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In the beginning:
Thursday, February 12, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So, no doubt needles(s) to say, the City was even more amazing than the train ride (the train ride wasn't amazing, really; mostly just fun).

Have you ever been to a city?

One thing about the City: you can come into the City in a train that stops in Grand Central Station, which is on like 42nd Street (dancing feet), and you can walk out of Grand Central Station through this long hallway, and when you come out the hallway at the other end you're at 48th Street.

And, on top of that, the entire six-block-long hallway is one single multi-paned advertisement for somebody's Acoustic Noise Cancellation Headphones or something.

The main thing about the City, or one main thing that explains or underlies many of the other main things, is that everywhere you look whatever you see is something that someone built, or planned, or put there on purpose. Even a tree or a pond is there because someone said "we'll have a pond here", or someone planted a tree there.

Really it's just like being indoors in that sense. Except indoors there's usually a ceiling, and not so many cars and stuff.

But you get the idea.

Aeons ago, I think it was when Dad and I were going around looking at colleges to figure out where I wanted to go, we wandered into the Chapel at Princeton ("cathedral" would be a more accurate label, but it's called the Chapel), just as the organist started practicing. The place was vast and empty and acoustically wonderful, the music was beautiful, and all around it was a lovely surreal experience.

I walked a few blocks the wrong way in the City yesterday, and wandered into Saint Bartholomew's. I put a dollar in the offering box, and the nice lady at the counter in the gift shop in the lobby said I should feel free to go in and look around.

"They're tuning the organ," she said, "so it might be a little blaring."

Very like, and very unlike, that day in the Princeton Chapel. The space was big and almost empty and very quiet. The organ was playing just long single notes, with long spaces between them, rather than dense clouds of sound. And I knew that behind me, outside, there was the City.

So Orkut is silly, I admit; the online equivalent of the high school cafeteria, writ large. On the other hand, on Orkut a handful of people, people that I admire and respect, and people who know me mostly through the words I write, have declared themselves "fans" of mine. And given that being known, remembered, admired even, for the words I write is more or less a major lifelong ambition, that's kind of nice. *8)

The Fox News network's Bill O'Reilly told viewers he was now sceptical about the US president's claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

"I was wrong," said Mr O'Reilly, adding "all Americans should be concerned" that no such weapons had been found.

Project Gutenberg has an audio component: Radio Gutenberg.

Latest Prose From Spam:

There are some limitations to the Cat and Duck Method, but by rigidly adhering to the following checklist, a degree of success will be achieved which will surely startle you, your passengers, and even an occasional tower operator. sleep . . . sleep. . . .

(Googling on "Cat and Duck Method" produces some amusing techno-folklore. Although with out the hypnosis part at the end.)

The latest SANS Newsbites has a bunch of good links, including:

  • Study finds that over 90% of the web application surveyed were vulnerable to various attacks.
  • The Pentagon has decided against using a particular Internet voting system to let overseas Americans vote, after a report on its (in)security.
  • On the other hand, the Michgan Democrats went ahead with electronic voting, although their system is probably no more secure.
  • More on the electronic voting front: a report on a (flawed) Diebold voting system (from a few weeks ago).
  • In Australia, Jack-booted thugs from the music industry break down various doors, seize various things (and we're not talking in metaphors here; well, except maybe about the jack-boots). Apparently they have some interesting laws about copyright actions Down Under.
  • Somewhat in the irony department, a serious vulnerability is found in a firewall product.

And that's it. Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget your scarf. Thanks for the chocolates. Have a safe trip home. Come again soon. Mind the step.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

I'm writing this while riding on a train. Riding on trains is fun. This train goes from the railroad station near work, into the City. I'm going to the City, on the train, because there are some people in the City that I'm going to be talking to. With some other people.

In the railroad station there are two machines that you can buy tickets from. One of the machines is silver, and says "Tickets" on it. The other machine is red, and says "Daily Tickets" on it. Both of them have little scrolling electric signs on top, with red letters. Both of the signs say "All tickets sold here".

I used the red machine that says "Daily Tickets". The person who got to the station machines before me tried to use the silver machine that says "Tickets", but the silver machine didn't give him any tickets. "Heh," he said, and banged on the side of the machine.

The ticket that I got from the red machine that says "Daily Tickets" says that it's good any time in the next thirty days. So I don't know why it's a Daily Ticket, except maybe because of the thirty days. Maybe the tickets from the other machine are good any time in the next thirty hours. But then the machine should say "Hourly Tickets".

Probably the tickets from the two different machines are really the same.

I'm sitting in a seat that faces backward, toward the back of the train. So my back is toward the City, and everything out the windows is rushing away from me. Some people don't like sitting in seats that face backward, so those parts of trains are sometimes emptier than other parts of trains. But only sometimes.

Things are going past the train, outside the windows. Trees, and roads, and metal boxes, and railroad stations, and ponds, and brick buildings with fences around them, and rusty little towers with metal parts attached to them, and faded yellow numbers (like "22" and "23" and "24").

Again I'm thinking about how things look different from the outside and the inside. When I look at the little rusty metal tower with the "24" on it, I get a feeling of loneliness and forgottenness; like this is a rusty metal tower at the edge of the woods, and no one has touched it for years except the birds and the squirrels, and maybe there's an old plastic army man buried in the leaves underneath it, that somebody left there a long time ago.

But probably somewhere not too far from here there's someone who knows all about Tower Number Twenty-Four, and has a map that shows Tower Number Twenty-Four, and a book that has a column showing when Tower Number Twenty-Four was last inspected, and when it was last painted, and when it's due to be painted again.

"Right," that person might think, "Tower Number Twenty-Four. Getting a little rusty that one is. Maybe we should move up its painting schedule." And that person might make a note on their computer, or their pad of paper, or on the back of their hand.

But while I've been typing this the train's moved far way from the rusty tower with the "24" on it. Now out the window there's a hillside, and a road, and a dented silver railing running next to the road. And out the windows on the other side of the train there's a strip of woods, and a couple of white houses.

There's no network connection on the train, so I'll have to send this to the website later on, from somewhere where there is a network connection. There are lots of network connection in the City, but I don't know if I'll get a chance to use one.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Tonight we just have little snippets of data, little links to things, little howls.

From Nina, to a page about having Too Many Books (and then to the not entirely unwelcome, but also not entirely welcome, realization that there are so many good weblogs in the world these days that I'd like to be reading regularly).

Al-Qaida Will Do Whatever It Takes To Assure Bush Is Re-elected. Pretty plausible analysis, I thought.

Subject: graceful angles
Subject: cornucopia contestant
Subject: gustav room
Subject: macromolecule amongst palfrey
Subject: audiotape crocodile
Subject: harsh imbecile
Subject: bluff aleph bradley found repellent

So apparently the primaries and caucases do include Republican ones. Bush is doing quite well. In at least one, Kerry came in second.

The hekalthy way to lopse ftat and keep it ozff.
Best vaflue weinght loyss progzram on the intwernet!

From Rebecca, my favorite lead-in of the week: "State Supreme Court Justice Faith Ireland won her second national powerlifting championship last weekend, grabbing a spot for herself on the USA Masters Team for world competition".

I have the pleasure to share my testimony with you,having seen your contact from the Internet. I am Barrister Cool Mike, the legal adviser to late Mr. and Mrs. Andy Raymond, an America couple that lived in my Country Nigeria for 30 years before they both died in the plane crash late last year.

Who could resist Barrister Cool Mike?

From Steve, the theory of unintelligent design:

The intelligent design people say there are too many holes in the fossil record, and that evolution is only a theory; the scientists say there's not enough evidence of intelligent design. So we say, instead, that life has indeed been designed, just not very well.

Indirectly from Paul, the Wikipedia entry on the "you have two cows" joke. Scholarship at its best.

From Medley, another snippet on Electronic voting's hidden perils:

Concerned that their new $12.7 million Diebold electronic voting system had developed a glitch, election officials turned to a company representative who happened to be on hand.

Lucky he was there. For an unknown reason, the computerized tally program had begun to award votes for Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to Burton, a socialist from Southern California.

Similar mishaps have occurred across the country since election officials embraced electronic voting in the wake of the Florida vote-counting debacle of 2000.

Also from some Plurp entry, the very readable What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen, by Frédéric Bastiat. Sharp guy, sounds like.

And from all y'all, a few rapturous howls:


wolves call romantically


a-wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

As well as some hints of confusion about the whole input-box vs search-box thing:

"prose god"



what is this?


The Prose God you're looking for is probably over there.

And finally some other notes of note:

Whipped: How about a healthy little dose of S&M to combat that ADD in class ? Nothing will get you working harder than a Pattent Leather Clad Diva strutting around the studio in thigh-hi boots and carring a menacing riding crop.

Think of a number between seven and nine thousand.

I participated for 10 days in the initial voting at bushin30seconds.com (20 ads presented randomly for rating each calendar day) and of my own "10 best", only a few made it to the 15 Most Popular list. I wanted to choose a multi-issue ad, not a single-issue one, so even some that are effective didn't get my vote because they weren't broad enough. Of the 15 Most Popular, "What Are We Teaching Our Children" (direct link for broadband users here) is far and away my favorite. Be sure to watch the facial expressions of the children (and the adults!) very carefully: it's frightening, as it should be. "Bring 'em on!"

Firefly is great, but I'm not sure if you'd dig it. If you keep in mind that it's stylized, you might be ok.

I still haven't finished the second season of B5, so Firefly will probably have to wait (did I say that already?). And while I like the whole leather-clad dominatrix idea in theory, in practice how does everyone involve keep from falling over laughing?

I've always wondered about that.

Sunday, February 8, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

"I have to warn you, I'm completely immune to flattery from smiling brown-eyed women."

"Oh. Are you gay?"

"No, I'm lying."

So I was sitting in a meeting room last week, and people were talking about political and organizational things of various kinds, and I was thinking, and for some reason I thought about coffee, and various kinds of coffee and coffee flavors went through my mind, and I thought of "dark" as a flavor.

And when I thought of "dark" as a flavor, I was filled suddenly with a feeling, or an emotion, or perhaps a memory, but not a specific memory of an event or an image, but a memory of a feeling, or a memory of an emotion. I can't describe it in words, and in fact I can't even remember it, but I can remember the fact of having been filled with it.

It was a feeling, or an emotion, involving poetry, and air, and things like a rutted road through a field, and other times entirely, and other places entirely; times and places not involving sitting in a meeting room, or talking about political and organizational things, or at least not those particular political and organizational things.

All those words ("poetry" and "air" and "a rutted road through a field") may be entirely wrong, because as I said I don't actually remember the feeling. I only remember the fact of having had it. The feeling itself is gone now, and has been gone, really, since a minute or two, or a moment or two, after it started.

And how I'm lying on the bed, and my calves are sore from having jumped rope yesterday (jumped rope while not filled with that feeling, or even being able to remember it), and I'm very tired, and I do wish I could have captured that feeling or emotion in words, or in a more definite memory.

But at least I remember having had it, the fact of having had it, and that I had it upon thinking of "dark" as a flavor.


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