Posts in the category “asides”

Quick blurbs

My mom loved “Do not go gentle into that good night”, and I have thought about that poem quite a bit since she died. Last week I stood in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey and explained who Dylan Thomas was to my son. When Taylor Swift released ttpd a few days later, I heard the title track and almost couldn’t believe the serendipity.

As a quick follow-up to my note about the lugubrious and lamentable demise of Twitter, I want to point out that I am loving Threads. Yes, I am well aware that it is a Meta product. But so far it has been a fantastic social media replacement for me. It is sorely lacking in sports coverage and the algorithm doesn’t seem to handle breaking news very well, but I’ll counter that it appears to immediately alert me any time anyone anywhere mentions Soapdish. So I call that a win.

hamburger menu iconIn web design circles the little stacked three line graphic that you often see on websites to denote a clickable menu is usually called a hamburger (or just burger) icon. We call it that because it sort of looks like how a computer would display a minimalist hamburger. I adore that in the bottom navigation area of, he has one that — instead of opening a menu, as you’d expect — takes you to an archive listing of all the posts he’s ever made referencing… hamburgers.

In episode 28 of the Hardcore History Addendum podcast, Dan Carlin discusses how one of the important lessons to be learned from the study of human history is to avoid political extremism like the plague. It seems, though, that — as a species — we are doomed to never learn this lesson, especially since we have extremely recent evidence which shows humans do not even have the capacity to avoid an actual plague like the plague.

I have never read The Catcher in the Rye — even though my mother and many, many teachers, professors, relatives, and friends have harangued me over it for about forty years — and I resolve to finish it in 2024.

I miss being able to drag and drop to organize my iOS screen layout(s) on my laptop. I also wish Sonoma (14.2.1) would do a better job recognizing when my iPhone (17.2.1) is on the same WiFi network as my machine. I have lost count of the number of times a synchronization has failed because my iPhone “can’t be found” even when it’s sitting six inches from my MacBook Air and they are both definitely on the same network. And it’s enough to make me scream when this happens even when it’s literally connected to my laptop with a USB-C cable.

I thought Brie Larson was phenomenal in the AppleTV+ limited series Lessons in Chemistry. The 1950s period drama is based on Bonnie Garmus' 2022 novel and includes not only a brilliant pair of scientists in love, sexism, homophobia, racism, cooking, a legal battle over eminent domain, Beau Bridges, and dastardly Christians, but several scenes about rowing and a homemade erg. And don’t even get me started on the dog’s point of view episode. <chef’s kiss>

The movie Napoleon Dynamite was released twenty years ago, which is a very odd thing to type about a movie that feels like it came out four or five years ago.

nikhedonia, noun: The pleasure and satisfaction derived from the anticipation of success. A harmless indulgence, and a prudent one, too, since success comes only to some but nikhedonia is freely available to all.

“Off to golf so early, darling? Hadn’t you better have your little nikhedonia session first? You know how badly you play when your gummata are troubling you.”

from The Superior Person’s Book of Words, by Peter Bowler

What Is This? is the personal weblog of me, David Vincent Gagne. I've been publishing here since 1999, which makes this one of the oldest continuously-updated websites on the Internet.

A few years ago I was trying to determine what cocktails I could make with the alcohol I had at home. I searched the App Store but couldn't find an app that would let me do that, so I built one.


You can read dozens of essays and articles and find hundreds of links to other sites with stories and information about Ernest Hemingway in The Hemingway Collection.