He no longer stands anywhere

Jesse Helms has begun to decompose. Over the next few days, any number of North Carolinians will be writing commentaries that begin with “I didn’t agree with him, but…”

I’m not one of those people who will write sweet, apologetic obituaries despite my differences with the man. The fact of his death does not suddenly transform him into a great and honorable man. He was neither great nor honorable. He was a small-minded bigot and political opportunist who used his considerable power to make many people’s lives more miserable than they needed to be. The fact that you “always knew where he stood” is irrelevant; consistency isn’t an asset when one is consistently wrong. Jesse Helms was an evil son of a bitch, and now he’s an evil son of a bitch who also happens to be deceased. Period.

I won’t say I’m glad that he’s dead, and I don’t mean to suggest that he deserved to die for his opinions. However, I also won’t pretend that I’ll miss the man, nor that I feel any particular sense of loss upon his passing. He’s dead. It doesn’t change my opinion of him in any way.


I’d love to pretend that my absence was due to all the exciting things I’ve been busy with lately. It hasn’t. I have been very busy, but it’s mostly been with pretty tedious stuff.


Some exceptions:

  • A birthday dinner for Mark at the Old Salem Tavern last week. We were both pretty well impressed with the place. It’s kind of cool eating good food in a 200-year-old restaurant, even if it no longer has sleeping rooms upstairs nor drunk Moravians roaming about.
  • My last day at the part time job I’ve been sleepwalking through for the past year or so. I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite so little emotion upon leaving a job. I guess my “engagement” level just wasn’t very high. Anyway, no more Agnes. Yay!
  • My exciting new digital converter box. The one that was dead on arrival and that I have to return.

OK, so my life is exceedingly boring. I realize that. That’s why I haven’t been saying much lately. I’ll try to be more interesting (for my own sake) but I make no promises.

Maybe a road trip soon…

Atlanta rising

To me, the most interesting (and under-reported) story in the Census Bureau’s recently-released city population estimates for 2007 is the dramatic increase in the inner-city population of Atlanta over the past few years.

Atlanta is landlocked and can’t grow by annexation, and for much of the late twentieth century, its population was actually declining, although the metropolitan area was growing at a pretty spectacular pace. Since 2000, however, the city has added over 100,000 residents — a population increase of nearly 25% in just eight years, from 416,000 to 519,000 residents. This is absolutely amazing, and is almost unheard of for an older urban center surrounded by suburbs, particularly one that had long been viewed by many as somewhat “in decline”.

Even booming Charlotte (which isn’t landlocked and can still annex surrouding territory) can’t boast of quite so large a percentage increase. Is it really a “back to the city” thing? Is it about the much-publicized draw of Atlanta for the black middle class? Is it because Letser Maddox finally died a few years ago, and sane people now feel safe in Georgia? I’m not really sure, but whatever they’re doing down there, they’re apparently doing it extremely well.

Planet SOMA is over

I think this is pretty much the end of Planet SOMA as a standalone website.

I thought this “memoir of San Francisco in the 1990s” was the thing that might bring it back to life, but it’s not working. I don’t really need nostalgia in my life right now. I need to be looking forward. And writing about things I did fifteen years ago isn’t really conducive to that.

Planet SOMA is and was about San Francisco. That part of my life is over, and there’s no real reason for this to be a separate website anymore. Thus, I’ll probably start redirecting this domain to Otherstream, which has been my real home on the web for the past seven or eight years anyway.

It’s been a great twelve and a half years, though. Thanks.


Current mood: frustated.

I’ve spent a week dealing with a client situation that had any number of quick and simple solutions, but none of them could be implemented, because a corporate IT department got involved. As many of you know, this is the kiss of death for simplicity, as IT departments seem to exist for three reasons only:

  1. To provide a forum for pissing contests where distance and size are measured, and where the people who get pissed on are the ones who need help from the department permission to solve problems they’re quite capable of handling for themselves if given the chance.
  2. To answer 50% of all requests either with “we can’t do that because (insert bullshit reason they don’t think you’re smart enough to recognize as bullshit).”
  3. To answer the other 50% of requests by saying “we can only do that by implementing the most convlouted solution possible, preferably by installng some obscure and expensive utility on a new server that we’ll have to spend six months buying and testing and that don’t have the budget for. And by the way, it may also make the user experience a little clunky since they’ll need three passwords and a specific proprietary FTP client to use the email form.”

I could have had my client set up with a solution to this problem a week ago. Instead, I have a big pile of bullshit hanging over my head, most of which I can’t even bill for, because I’m not really doing anything other than sitting around waiting for them to make up their minds about how much more complicated they can make the whole fucking process. This is a really small and simple thing, the kind of thing that I probably would’ve billed an hour or two for, and they’re acting like I want to rewrite their whole bloody webserver from scratch, while creating free admin accounts for Ukranian spammers in the process.

Note to certain corporate IT drones: web designers nowadays are pretty gosh darn tech savvy and often know more about many aspects of webservers and PHP than you do. We also know when you’re bullshitting, overreacting, and overcomplicating, and we’re not afraid to share that knowlege with our clients, most of whom are as frustrated with you as we are — and are therefore inclined to trust us more than they trust you.

Sometimes people need to understand when a solution that works fine and causes no problems will suffice. The perfect “by the book” solution is not always necessary, particularly when it takes twenty times more effort to implement than the current problem demands. Yes, I know that complicated solutions are sometimes needed, but not for every small issue that arises.

War with browsers

I’d mention that today’s frustration also extends to Microsloth Internet Exploder and its annoying tendency to make text do things you never told it to do (today, a couple of form elements started sponteneously centering themsleves without a relevant tag in sight), but that would be too easy.

Not, mind you, that the new Mac version of Firefox is a whole lot better. Especially if you don’t like random and unpredictable freezes, or do like having your computer be able to enter sleep mode.

In Jersey

Had a great time with Duncan and Rick, touring the Capital Region and briefly skirting the Adirondacks seeking a few remaining Grand Unions and an amazing abandoned Loblaw’s. Today, I took the self-guided Robert Moses Tour of New York City, followed by thirty hot, sticky minutes in Lower Manhattan.

Again, more soon.