The Stranger's Voice

The world through a lense of difference, past and present.

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Gustavus Adolphus, late king of Sweden, plans a trip to Palestine, and requests international compatriots. Originally from The North American Review and Miscellaneous Journal, Friday, February 3, 1815
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
A Chinese View of the Statue of Liberty
By Saum Song Bo
“And this statue of Liberty is a gift to a people from another people who do not love or value liberty for the Chinese.” Originally from The American Missionary, January 1885
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
The Chinese Room Thought Experiment
Thursday, August 14, 2003
How They Telegraph Chinese
Thursday, August 14, 2003
The Moral Character of the Monkey
By Rev. W. Jones, of Nayland
Monkeys are ungrateful creatures, but can be caught with pitch-lined gloves. They like to ride pigs. A monkey will unfold all your papers and scatter them about the room. Originally from Littell's Living Age (Reprinted from Sharpe's Magazine), Saturday, May 9, 1846
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
New Discoveries in Acoustics.

A description of the Pyrophone, an early sound synthesizer utilizing tubes and fire. Originally from Manufacturer and Builder Magazine, 1876
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Give the Country the Facts

The country is tired of the Philippine War. It would like to close the account. Originally from The Atlantic Monthly (Volume LXXXVII, page 424-426), March 1901
Friday, August 22, 2003
John Jones' Monument
By Rev. C. M. Livingston
With $50,000 over the course of his life, what did John Jones accomplish? Originally from Wit and Humor of the Age: comprising wit, humor, pathos, ridicule, satires, dialects, puns, conundrums, riddles, charades, jokes, and magic. (Editor: L. W. Yaggy), 1883
Monday, August 25, 2003
A Visit to the Asylum for Aged and Decayed Punsters

One of the most agonizing pieces of prose ever written, and a warning to all who would use puns. Originally from The Living Age (Volume 9, Issue 106), Saturday, May 23, 1846
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
I Have a Dream
By Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the intervening years, this speech has been reinterpreted and co-opted by: those who would make King into a good negro, forgetting his uncomfortable, “Why We Can't Wait” radicalism; those who would make King into an Uncle Tom, claiming that he didn't go far enough, that his non-violence can be equated with weakness; those who would throw the first stone, and use his philandering as a convenient reason to dismiss his nights and days of work, his jail time, his constant labor; and those who take pleasure in the rhetorical grace of the speech, but ignore its native substance, and sample the speech for pop songs, layer it into montages, or use it in television commercials. None of this co-opting changes the fact that the speech is one of the few excellent pieces of exhortatory, visionary rhetoric ever written, and certainly the last great city-on-the-hill vision of America that we've received—written by a man who lived under segregation in the old, bad south. 40 years to the day later, the vision is far from realized. But at least it's a lighthouse towards which to steer. Originally from Wednesday, August 28, 1963
Thursday, August 28, 2003


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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