Apparently atheists aren't American

“Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government.” Mitt Romney, 12/6/2007

Does this mean I get to stop paying taxes?  Since my citizenship has just been revoked….

“Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me.”

So you can only believe in religious freedom if you have “knelt in prayer” to his god?  Otherwise you’re an enemy?  How can someone smart enough (theoretically) to be where he…
Apparently atheists aren’t American

Done, done, and done

For the last month, just as I thought I was nearing the finish line or reaching a milestone where I could catch my breath, another deadline or commitment loomed, both at work and at school. I spent last weekend binge-grading grant projects submitted by other teams in my Digital Preservation and Archiving class, reading an article, drafting a critique of said article, and drafting a research proposal. The grant info was due Monday, the critique due Wednesday, the proposal due Friday. Ho ho, thought I, can I turn in the proposal on Wednesday and avoid a commute to campus on Friday?

Well, no. The grant stuff and critique got done, but the proposal was a disaster. I just finished it tonight, printed it out, and after tomorrow morning, Christmas shopping can finally begin.

But here are lessons learned on the proposal:

  • Start early. Crucial to me, since I had to junk my entire first draft and start over from scratch.
  • Get a fellow student to read your paper and critique it for you. I’d read about this idea in other blogs, but this was the first time I’d done it. She was supportive but put her finger on a key weakness that I couldn’t write or think around. She also knew what he liked to see in papers and student work and provided good advice. Hence, my need to scrap it and start over.
  • Go back and read the professor’s directions. The weakness she pointed out was clearly delineated in his instructions for the proposal, had I but re-read them. Be a lawyer and read the fine print.
  • Don’t research forever–timebox it. The danger here is that I had left myself so little time that I barely skimmed the articles I found. No time for fancy research techniques; scan, skim, ingest. But the earlier you can do this, the more facts you can feed your brain so it can go to work in the background.
  • I started to feel panic a second time as I started over on the writing. Classic fear response. I relaxed and fell back on my ol’ NaNoWriMo skills and tips: Write a vomit draft. Don’t edit. Lower my standards. Think quantity, not quality. The more you write, the more you can write. Just keep your fingers flying. If you just don’t know what to write, the trick here is to write about your inability to write. Describe the frustration. Describe what you want to be able to say. Lo and behold, this always seems to unjam the blockage for me. (It’s all going to be deleted anyway, no one’s going to see it, so go crazy.)
  • I used InstantBoss (freeware), set for the standard 10 + 2 * 5 routine. By focusing for just that 10 minutes on writing and not diverting myself with editing, I got a good two pages done my first night. Tonight, I worked about 45 minutes total to finish it.
  • The key is not to finish the paper; the key is to keep starting. Eventually, you’ll reach the end.
  • I also decided that it’s OK to relax and do B-level work on this proposal. My class participation and other work have been more than up to the mark. No need to torque myself into a perfectionist knot.
  • It’s OK to feel like the slow kid in class. Three of my fellow students had finished their proposals early and I was disappointed that I couldn’t be a member of their club. Oh well–next time.

Links for 6-Dec-07

Get Productive to Groove Salad [Music]

GrooveSaladBox.jpg Just in time for finals week, the HackCollege blog recommends studying to a continuous ambient music stream from SomaFM called Groove Salad. If you can’t stand the drop-dead silence of the library but also can’t concentrate with lyrics, ambient music’s the ticket. Groove Salad, “a nicely chilled plate of ambient beats and grooves,” will stream directly to your music player for free. Been tapping keys to it myself as I rewrite the Lifehacker book. Here are more good study music…

Get Productive to Groove Salad [Music]

infosthetics shopping guide for the data-addicted

“confess. if you read this blog, you are addicted to data. this means you do not like Christmas presents. in fact, you hate those information-less presents your friends buy you each year. even after patiently telling them ‘any present should self-update at least each 30 seconds’, last year’s Christmas was still a disaster, despite that wireless weather station from your wife that is now measuring the temperature & humidity of those boxes on your attic.

starting from $15, here are infosthetics’…

infosthetics shopping guide for the data-addicted

Gods in color

Archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann makes color reconstructions of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. His work is on display at Harvard University’s Sackler Museum. From the Wall Street Journal:

The fashion for white antiquities dates back to the early 16th century, when the Renaissance began excavating works that had lain buried in the earth for centuries. Color traces still visible to the naked eye, deep in the folds of draped clothing, for instance, went unnoticed. Following what they…

Gods in color



Reader-diners know the pain of trying to balance a thick book and a meal without losing your page or spilling food. As a regular lunchtime reader, I went searching online for a tool that would allow for comfortable hands-free reading – and eureka! Cleverly designed, this diminutive device is replete with intelligent features: a little pull-out stand supports the book, two sturdy clips hold the pages in place, a pair of pull-out legs holds the book upright on a table. Best of all,…


Kleinert's dress shields

Free Image Hosting at

I found this advertisement in a manila folder while decluttering a bit in my office today. If an accompanying magazine cover is to be believed, this ad appeared the April 29, 1940 issue of Life.

If Arthur Murray were still living, he’d be 112 years old, and he would no doubt still, in a whisper, insist on Kleinert dress shields, even if the “the positions of the dance” nowadays are likely to reveal much more than underarms.

And lo — Kleinert’s is still making dress shields in Elba,…
Kleinert's dress shields