log (2000/07/07 to 2000/07/13)

older log
newer log


site news

Arid staple:
Thursday, July 13, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

"Yeah, it was, you know, just not right for us. We didn't really realize, when you were talking about it, that you were, you know, from like your generation."

"I don't believe it; that's blatant ageism! I thought you guys were all about judging people by the ideas they have, not the bodies they live in."

"Yeah, well, we are; it's not a body thing, it's a mindset thing."

"You just threw my idea away altogether?"

"No, no! We gave it to Jenna to play with, but she didn't really connect with it."

"Didn't connect with it? You gave it to one wet-behind-the-ears kid to play with, and when that didn't work you just dropped it?"


"How much sense does that make? That idea was based on years more knowledge and experience in this field than any of you on the list have. I worked with the Fenris Cult on their summer thing, and they took what I gave them and ran with it."

"Well, yeah, and where are they now?"

"But, but that wasn't because of my advice! They had organizational problems."

"Yeah, well..."

New Notes and Recommendations from Phil Agre. Sharp and thought-provoking as usual, including this time a delicious bit of personal history, as well as pointers to Agre's thesis (an enormous PS file that I haven't downloaded yet), and this fascinating "close reading" of a single paragraph from a seminal psychology / AI work. Agre takes very seriously this general activity of "close reading" of various small bits of text. It's a neat thing when he does it; I wonder if anyone else could actually do it well. He claims he got it from Derrida; if anyone can cite me a good comprehensible essay of Derrida's where he does this, I'd be grateful. I feel I should understand Derrida better than I do.

Reading: Finished The Eye of the Heron; it was good, if not startling (I love Le Guin's prose in general). Started (from the two dozen books I bought at the tag sale on Sunday) Margot Arnold's The Menehune Murders. So far it's really tedious; looking at random books in this series on Amazon, it looks like most of them have no reviews. Are there any Margot Arnold fans out there who can write me and tell me that some of her other books are better, or should I just not bother? (I think there are one or two others by her in the stack; they may be bound for the library's sale shelf without even being read, poor things.)

I love Hawai'i; maybe someday I'll tell long boring Hawai'i stories. My Gramma Jeanne lived for quite a few years on the Big Island, and we visited her (just once?). The smell of the place, the amazing landscape, of course the sea, and (probably what I most vividly recall) the odd alien landscape of Volcano, all engraved in the myth-keeping parts of my brain. Somewhere near Yellowstone, which I visited by myself in my youth (I've mentioned that somewhere, I think).

"Now we're going to the Mud Volcano, here we go to the Mud Volcano, we're gonna go to the Mud Volcano, yes we're going to the Mud Volcano."

In computer-game news, I finally caught my Tauros, and haven't done anything to speak of lately with my Sims. The little daughter has started Gymnastics Team, and until we figure out just how to fit that into our lives, I have the feeling that free time will be even scarcer than usual.

Despoilers of couches: divandals!!!

(I think if they're going to call it "gymnastics", they really ought to do it naked, eh? Of course, then we wouldn't let the little daughter do it. Except that if everyone did it naked, that would imply a very different set of body-taboos, so maybe we would. But given the possibilities for injury, naked gymnastics would probably be rather different from modern slinky-leotard gymnastics anyway. And if fish lived in trees, what flavor would vanilla ice-cream be?)

Coming soon: reader letters, and actually starting a new Nomic game.

Wednesday, July 12, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Hurrah, I made the deadline! But boooooo with everything else that's still on tap today I don't have time to be clever or whitty or mystical.

Urgent, urgent!

Things worth a look:

  • Hotsy Totsy on Delany's porn (maybe I'll dig up "Equinox" and try to read it again).
  • Ever Onward, the IBM School Song. No, we hardly ever stand around and sing it, even on Real Important Occasions!
  • Random comics (this feller has various amusing random things, vaguely similar in spirit to some of my own toys).

Must fly! Chirp, chirp!

Tuesday, July 11, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

hit's the syme the 'ole world over,
hit's the poor wot gits the blyme!
whyle the rich gits all the gryvie,
now hain't that a bloomin' shyme?

A deadline looms sharp over my head, and the firewall is acting up, so I will post just a list of words beginning with "pr", and a picture of a snail.

Tiki the Penguin

Prose, probe, probable, praxis, prune, praise, prays, proper, pram, practice, preparation, prawn, prayer, present, prince, prim, prig, prissy, prelate, prong, press, pride, price, pretty, prone, prattle, prime, probability, pronounce, pronouns, prance, preternatural, proton, profitable, priesthood, privilege.

Thank you very much. Please exit the building in an orderly fashion. Do not use near open flame.

Monday, July 10, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

My Father Christmas passed away
When I was barely seven.
At twenty-one, alack-a-day,
I lost my hope of heaven.

Yet not in either lies the curse:
The hell of it's because
I don't know which loss hurt the worse --
My God or Santa Claus.

-- Robert W. Service

The little daughter's fourth grade teacher got married last Saturday, and she invited the whole class (man, teachers have really improved since I was a kid!). It was a Catholic ceremony, and with the exception of when they played "Here Comes the Bride" and all, we had no clue what was going on. She kept looking up at me with this cute quizzical look when the congregation suddenly said something, or bells rang, or something else arcane happened. I haven't been to a Roman Catholic church in years, and I have to admit (no offense, I hope, to any readers of that faith) that I kept expecting the priest to like pull a rabbit out of the goblet or something. I suppose it's the stage magicians who've borrowed mannerisms and atmosphere from the priests, rather than vice-versa.   *8)

When the priest said that all Catholics who were prepared to should come and receive Communion, she whispered "not us?", and I whispered "not us", and we said "whew!". Then she said "What are we?". "We'll talk about it after," I said, "it's a long story."


So afterwards getting into the car to go home I told her my history, how I was brought up in a Unitarian Universalist church, but hadn't been to one in years, and how many people belong to some particular group that all believes the same thing, so they get a label, but some people believe things on their own, and don't necessarily have labels. But kids like labels, they like to know where they stand, they like to be able to answer when someone says in the playground "so what are you?". So we talked about what we thought about God, and about a conversation we had a few years back where we decided that God is in everything, that God is everything, and we decided that we're Unitarians and/or pantheists.

"You know," I said, "there's a Unitarian church somewhere to the right up here; I'll bet we could find it, and Mommy doesn't expect us home for awhile yet." She liked that idea, so we drove around a bit and after a few false leads we found the church and drove up and looked around. It was locked and dark, but somehow less scary-looking than the big Catholic church had been.

The sign said "Services Sunday 10:30", and also "Tag Sale!", so we decided to come back on Sunday morning after bagels and see. At home, I called them and their answering machine said that they have no Sunday services in June or July, but the little daughter said "let's go anyway and see" (that's my daughter!). So after bagels Sunday morning we were off (it's real close to the house; I have no good excuse for never having been there except for one tag sale maybe eight years ago.)

It turned out they had no service, but they did have a big tag sale going on, and I bought two dozen books at twelve for a dollar and some bread pans and some cassette tapes, and the little daugther bought some stuffed animals and a hat and a purse and a picture, and we chatted to the guy running the place and signed up for the church newsletter and took the little "About our Congregation" and "What is Unitarian Universalism?" pamphlets from the rack, and generally had a great time. Maybe in September we'll actually go to a service!

Reading: Ursula K. LeGuin's The Eye of the Heron. Well-written and involving so far, and while I can sort of feel where it's going it's nice to see idealism in the world, and someone bothering to work out how non-violence and peaceful resistance and all that might actually work. I'd like to know more about why the Amazon reader from Poland thought it was so awful...

Speaking of oppression here's yet another state to avoid: Louisiana Upholds Ban on Oral And Anal Sex. Sheesh.

Speaking of mindless reflexes: Sometimes Barney Starts Playing Peekaboo on His Own.   *8)

Speaking of speaking: write down the URL of the AT&T text-to-speech demo, and try it out a few days from now, when people have stopped passing it around and it's actually working. (Link from Nancy C. Hanger at Windhaven Press.)

Friday, July 7, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Well, I brought in a few Sims screenshots for the general betterment of mankind. Here are the Hilox-Petunias: Artemisia and Merram. Here they are doing some self-improvement in (a slightly backlevel by now version of) their house. (I've since replaced the shower stall with a bathtub, for instance, and slightly enlarged the bathroom.)


Last night they had their first chance to adopt a baby; they declined (life is complex enough at the moment). One great thing about the Sims is how ambisexual they are: personality is All in forming relationships, gender isn't a requirement. This is of course Just As It Should Be. They're also polyamorous: Artemisia is in requited love with Merram her roomie, Bob Newbie from the tutorial house, and Leah Newburgh from the family that the little daughter created when she first started playing. Jealousy is by no means absent, but incidents aren't hard to avoid with a bit of discretion.

There seems to be more distance between "Acquaintance" and "Family Friend" than there is between "Family Friend" and "Heart's Desire". I can't decide if that's accurate!   *8)

Calamondin (Judith) mentions my mention of Barry Yourgrau, commenting that she's been recommending him to people also. I suspect I first saw him mentioned on a Weblog somewhere, so things have probably come full circle, as usual!

Yourgrau reminds me of Barthelme with some of the knobs set somewhat differently. There's the same lucidity of prose, comfort with non-sequitur, fondness for surrealism, and tendency to get our attention using naked young women and sex. I used to be sort of embarassed by that habit of Barthelme's, thinking that maybe I enjoyed reading him just for the obvious gynophile titilation, but I've heard enough people praising him (and now Yourgrau) for other things that I guess that isn't it. Probably.   *8)

Not about sex: Sloane's On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences. Now when you get one of those "what's the next number in the series" puzzles, you can wax all smart-alecky and say "well, it depends...".

More stuff that I ought to read in enough depth to incorporate into the Problems of Consciousness pages: the somewhat schizomimetic "EMERGENT CONSCIOUSNESS: FROM THE EARLY UNIVERSE TO OUR MIND", and (from its bibliography) the somewhat more plausible-looking "Why Classical Mechanics Cannot Naturally Accommodate Consciousness but Quantum Mechanics Can". I'm still unconvinced that quantum mechanics helps us much with the Main Problem, but hey I haven't read these papers yet...


earlier entries