log (2001/05/04 to 2001/05/10)

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Thursday, May 10, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Here are the top phrases searched:

  - 1 for "bowling"
  - 1 for "furby"
  - 1 for "isaac asimov"
  - 1 for "kulpa"
  - 1 for "laura"

So talking about Doug Englebart the other month, I suggested that he and Ted Nelson should do lunch. Well today whatever kindly spirits arrange such things around here waved their wands, and Ted Nelson gave a talk. This time I was in the same room with him (as were about forty other people, which was very cozy in a room that seats twenty-four).

He reminded me of Englebart, except he was more cheerful. He also thinks that current software is lousy (unlike everyone else in the world). He also has a number of bees in his bonnet. His bees include ZigZag, which is a program to visualize data-objects linked to each other along an unbounded number of dimensions; transcopyright, which is the idea that I can include your work virtually in my work, by the appropriate link, and (once we get that pesky micropayment stuff worked out) that will solve all sorts of problems about how content-producers get paid; and parallel documents, which is too multifarous to summarize in a pithy boldfaced phrase.

My basic impression of Nelson is that he's a nice, energetic, interesting guy, who has some kinda interesting ideas, but who has a hard time being taken seriously because he claims that they're incredibly revolutionary. I guess if I'd invented the Web decades ago and then watched them make a mess of it in the 90's, I might tend to oversell myself also.   *8)

Steve was also at the talk, so you can go over to Plurp and see if he's posted his perspective yet.

Old but intense Wired article on Nelson (link from Steve).

Some things Ted Nelson said:

"Software is a branch of movie making."

"What I say sounds crazy."

Crazy because it violates existing paradigms. But I wasn't really convinced that it does; I think his most revoltionary claim is how revolutionary he is. "Current software is junk" isn't revolutionary; it's not even controversial!

"The problem is representing the connections."

"XML is evil-squared, perfected."

XML is evil squared because hierarchy is evil and embedded markup is evil, and XML is hierarchical embedded markup. Hierarchy, he says, is an inadequate model for connections in the real world. (Ref Ftrain on why XML is both a help and a hindrance.)

More Ted Nelson quotes here.

Genetically Altered Babies Born:

Scientists have confirmed that the first genetically altered humans have been born and are healthy.

Up to 30 such children have been born - 15 of them as a result of one experimental programme at a US laboratory.

Yahoo Internet Life says that all those websites about the death of Bill Gates are also some kind of publicity-spin for an upcoming movie. Sheesh!

Fiddle with working simulations of various consumer goods! Yowza!

Responding to yesterday's list explosion, Christina of Elegant Hack writes:

I'd love to see it all laid out in something clickable like the brain...

also I did detective nonsense on the mythical a-list which you might be entertained by, since you were just pondering it... part 1; part 2.

The A-list seems dangerous; so what list would we like to be on? The chocolate list!

Wednesday, May 9, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Toward the transitive closure of "mentions"...

So! On the top part of my list:

I list Alamut, who doesn't have an obvious list lying around, but did once speculate about a possible ontogroup consisting of Alamut and:

Synthetic Zero
Bovine Inversus
Abada Abada
Subterranean Notes
the Hotsy Totsy Club

I list Medley, who lists many things, but most obviously:

Bad Hair Days
First Person Particular
Follow Me Here
Living Art

I list Bovine Inversus, who lists:

synthetic zero
strange brew
mister pants
me again
subterranean notes
hotsy totsy
abada abada
deuce of clubs
invisible city
boing boing
dagmar chili
the bride ship

I list Apathy, who lists way too many blogish things to list, with perhaps a slight emphasis on:

dagmar chili
doxo wox
unmitigated sow

I list Ian, who lists

Amber Kronberg
Beth Roberts
Rebecca's Pocket

I list Beth, who lists:

An Entirely Other Day
The Bleat
aigeek: Entropy
Follow Me Here
Come to My Senses
Mike (of Larkfarm)
Mirror, Mirror
Now This
Camper's log
Joel on Software
The Breast Chronicles
The Misanthropic Bitch
Personality Types
strange brew
Robot Wisdom
Hack the Planet
Lake Effect

I list Jane Duvall, who lists:

Eccentric Flower
Inflatable Sheep
Rope Musings - Gwen
Vamp's Dark Ride
Katt & Wolfe - Erotimania
Debra Hyde
Diary of a Slut

I list Pursed Lips, who has various sidebar lists you might want to look at, but none of them are quite blogish.

I also list Geegaw, Ftrain, Steve, abuddhas memes, Come to My Senses, Parents Strongly Cautioned, Mouth Organ, The Hotsy Totsy Club, and TBTF's Weblog who, thankfully, don't have lists of their own that I can find right now.

So there you are!

I haven't read all the above by any means. It'd be fun to have a full graphical representation of the bloggish things in my general area (I remember someone once did this for some randomly defined A-list blogs, but I don't remember who or where). But the numbers clearly get very big very fast. What's the diameter of (some reasonable-sized subset of) this graph?

Tuesday, May 8, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

From (believe it or not) Dagmar Chili, a cool Library of Congress exhibit of pre-WWI photos of imperial Russia. And despite their vintage, they're in color:

We know that Prokudin-Gorskii intended his photographic images to be viewed in color because he developed an ingenious photographic technique in order for these images to be captured in black and white on glass plate negatives, using red, green and blue filters. He then presented these images in color in slide lectures using a light-projection system involving the same three filters.

Your actions this month will have consequences.

Microsoft to push enterprise customers toward Linux. *8)

From the Uncorked Portal to BookNotes to 100 Days of Bush. No, it's not exactly unbiased. I'm kinda annoyed with the Administration this morning, over this whole "the only way to solve the country's energy problems is to give my old business pals lots of money, and let them exploit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge" thing (Here's a balanced-looking site on the ANWR issue.)

PBS: Culture Shock. Are the arts dangerous?

They inspire, but may provoke. They thrill, but sometimes offend. And often the same artwork attracts both acclaim and condemnation. This site provides context that promotes understanding of the history of the arts and controversy.

Princeton has its first woman President! (I first noticed this on the Web somewhere. Either I've been ignoring my Alumni magazine more than usual, or they've been shy about breaking the news to the alums!)

Dear Gary Daniels: I view pornography, I'm one of the silent majority! So there. (Link from Pursed Lips.)

Jello Beans! Has everyone besides me heard this wonderful noun phrase? I hadn't, until one of the neighbors made some at Easter. They taste like Jello, but they look like jelly beans! So they're real sweet and look like you should pick them up in your fingers, but if you do you find you're holding something cold and slimy! Great stuff.

I also found myself using Jello/Jelly as an Angel Angle; the results are fun, if slight. "Peanut Butter and Jello", and (forgive me) "K-Y Jello" (eeewwww!!).

Monday, May 7, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

A reader writes:

Can we know why you are so bold, typographically, these days?

Because I wrote "<b>" instead of "<p>" in two or three places! Fixed now. This is what comes of typing it all in by hand. But it's good for the soul!

Gretchen Lieberum writes:

Check out a new song from my upcoming album on the WB show "Felicity" Wednesday, May 9th at 9:00p.m. The song is called "Brazen Girl" I'm not sure when the song will be used.....I only know that it's during a sex scene! I hope to finish my album by the end of June, and will have some new songs, including "Brazen Girl", available to download from mp3.com at that time. Until then, take care!
-Gretchen Lieberum

I don't know nuthin' about Felicity ("[a]n evocative coming-of-age drama... that captures all of the emotions of striking out in the world for the first time"), but a new Lieberum album is good news.

So! As hinted yesterday, we went down to Liberty State Park and saw Cirque do Soleil put on Dralion. It was extremely neat! You should all go see it immediately. The kids loved it, M loved it, I loved it, the dozen or so other folks from the lab all seemed to love it. Buckets of gratitude to Steve, without whose urging it would never have occurred to us to go.

The show apparently morphs as it travels; only some of the scenes that we saw are described in the various reviews on the web. For instance we didn't see a blue aerial pas de deux, but we did get an amazing energetic and sexy (and really dangerous-looking) red aerial hoop dance. Yow!

And then afterwards Steve and Helen invited everybody back to their place for Chinese food, and we actually found the Lincoln tunnel, and found Manhattan, and had an incredible meal at the nearby China Fun (reminding us among other things that you really can't get good Chinese food in the suburbs). The little boy is having a growth spurt, and ate like three entire bowls of Warm Noodles with Peanut and Garlic Sauce, and both kids were jumping up and down about what fun it was to be in the city, and how late they were going to get to bed.

A grand time was had by all.

Ima Wantad!

Speaking of Steve, he and Helen are just back from three weeks in paradise. He's posted a bunch of words from the trip that are definitely worth reading (start at the beginning or at the end).

Another part of the amazing Lileks site that I'd never stumbled on before: The Orphanage of Cast-Off Mascots. The usual trenchant Lileks prose over strange images from other times.

So once I was at this park by a lake, and I wandered off to stand on a big rock by the water, and I closed my eyes to let the air wash over me, and I had this very vivid daydream. In the daydream, still standing on the rock by the water, I found that my feet weren't touching the ground. Then the breeze started to move me around, and I found that if I concentrated I could control where I was going. I swooped over the park and hovered over a grassy field on a hill. Then, feeling that I was going to come out of the daydream, I lowered myself to the ground and lay on my back in the grass. The daydream ended, and I opened my eyes, but instead of finding myself standing on the rock by the water, I was on my back on the grassy hill.

I ran down the hill to where M and some other people were standing, and I told them about my strange experience. "When I first woke up," I said, "I thought that maybe I was still dreaming, but of course I'm sure I'm awake now. When you're really awake, you can always tell".

And then I actually woke up, and I was in my bed, and it was this morning.

Of course, when you're really awake, you can always tell...

Some spam in my mailbox points out that "DigitalChess.com" is currently up for auction at AfterNic (the spam is from the auctioner, I think, not from AfterNic, so it's OK if I link to them). AfterNic has a whole mess of names up for auction, and you can see just the ones that have actually sold or expired. Someone recently paid UD$110 for "TrendyDomain.com"; but no one wanted "iHotelDesk.com" very much. Shucks!

Beth points out that someone has done the thing I'm always telling M I ought to do: written a program to explore the space of quilt patterns. (See also the other stuff in that directory.)

I think this is roughly the same space as Visual Mantra III; mine is just random and manual rather than patterned and automatic...

Sunday, May 6, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

So I finished "Decision". It was mediocre. I'll probably post something like this to Amazon:

A very minor Drury (two stars)

At his best, Allen Drury writes good political potboilers; his first novel, Advise and Consent, won a Pulitzer in 1960. But Decision isn't Drury at his best.

The novel has its good points. The characters are well-drawn and mostly convincing, and both the general topic (the Supreme Court) and two of the specific questions (the objectivity of the Court, and media coverage of executions) are interesting and extremely timely. The book was written in the early '80s; it says something that the issues are hot in the '00s. It's not fast-moving, but Drury is a thought guy, not an action guy, and he's not fast-moving even as his best.

The book's weaknesses overwhelm the good points. The writing is ponderous and self-absorbed, with a tendency to drift off into endless paragraphs full of ellipses. Reality is sometimes warped distractingly by the author's antileft leanings. In Drury's world, the only people who contribute to an organization against the death penalty are Hollywood elitists and "such overseas sources as Libya, South Yemen, Angola". The common folks are unanimously in favor of the government throwing its weight around; vigilantes lynch only criminals, and vigilante justice is bad only because it violates theoretical principles of law. (In real life, of course, vigilantes are bad mostly because they lynch innocent people.)

And (bizarrely) Drury doesn't seem to have done his legal homework. He gets the meaning and function of Miranda pretty much entirely wrong, and I think he seriously overestimates how often the Supreme Court takes up murder cases. The legal case at the center of the plot, which supposedly pits the Law against "common sense", fails to convince me; it seems driven by plot requirements rather than legal or political reality. And surely any Supreme Court Justice would instantly and automatically remove himself from any case in which his own daughter was a victim?

You might want to read this if you know you like Drury and you want to see him thinking about the Supreme Court. But if you haven't read any Drury yet, don't start with this one!

It's sort of pretentious, but my book reviews are usually sort of pretentious.   *8)   I actually wonder now if I'd like any Drury book; but absent any more recent evidence I'll rely on my vague positive college memories.

I also watched Blow-Up, and we went to Cirque de Soleil, and we drove around in Manhattan; I'll probably tell you all about that some other day!

Friday, May 4, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

On Antonioni, readers write:

Avoid "Beyond the Clouds"; he was merely a prop at the time. "Blow-Up", "Il Grido", and "L'Avventura" are all good places to start, though.

Oh, yes, Blow-up is *quite* good. One of the most interesting things about it is the way it's such a period piece of a certain moment in London pop culture (the Mods). It's tied to the sense of dislocation and uncertainty that characterized those days for many, and it's an important pre-cursor of digital falsification, which is a premier issue of OUR time. It was influential enough to spark two direct hommages: the Travolta Americanized version, Blow-Out, which transformed the photography under examination into a sound, and The Conversation, which took the same idea to another level.

So yes, do watch it, soon.

Our local Blockbuster doesn't have either one (and doesn't know how to look things up by director if you call them on the phone), but the Hollywood Video down the street says they have "Blow-Up". I don't have an account or whatever there, but maybe I'll wander in casually and see what happens.

There are now even more pictures of the historic meeting available; digitized versions of Daniel's snazzy analog photos taken using a smart light-sensitive nanofabric ("photographic film") are now available there also. Many, many pixels are now devoted to rendering the details of my face. Among other things.

Pursed Lips

I neglected to credit Pursed Lips for a couple of abortion-related links the other day; I hereby rectify that! It's a worthwhile site in general; Debra Hyde has a good blog with a high density of sex-issue links, and a rich personal site sitting behind that. (Do read her warnings and stuff if you're nervous about a certain amount of kink; on the other hand if you're nervous that way you've probably stopped reading me weeks ago anyway.)

Other paths through the Web: Geegaw to ClinkClank to Elegant Hack to the definition of "Fitts' Law" on the useful-looking Usability First site. Then, from LinkWatcher to MetaJohn to the Game Boy Gallery; some nice photos, and a clever marketing idea: get your customers to create art around your product. And a very short trip, from Memepool to a soon-to-be-famous T-shirt.

All over the place: some very cool whackos actually implemented RFC 1149 (that's "A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers"). Now that's hacking! (Note the impressive ping times...)

vegard@gyversalen:~$ ping -i 450
PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=255 time=6165731.1 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=4 ttl=255 time=3211900.8 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=255 time=5124922.8 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=255 time=6388671.9 ms --- ping statistics ---
9 packets transmitted, 4 packets received, 55% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max = 3211900.8/5222806.6/6388671.9 ms

Zeldman is, like, so over-rated!   *8)   (Interesting piece on the sociology of inbred communities; see also the MetaFilter discussion of the article.)

Do you know what month it is?

Liberty Bell Rings Again, as Genes Sing of the Grail:

This could be instructive to what happened to the Franklin, Jefferson, Washington Mason cartel. Franklin was dabbling in the psychotronic arts. His non-judgemental approach to political passions while dabbling in toys made him the confessor whose notes then become the proof of this history at Bruton Vaults. (Unfortuneately some blindness to matters of the heart may account for the bones under his Paris apartments -- those bones may be clue to the disillusionment of Jefferson/Franklin about whose telepathy they THOUGHT they were serving. Was Pendragon in the Templar Magda Blood Draco? See "Genesis of the Grail Kings" Gardner's newest.)

Speaking of which, here's an article about 'the Vinland Map', an interesting artifact if only for the history of experts' changing opinions of its authenticity.

And speaking of pussies, Parents Strongly Cautioned is awake again, and today's entry (which I'm afraid you'll have to dive into the archives to find if you're reading this off in the future; no permalinks) is a similar bit of silliness.

WordURL Available Domain Name of the Day: EvidentNightmare.com.


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