Joan Didion’s 1961 Essay on Self Respect

Was reading through a recent edition of MG Siegler’s newsletter where he shared what appears to be (i.e. I’ve never read it or heard of it before, not that my ignorance should be any marker of its importance) a seminal 1961 article in Vogue Magazine from Joan Didion titled ‘On Self Respect’, which I found to be as seminal as advertised.

There is a common superstition that “self-respect” is a kind of charm against snakes, something that keeps those who have it locked in some unblighted Eden, out of strange beds, ambivalent conversations, and trouble in general. It does not at all. It has nothing to do with the face of things, but concerns instead a separate peace, a private reconciliation. Although the careless, suicidal Julian English in Appointment in Samarra and the careless, incurably dishonest Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby seem equally improbable candidates for self-respect, Jordan Baker had it, Julian English did not. With that genius for accommodation more often seen in women than in men, Jordan took her own measure, made her own peace, avoided threats to that peace: “I hate careless people,” she told Nick Carraway. “It takes two to make an accident.”

Like Jordan Baker, people with self-respect have the courage of their mistakes. They know the price of things. If they choose to commit adultery, they do not then go running, in an access of bad conscience, to receive absolution from the wronged parties; nor do they complain unduly of the unfairness, the undeserved embarrassment, of being named corespondent. If they choose to forego their work—say it is screenwriting—in favor of sitting around the Algonquin bar, they do not then wonder bitterly why the Hacketts, and not they, did Anne Frank.

Joan Didion, 1961

It is a short essay that packs a punch. Worth the read.

New Year’s Resolution: More Posts In 2023

I’m going to try to do more writing and contribute more posts here this year. I’ve been circling around this notion for the past several months, buoyed in part by all the turmoil at Twitter. My motivation was given an additional boost by this article on The Verge that reminisced for the Internet days of old when folks had their personal homepages on Tripod or Geocities, where you could control your own voice and, most importantly, your own content. Where people were sharing thoughts and quirky stories that were longer than 140 characters, and where these communities were actually communities and not the hell-scapes that many social media networks have since become.

The biggest reason personal blogs need to make a comeback is a simple one: we should all be in control of our own platforms. 

If what is happening on Twitter hasn’t demonstrated it, our relationship with these social media platforms is tenuous at best. The thing we are using to build our popularity today could very well be destroyed and disappear from the internet tomorrow, and then what? 

What happens to all the content you have created? Where will the archive of all your funny memes and jokes be? What is going to happen to all those selfies you felt cute in but didn’t delete later? 

The answer is we don’t know because we don’t control Twitter (or Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat or TikTok). If one of these companies decided to shut down their service permanently, there would be nothing we could do about it. 

Owning your content and controlling your platform is essential, and having a personal blog is a great way to do that. 

The Verge

The Verge article hit home for me because in the early 2000’s, I felt such a sense of engagement and discovery as the web was maturing, as “new” technologies and capabilities such as CSS, and RSS were enabling such neat things to develop online, and new communities like Flickr (remember them! Wow, did they miss the mobile boat!) were transforming how we interacted online.

For me and this site, it has actually been going since 2003 although it has never had a huge following, probably in part because I need to do a better job of being consistent in the frequency and volume of my posts. I aspire to compete with Jason Kottke, Andy Baio, John Gruber and others, to name a few. And I know I have a long way to go to get there. I’m going to try to find quirky stories, unique items, and do my best to share my ‘mildly opinionated’ thoughts on some of the things that are shaping our society these days. And we’ll see where it takes us.

What I have thoroughly enjoyed these past few years has been how a small community of fans and enthusiasts has developed as a result of all the Desktop Wallpapers that I have created and shared on this site over the years. I started that journey 6 or 7 years ago when I became frustrated with all the terrible looking wallpapers that were out there for the sports teams that I follow. In addition, I fell in love with all the wonderfully quirky and simple wallpapers on the site Simple Desktops and thought, I could take that aesthetic and apply it to my favorite sports teams. I then noticed that the teams in the English Premier League had really interesting uniforms/kits and thought it would be cool to mimic them but on computer wallpapers. And from there, it exploded. So if you are new to my site and community, check out some of the galleries of wallpapers that I have created and download whichever ones you find compelling.

And with that, I’m calling it a night and going to watch some TV and/or movies.

Organizing A Big Lego Set

This is a real issue, especially if you have kids who LOVE Legos. How do you reign in a massive Lego set? Yes, it’s a ‘first world’ issue. But it is an issue.

Adam Savage’s Tested channel on YouTube focuses on ‘one day builds’ for small to medium sized projects, but for the task of taking on his Lego collection, he may have bitten off too much than he could chew. He does end up with a really nice custom built unit to hold ArtBin Super Satchels of various shapes and sizes, but it apparently took him 10 days to really get his full Lego collection under control. The issue, which I have observed with my son’s substantial Lego collection, is that there are just so many variations of Lego pieces. And the variation has accelerated over the past 10 to 15 years as all these unique, custom kits have been developed. Back in the 80’s, when I was a kid playing with my Lego collection, the variation of pieces was not nearly as wide as it is today.

I really like the ArtBin Super Satchel storage containers that he used for some of the smaller and ‘wide variety’ pieces and I may look into buying some of these bins to use. And it also appears that ArtBin has storage ‘cubes’ for the Satchels, which alleviates the need to build a custom unit the way Adam did above. We have already gone down this path to a degree by using the small plastic Gils storage units from Ikea. The one drawback of these for Lego storage is that they are a little deeper than the Super Satchels and not as big.

This may be another ‘quarantine’ project worth taking on.

Trends Driven By COVID-19

Interesting visuals from the firm Glimse detailing several different search trend lines as a result of COVID-19 and the fact that 80% of the world is now on ‘stay at home’ instructions. From the above screen grab, it is interesting that while the interest in Skype has grown significantly, it is about a third less searched than Zoom. The old guard, standard bearer for video calls has lost some of its luster to the new hot girl.

And with everyone staying at home and social distancing, our personal hygiene and sex lives are pretty much going to shit.

And Justice For All?

It is clear that many ‘true crime’ stories seen in the media are presented with their own perspectives, agendas, and points of view.

As a viewer, you need to look at everything with a critical eye and make your own judgements on what may be true, what may be fiction, and what may be straight up BS. I get that.

Yet, over the past several months I have been listening to (In the Dark Season 1, In The Dark Season 2, Serial, Last Seen, Up and Vanished), and watching (Making A Murderer, The Innocent Man) several “true crime” stories across different media (and then following up with some “I obsessively want to learn more” online research efforts). I am genuinely interested in stories of this nature (and CIA/spy stories, but that’s a whole different animal). I really like the dissection of the evidence, the facts vs. the fiction and all the analysis that goes into developing a Prosecution and/or Defense case.

The level of incompetence and corruption that is present in these cases is beyond reproach. And while it is also clear that the cases being profiled in these varying series are of extreme circumstance, it does make you seriously question what is actually happening across the broader legal and judicial system, where similar cases have not had the luxury of being exposed on Netflix or in a podcast.

Across the stories that have to do with wrongful convictions (The Tardy Furniture Murders, Steven Avery, Ada, OK Murders in the 1980s), the major trend that is so glaringly obvious is the unchecked authority that the District Attorneys have, and how they use that power to wrongfully convict powerless, underprivileged, under-resourced people that can, in their mind, be ‘thrown out’ of society. These DA’s bring in personal prejudice, evidence manipulation, false evidence, or a combination of all these elements. This is best illustrated by the prosecutor in the Tardy Furniture Murders, District Attorney Doug Evans, who’s office has struck black prospective jurors at almost 4.5 times the rate they struck white prospective jurors.

I don’t really have an earth shattering thesis other than to say that we really need to bring more checks and balances against these prosecutors to ensure that they are held accountable for their actions. In fact, why don’t you just watch this video from the always excellent John Oliver:

Blizzard of 1978

Here is a nice piece on “celebrating” the 30th anniversary of the Blizzard of 1978. If you grew up or lived in the New England area around that time, you will no doubt remember that “mother of all storms”. To this day, I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like it. I vividly remember the streets and alleys of Boston having snow over my head. It was crazy. Good times, good times.


I too wish Ken Griffey Jr was about to hit #756…I was completely addicted to the National Spelling Bee broadcast on ABC Thursday evening, won by 13 year old Evan O’Dorney…Its June 1 tomorrow and the Red Sox have a 10.5 game lead in the AL East and the NY Yankees are tied for last place with the Devil Rays, 13.5 games behind. So why am I worried?… Google + DoubleClick = Scary…Buy the new album from The Shins “Wincing the Night Away”. Also check out Death Cab For Cutie….OK, I admit it. I like Justin Timberlake’s album FutureSex/LoveSounds…Christopher Walkin is one of the strangest people in Hollywood…If you use Firefox and Gmail, check out the Better Gmail add on….Be sure to watch this: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on the same stage…50 days until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 42 40 days until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie…Read John Battelle’s book The Search…Guy gets deadly string of TB, while his father-in-law is a doctor at the Center for Disease Control specializing in that specific string of TB. You can’t make this stuff up…I too always wanted to be a Lego artist…The Squeezing of the Middle Class: Wine is now more popular than beer in the United States…What exactly is the World Bank?…Is this LeBron’s coming out party?…and like that, he’s gone.


Hope you all caught that Rick Springfield medley at the start of the 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards….Kelly Monaco: Not Hot…Rosie O’Donnell co-hosting The View: that’ll last a month, and then Star Jones will Superfly her from the top rope…the movie The Wild is a blatant rip off of Madagascar, or is it the other way around? Only Hollywood knows…love Google Calendar…hate the phrase “Web 2.0”. Few of the ideas are new; they are just re-hashed ideas of sites that were before their time…Johnny Damon returns to Fenway on Monday (ESPN, 7PM EST)…does anyone really care about the NBA?…a final “Woah Nellie!” and a “We’ve got a dandy!” to Keith Jackson, who announced his retirement from calling college football games. He gave college football fans that “special feeling” on those crisp fall Saturdays calling games from “The Big House” in Ann Arbor. We’ll miss ya on Saturdays this Fall!…IE 7, where have you been?…random famous person sighting: Harvey Keitel in TriBeCa, NYC…Lay & Skilling: dead guilty. If you can, read all the Enron trial articles from the NYTimes on the trial. Great reading…speaking of which, I love the recent redesign of the NYTimes website…ExxonMobil earnings in Q1: $8 Billion with a “B”…Chevron earnings in Q1: $4 Billion with a “B”…gas prices: over $3.00/gallon…no, Dubya has nothing to do with this…

Happy New Year, Doctor

I went to the Doctor on New Years Day, but it wasn’t to cure a hangover. While everyone was out reveling and celebrating the turn of the new year, yours truly spent the week between Christmas and New Years battling pnemonia. Hardly a fun way to bring in the new year, and in fact, I find great irony in the fact that I was sick as a dog to close out 2003, being that it had been one of the rougher years in my life. So what did I do while being bed ridden for a full week? I am glad you asked…Lots of TV and some other things:

I am happy to report that I have rejoined the human race. While I am not functioning at 100%, I am feeling much much better. Here’s to a wonderful 2004!