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Thursday, October 30, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

So I'm seriously considering not writing a novel this November. Things are just so busy in all facets of life that I dunno that I'd enjoy the stress this time around.

(Of course if I'm really so busy, why have I been playing Freecell so much? I think it's more of a tension-reliever than Novel Writing, with its daily goals and all, would be. Our houseguest introduced me to it (I'd seen it before, but never really played it), and at least so far it seems to be at just the right level of "nontrivial but possible" to occupy my mind pleasantly. I'm not sure that a 50K word novel falls into the same category; not this year anyway.)

But we'll see.

Quote o' the Day: 'Looking forward to talking Pope Barbie: "Latin is hard!"'.

Camille Paglia returns briefly to Salon, in a very Pagliaeque interview.

I personally feel that the video for "Vogue" is superior to anything produced in the fine arts worldwide in the last decades of the 20th century.

"I personally feel that if I say something really over the top here, it'll help maintain my image." *8)

The most important part of the interview, of course, is when she talks about weblogs:

the blog form is, in my view, the decadence of the Web. I don't see blogs as a new frontier but as a falling backwards into word-centric print journalism -- words, words, words!
Blog reading for me is like going down to the cellar amid shelves and shelves of musty books that you're condemned to turn the pages of. Bad prose, endless reams of bad prose!

(Mmm, lots of words and shelves and shevles of musty books; sounds good to me!)

This brings to mind something that's been widely blogged, being about blogging and all, but that hadn't come around on the guitar here until now:

The answer why they won't shut up is - they're not talking to you. They're talking in the private register of blogs, that confidential style between secret and public. And you found them via Google. They're having a bad day. They're writing for friends who are interested in their hobbies and their life. Meanwhile, you're standing fifty yards away with a sneer, a telephoto lens and a directional microphone. Who's obsessed now?

(So there!)

Back to the column: being Camille, she has to take credit even for things she insults:

I happen to feel that my Salon column was the first true blog. My columns had punch and on-rushing velocity.

I'm not sure that "column that has punch and on-rushing velocity" is quite the usual definition of "blog", but to each one's own. This kind of thing is why I love reading Paglia, though; she's so sure of herself, and her sillinesses aren't stupid, just silly, and often in provoking ways.

(Other words in the interview suggest that, like so many other people in the media biz, the weblogs that she's been reading are all of the warblog and journo-blog and political punditry kind, and (also like all too many others) she has the impression that that's what blogs in general are all about. A sad misconception.)

Enough (probably more than enough) weblog navel gazing for the evening!

From Medley, a very amusing piece in which a Prospect intern gets notorious homophobe wacko Senator Rick Santorum to assert that his own logic about the function and important of marriage implies that same-sex marriage is "fine". I'm sure it won't stick, but it's fun to see him squirm.

Bush, aircraft carrier, banner, obvious lies, etc, etc.

Someone brought in a piece of smoked glass or exposed photo plate or whatever today, and we put it over the end of a pair of opera glasses and looked at the sun and saw a couple of dark smudges from the flare (didn't look nearly as cool as the news images, but it was live). Snazzy NASA pictures here.

Wow, and I see it's tomorrow already. Another game or two of Freecell, and then I'm off to sleep. Good night!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

So after entering all N of my ancient book reviews that are stored over on AOL, and all K of my merely old reviews from over on Amazon, I'm now (temporarily, I trust) all burnt out, and don't especially feel like doing little writeups (because I really made this system mostly for little writeups, not big reviews), or like fiddling more with the Perl, or like trying to make the page designs any less silly-looking.

But I have finished cleaning out under the computer tables in the playroom!

So that's something.

Over in the talking place a reader wrote, but then mysteriously deleted:

Hi,I'm doing a research project on visual analysis and was wondering if you ever managed to complete the review of "Reading Images: The grammar of visual design" by Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen?

Boy was that a long time ago. No, I don't think I ever got much further into it; it rather bogged down. Or maybe I just got distracted. Hard to tell sometimes ("sometimes").

"The Art of Unix Programming" (also available in tasty html). By esr, but at least the parts that I read don't seem annoying. *8) Good hacker-culture stuff.

If the accumulated knowledge of man were wiped out overnight, the survivors, 1,000 years from now, would draw pictures of Elvis and wonder what it was.

Jury acquits Caffrey after Trojan hijack defence ("yeah, my computer did it, but it wasn't me; musta been a virus!"). And DoS trial hackers dryice and frixion talk to silicon.com ("those cool hacker d00dz that you wrote about in your last article? that's us! yeah, really!").

Government as Nomic: 'Acting Mayor' Chris Daly's power grab. (Durn funny, also.)

Indirectly from Bellona, "Juliet Clark's The Art of Walt Disney (New Concise Edition)"; good reading.

Reader controversy heats up:

hey, ho, gears must go!

Hey, I LIKE the damn gears!

Replace the Gears!!! http://hirring.tripod.com/H.I.R.R/id5.html

(Note that I haven't made that URL there into a link. This is because I do not want to bear any hint of responsibility for any ill effects suffered by anyone foolish enough to manually go there. This is not an image that has a very good chance of displacing the gears this week...)

Sunday, October 26, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

This was like the busiest weekend on record, with library and playroom cleaning and the little daughter's ballet and the little boy's first guitar lesson and a Hallowe'en Thing at a local historic restoration (invited by a friend of the little boy's) on Saturday, and on Sunday bagels and the Fall Cleanup at the lake (my first official function as President of the Lake Association, a post I acquired by being the only likely person at the annual meeting who hadn't done it yet), and getting ready for houseguest next week, and so on and so on.

So naturally I decided this would be the perfect time to write a little web-based Content Management System for book reviews! It lets me enter and edit reviews via HTTP, and creates static web pages via templates; my initial set of templates produces CSS-based XHTML-compliant pages that look really sucky, but validate (hey, I'm no graphic designer; I'm sure I'll fiddle around endlessly trying to make them look better in the weeks to come). Adding an RSS feed should just be a matter of creating an additional template.

Spiffy, eh? And all in 650 lines of Perl. And we took down two dead trees, raked up the leaves, brought in the lines from the kid's beach area, brought in the floating dock, and had a nice potluck supper afterward.

(You can see the book reviews with whatever design I happen to have up at the moment here; right now there are just sixteen or so old reviews that I've copied over from my ancient AOL pages; eventually I hope to type in hunnerds and hunnerds of (probably brief) reviews of lots of these books cluttering up the house. Which may eventually necessitate a redesign of the part of the Content Management System that reads in the entire text of every single review in the database at least twice every time I want to add a new one; but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Also it doesn't store the database in XML and use XSLT to produce the pages; maybe some other extremely busy weekend we'll do that.)

So I'm hoping that this little project will satisfy my desire to have some pages that are all spiffy and modern and CSS / XHTML and everything, without having to either redesign the log here (whose design I seem to be unable to bring myself to change), or spend too much time searching for workarounds to the annoyances that I found last time I tried to modernize it. The log can stay creaky and obsolete, and I'll play with shiny modernity in the book reviews.

Speaking of modernity, I'm reading an interesting little monograph called "Authenticity in Music" (by Raymond Leppard). Did you know that until comparatively recently (World War I, say), the general opinion was that music prior to (say) Beethoven was considered primitive, uninteresting, unlistenable, and that even Beethoven was considered interesting only to the extent that he prefigured or influenced "modern" music like Wagner or Brahms?

Very odd, I found this. In the general theme of "we always assume that however we first find a thing is the way it's always been", I've always thought (or rather, assumed without thinking) that what we consider the Musical Canon (hey, a joke!) today has always been considered that. But apparently that's not true at all; Mozart was a Pop Superstar in his day, and Bach widely known in his, but after their deaths they sank into a couple of centuries of obscurity. Far out, eh?

From Daze Reader, and generally making the rounds, some amazing photographs:

From 1972 to 1975, Susan Meiselas spent her summers photographing and interviewing women who performed striptease for small town carnivals in New England, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. As she followed the girl shows from town to town, she portrayed the dancers on stage and off, photographing their public performances as well as their private lives.

From amptoons, an interesting bit of copyright history: Free Mickey!

Disney has lobbied hard to keep its creations under copyright protection. But in the 1970s, a group of renegade cartoonists threatened to unleash the mouse...

In the 1970s, the underground cartoonist Dan O'Neill risked a life-destroying lawsuit and jail time when he published a series of raunchy Mickey-taunting comics. Along the way, O'Neill recruited scores of followers into two of the wackiest groups to emerge from the counterculture of the 1970s: the Air Pirates and the Mouse Liberation Front.

I mentioned the other day the coffee sample that came in the mail, and how the only instructions it or its website had about actually making coffee seemed to suggest spooning the ground coffee into cold water? Similar thing happened today: I bought a can of ground coffee at the grocery for the Lake Cleanup, and while the can had instructions (complete with illustration) for taking off the lid (oooh, challenging!), it had not the slightest hint of how to make the stuff into actual drinkable coffee. Apparently consumers can't be expected to know how to take the lid off a can, but everyone knows how to make coffee.

People are, like, so weird.

From ntk, the march of progress continues:

In the future, Marc says, a store might broadcast the availability of its resolution service. More interesting, he says, you might pick up an AFL-CIO resolution service that tells you that the pair of pants you're looking at were manufactured in a sweat shop ("Would you like to see the QuickTime movie?") and might offer you pants for a few dollars more that are "made by women who are allowed to urinate whenever they want to."

Rakes, Melons, and...:

...olive oil, basil, pine nuts, garlic...does anyone make pesto anymore?"
old men's trousers
HOT DOG!!! Thanks for getting rid of those gears.
melon-headed muscle-bound pervs who aspire to further admiration as Governator
pumpkins, of course.
pumpkins, of course.
pumpkins, of course
pumpkins, of course.
pumpkins, of course.

Not so many pumpkins in that, eh? (And I'm afraid the gears have returned for now. Possibly if someone were to point out an especially worthy replacement for them for this week's column...)

And finally

dashed pretty wenches make for a roaring day out down at Old Covent Garden market. Steer clear of Meg of Bermondsey though, her cry of "Crabs" may confound you.

After which what more could be said?


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