AI text completion from 2019

In 2019, a friend pointed to a web interface for talking to an AI. At the time, I tried interacting with it a bit; here are four of those interactions. That system wasn’t nearly as sophisticated as ChatGPT, but it was fun. The first two responses end abruptly, because the system is set to stop […]

Twain on Harriet Shelley

(Content warning for mention of suicide.) The Complete Essays of Mark Twain includes a long 1894 piece titled “In Defense of Harriet Shelley.” Twain had just encountered Edward Dowden’s book The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley; in addition to objecting to Dowden’s florid writing style, Twain objected very strongly to Dowden’s insinuation that Percy Shelley’s […]


My random-book-picker recently picked a collection of Coleridge verse and prose from my unread-books shelves. It’s a hardcover roughly the size of a mass-market paperback. It’s 350 pages of Coleridge’s writing, plus a hundred pages of notes at the end. But what makes it unusual is that the notes are in Russian. (The verse and […]

Unread-books update: 250 TPBs/HCs to go

Milestone: I’m now down to 250 unread trade paperbacks and hardcovers. Which means I’ve reduced that number by 100 since my Facebook progress post almost exactly a year ago, when it was at 350. And during that time, I added about 5 books to the list (a couple that I had neglected to add before, […]

Alex Jones lawsuits updates

A set of links about what’s been up with the defamation lawsuits against Alex Jones over the past year-plus. Content warning for references (throughout these articles) to Sandy Hook and to Jones’s utterly despicable and completely false claims that the attack was faked. Also content warning for prominent photos of Jones, sometimes apparently in the […]

The Adventure of the Expired Falafel Mix

I like falafels, and a couple of times in the past I’ve made them at home from a mix. So at some point in the distant past I acquired another box of falafel mix, with the intention of making falafels. But then I didn’t get around to making them. And of course as time went […]

Family letters: 1980

Here are five letters and cards from 1980, the last year of Marcy’s life, plus a couple of non-letter items. January 7, 1980 General life update from Peter. “we now have [a] really nice [housemate]: Ed, who’s an ex-Alaskan ex-helicopter mechanic, now going to massage school & Stanford pre-medical classes” February 14, 1980 A valentine […]

Book review: _The Subversive Copy Editor_

I just finished reading The Subversive Copy Editor, a book about copyediting by Carol Fisher Saller, one of the people who answer questions for the Chicago Manual of Style Q&A page. (Or at least she was in 2016 when this edition of this book came out.) I’m not a regular reader of their Q&A, but […]

Favorite TV title sequences?

What are your favorite TV-show title sequences? (Opening and/or closing titles.) I’m primarily interested in hearing about sequences where you like the visuals; I think focusing primarily on the audio can too easily turn into “What’s your favorite TV theme song?”, which I feel like is a different question. And I’m specifically interested in hearing […]

Boardgame: _Alien: Fate of the Nostromo_

I recently came across a mention of the cooperative boardgame Alien: Fate of the Nostromo; it sounded interesting, so even though I have about half a dozen other boardgames that I haven’t played yet, I bought this one. It’s set on the spaceship Nostromo during the first Alien movie, but you don’t need to know […]

Backblaze UX improvements

If you use the Backblaze online-backup system on a Mac and you haven’t upgraded to version 8.5, I recommend doing so; the user experience is far better than in older versions. I was using a version that was a System Preferences panel, which has always been annoying to use; for example, after I clicked the […]