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What's below your feet?

We also like the word 'Loris'
Thursday, August 12, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Still no comment-spam, sniff! A reader writes, comfortingly:

Re: Netting comment spam: I renamed my MT CGIs and still get comment spam, which tells me at least one spammer is smart enough to crawl sites to determine comment URLs. Simply having an mt-comments.cgi might not be enough.

Could well be. I'm not willing to go to much more work than that right now to look like an MT weblog. (Although there is an invisible link to the cgi script on this very page, for bot spiders to find.) We'll just have to wait and see!

Why, speaking of weblogs, do I so despise the word "blog"? I've always assumed it was because it's objectively an ugly and illegitimate word, but that's actually kind of silly; I'm not usually such a prescriptivist.

It doesn't seem to be the shape or sound of the word: I don't despise "block" or "dog" or "bog" or "log" or "blot" or "frog" or "bug" or "lug" or "brick" or "calliope". Being a neophile and all, it can't be just that it's a neologism, can it?

Well, maybe it can. I do find some neologisms distasteful. Ed suggests that it has to do with the way the word was made, ripping the first two letters off of "weblog". And it's true "weblog" is a perfectly good word (as is "log"). Maybe I feel like we just don't need "blog", and that it's merely a sort of smug in-group marker.

But anyway, this here log is a weblog, eh? No "blogs" (can't restrain the shame-quotes) hereabouts.

From caterina, Where in Washington, D.C. is Sun Myung Moon? An important thing to know.

From rebecca, a story on our plankton overlords:

A recent study funded by NASA's Earth Science Department shows that the tiny sea plants release high quantities of cloud-forming compounds on days when the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays are especially strong. The compounds evaporate into the air through a series of chemical processes that result in especially reflective clouds. This, in turn, blocks the radiation from bothering the phytoplankton.

You probably already heard that the Governor of New Jersey announced that he's gay, and he was having an extramarital affair, and he's resigning. (I mentioned that to M over dinner, and since she hadn't been listening to the news she thought I was kidding.)

Does this make McGreevey the first openly gay governor of a U.S. state? If only until November 1?

(The California Supreme Court has nullified those four thousand happy same-sex marriages back in first quarter, the blighters. But marriage equality fans see a silver lining in the decision (which I haven't read), in that it leaves open the door to constitutional challenges to the law that (apparently) forbids them. So those eight thousand people are still in a quantum superposition.)

Continuing in this queer vein, we find on fark of all places our D'oh o' the Day:

During the 5th inning, the banner was unfurled, drawing the attention of the crowd. Within a few minutes, a security guard approached the Christians and demanded that they take the banner down. Moments later, two homosexual men stood up and began to passionately kiss in front of the banner, then two lesbian women did likewise, as the crowd cheered them on.
"It became a struggle for us to keep our banner, until security ended it all by ejecting us from the ballpark, instead of just those acting disorderly," stated Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America. "Security officials accused us of inciting the riot due to the content of our message," he continued.

Gosh, you think?

Some patterns for doing stuff. This kind of thing seems like such a good idea. Any readers ever seen it actually work?

Hi there,

I've recently setup a new site devoted to cat pictures that I thought you might like. It's at:

Whoa, cat pictures on the web? A radical thought!

Wherever my heroine is driving a car, it will now be a Ford Fiesta," she told the BBC's World Business Report.

"That's the only thing they've asked me to do, they've placed no other constraints on my writing at all."

And our favorite spam subject line of the day, at least:

Subject: now that i am flesh halocarbon

"Now that I am flesh" is really a ringing phrase. And not common.

And now a(nother) special treat! Some really vintage and well-aged reading input foretells for us What's next?

the revolution. watch your back.

New music? Try http://www.pastemagazine.com Medley turned me on, and now I'm tuned in

I vaguely recall you mentioning wanting to link to an iTunes item. [link]

No idea. When we finally decided to throw a party, we had no idea we'd end up with a friend passed out in our hallway and another staying to make sure he's okay. You tell me what's next!

What's next! she snorted, banging the pan back on the stove, Hoo, ya want more huh? Then her scowl dissolved and she came back to sit at the table, leaning waaay back on the chair two legs arcing up Oooh baby, if that was not eNUFF

Another World Literature essay, this one on the power of narrative in Christa Wolf's "Cassandra". And then I have a maths test.



Who is your favorite Science Fiction author? Why?

A novel in November!

Spammer become courtesans! Or bathmats!

In November, you should spend plenty time writing microfiction pieces. (And not worry about total word count either)

Iris Chacon Pictures

Iris Chacon Pictures

more pumpkin pie

Whee! The iTunes linkificator still produces itms-scheme URLs, and I'd really like html ones; but I appreciate the thought. I didn't write a novel last November, and I'm making no promises for next November (although I would like to put more time into microfictions (like that very sweet reader one up there)).

My favorite SF author at this very instant is probably Bruce Sterling, for "Crystal Express". But that's probably as much about the mood that I'm in at the moment, and the instant in my life when I read it, as it is about the book. Although it is a very good book.

I also like Vernor Vinge, also because he's good (have I mentioned that I had lunch with him?). And Ursula K. Le Guin (although my favorite book of hers isn't really SF). And, I'm sure, other really good people that I would have mentioned if I were better at remembering things systematically.

(I suppose Lao Tzu doesn't count as an SF author, really?)

We are a famous artist!

And that's the way it is.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Let's get some political pointers out of the way first:

In its haste to get a scary headline the weekend after the Democratic Convention, did the Bush Administration deliberately blow the cover of one of its best informants within al-Qaeda?

And in the same general theme, a reader writes:

How the money could have been spent, via Oliver Willis: [link]

144 billion dollars is a whole lot of money.

From the Dynamist, some good news on the kyfho front:

In a case with nationwide implications to halt the abuse of eminent domain, the Michigan Supreme Court last night reversed its infamous Poletown decision, which had allowed the condemnation of private property for so-called "economic development." In a unanimous decision in County of Wayne v. Hathcock, issued at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, July 30, the Court decisively rejected the notion that "a private entity's pursuit of profit was a 'public use' for constitutional takings purposes simply because one entity's profit maximization contributed to the health of the general economy."
"The Poletown decision gave cities the green light to take property for private parties," said Chip Mellor, president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice. "It was a terrible mistake. Now, the Michigan Supreme Court has restored the rights of all Michiganders to keep their homes and businesses, even if another, politically connected private business wants them. This is a great day for property rights nationwide."

Which is nice. Now about civil forfeiture...

Someone has the same problem we do:

When I started writing Sharp Blue, I intended to review every book I read. However, recently I've had more time to read than I expected, and less time to write.

So he does some very small summaries, pending reviews. He reads classier books than we do.

Subject: sacrifice a little patient trigonometry
Subject: only you can thump anastasia

Smokey Spammer says: remember, only you can thump anastasia!

And I especially like this recent anti-Bayes text:

polecat,thought of poison,polecat,thought of poison,polecat,thought of poison.polecat,thought of poison,polecat,thought of poison.

For the obvious reason.

Speaking of spam, I've been feeling left out because, not having the usual sort of comment area in the log here, I don't get comment spam like all the Cool Kids. (Spammers don't seem attracted to the little talking place.)

So today I wrote a little CGI script that pretends to be mt-comments.cgi, in hopes of tricking some comment-spammers into sending me amusing stuff. I've hidden a link to it on this page, and we'll see what happens. It may be that this humble log isn't on enough lists, or doesn't look enough like an MT weblog, to attract MT spambots. But you never know.

From Daze:

Croquet is associated with old-world etiquette, or was for some people, until driving by last night's city council meeting, where a group of nude croquet players gathered for mint tea, music and a friendly protest on the municipal building lawn.

And finally, for your dining pleasure, The largest free image-based website of classical nude paintings and vintage erotica. Just in case.

(Man, we're pretty random, aren't we? But you knew that.)

Monday, August 9, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Y'all know that I've been playing Final Fantasy X (FFX). Now, at the behest of the little daughter (the Undeniable) I'm also playing (as Player Two) "Tales of Symphonia".

I don't think it's just my imagination that apparently the writers of "Tales of Symphonia" have also been playing FFX. I mean, there's this band of young people going on a long quest and fighting monsters. One of them is a special young woman who is going to save the world, albeit temporarily, and the rest of them are along to protect her. There are vague hints that there may be more to it than the obvious good guys / bad guys setup, and that the endless cycle of someone saving the world and it getting all messed up again some years later maybe isn't really such a good idea.

Collette is of course Yuna, and LLoyd is Tidus, and Kratos is Auron. After that there's some mix-and-match among the smaller characters (and I know I haven't met all the smaller characters of Symphonia yet; maybe we'll run into Lulu later on).

Which is fine, really. Even sort of funny.

I'm reading this adorable (well, adorable so far) book. It's called "The Wanton One" (not "The Wonton One" like I keep almost writing), by James Rubel (a Newsstand Library Magenta Book, 1960, 50¢). Purest pulp. It actually begins (We Are Not Making This Up) "She was something special in blondes". And it has the cutest little sex scenes:

She was proficient, capable, incredibly fascinating in her every movement. In very short order I found myself under the sheet with a blonde lovely playing jockey to my horse.

Isn't that precious? "Jockey to my horse".

We were so innocent.

And speaking of porn, I'd like to complain about the unfairness of cable television. If you've got the right kink, you can get the rawest imaginable stuff on a non-encrypted channel, right in Prime Time. I was doing the dishes and I flipped on a random TV set, and there were these scantily clad young men and women gathered around this transparent coffin looking scared, and then one of the women was helped into the coffin (another of the women was crying quietly in the background), with goggles and a nose-clip on her tender young face, and she lay down (the camera lovingly traversing her stomach and the slopes of her body), and scary music played, and the Guy in Charge said "okay, bring in the tarantulas".

And you can imagine what happened next.

Now this means that people with Certain Tastes can get their favorite porn for free (well, nearly free, modulo cable or whatever) with just a VCR. While the rest of us have to haunt obscure web sites and the back corners of certain shops, looking for...

Well, you know.

Sunday, August 8, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

We went up to Cold Spring yesterday to admire the river and the antique stores and so on. Salmagundi Books is sadly absent, as reported the other month. On the other hand it's been replaced by another independent bookstore, which is a Good Thing. They even still have the koob in the window.

The lady at the counter was very friendly; not the owner herself, but obviously someone who knows the owner and isn't just a genreic hired counter-clerk. She said they'd bought some of Salmagundi's stock, but not all of it. They don't carry old books or used books, nor (as she put it) "so many political books"; they have "lots of commercial fiction".

Which is true, and a very apt phrase that hadn't occurred to me before. One of the great things about Salmagundi was that they had a deep and interesting selection of books, with a much greater density of good stuff than your average chain bookstore. Except for the shelves of "local" books that I gather they got at least some of from Salmagundi, this new bookstore has a selection that is much closer to what I'd expect to see at Borders or whatever. Best-sellers, the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, movie tie-ins, etc, etc. Some good fiction, too, (and an extensive biography section), but all somehow very mainstream.

If I were them, I'd be working harder to differentiate. But then I'm no entrepreneur.

We went down to the waterfont so the kids could throw bits of bread left over from lunch to the pigeons and other flying rodents. The river was lovely as always. The sky started out clear, but clouded up and started to sprinkle. We took shelter in the band-shell (or whatever that is), with a family with some cute little kids, and a couple that was practicing their tango to music from a small purple CD player.

When they finished a dance, the rest of us would clap, and they'd laugh and look sort of bemused. Maybe they hadn't expected to have an audience; although doing their dancing in the band-shell at the pier in Cold Spring on a pretty summer day they can't have expected solitude.

Scientist says Ireland is lost island of Atlantis.

I went into the Big Tub of Water today to vacuum it out. It was coldish (67°F or so), and clear and pretty delicious. The vacuuming was a good excuse. (We put too much chlorine in it before we left for Vermont, and then too much anti-chlorine (I know, I know) to try to fix the problem when we got back, but now we seem to have it titrated just about right.)

On my annoyance with the lumping together of religions the other day, a reader writes:

The Guru, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha ... I can assure you that Zen Buddhism, as with all forms of Buddhism, does indeed involve surrender. All Buddhist formal practice starts out with prostrations - it's hard to see this as anything other than surrender...

Now that's interesting, and I thank you for it. My exposure to traditional or formal Buddhism is very limited, and I'd love to know more. What I know the most about is Western-style hippie Zen; Alan Watts, Kerouac's Dharma Bums, and so on. Their favorite texts, the Gateless Gate and the Ten Bulls, "Zen Flesh Zen Bones", don't talk much about surrender that I can recall.

Daibai asked Baso, "What is Buddha?"

Baso said, "This mind is Buddha."

... If one truly understands, he will wash out his mouth for three days after saying the word "Buddha", and he will close his ears and flee after hearing "This mind is Buddha".

But perhaps hippie Zen is very far from most of Buddhism?

On Buddhism and surrender, I find various things on the Web.

What Buddhists Believe -- No Self Surrender.

And similarly:

Taking refuge in The Triple Gems i.e. the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha; does not mean self-surrender or total reliance on an external force or third party for help or salvation.

But on the other hand:

In order to accomplish the major objectives of Buddhism, one must surrender - in the heart and in the mind - to a process of opening and letting go.

Still, even that is far from the "surrender ourselves to greater powers beyond our reach" that that reporter casually gave as the grounding of "faith".

Is Buddhist prostration a sign of surrender? More facile Google hits:

When worshippers enter a room with a Buddha statue, they join their palms together and bow to pay respect to the Buddha. The proper term for bowing is prostration. One prostrates three times facing the Buddha/Bodhisattva, kneeling down with both palms turned out on the kneeling stool. The opened palms recognize wisdom and compassion. One hand represents wisdom, the other signifies compassion. On the first prostration, the turning out of one hand means internally cultivating wisdom and the other hand means outwardly offering compassion. The second prostration denotes the Buddha/Bodhisattva bestowing wisdom and compassion to the individual. The third time indicates sincerity of your prayers to the Buddha/Bodhisattva. It takes three times to build up the concentration and show emphasis of such earnestness.


Buddhists are not bowing to a god; they bow out of gratitude to the Buddhas and the Patriarchs who have passed on the teachings, out of respect for the Buddha Nature or potential for enlightenment that is in all living beings and out of humility - the appreciation that the world does not revolve around their egos.

There's some difference between recognition, gratitude, respect, and humility on the one hand, and surrender (and especially "to greater powers beyond our reach") on the other.

I suppose it's more or less inevitable, at least this year, that an American reporter for a mainstream rag will assume that all faiths are about like Christianity, or at least like Christianity and Judaism and Islam. But I think it's too bad; those aren't my favorite flavors of religion by any means.

The fafblog; just good.

And some more things. This:

It began to be clear that what was going on outside in the courtyard was the climax of an initiation ceremony that began inside the Tomb. There, it's reputed, the initiates must first enter into a coffin and "die to the barbarian world," to the world of "savages" (all but the Skull and Bones elect), in order to be reborn as a member of "The Order." Then comes the skull-kissing and the throat-slashing.

And this:

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

And this:

In April, Banksy exhibited a dead rat wearing sunglasses in the Natural History Museum for several hours before museum staff noticed.

And (from gorjuss) this:

i go to google image search every day and enter a random combination of keywords and publish the photos that are found.

And finally this:

The full text of Dan Gillmor's book "We the Media," about blogs and other things, is now online.



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