Aki got this movie at Kinokuniya. It is totally, comprehensively whack. The story is sort of a Wachowski brothers remake of Our Gang in a world built out of Jim Woodring fever dreams. Except not. Maybe more like a mash up of Akira, Star Wars, The Usual Suspects, and The Miracle Worker. Except, you know, weirder.

Go ahead and watch it. I'm pretty sure you can handle it.

BTW, Sven loved it.


Checklist Manifesto

What if surgeons operated on people like pilots fly airplanes? Atul Gawande's new book answers that question: fewer people would die on the operating table. Atul's new book is about how checklists can make surgery more disciplined without making it less creative or heroic. Atul tells literally gripping stories, among the most visceral writing I've seen on the very visceral subject of surgery.

But this book is about so much more than just making surgery better: it's about how complex processes fail, and the way we can make human processes that are still human, but produce the low rates of deadly mistakes we insist on. Atul is humble enough not to draw broad lessons that his data don't support, but he is bold enough to note that the question should be asked: in all kinds of complex processes, particularly during emergencies, how can we give people the tools they need to take effective action?

Atul Gawande is a great writer, a dedicated surgeon, and a creative health researcher. They are going to name buildings for him and new surgeons will be reading his books for decades. Read this book to learn about the incredibly vital worldwide revolution in surgical care that is going on right now.


Once again, bad driving in front of my son's school

This morning, walking home with Nick after dropping Sven off at school, a Ford Expedition rolls past the stop line for the crosswalk, starts to head for the parking lane, finally sees us, then decelerates without exactly stopping. At this point I am maybe 8 feet from the driver. who finally stops. I point at the red light and shrug. She starts to drive forward again, still in a red light. When I don't move, she stops again.

"What?" she says.
"Red Light!"
"Why do you care?"

Why do I care? Um, I dislike being run over? Not enough? How about this: it's fifteen minutes until first bell. Dozens of kids are going to cross this intersection in the next fifteen minutes, all of them harder to see than the two adult men you almost didn't see. If one of them was the kid I see strapped in behind you, would you be more cautious? Would you consider the chance that he would end up under your bumper less important than being able to get to the red light at the end of the block a few seconds earlier? I care because you're old enough to have your own child, but you don't seem to have any concept of the responsibility that comes with operating a device with constant lethal potential if not operated carefully. I care because it bothers me that you are willing to put the children of my neighborhood at risk to test your theory that the rules are for everyone else but you.

Floyd Landis comes clean -ish

Floyd Landis admits he doped. The admission is news. It's not really news that he doped. I think pretty much everybody knew that already.

Do I believe much of anything Floyd Landis says? Not really. It wasn't believable when he had a new story every five minutes for why his test results were positive even though he supposedly wasn't doping. When he stepped up to the microphone, darted his eyes around and said "I'll say, 'no.' " to the question of whether he doped, he looked entirely like a man who made a conscious decision to lie to the entire world. When he drunk-dialed another cycling athlete to harass him for urging Landis to admit the obvious, he went from reprehensible to pathetic.

So Landis' claim that he knows Lance Armstrong doped has as much credibility as most of what has come out of Landis' mouth the last four years: almost none. The evidence is that Armstrong didn't dope. New evidence could change that conclusion. But Landis' claims are not credible evidence about Armstrong's doping. All they are is credible evidence that Landis is still more interested in running and hiding than he is in facing up to the fact that his whole adult life is a lie.


I hated Flash before it was cool to hate Flash

Several years ago, I wrote:
"Don't use Flash. Especially, not for the home page. Waiting for a flash site to load is like standing in line to watch TV. Even after loading, Flash sites are slower. If you are going to have an HTML option, you will have to develop two web sites. If you require Flash, you will lose visitors. In any case, you will lose visitors who won't wait around for slow Flash to load. What do you hope to gain with Flash?"
I wrote this long before Steve Jobs started tearing into Flash, so I'm hardly shilling for Apple. (And approximately zero people look to me as a tech pundit anyway.) So is Steve following my lead? Not exactly.

I generally agree with Jobs' criticisms of Flash: it's a pig, it crashes a lot, it doesn't play nice with the native OS or user experience. But my main problem isn't even with Flash per se. That's why, a year or two ago, I changed "Don't use Flash" above to "Don't use gratuitous Flash." Sure, Flash is a pig, but it also encourages piggy web sites. Even if you don't use Flash, you can still make your web site suck if you try hard enough. The point is to provide the user with an excellent and supple user experience with as little delay as possible. Any site that feels compelled to put up a link that says "skip intro" is based on the fantasy that there are people out there who are giddy with excitement at the prospect of sitting through a bunch of pretty mood-setting pictures before they get to the reason they visited the site in the first place.

So go ahead and dump Flash. I'll cheer. But for all the people who will use HTML 5 to make sites that need "skip intro" links, sorry about all the traffic you didn't get.


Stones Into Schools

Greg Mortenson's sequal to Three Cups of Tea continues the story, mostly about building schools in rural Afghanistan.

If you don't know who Greg Mortenson is, you must have been hiding under a stone. Greg Mortenson and the schools his organization builds in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan have been reported everywhere, and Three Cups of Tea is a smash best seller. This book covers some of the same ground, so I approached it with limited expectations. The remarkable thing is that it is a great story that stands on its own. Greg makes you believe that a peaceful world might be remotely possible.