Category Archives: Uncategorized


I’m scheduled to undergo a robot-assisted radical prostatectomy on Aug. 29, 2018. Scary shit, especially given the cloud of uncertainty that surrounds such operations—and not just the operation itself, but also the underlying rationale for even getting tested in the first place.1

Robot-assisted prostate cancer surgery

Nevertheless, I’m hoping for the best, and finding comfort in the brilliant lyrics of Donald Fagan, whose “song oozes with cynicism for futures that never came to pass,”2 and so seems completely appropriate in this context: “A just machine to make big decisions/Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision/We’ll be clean when their work is done/We’ll be eternally free, yes, and eternally young…”3

1 Richard Ablin, “The Great Prostate Mistake, ” NY Times, March 9, 2010.

2 Sief, “What a beautiful world this will be,” Futures Words, May 15, 2012.

3 Donald Fagan, “I.G.Y.,” The Nightfly, released October 1, 1982.

Department of Irrationality, Jargon, and Bullshit

Actually, the original, unretouched photo that I took today is already a parody, but I did add the “Department of Irrationality, Jargon, and Bullshit” in anticipation of what ought to be coming next. And I’m not just being mean: the concept of “bullshit,” at least since 2005, has been given some academic credibility.

Proposed addition to the new sign for Anabel Taylor Hall at Cornell University University

Flip books

I started making flip books when I was 14 years old, in 1966. A second round of flip-book making took place 18 years later, although I don’t remember what motivated me to do this again at age 32. In any case, I found the old stapled-together books in a box in the attic and made this YouTube video. What you see below is actually a better way to view them (a gif animation), but takes more work:

Welcome to Impatient Search

I first starting posting here seven and a half years ago, but it’s just in the past few weeks that I realized that a blog needs a name. So I’ve finally given this blog a real name: Impatient Search.

The name “impatient search” derives from “patient search” this latter phrase is either a website for locating your infirm friends and relatives currently in hospitals, or (and this is what I was thinking) the required attitude or method to adopt if one wants to create something new.

Of course, this is a quality that the architect Le Corbusier famously attributed to himself, as I mention on my impatientsearch website (Creation is a Patient Search is the name of one of his books). In fact, I had the URL and gave it to my young son, who let it lapse. It was scooped up by some corporate entity and is now for sale. I moved on, having decided that impatient search actually suits me better.

Draw your own conclusions.

Bad news for Miami

Miami got two pieces of bad news on July 11, 2014: on the one hand, Lebron James opted to leave the Miami Heat and return to Cleveland; on the other hand, Miami will soon be under water due to rising sea levels caused by global warming.

Only one of these two stories was deemed worthy of coverage by the NY Times.

The Guardian published a story about rising sea levels and their impact on Miami (left); the NY Times worried more about the impact of losing LeBron James to Cleveland.


When living in Hong Kong in 1997-1998, I discovered that Chinese fortune cookies do not exist in China, but rather are an American innovation. In my early days eating American Chinese food, I got used to the idea that the fortune cookies supplied with the check at the end of the meal actually did contain a fortune — that is, a prediction of what would happen to you sometime in the future.


These fortunes always had a positive, or optimistic, character, since it would clearly be counter-productive for a restaurant to deliberately give its customers bad news.

At some point, however, the fortunes in fortune cookies seemed to change their character; in fact, they were no longer fortunes at all, but merely trite pronouncements about life.


Not having an actual fortune in a fortune cookie was discouraging to me, since there are already enough trite pronouncements about life available through mass media and news programming; it seemed hardly necessary to work my way through the plastic packaging of the cookie, and crack open the hard shell of cookie material, in order to get yet another annoying message about love, life, and work.

Yet I continued to pry open these strange clams of brittle dough, perhaps hoping that an actual fortune would emerge — something I could ridicule freely and with pleasure. Imagine my surprise, then, when I recently opened a fortune cookie at Ling Ling Garden restaurant in Ithaca, NY, and received neither an optimistic message about my future nor a facile observation about life, but a shocking rebuke and warning: “Your problem just got bigger. Think, what have you done.”

from Ling Ling Garden, Ithaca, NY

I was literally stunned. Was there a rogue employee somewhere in the fortune cookie production line planting dystopic messages in these cookies? And if so, why? And was this message/warning unique, or were there others like it? My mind raced feverishly thinking of the possibilities: “The man behind you has a gun. Your life is in danger.” “Hundreds of large rats have entered your home. Extermination is impossible.” “Your computer just crashed, and none of your important work was backed up. You will lose your job.”

In the end, we paid the bill and left the restaurant. I haven’t dared return.