19 May, 2011 The major romantic poets could never succeed at being serious, because they always had one eye in the mirror. Coleridge and Wordworth perhaps came closest, the former because of a touch of madness and the latter because he was sometimes able to be immersed in and carried away by nature. Byron was at his best when he was being funny, but, tragically, did not value humor as one of the great defining characteristics that make us human.

19 May, 2011 Years ago, Pete Seeger promised his daughter that when she grew up, she would be able to swim in the Hudson River -- a promise that has been largely fulfilled. But what will we be able to promise our children about cleaning up the mess we are making of the Earth's climate?

2 May, 2011 I am also reading Nature's Metropolis, by William Cronon, an economic history of Chicago and its role as a hub for trade with the opening frontier. While reading the chapter on the impact of the railroads, it occurred to me that the Smart Grid is the railroad of the 21st century. This time, the frontier to be tapped is not a geographic one, but a physical one -- the frontier of tapping into the much more diverse (and hopefully more carbon-neutral) energy sources that will power the future. It is interesting to note that government played a very significant enabling role in the growth of the railroads, primarily through land grants of various sorts. Private enterprise was also of signal importance, of course, but it did not all happen in a vacuum. Government was able to foster the growth of the rail network in large measure because it had "free" (to Euro-american, anyway) land to give away. That may not be the case for the Smart Grid. Still, in seeking to build the Smart Grid, are there lessons to be learned from the history of the railroads?

1 May, 2011 This was a blog, before anybody knew what a blog was. This was Twitter before tweets. The story continues now, after a long hiatus. I am reading Per Anders Fogelström's remarkable books on Stockholm, currently finishing Barn av sin Stad. I learned about these books two years ago, through a transformative exhibit at the Stockholms Stadsmuseum, "I Huvudrollen -- Stockholm."

"Måste le. Men ochså känna något av gråt och smärta. Att bli befriad var ändå att förlora något, om än inte mer än en dum dröm."

Freedom's just another word for nothin left to lose.

22 March, 2009: Has it really been five years of silence? Astonishing, for the mind has been very busy -- though life has been far more busy, which eats into the time for random jottings. Here's a thought. Marvelous stuff, carbon. You scrape it off the grill, when you burn the salmon skin onto the steal. But, organized in the right way, it can write "The Magic Flute." Even more miraculous, it can listen to, and enjoy "The Magic Flute." . More marvelous Christmas music arrived this year, in the form of Yo Yo Ma's disk, Songs of Joy and Peace. And thanks to Mark Jellinek, I'm now dreaming of fat skis deep powder. Thanks to Brad Sageman I had my first gig up on a stage, as a warmup act, in a place where people pay (albeit voluntarily) to get in.

12 November, 2004 The silence has been long, but the mind has nonetheless been busy. I've decided to start adding to these rambling thoughts again. Here's one to start, overheard as an instruction by a mom to her very young son in the Jardin Luxemburg, Paris: "Ne meprise pas les gens seulement parce-que ils aiment les pigeons!" ("Don't despise people just because they like pigeons!." ) Another notable quote, seen in the form of bathroom graffiti at Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap in Hyde park -- "Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once"-- turns out to be not entirely original, but instead represents a succinct restatement, or perhaps independent rediscovery, of the basic philosophy of Henri Bergson. My familiarity with Bergson's view of time was awakened by the discussion in Ilya Prigogine's writings on time's arrow, found in "The End of Certainty," (which I know from the French edition, "La Fin des Certitudes") There's no indication, though, that Prigogine was aware of Jimmy's.

27 June, 2000 "You're trying to pound in a thumbtack with a sledgehammer-- Use your head!" (Unknown Harvard math T.A.)

8 June, 1999

Linear systems are all alike. Each nonlinear system is nonlinear in its own way. For details, see L. Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

12 December, 1999 My favorite new Christmas music I have come across this season:

12 December, 1999 My favorite new Christmas music I have come across this season:

November 1999 For a bleak spin on global warming (and some impressive pictures of melting tropical glaciers) check out my Millennium essay. This is a future that is not inevitable, and indeed I can think of ways we could make it through the next 100 years that could lead us along a definitely brighter path. Now is the time to start, though.

12 October 1999 Take a look at the movie, "Genghis Blues" if the opportunity presents itself. It is about a West Coast blues singer who hears Tuvan throat singing on shortwave radio, manages to teach it to himself, and then goes off to Tana Tuva where he wins the Kargyra division of the annual throat-singing competition. Check out the cameo appearance of Richard " Tuva or Bust" Feynman.