New My Yahoo!

Yahoo! is slowly transforming it’s old Times New Roman image to a more sophisticated search engine that actually looks like it’s 2004.
Most relevantly to me, the company is now beta-testing refurbished My Yahoo!. My Yahoo! is an old friend of sorts; it’s been my homepage for about 7 years, which means that I probably see this page about 7 times more than any other page on any site. On this page, I get news, weather, stocks, box office info, horoscopes, and now RSS feeds from blogs I like. But this new version of the confabulator is a bit like watching an old friend don new pajamas where the fit is a bit tight in the shoulders and too loose in the waist — and yet, the pajamas look kind of nice overall. The stripes work and the colors are gentle and calming but the overall package feels like it’s going to be uncomfortable to sleep in, particularly in the groin area.

Identity in Brooklyn

On Saturday, our block had its first-ever block party. For many reason, including just plain old forgetfulness, it was scheduled on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews.
We stepped out in the morning to people preparing for the day of games, rides, food, and fun. Most of the block consists of old-time Park Slopers — real Park Slopers, perhaps, people who have lived here for a few generations with their families on the same few blocks of houses, lined with trees and cars. People on this block are predominantly white, middle class, Irish Catholic, and they are amazingly insular. For the majority of my eight years on this block, only a few of neighbors have said more than a word to me, though I’ve tried. Other blocks, I might note, are very different and more diverse.
Anyway, what was interesting about the block party on Saturday/Yom Kippur was our coming home. It was around 6:00 pm, and all of the families on the street (and there were many) were sitting among folding tables, eating BBQ and drinking and carousing. At first, it felt like we lived in another part of the world, perhaps Pittsburgh, but then as we moved down the street toward the apartment, feeling increasingly alone and unwelcome, it felt like New York, perhaps not at its finest. The few Jews on the block were not there and the two newly transplanted Southeast Asian families were nowhere to be seen.
It was not exclusion, nor indifference that I felt. Nor did I feel persecuted, disenfranchised, or scorned.
Rather, I felt like this was why I had moved to New York, to be part of the great mass of anonymity, to be a part of everything and yet have no one know you enough to acknowledge, credit or blame you for anything (unless you’re famous). I couldn’t blame anyone, including myself, for those feelings. I’m assuming my neighbors see me as an interloper, a temporary resident, a non-Catholic, a minimal participant in the life of the neighborhood, a recipient of the general safety and benefits of the area. And they are right.

Iraqi Web (Development)

Well, here it is, the first I’ve seen of an Iraqi Web design and development company, eKur Software Group.
All kinds of thoughts and questions arise:

  • The country code for Iraq is 88. This I did not know.
  • People are doing business, no matter what, in Iraq.
  • Their portfolio, while not the best, ain’t bad.
  • The technologies behind globalization are insanely powerful. This company uses WebObjects, WebSphere, and for its technologies, by Apple, IBM, and Microsoft, respectively. eKur also uses Flash terribly, just like every other Web design group.

The God Gene

I listened eagerly to author Dean Hamer today on the radio, who argued that religiosity and faithfulness are directly inherited in our DNA. Mr. Hamer’s new book, The God Gene : How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes, sounds absolutely fascinating, even though Publisher’s Weekly and others have panned him, in part because he is the scientist behind the “gay gene.”
Mr. Hamer is going out on an evolutionary limb with this hypothesis that, buried deep within our system, is a genetic code that, to varying degrees, provides transmissable expressions, feelings, and assumptions about spirituality, the afterlife, and our place in the world. Mr. Hamer, perhaps most provocatively, makes the case that this can be scientifically proven. I want to believe him that my own faith in some kind of godhead inheres within my physical being and is not a pure result of cultural modifcation and socialization. I’d like to believe, too, that all animals have some correlary to this gene, that their connectedness to us and us to them is physically enabled. And I’d like to believe that my own, particularly Jewish, faith is connected to 4000+ years of historical inheritance.
Of course, I haven’t read this yet. But for the longest time, I’ve felt that the interconnectedness of the world could be both physically and spiritually based, that circumstance and superstition are a subset of reality, and that ecstatic love and passionate prayer are intimated in our primordial and unconscious lives. Pushing this further, I wonder if ultimately these are the same things, the physical and the intangible, for which we’ve created artificial divides, much thanks to the Ancients.
This is from the inside flap of the book: “Popular science at its best, The God Gene is an in-depth, fully accessible inquiry into the cutting-edge research that is changing the way we think about ourselves, our world, and our culture. Written with balance and integrity, without seeking to confirm or deny the existence of God, The God Gene brilliantly illuminates the mechanism by which belief itself is biologically fostered.

More on Black

Last night marked the first night of the Jewish New Year, a typically happy occasion. But it was sadly marked by the death of our small black cat, CD.
I miss her tremendously and only hope that she passed through the eternal wall in peace. She was a tough cat, a street-fighting cat, and she brought her instincts into her house and our hearts.
We were always slightly scared of her but her personality and occasional sweetness was rich and strong. The world feels emptier without her and I have many feelings of guilt for not reading the very odd behavior she exhibited yesterday all day.
We still don’t know how she could have passed away so suddenly but I’m sad that she’s not here, now.

Using Black

As noted in yesterday’s post, I made the transition from a predominantly blue, red, and white design to a blue, beige, and black design for MANOVERBOARD.
In order to take away design elements, though, I lost some things that I’m happy are gone, though it took almost three years. They include:

  • The strange, red-colored outline of a man holding up small business cards near a board. He served not so much as a brand but as a mascot and I was soo, soo tired of him. Of course, I have tremendous fondness for him and he’ll make a return someday.
  • The shades of transparent color over a photograph of waves that just looked pretty but felt increasingly meaningless. I still adore transparency and the unusual effects it can have on light and image density but I’m done with it for now.
  • Too-light gray color text. While I find gray text inherently sexy and sharp, I have a real hankering for darkness (not The Darkness, though) on sites. Douglas Bowman’s Stop Design site is beautifully, richly dark, and his work is always an inspiration.
  • The color red. For the longest time, the MANOVERBOARD logotext was treated in a dark, bloody red that registered passion, strength, and ardour. But black is better. Now the the same logotext in black feels strangely impersonal yet more secure and historically oriented. The color black (and I *still* say black is a color and not the absence thereof) lends punch to the overall feeling of the site that was lacking before.


My daughter and I were playing on the carpert with a set of 16 blocks today. We started building one big tower and then she remarked that we should each build one and then we did. Each of our little towers got up to 5 blocks high. Then upon each of us adding the sixth, the two fell into each other and all the blocks fell to the ground. There was laughter but not from me.