The Olympics weren't a catastrophe, but the Paralympics are setting themselves up to be.

Aamna Mohdin, Quartz:

International Paralympic Committee chief executive officer Xavier Gonzalez praised London for delivering the “best-ever Paralympics Games” and challenged Rio to build on the success of the 2012 Games. But with the Rio Olympics now over, paralympic athletes will soon arrive to a city woefully unprepared. Only 12% of available tickets for next month’s Paralympics in Rio have been sold—that is a total of 300,000. The Paralympics start on Sept. 7.
As a result, the Paralympic Games are facing major budget cuts, which will affect the venues, workforce, and transport. Organizers were two weeks late in paying €8 million ($9 million) in travel grants, which was meant to support competing athletes and officials.

 

The future is now.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be.
— Dale Wasserman's Man of La Mancha

In light of today, I feel compelled to share this speech by Robert F. Kennedy, as he addressed a largely black audience in Indianapolis and shared news of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. - news that most in the audience were not aware of at the time. He had no prepared remarks - only brief notes, scribbled on the way to the event - and the scraps he did hold in his hands, he never read from.

He spoke from the bed of a pickup truck, in a poor and predominantly African-American neighborhood, against the advice of the city's police chief, who implored him not to go. He was supposed to be there for a campaign stop. But he knew that wasn't his purpose that day.

That night, rioting ensued in cities across the United States. Except in Indianapolis, where RFK spoke.

Kennedy himself would be assassinated two months later.

This is the history that was invoked today. We should not take it lightly. We should not forget it.

The Tail End

Tim Urban, Wait But Why:

What I’ve been thinking about is a really important part of life that isn’t spread out evenly through time—something whose [already done / still to come] ratio doesn’t at all align with how far I am through life:
Relationships.
I’ve been thinking about my parents, who are in their mid-60s. During my first 18 years, I spent some time with my parents during at least 90% of my days. But since heading off to college and then later moving out of Boston, I’ve probably seen them an average of only five times a year each, for an average of maybe two days each time. 10 days a year. About 3% of the days I spent with them each year of my childhood...
When you look at that reality, you realize that despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life. If I lay out the total days I’ll ever spend with each of my parents—assuming I’m as lucky as can be—this becomes starkly clear:
It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.

The past few months have been a challenging period for me, as I've re-prioritized certain things, and worked feverishly on others. One of those objectives has been that of trying very hard to spend more time with family, however possible - through visits, phone calls, and the like. This post captures the urgency and importance of that effort with remarkable clarity.

You know, it's such a damaging thing, that intuition and habit of taking for granted what we have. I love my family very much, but it took their illness for me to understand how precious my time with them really is. Across all of my relationships with people, there will be a moment after which I won't be able to call them, or be with them, or tell them how much I care about them. Will I have expressed everything I've wanted to, by then? Will I have given them everything I could have? Will I have made the biggest positive imprint on them and their lives?

What about you, and the people you care about?

Maybe you can never be prepared for saying goodbye. Time-boxing isn't exactly something we do with our relationships. Perhaps we should live as if we're always saying goodbye, though, just in case.

...Recent meditations have revealed to me how, in so many dimensions, I've allowed myself to live and operate under the assumption that I am an inherently good person, and that I do the best thing for myself and others as a matter of course, unencumbered by shallowness, or thoughtlessness, or impulse. But as a consequence of this mental model, I ensured that I wouldn't ever be my best self - and that the people I care about more than anything would suffer as a result. Even in seemingly subtle ways, like not spending as much time with them as I should. Sometimes in more brazen ways, though, like acting without empathy or affection.

We never stumble into our own potential. But we stumble past it constantly, when we're apathetic, or uncareful, or reckless, or worse. Needless to say, I'm not going to let myself do that anymore - or, at the very least, I'll do my best to avoid stumbling, through continuous and deliberate good.

My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.
— Steve Jobs

A quick update on SFF Network

A few folks (and a few companies) have been inquiring as to what overall traffic has looked like on SFF Network lately, so I figured I could share a brief snapshot of our progress so far in building an active community and captive audience.

Perhaps the most interesting way to do this is to chart out the total number of unique 'sessions' on a monthly basis, across our three main websites: SFF Forum, SFF Network, and SFF Wiki:

Google Analytics: Monthly Sessions

Of note, SFF Wiki's traffic has remained stubbornly low, as we haven't had nearly the about of content generation we were hoping for following the launch of the resource. Discussions in and out of SFF Forum have indicated that a more robust organizational strategy, coupled with more frictionless editing tools, will likely be needed in order to give the Wiki the same sustained growth trajectory we've captured with the news and forum sites. We're deliberating on those ideas presently.

Looking to the other sites, both SFF Network and SFF Forum have been able to maintain their growth trajectory over the most recent months, with Computex in June causing the abnormally high peak in traffic for that period (which was the first month in history that saw more search-driven traffic than direct traffic). Although we're unsure of what the natural cap might be in terms of audience size, for the moment we aren't too worried about stalled growth, given that referral sources and the new/returning user breakdown for both sites has remained constant since the beginning of the year. It will be interesting to see if the rate of growth itself will change, however, since the trailing average has been remarkably steady for around eight months now, even as the variability on a month-to-month basis remains high.

A few other telling statistics:

  • Although SFF Network and SFF Forum are US-centric, well over a third of SFF Network's traffic comes from outside the US, and SFF Forum's traffic has approached a 50/50 split. After the US, we find that the countries with the most traffic tend to be the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands.
  • The average page views per session, session length, and number of unique users on SFF Network continues to be dwarfed by that of SFF Forum - an expected dynamic, given that forums are interactive, but interesting nevertheless.
  • Traffic from search results has been growing not only in absolute terms, but in relative terms as well. This is especially true for the forum - the number of referrals from Google alone exceed the total number of page views for SFF Network! As the forum's corpus of content continues to grow, that should put us in a great position to capture new users who self-select themselves as a result of seeking out content that we host.

Overall, we're pleased with the growth we've seen, as well as the stability of our websites both from a technical perspective (downtime/maintenance-related) and a cultural preservation one (keeping the tight-knit community feeling, even as the population doubles every six months). As we approach SFF Network's first birthday, we'll have some special announcements to share with respect to some content changes that we think will leverage some opportunities for cross-pollination between the news and community resources. Furthermore, as we look to the longer term, projects like Dispatch will also give us the codebase, technology stack, and administrative tools necessary to scale with our audience, and build up additional sites and communities beneath the Minutiae banner.

Trackball

On his personal site, GuilleAcoustic has an awesome build log for a pet project he did, modifying a 1990's era CH Products Trackball Pro to work with modern computers over USB.

(I wish I had the wherewithal to be able to do something like this...)

I begged my son, I begged him, do not come back a hero, come back to me a son. He came back a hero.
— Ghazala Khan

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A dot for every one of us

The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Policy has a fascinating interactive map that places a colored dot for each individual's home address in the US, with the various colors representing the race of the individual. The data is courtesy of the 2010 US Census.

Above is a screenshot of Boston. It's interesting (if not discomforting) to consider what segregation I've recognized anecdotally without this map, and what I would have never noticed without this data illustrating it in such stark terms.

It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.
— Julius Caesar