November 30, 2003

Warning: cute cat thing... click on it at your peril...

is this what our cat is up to while we're all at work???

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Warren Ellis and the sad sad state of the (pop) music scene...

Go read. It's funny and sad in a way that makes you want to rip your ears off...

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November 26, 2003

I never thought I'd see the day--a pro-tax weblog

The first pro-tax weblog I have ever seen.

I'm not one of these tax-hating people--there seem to be so MANY of them these days!--and I tend to think that the government (local AND federal) does many useful things, in spite of occasional excesses. (How occasional, of course, depends on your attitude and feelings about government.*) Irrespective of that, this fellow, Josh Kornbluth, is quite cogent and eloquent in support of his thesis that taxation is a civic duty and a civic virtue.

*Well, um. Let's just say that my political upbringing, as it were, was probably about as confused and emotionally weird as my religious/spiritual upbringing was... Maybe I'll go into it sometime.

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wow. it's a meta-commentary on political discourse. or something

Anyway, it's well-written. Talks about how removing civility from the public discourse damages us all (among other things).
Quite well done, I thought.

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November 22, 2003

Loca Records - a new enlightened label

Loca Records: you can download all of their music, they encourage distribution, you give them money if you want to buy the music. Once you've done so, you can do ANYTHING with the music you like.
Check it out.

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November 18, 2003

Contrast, if you will, with the Britt Blaser thing I linked to...

Mitch Ratcliffe: What is the Net, marketplace, commons or temporary autonomous zone?

Anyone who cites Oliver Wendell Holmes, is fine by me... and to invoke taxation, no less: you know, taxes being the price we pay for a free society and all that.

Mr. Ratcliffe is proposing that, instead of regulating the internet "commons", we should actively set out to broaden that idea... oh, but he says it better anyway:

The Net is a means to increased freedom and free communication of ideas and opinion is an end in itself. Without the wider context of the question of an American dream of a better world for our children and an international dream of a better world for everyone's children, free of hunger, ignorance and dogmatism, among a whole slew of human suffering that we might inflict on one another, the Net is just a distraction from the serious issues of policy that are reshaping the world as one where competition exists without cooperation.

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an alternative to the

I usually start the day with a quick scan through Google's news site, but memigo looks like an especially promising alternative.

And I think it's just a guy. One.

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an optimistic, forward-thinking group weblog

Worldchanging: Another World Is Here

This is mostly a reminder to see the kinds of things this 'blog pulls up. There are some interesting things here.

Especially, I think, the link to something called Bio-Memetic Architecture, which seems quite bizarre and linkworthy.

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More Gurdjieff-inspired writings...

Waking Up - Selections - by Charles T. Tart

I don't have time to do more than scan this right now. He seems to be saying some interesting things about psychology and spirituality. Hopefully, I'll read this later.

And.... Alex Burns' dissertation on Gurdjieff: it's fascinating and resource rich (just check out all that linkage!). I may have read this before, but it bears linking to and rereading, even so.

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November 17, 2003

photog: eat!

Matt Stuart flash photo gallery.

Eat it up yum, my photog!

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Sisyphus Shrugged - intrablog metarant

I've never read an "intrablog metarant" before, or at least not one labelled as such, so it seemed worth pointing at (is that what these things are? finger-pointing? many-fingered Ganesh (or is it Vishnu) pointing this way and that and there and whichway and whatway?). Some interesting points, though.

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There's nothing like a good apology to smooth those ruffled feathers!

Send Them Back!!

I'm especially fond of Method #3....

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Molly Ivins is right on...

"Call Me a Bush-Hater" by Molly Ivins

I like that Molly Ivins. She's got a nice head on her shoulders; some of that good ol' Texas straight-shootin'; a good dose of that home-brewed Southern common sense:

It is not necessary to hate George W. Bush to think he's a bad president. Grownups can do that, you know. You can decide someone's policies are a miserable failure without lying awake at night consumed with hatred.

Poor Bush is in way over his head, and the country is in bad shape because of his stupid economic policies.

If that makes me a Bush-hater, then sign me up.

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I've still been reading, but I got behind...

I'm guessing it was about two weeks ago that I finished reading The Star Fraction by Ken Macleod.

I don't know what it is about the UK right now, but there's a lot of neato-keen science fiction coming out of there these days [well, they came out a few years ago, but it's taken a few years for those books to be published in the States...], popping out of woodworks in all kinds of ways.

SO.... The Star Fraction: a deliriously weird, post-nation state UK, in which the entire country has been fractured (splintered really) into fringe political groups: religious fundies, anarchists, deep earther conservationists, communists, technophobes, technophiles and any other weird fringe political group that you can think of. Add in the heavy paw of the US/UN and a bizarrely separate "Space Command", whose sole purpose seems to be to defend against the sudden manifestation and generation of computerized artificial intelligence (that is, willing to nuke the planet to prevent it, etc.). The prose is also startlingly lyrical in places. I liked it. And, apart from its occasionally heavy-handed politicking, I think you will too.

You can read some of Ken MacLeod's more casual natterings on his very own website: highly recommended.

Here's a Ken MacLeod fan website: it's spare and lean and just the kind of low-bandwidth websites that I like to see (for all of my lowbandwidth friends out there).

Here's an interview: there's an interesting bit about human longevity and fiction.

Another interview: talks about being a kid and Russians in Space, among other things. Me, I had the Challenger explosion... I can see how it would be easier to have a more glamorous view of the Space Race back then.

Another interview. This one starts out rather dull but gets more interesting in the last third.


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November 11, 2003

Going to see Howard Dean

Of stony floors and tops of heads: seeing Howard Dean in the flesh...

So, I thought I'd get this down for rememberizing sake. (My rememberizer not being what it used to be--or if it ever was.) It was a long day and that first part of it would be better off not being rememberized, but when I got home I changed into my natty blue suit (the old one from days of yore, that groovy blue, is it cornflower blue? or maybe more of a seersucker blue? is there such a thing as seersucker blue?) the reason: I'd never been to a paid politicking session before (that is, *I* had to pay...) and I'd only decided to go at the last minute, because it was in my neighborhood, after all.

So, I strolled down the street in my swiffy blue suit and did my best not to get run over in the dark (success!). A muchness of walking later, and I arrived: feeling rather gleeful that I get to skip all the lines: having had the foresight to pay in advance. There was this nifty looking fellow with a turban and a long pointy gray beard. Little did I know, that I would keep seeing him all throughout the night. Even so, I didn't say hi.

They let me in and I strolled up the escalators (the Montgomery Park building is pretty swell, soaring (I almost said souring, can you belive it?) rafters and the like and great glass elevators crawling up the walls like so many snails... well, two. There were all kinds of folks hobnobbing around the place. Old and young and finely dressed and scatterbrained. I was feeling pretty fetching in my blue suit (buoyed by the not-so-lipstick-leaving kiss, from her, on my way out the door) and I beetle-lined right on over to the buffet line.

What a strange assortment of foodstuffs! It was Greek night for the Dean campaign, I guess. Olives, and triangular breads, and hummus-y looking dips and things, and goat cheese and chicken on a stick that looked like fried shrimp and cheese cake that was far more cheesy than cakey and some thing wrapped in a leaf that I can't, for the life of me, remember the name of.

There were huge cameras roaming around the vasty room and pinning down specimen under their flinty lights. Asking questions like: why do you like Howard Dean and other claptrap. (Not that the question is silly, but I don't see what the point is chatting with those one-eyed monsters. Chat for 20 minutes and they'll cut you down to a 5 second soundbite, making you look however they want...)

Sadly, I had forgotten my wallet at the home and couldn't partake of anything more scintillating than water. Though I did down that with great good gusto, mind! Everyone was clogged together in groups, firmly ignoring the bluegrass(?) band playing at the front. They were all right, in the sense that their music didn't make my ears bleed. I was thinking thoughts like so: Hullo! Why don't these blighters hire some local color? I mean, we've got some pretty good bands around these parts... Well, actually, I don't know if this band was local and maybe I'm being a narrow-minded stooge, but they just didn't scream Portland! to me while I was listening to them...

There was this guy who sidled up to me at one point (well, I don't know if he sidled or not, because I wasn't looking) and said: well, you look like you know what you're doing...

And I said: Well, actually, no...

And he said: What do you think they're going to do? Is he just going to come out?

And I said: Actually, I don't know. I've never been to one of these things before. Probably they'll have some speaking (though, I should have said "speechifying"! I don't get that word out nearly enough).

I introduced myself. He unzipped the beer that he had snuck in. A man after my own heart, I thought, wishing I'd thought of the sneaking of the beer thing. He also said he'd gone in with a borrowed student ID. He was wearing a strange multi-colored scarf, wooly jacket combo. From Michigan. Living in NE. We commiserated about the crappy economy and how tough it was for people our age (twenty-something) these days. Welcome to highest unemployment rate in the country! (well, maybe we're not the highest in the country anymore, but we're still not doing so great.) He said, we have got to get this guy (our president) out of there!

At that point, all of these suits started streaming out of this upstairs room and coming down the deactivated escalators from the third floor. Things seemed about to start!

A very tall black man who... ///flashback///I had held the door open for him as I entered! Only, he waved me through the door and he ended up holding the door open for me! It's always a weird feeling when that happens... ///flashback/// whose name I can't remember, but he's one of the campaign dudes in Oregon. A co-chairsomething or other of some such and such a thing. His job was to get the crowd all fired up, which you really have to do in Portland. (I think all the clouds and lack of sun send us into a kind of half-sleeping funk which takes a certain amount of energy to penetrate.)

He said, Hello Portland! or some such thing.

There was a vague mutter back from the audience. He laughed and then did some good old audience firing up stuff. By the end of it, everybody was feeling quite warm and toasty. I was even whoo-whooing a little bit! (I would've felt better about his speechifying and rabble-rousing if he hadn't been reading from a paper, but que sera... Case in point: As I look out at your enthusiastic... while eyes are firmly glued to paper... you see? A bit of dissonance there.)

(It was around this point that someone knocked over my new friend's beer, that he had set down on the ground in order to clap. Mustache-man looked sheepish, but scurried off quickly. My new friend, a true Portlander even though he's from Michigan, scooped up his beer faster than my eye could see.)

Then, a very popular former governnor, Barbara Roberts (?) and some other fellow--both fellow co-suchandsuches for the Dean Oregon somethingorother--came on and did some more speechifying, only they did it tag-team style!

They kind of switched lines like movie stars do at the Academy awards when they're reading off the names of the nominees. They did this cute little thing where she would say something like (and I'm sorting of making things up here, because my rememberizer's so bad:

Imagine having a president who can balance the budget!

And then he would tag-team in and say:

Imagine having a president who eats a la peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

(Well, not really, but I do wish that they had thrown in some humor in there. Maybe a non sequitur or two. That's what's missing from politics these days: non sequiturs! Anyway, their whole thing was very cute and I was sort of chuckling and grinning along.)

Finally, the man of the hour came on, and boy was he sprightly! I mean, spry. Or, basically he seemd to have a lot of vim and vigour. He was quite energetic and enthused and I thought, now, there's a man who's had a satisfying dinner! Maybe they had lamb kebabs up there in that upper room, or something.

Dean went on to give a very familiar speech (one I'd heard most of back in August at that rally thing I went to), but which had some interesting additions. The new additions being tried out on the crowd, perhaps? (Sadly, my brain is remarkably short on details.) The amazing thing about Dean is that, in spite of not always gauging the crowd very well (if you've seen some preachermen do their thing, you'll know what I'm talking about) and sometimes stumbling over his words a bit and sometimes saying words that are completely the opposite of the word he means to say, the crowd just adores the man. He has a lot of enthusiasm, that's part of it, but the only thing that I can think is that he's really telling people what they want to hear.

Which goes something like this: "There's one lie that people like me always tell to people like you during election time. And that's: vote for me and I'll solve all of your problems. Well, I'm telling you right now, I won't solve all of your problems. Only you have the power to make this country the way you want it to be. This campaign isn't about me, it's about you taking your country back. You have the power..." and then he says that some more times. And he sounds like he means it. And he doesn't sound like a politician. And I wish he sounded more like this during some of the televised debates I've seen him in.

And basically, I think that he's got a pretty damn good shot at becoming the next President of the United States. I like him.

I tried to go shake his hand after the speech, but about 800 other people had the same idea. So, I settled for riding down the escalator after him. As I was riding down it, he walked beneath me, about fifteen feet away, and I saw the top of his head. Startlingly, there was this spontaneous clapping and chanting that sprang up when people realized that Howard Dean was walking by them. It was neat. I started walking home.

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November 09, 2003

Are new inroads being made into politics?

An essay by Jay Rosen: "Politics in a Different Key". Are new net-enabled communications tools allowing new inroads to be made into Ye Olde Politickal Game? I sure hope so.

Parts of this essay made me think of Robert Redford's THE CANDIDATE, a candidate for the Senate in California.

I keep wanting all of this net-idealism to pay off sometime. That would be groovy. Maybe I'm too starry-eyed, but I hope not.

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November 06, 2003

strange pk dick story

PKD, the Unicorn, and Soviet Psychotronics

As per i's request: MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE.

I couldn't find a used copy at Powells for the other one, I'm afraid.

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November 05, 2003

Kevin Sites - doing good work in Iraq

Basically, a journalistic blog of this photojournalist currently in Iraq. Good stuff.

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Browsing the human genome... online!

It's too bad I have absolutely no idea what any of this means...

Guess I should have a chat with my younger sister...

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Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Hey, burn an effigy for me, would ya?

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oooh, this really gets my goat...

So, without revealing anything about anything, I'm subscribed to this "industry" email newsletter. Today, I get one that goes something like this:
Some guy asks: There's a website with free (FREE!) electronic texts for download; can I link to them directly?

To Which somebody from something called the copyright group replies: Oh, no! You mustn't link to those things! You know the hullabulloo that downloaded music causes, you mustn't mustn't mustn't LINK to something that you may get for free. (!?!?!?)

This kind of thing makes me want to scream... IF YOU (the owner of a piece of writing, whathaveyou) PUT SOMETHING ON THE INTERNET, YOU ARE AGREEING THAT OTHER PEOPLE MAY DOWNLOAD IT; LINK TO IT, WHATEVER!

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November 04, 2003

November 03, 2003

the book chatter that i promised

So, last week I finished reading Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly about Security in an Uncertain World by Bruce Schneier. This guy knows his stuff! (I mean, as far as I can tell, having no professional experience in 'security'.)

If there's one book that the government (that weighty federalized mass of arms and legs and pens) should be reading, it's this one.

To get a flavor of the stuff he writes about (which I can hardly do justice), you should go to his website. Specifically, his July 2003 and October 2003 email newsletters (which you can subscribe to, if it strikes your fancy).

There's an index of all those newsletters here.

Hell, not just the government, but everybody should be reading this book and starting to think about this very important thing.


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November 01, 2003

I like Chaucer's framework better...

An interview with UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff about the use of "framing" language in politics.

Most interesting.

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