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Thursday, October 23, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

I dunno. Should I really try to write a novel in November again? It's going to be such a busy month already. But I like writing novels. But it'd be a bummer to start and try, and then have to give up and not succeed. So I dunno.

Also I bought yet another bookcase for the library, but I bought a six-foot-tall one this time, and there isn't really room for a six foot bookcase up in the library (it's a pretty small and oddly-shaped space), but on the other hand now that it's all put together it'll never make it down the stairs again, and there probably isn't really room for it anywhere on the main floor either.

You know?

"Support the Families - Stop the Lawsuits" A cute idea, and I urge you to go give them money on general principles; on the other hand this strikes me as one of those things that, even if it works, will only work in this form once or twice. Sort of like that whatsername that actually made significant money by publicizing her "please give me money to help my pay off my foolish consumer debt" site. Once there are a zillion of them, we're pretty much back to Square One.

(But are we all the way back to Square One, or still far enough from it to make a difference? Would a decentralized net-based United Way be a viable and significant entity?)

Happy Birthday! Or rather, Good Morning. (Link from Ed, when the subject came up at lunch.)

See the NRA's rather bizarre list of people who disagree with them (seems like an odd bit of marketing to me, since surely most people will find at least one or two groups on there that they identify with); and see also people pointing you at it.

Computer viruses rampant in China:

Official figures quoted by the Xinhua state news agency show that about 85% of computers were infected with a computer virus this year.

Eighty-five percent? Yipes!

You must be 16 or older to play or claim a prize

So you know those scam spams (spam scams) that you get in email telling you that you've just won a zillion dollars in some foreign lottery, and that always say "please remember to quote your reference and batch numbers"? I got one in hardcopy in the old-fashioned atom-mail. And it seems to have been sent from England! So either atom-mail from England to here is really really cheap, or these guys have a depressingly high hit-rate. (Or they're idiots and they're losing money; that'd be nice.)

It's exactly like the email ones, semi-literate wording, reference and batch numbers, and all.

It claims I've won the THUNDER BALL UK SWEEPSTAKE LOTTERY, and even has the little National Lottery logo at the top of the page. There's a signature at the bottom, too, and I can't quite decide if it's actually hand-signed, or just printed on by the printer. I like the idea of the scammer sitting there signing letter after letter, and none of them producing any money. (Of course, karmically speaking, I should be liking the idea of his seeing the error of his ways and becoming a teacher or a courtesan or something.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Again not a really big night for log entry writing, I'm afraid. I've been slipping back into some of my old pernicious habits, like reading. (I got rather bogged down in "Psychohistorical Crisis", and as a break I'm reading Vinge's "The Witling", which I found while cleaning up the library some more, and which is short.)

First, a public service announcement, forwarding with permission a note from mitsu over at Synthetic Zero:

Hello everyone,

I am organizing a performance/film/salon series here in our loft. The loft is a beautiful 2000 square feet space in the South Bronx, easily accessible on the 4-5-6 train (20 minutes from Union Square, two blocks from the 3rd Avenue/138th Street station on the 6 line --- also near stations on the 2, 4, and 5 lines). I would like to invite people to come and:

*) present their short films, or videos (we have an EXCELLENT high-quality video projector)

*) show their artwork

*) have discussions

*) perform

*) read their writing or poetry

If you don't live in New York but would like to contribute something to this effort, please contact me as well. This means you! It includes any writing or artwork or videos or anything else you'd like us to present.

If you know people in New York who might want to contribute something and/or come to one of these events, please write me.

Sounds like great fun; I'd show up myself if I weren't such a hermit.

I went over to SelectSmart to see who I ought go vote for for President, and the result was both bizarre and dead on:

Your Results:
1. Libertarian Candidate (100%)
2. Green Party Candidate (77%)
3. Feingold, Senator Russ, WI - Democrat (74%)
4. Leahy, Patrick Senator, Vermont - Democrat (71%)
5. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (70%)
6. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (69%)
7. Socialist Candidate (65%)
8. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol IL - Democrat (62%)
9. Graham, Senator Bob, FL - Democrat (61%)
10. Kucinich, Cong. Dennis, OH - Democrat (61%)

(That's just the top ten.) Simultaneously Libertarian and Green? Hard to imagine that any set of answers to their questions would come out with that reading. On the other hand it pretty accurately reflects the twisted nature of my political leanings; so there you are.

"Want Faster Data Transfer? WiFi Speed Spray™ to the rescue!"

The first viennese vegetable orchestra consists exclusively of vegetable-based instruments, although where necessary, additional kitchen utensils such as knives or mixers are employed.

Hm, I guess I do have a bit of stuff saved up in the "perhaps worth logging" file. Which means you get one of those entries that heavy on links and light on talk; which is I suppose okay.

More reasons to worry about the voting machine stuff: All the President's votes?

The vote count was not conducted by state elections officials, but by the private company that sold Georgia the voting machines in the first place, under a strict trade-secrecy contract that made it not only difficult but actually illegal - on pain of stiff criminal penalties - for the state to touch the equipment or examine the proprietary software to ensure the machines worked properly. There was not even a paper trail to follow up. The machines were fitted with thermal printing devices that could theoretically provide a written record of voters' choices, but these were not activated. Consequently, recounts were impossible. Had Diebold Inc, the manufacturer, been asked to review the votes, all it could have done was programme the computers to spit out the same data as before, flawed or not.


Lesee. We made the first pumpkin pie of the season over the weekend. It was good.

The other month I mentioned the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Turns out that they used to have another name; prior to 1908 they were called "the Inquisition". Probably they found they had a bit of a branding problem.

Speaking of Catholicism, see these Catholic Encyclopedia entries on Index of Prohibited Books and Censorship of Books. I was at first surprised not to find any mention of the fact that the Index of Prohibited Books (Index librorum prohibitorum) was abolished in 1966 (a date found elsewhere on the Web); then I looked and found that this Catholic Encyclopedia I keep reading things in is a typed-in version of the edition of 1908 or 1913 or something like that. (On the Web the pages never get all crinkly and yellow.)

Oh, and now I'm sleepy and going to bed and stuff. Good Night!

Sunday, October 19, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

So I'm still (starting lots of log entries with "so", and) working on cleaning and straightening up and doing archæology upstairs in the library. Today I came upon a stratum of old writings of mine, back in the days before weblogs and such, when I was still writing on paper (occasionally wondering if it would be fun to write using one of them newfangled "laptop computers").

Here's one passage that I like, written in pen on the lefthand page of a notebook where the righthand pages are normal ruled notebook paper and the lefthand pages are quadrille (five to the inch, looks like). From other things in the same notebook, I'd say this is from roughly 1990.

Define the universe, and give two examples.

"The universe" refers to all entities in the transitive closure of "affected, affects, may affect, was affected by, is affected by, or may be affected by", applied to the entity employing the term.

Two examples: one is the set of entities that you, the reader, mean by "the Universe". Under the appropriate construal of "to affect", another is the set of entities that David Copperfield would mean, were he to employ the term. But that may be ill-defined, or non-disjoint with yours (depending on how "affect" is construed). A more straightforward second example is a set of three entities, each of which is in one of eleven possible states at any instant, and whose states change according to complex rules that depend only upon themselves, and interact with no other entities at all, ever.

Gosh, wasn't I a cute little thirty-year-old? *8)

Saturday, October 18, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

It doesn't matter where you get the funk,
  just be sure that the funk gets you!

So not only were big luscious Catholic Bibles only a dollar at the Friends of the Library Book Sale, so were the CDs. The line about the funk is from Candy Dulfer's "Saxuality"; well worth the dollar for a good collection of tracks, involving saxophones and an interesting variety of energies. Nothing breathtaking, but worth listening to.

(Today (as you may have guessed) we're just going to go through the CDs that I bought yesterday. You will be fascinated; I'll be brief.)

I want you
  I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
  I touch myself.

Second: The Divinyls' "Divinyls". "I Touch Myself" was once (many many years ago, children) played over and over and over on the radio. As paeans to masturbation go, Cindy Lauper's "She Bop" is more fun, if less romantic. The CD overall was also well worth the dollar, and I've ripped it (and "Saxuality") into iTunes for later.

Third: Deee-Lite's "World Clique". I dunno about this one; should I rip it, or leave it on the book-exchange rack at work? Should I listen to it again? I will be cruel and say that at least at first listen it seems like they were aiming at the B-52's, and missed.

Fourth: R.E.M.'s "Monster". Again I dunno. Rather repetitive guitar and bass tracks with, like, some guy singing something in the background. Twelve of 'em! Probably deserves another and/or a more careful listen. R.E.M. fans are urged to write in with music appreciation advice.

I think my problem is that I want music to be different. And so much music is the same. But maybe it's only the same because I don't always listen right.

There's a certain satisfaction
  in a little bit of pain.

Fifth: Madonna's "Erotica" (or, as Amazon would put it "Erotica [EXPLICIT LYRICS]"). I like the title track for the bdsm flavor; on the other hand it annoys me a bit because it's so obviously so impressed with itself. "Look how daring I'm being!" it shouts. An actual erotic song wouldn't repeat the word "erotic" so often; probably not even once. But then this isn't so much an erotic song as a song about the idea of eroticism. Very slick and meta, like Madonna herself. The rest of the album is also very slick, but without the meta I tend to lose interest. I s'pose I'll rip it, though.

Sixth and last: Kitaro's "Heaven & Earth: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack". Cinematic, broad, sweeping, emotional; I know in some moods I'll consider it overdone. The CD also skipped (stuttered) a few times in the stereo; I'll try to rip it and see how it goes. Maybe clean it first.

Apropos yesterday's poem, a reader asks:

Were the little girl and boy subjected to the thunderstorm treatment ? :-)

No. *8)

Ms. Chacon

And another writes:


We imagine the masked figure kicking down the door and bursting through, gun drawn, the black scarf around his face muffling his voice. "Vere are ze pictoors of Iris Chacon?" he demands.

But the room is empty. We have fled. And the secret is safe.

Friday, October 17, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

I went out to our local Friends of the Library Book Sale (it was the Member Preview), and there on one of the tables was this gorgeous big gold-edged Catholic presentation Bible (with no one's name on the presentation page), complete with Deuteros. I asked one of the volunteers how much it was.

"Hardcover," she said, "one dollar."

From Medley:

Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used.

So maybe I was right about all those Windows users giving the iTunes Music Store cooties; the very first time I accessed it after the Windows version came out, my iPod had to be rebooted, then iTunes wouldn't recognize the iPod, then the iBook pretty much hung when I tried to log out, and I had to forcibly power it off. There goes the neighborhood!

In an Oct. 9 story about the discovery of 70 pairs of shoes filled with butter on a Swedish mountain, The Associated Press erroneously reported the name and sex of a Chinese artist who did a similar installation in China. The female artist is Yin Xiuzhen, not Yu Xiuzhen.

Conspiracy story o' the day. Think it's true?

I've tuned in at the very end of Pete Seeger reading this on NPR a couple of different times recently. But I heard enough of it to Google it up. It's good.

When I landed in the republic of conscience
it was so noiseless when the engines stopped
I could hear a curlew high above the runway.
At immigration, the clerk was an old man
who produced a wallet from his homespun coat
and showed me a photograph of my grandfather.
The woman in customs asked me to declare
the words of our traditional cures and charms
to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye.
No porters. No interpreter. No taxi.
You carried your own burden and very soon
your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.
Fog is a dreaded omen there but lightning
spells universal good and parents hang
swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms.
Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells
are held to the ear during births and funerals.
The base of all inks and pigments is seawater.
Their sacred symbol is a stylized boat.
The sail is an ear, the mast a sloping pen,
the hull a mouth-shape, the keel an open eye.
At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office –
and to affirm their faith that all life sprang
from salt in tears which the sky-god wept
after he dreamt his solitude was endless.
I came back from that frugal republic
with my two arms the one length, the customs
woman having insisted my allowance was myself.
The old man rose and gazed into my face
and said that was official recognition
that I was now a dual citizen.
He therefore desired me when I got home
to consider myself a representative
and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.
Their embassies, he said, were everywhere
but operated independently
and no ambassador would ever be relieved.

"From the Republic of Conscience", by Seamus Heaney.


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