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What's for lunch?
Thursday, March 21, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Everybody loves me, baby
What's the matter with you?
Won't you tell me,
What did I do,
To offend you?

Heh, look at that; I didn't post anything here yesterday. Well, it was an odd day; the little boy's birthday, the little daughter's District Wide String Festival, and lots of time on the phone failing to get DSL working.

On the way back from the Festival, the NPR station was having boring fundraising, so I pushed in the tape that was in the cassette player, and we listened to Don McLean.

The little daughter actually liked "Empty Chairs" better than "Everybody loves me", but the latter has a more singable catch line. And then we sang along with "Babylon". Some nice father daughter bonding in the car there.

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away

I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play

Presumably the music wouldn't play because the music player didn't have the right license installed. If the scared store had just kept up its payments...

It occurred to me that I probably wasn't the first person to listen to that part of "American Pie" as being about intellectual property. I wasn't.

There were 20 searches for the week ending 03/16/2002 for davidchess.com at http://www.davidchess.com/.

Here are the top phrases searched:

  - 4 for "chess and society"
  - 3 for "chess culture"
  - 2 for "chess and culture"
  - 2 for "hip hop"
  - 1 for "canal"

So I keep meaning to tell you about all these books and things that I've read or reread lately: "Forerunner" and "Star of Danger" and that Rorty book, and "Burning Chrome". But I keep not doing it. Wonder why?

This morning at The Club (pretending to cross-country ski rather than lifting heavy things, because I have this ouch in my back for some reason) I started to listen to Carlin reading his "Brain Droppings" on the Rio. Not quite as fun and/or funny as I expected: so far he's come off as sort of a strident curmudgeon; not up to "Who's got the blue food?" or the Seven Dirty Words. But I'm hoping it'll get better.

Okay, that's all. Back to the salt mines, back to basics, back to school, back to work, back to the womb, back to back! (Back to front?)

Tuesday, March 19, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

I found out about the wonderful text-based pong from Beth.

See also the text-based tic-tac-toe narrative in the forked stick.

Also from Beth, Camera fished from pond now takes surrealistic photos.

From geegaw we are sent to a place where we discover that we are Carl Sandburg, and Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Maya Angelou, and e.e. cummings, and also even Emily Dickinson.

Medley asks 'guess who Ashcroft has appointed to a "voting rights" task force in the Justice Department?'

In the referer log, we find that the Mysterious Sesquipedalian Searcher has been by again:

nasoturbinal semioccasional oversusceptibility aluconidae homocerc

near unrestrictive rickettsia deducible tom

needlers decathlon snuff stimulation ypsilanti

nomic metasoma hypotrochoid ingeniousness hoodman

zamindar cloistered sermonic archaism semiservile

There we also find a list of recently-updated weblogs on which we sometimes are (on which we sometimes are what?).

Calamondin sends us to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Knowledge of the Ancients.

We notice with humble pleasure that Google has been spidering by this humble page like every day or two recently. Smiled upon by the mechanical arachnid-God.

Microsoft music, movie player logs users' entertainment habits, says Richard M. Smith.

Meme o' the Day: altruistic punishing (NYT login required; use fubar/fubar as usual).

Also from AgentNews, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. ("There are limits to propositions in which we can believe.")

Tokelau on Naboo.

Internet draft on interplanetary networking.

"Each node must make its own operating choices in its own understanding, for all the others are too far away to ask. Truly the solar system is a large place and each one of us is on his or her own. Deal with it."

For days after all the socks had been put out to dry, Yolanda still got a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach every time the Pepsi Lite ad played on the radio.

Monday, March 18, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

So in between issues of In Bed With Susie Bright (note the clever double entendre), I've been listening to this book modestly titled "The Greatest Speeches of All Time". It's pretty cool; the modern ones are from recordings of the original speakers giving their speeches, and the ancient ones are pretty convincing readings by people with good voices. I just finished it this morning (next on the schedule is Carlin's "Brain Droppings", which should be lots of fun).

One of the last speeches in the book is Jimmy Carter's "Malaise" speech. The link I gave months ago doesn't work any more unless you have an eb.com subscription, but this one does.

I've always liked Jimmy Carter, for vague reasons having to do with giving an interview to Playboy and building houses for the poor and stuff like that. I'd always heard that the Malaise speech basically destroyed him politically, and I had the impression that it was because he was telling the American people Hard Facts that they Didn't Want to Hear.

But that wasn't actually it. I mean, if you just read the words he comes off as a bit dismal and strident all right, but when you actually listen to it... whew! This was one President seriously in need of medication, or a clue, or something. Here's a brief paraphrase of the speech, as I heard it from Carter's own vocal chords this morning while Pretending to Bicycle:

This country is in the toilet, and it's your fault. The federal government (that is, me and the gang here in Washington) are a bunch of self-absorbed bureaucrats who are out of touch with the needs of the people, but that's not why this country is in the toilet.

Over the last few days, I've spoken with preachers, mayors, governors, and professional whiners of all kinds, and they agree with me that this country is in the toilet because you, the American people, are pathetic low-lives. You spend entirely too much time doing things you enjoy, and not nearly enough time on your knees in church, begging for forgiveness. America was once a great country, and your ancestors were great people, but you yourselves are scum, and now the country is in the pits.

The only chance we have to make the country great again is, obviously, to radically reduce our dependance on foreign oil. And we can do that only if you bastards will stop doing things that you enjoy, and will give the Federal government (which is, as I recently pointed out, composed of self-absorbed bureaucrats who are out of touch with the needs of the people) lots more money in taxes, and lots more control over your lives, so we can make darned sure that you aren't enjoying yourselves too much.

If you allow us to do these things, and spend lots of time on your knees in church, we might possibly get America out of the cesspool you have dug it into. Although actually, as you can tell from my tone of voice, I think probably the best thing you could do for the country would be to go out to the barn and hang yourself from a rafter.

Thank you, and good night, you worthless losers.

Man, what a dweeb! I mean, it's possible that he was right about the crisis that was facing the country at the time, and even about what was most likely to fix it (seems unlikely, but I don't claim much expertise in that). Still, the way he said it was just hideous.

(One way to look at it is that he nobly risked his political career on an experiment to see if the American people could be galvanized into action by whiny scolding. He gave up his own political future to demonstrate the fact that no, they can't. And now he's building houses for the poor, which is a good thing. As long as they aren't depressing and penitent houses.)

Slick Willy

The very last speech in the book, in stark contrast, is Bill Clinton's Memphis Speech. While it's saying some very similar things, that the culture of the listeners has serious problems, that we all have to work together to solve them, it's hard to imagine a more different presentation. Carter is depressed and despairing, Clinton is hopeful and energetic. Clinton, despite being a rich white guy talking about what's wrong with poor black culture, comes off as sincere and involved. Carter, despite being an American talking about what's wrong with American culture, comes off as a distant scolding pinch-faced minister.

They were both telling the audience Hard Facts that they Didn't Want to Hear, to some extent; but Clinton's delivery makes you want to hear them, whereas Carter's just makes you want him to shut up and go away.

Amazingly complex, this public-speaking stuff...

Probably predictably, I succame to temptation and scanned in all the non-blank pages of Journal 278 and burned a couple of CDs. So now the Journal comes with a CD in a little paper slipcase taped inside the cover, at least until someone decides to change that (hm, this is sort of the material equivalent of a Wiki,isn't it?).

Then after lunch I took it down to the "Post Office", where a lady agreed to take it to Indiana for me. I also had to buy her a little paper package to carry it there in. (That seemed sort of odd; why didn't she just factor the package into the price of the service, the way she presumably does with gas fare and stuff?)

I'm not sure she's really got a viable business model going here; the price was so cheap! I mean, she agreed to take the journal to Indiana (a particular place in Indiana, even) for like six bucks (including the price of the little paper package). I gather that there's an economy-of-scale thing here, that she waits until she's got a bunch of things all going to Indiana, and takes them all at once, to save on travel costs. But she also promised to get it there in just two days, so if no one else comes in and wants her to take something to Indiana by Wednesday, she'll have to go there on just my six bucks, and there's no way that that'll even cover her costs.

(She's probably got to pay someone to keep the place open while she's going to Indiana and back, also; and then there's rent, and utilities, and all sorts of other stuff.)

Probably she's selling at a loss right now to get people used to being able to send things cheap, and she'll raise prices later, once she's got mind share. Sorta like pets.com did so well!   *8)

Still, it was nice that she was still in business today, so I didn't have to, like, drive to Indiana myself...

Friday, March 15, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

I think about sex so much during dodgeball it's pretty scary wondering what would happen if I took yoga.

-- Journal 278

Journal 278

So Journal 278 of the 1000 Journals Project arrived in the mail last night.

It's such a lovely thing.

(Damn, I wish I was a Real Artist. I wish I even had handwriting like some of these people. I comfort myself that my handwriting looks drab and banal to me just because it's my handwriting, and I'm used to it. I'm not sure I believe it, though.)

Here in this journal are intriguing pictures, and extra space for eyes, and mysteries. Here is art that people have obviously spent time and mind and heart creating. Here are enigmatically altered and arranged objects of value whose owners have donated them to me and to the world. Here are all sorts of strange and wise and drunken words. Here is a card of Mexican fortune-telling icons (or something; El Corazon is bloodily detailed and veiny). Here is, for that matter, a small cloth bag two-thirds full of rosemary, cleverly attached to a page, and marked "take a pinch and cook it".

And now I'm supposed to send it away??

(Here's a place where some pages have been sliced out, and here's a charming one-page short story about dog penises, and here's a brown smudge with an arrow pointing to it, labeled "this is where I rubbed shit on it!", and here's a cartoon bird smoking a cigarette and saying "Squawk! Squawk! Fuck everything!".)

It occurred to me (and I wrote in the journal) that I could probably scan in the whole thing and burn it to a CD. But that doesn't feel right somehow, so I suspect I won't (although you can never tell). The little daughter wrote in it, and I wrote in it, and I wrote in it again, and doodled and annotated. I wrote about it in my weblog (well, I haven't quite finished doing that). And then soon I have to figure out how the "postal system" works, and somehow cause it to go to someone else. Sounds challenging. What if the "mail" person that I give it to decides that he doesn't want to go to Ohio or whatever after all? I guess they've thought about all that.

So how long should I hold on to it? The cover says "You have 24 hours", but I suspect that's not always been strictly observed. *8)   On the other hand it's already expected onward; I should use that as an excuse to send it on quickly, before I get to used to having it in hand.

Such a lovely thing.


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