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Leave it to the editorial geniuses at Obvious headquarters to publish a
completely off-topic piece on Election Day, but that's the way we run things
around here:  all off-topic, all the time.

But if you're dying for some distraction, head to, where
we're running a profile of Jamie Zawinski, and his latest hack:  San
Francisco's DNA Lounge.  In "Hacking the City," writer Greg Knauss explores
what happens when a hacker with a checkbook decides to remake his corner of
the world.

It's the first multi-page essay we've run at theobvious, which confused the
retro-push production team.  So instead of clogging your inbox with 2700
words, here are links to the full story.

 Hacking the City -- multi-page version

 Hacking the City -- printable version

But don't feel like you're going away empty-handed.  We're giving our valued
retro-push subscribers something special -- "The Pocket JWZ."  It's only
being published on retro-push, and won't appear online, so consider
yourselves, er, lucky.

-- Management (aka "The Royal We")

- - -


** On early coding:

I wrote a lot of little programs that didn't do much of anything, but were
mostly "let's see what this does"  exercises: like, "Can I write a program
that relocates itself until it fills memory with identical copies of
itself?"  "Can I write a program that is a palindrome?" "Can I make music by
quickly gronking the floppy motor?"  I think I actually burned out the
floppy controller doing that -- either that or it was one hell of a

** On moving from Lisp Machines to C on UNIX:

Did you ever watch "Land of the Lost"?  If you don't remember, Land of the
Lost was populated with these  primitive lizard-men called the Sleestak, who
worshiped a Yog-Sothoth-like pit god, were afraid of bright lights, and were
barely able to operate tiny crossbows.  But there was one Sleestak called
Enoch who was a visitor from millions of years in the past, who still had
the power of speech and who was really bitchy and bitter about how his
species had devolved, and who just wanted to go home.

I felt like Enoch a lot.

** On watching the Web get popular:

The thing that got me was seeing the bleed-over into the "real" world. The
first time I saw a URL at the end of movie credits.  The first time I saw a
URL on a truck.  The first time I saw a URL on a paper grocery bag.  (That
was a weird one, seeing a URL on something *disposable*.)

** On the last days at Netscape:

The last part of 1997 and all of 1998 totally sucked.  I was only there for
the money, and I hated every second of it.  I came face to face with the
fact that, yes, I was a whore, they had found my price.

** On loyalty:

I can't tell you how much I despise the attitude that because it's
"business," you are somehow exempted from behaving morally.  So many people
think that they owe it to their company to do what's best for the company
even when it means being rude or unkind to another person.  They sublimate
their own common sense into following the will of a non-human mechanism.
It's sickening.  I think they said it best in The Godfather: "All  business
is personal."

** On changes in San Francisco:

One sees more VPs on the street than drag queens or gutterpunks.   That's
just wrong.

I think the best thing that could happen to San Francisco at this point
would be a fairly large earthquake.  I used to think that what we needed was
to get the recession back (and the drought) but that's too far-reaching: now
I think that a healthy earthquake would be a surgical strike against
property values, and would scare away the timid.  For a few years, at least.
We'd get people back who <i>wanted</i> to live in a city that was
unpredictable and not entirely safe.  And those people would actually be
able to afford to live here.


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