be with her family, to celebrate her father’s birthday.  I returned to 1,334 messages in my personal mail account, most of them from mailing lists.  But about 345 of those messages were spam.  I’m reluctantly coming to the conclusion that if there’s one hanging offense on the Internet, spamming is it.

Granted, I’ve been online almost a decade and never really went to much trouble to disguise my e-mail address, a policy for which I am now paying every day of the year, as I try to clear my Inbox of crap without accidentally throwing away messages from people who legitimately want to talk to me—about CSS, about what I write here, about life in general.  It’s an annoyance I really could do without, but it’s way too late now.  The spam will stop when I go permanently offline, and not a day before.

The point of all this is not just to whine, although I admit it feels a little better to have vented.  The point is that if you really want to talk to me, don’t give your message a subject like Hey there :), as one correspondent did in the last six days.  I very nearly trashed it out of hand, along with a few dozen urgent appeals for help from Nigerian mining widows, detailed make-money-fast schemes, offers of herbal viagra supplements, and so on.  Please, I beseech you, make your subject lines descriptive in some way, and try to make them unambiguous.  Otherwise, your message may find itself in the bit-bucket.

Monday, 13 May 2002

Molly, like us and just about everyone we know, is going through a very difficult period in her life.  In a block of text that blurs the line between prose and poetry, she pours a small portion of that turmoil into her Web site.

For some reason Molly’s words made me think of a painting that, without her, I would never have seen: Lu Jian Jun‘s oil-on-canvas work “Deception” “Ear Drops”.  The small image of the painting cannot hope to convey the subtle, exquisitely vibrant luminosity of the original, which I saw at the Weinstein Contemporary Artist Gallery in San Francisco two weeks back.  They have a number of other paintings by the same artist, every one of them beautiful.  If you have the chance, go see the paintings, and do it quickly.  There is a show dedicated to Jun’s work coming soon, and I would not be surprised if every piece is gone by the end of the show.  I didn’t buy “Deception” myself because it would have cost more than the averaged value of an entire floor of my house… but I very much wished that I could.

Thursday, 9 May 2002

A long couple of weeks, including a trip to California that got cut a little short.

I fixed the link to the orbit debris story, which disappeared shortly after I linked to it.  Here’s what I find interesting: I linked to it on 23 April.  The URL of the story indicates it was published on 3 May.  So far as I’m aware, I haven’t been time-traveling, so what happened?  In addition, the text of the article is very different than it used to be, including (among other things) a removal of any information about the closing of the Orbital Debris Program Office.  Why would an article literally disappear for ten days and then come back with a much different tone?  I don’t mind writing followup pieces that incorporate new information, of course, but this isn’t a followup.  It’s a replacement.  What happened to the original?  I wish now that I’d saved the original to my hard drive, just to be able to compare.

I’m feeling a little paranoid about this.  Of course, that might be due to watching All the President’s Men last night.

I also notice that the links to the “pure evil in Macs” Web site aren’t working.  I seem to have the ability to evaporate pages and sites just by linking to them.  Boy, if that were true, I’d start linking to so many extremist sites it would make both our heads spin.

Thursday, 18 April 2002

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