Archive for the ‘About me’ Category

Character Reference, 23 September 2010

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

This is an anonymous note left by our door today.


Character References, 16 March 2010

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Three unsolicited character-reference letters circulated on 16 March 2010, all discussing my contributions to Berkeley Town House in general and my efforts to stimulate the discussion of ideas for improvements in that community.

The letters are:

Letter B

Letter F

Letter P

Character reference

Character reference: Letter G

Unredacted versions are available on request.

Character Reference, 16 February 2010

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Text of a speech, delivered at a meeting of the Board of Directors, commenting on some ideas that I had assembled, for discussion among acquaintances, about possible improvements at Berkeley Town House. Unredacted version available on request.

Character Reference, 2 April 2010

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

A long unsolicited reference letter focusing on my contributions to Berkeley Town House. Unredacted version available on request.

My Origins in 1 Paragraph—and a Gripe

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

For those who like to know such things, I am a child of a political scientist and a physiologist who were children of a rabbi, a stockbroker, a Zionist activist, and a housewife. My parents’ heroes included Leon Trotski, Sigmund Freud, Robert Hutchins (they named me after him), Mortimer Adler, and Mort Sahl.

What gets me about this hero thing is the absurd security questions that Web sites force users to choose among, like “Who is your favorite composer?” Questions like that are as definitive, for me at least, as “What is your favorite length of shoelace?” or “What material was your first bathroom countertop made of?” I’ve spent eons wading through these lists trying to find 1, 2, or (if they insist) 3 questions whose answers I won’t forget. If they only asked “What exiled Communist leader did your parents venerate in college?”, I’d have no trouble remembering the answer. What’s with these Web site designers anyway? If they don’t understand their users’ memory attributes any better than that, they should be in a different profession.

Years ago I started, on sites I designed, letting users specify any question they wanted. That method had its defects, too. The main one I noticed was the inanely easy-to-guess questions some users formulated. But at least I wasn’t so arrogant as to claim to know what questions would be both easy for the user and impossible for anybody else.

Suggestions about the optimal security-question regime would be welcome.

Middle Names

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Once upon a time if I did a Web search for the phrase “Jonathan Pool” I retrieved no pages about or by anybody else. The count of people with that name on the Web has increased a bit, so in the interest of ambiguity prevention I am adding to my name label the middle name I previously omitted except when asked. Allegedly this uniqueness technique will become unnecessary when URIs assume the job.

Naming This Site

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

OK, why is this site named “” (and my blog named “Stulta”)?

This question isn’t worth running a contest on, so I’ll quickly summarize my reasons, to relieve your suspense.

1. I wanted a name that expressed something basic about my worldview, and “stulta” does that.

2. Once I chose the concept, I needed to choose a language to express it in. English was out, since “stupid.justabouteverything” is already registered to people who got there faster than I. Same for the German “dumm”. Not quite so bad for the French “stupide”, but only obscure TLDs are left there. Of course, I could use PanLex to root out expressions in more esoteric languages. Some, like the Basque “tonto”, are all sold out, too. But in Icelandic they say “heimskur”, and, despite the Icelandic financial meltdown, nobody has registered “heimskur.anythingatall”. Anyway, I chose the word in Esperanto, intstead, “stulta”. Esperanto speakers are apparently as oblivious to stupidity as the Icelanders, since until I came along nobody had registered any domain starting with “stulta.”. Or perhaps it’s the opposite: They are all (except for me) smart enough to know that it’s an idiotic idea to name your own Web site “stulta”.

3. It’s part of a secret plot to teach the world Esperanto. See? It’s working. Now you know how to say “stupid” in Esperanto. You may think that’s not enough to let you start using the language, and I’ll grant you that. But it may be more than you think. After all, “stulta” is a gateway drug to “stultega = utterly idiotic”, “stulto = stupidity”, “stulte = stupidly”, “stulti = do something dumb”, “stultulo = nitwit”, “stultaĵo = booboo”, and even “malstulta = intelligent”. And so much more. So maybe it’s not a stultaĵo to name your Web site “stulta”.

Reminds me of a claim I read ages ago that only racecar drivers who have no fear paint their vehicles yellow. The analogy here, I think, isn’t that I have no stupidity, but rather that I have no fear of stupidity. After all, it’s the key to the stupidity defense, which (Susie will attest) I invoke several times a day.