Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   high-tech wizardry to function
Tuesday, December 21 2004
Today was the first day of winter and the landscape looked the part, in the semi-reluctant way that the first day of a season often demonstrates. An inch of snow remained on the ground and temperatures hovered at around nineteen degrees Fahrenheit.

At 6:00pm I met Gretchen at the new Indian restaurant in New Paltz. The restaurant was featuring a rather lavish buffet which was similar to all Indian buffets except it was a little bigger and included such non-buffet options as shrimp and samosas. (During an archived This American Life we listened to recently, an Indian woman spoke of "half-eaten samosas," and this caused Gretchen to rhetorically ask "Who would ever half-eat a samosa?") It's hard to judge a restaurant from its buffet, since (as long as it is sanitary) buffet food gets the benefit of single-generation Darwinian effects. In keeping with protocols of Indian restaurant newness, the place had yet to secure a liquor license. Or perhaps it was actually a Pakistani restaurant.
After dinner, which passed very quickly, we convoyed up to the new Tillson residence of the Meatlocker People. Ms. Meatlocker had won a boxed cheese cake in a raffle at her workplace (still on Dug Hill Road) and had invited various friends over to help her eat it. I brought my reciprocating saw with me because Mr. Meatlocker had a use for it in his planned household alterations. In a conversation tonight I was heard to describe the saw as the "closest thing to a light saber available today." (Imagine how easy demolition would be with an actual light saber!)
Three other photogenic friends of the Meatlockers arrived, a house tour commenced, and we drank coffee and tea before and during our cheese cake. Conversation did its best to steer clear of politics, though there was a painting of George W. Bush on the cover of the Time Magazine in the kitchen, the reason the Meatlockers would be canceling their subscription. "But Hitler was on the cover of Time Magazine too," I said. "But they didn't say Hitler was a strong leader guided by conviction," Mr. Meatlocker explained. At some point Gretchen talked about her decision not to have children, a subject that always makes for good discussions with new people.
One of the women present told us about how her boyfriend was down in Manhattan installing some expensive glass panes that can be made opaque at the flip of a switch. Unlike certain electronic "conveniences," everyone could think of an application for such panes, particularly if they were attached to The Clapper. In terms of less-useful electronic gizmos, she mentioned something she'd read about the sensor-studded castle that Bill Gates built for himself, how it gives Bill a detailed readout of a guest's heart rate and perspiration before every meeting takes place, allowing the richest man in the world to prepare himself for whatever emotional payload is being delivered. "I would think that it would be easy to tell what a guest's emotions were without probing them," one of the Meatlockers' guests observed. "You don't understand Bill Gates," I explained. "He's a high-functioning autistic person who cannot read emotional signals. He depends on this high-tech wizardry to function appropriately in social situations." From there the conversation branched into two different directions. One was concerned the crisis of autism in Silicon Valley as geeky computer programmers meet and bear children lacking in hybrid vigor. The other concerned the reluctant philanthropy of Bill Gates, which didn't really materialize until he married his secretary and she taught him the protocol of a proper American robber baron. Nonetheless, the philanthropy of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is hardly altruistic; much of their money goes into programs that advance the Microsoft brand to children and nations too poor (for now) to afford computers.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next