Dickens of a Blog

(September 2008)

If you want to comment, then you can contact me. I will post comments to the journal as soon as possible, unless you ask me not to share them.

September 30, 2008. Tuesday.

(11:38:14 PM CDT) America Doesn't Seem Likely to Win a Nobel Prize for Lit This Year, Read Why

http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/books/09/30/nobel.literature.ap/index.html. Headline reads: Nobel judge: U.S. too ignorant to compete.

The gist? Horace Engdahl says that American writers are too insular, too caught up in their own culture, to win a Nobel Prize of Literature. They fail to participate in "the dialogue". More on this in a second.

First, I want to take a moment and and put forth that CNN.com is being a tad disingenius with it's headline. It is taking a quote about American literature being ignorant of "the dialogue" and trying to make it seem more inflammatory than I think it was intended. I think he is more attacking the insular aspect, moreso than the ignorant aspect. Maybe not.

Secondly, before I move on, I do find it funny that he is using a prize that he oversees, a subjective prize based on a general idea of worth, as proof that he is correct. This is like using the fact that your sister won the talent show for the past six years in a row as proof that you were right in voting for her. Except, you know, with 1.3 million dollars at stake.

Thirdly, is the Nobel Prize for Literature snooty, snobbies, and elitist? yes. Go back and read fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh word in this paragraph to see a reason why. This is not the Madison County Book Award. This is a prize that is supposed to go towards celebrating leaps in the evolution of literature. It is up for a good ole fashioned argument as to whether or not the past few years have actually achieved this goal, but that's its point. It is to celebrate that literature that stands out and above other literature. Luminaries that will not and cannot be forgotten. Yep, snooty is a good word to describe it.

Finally, on the dialogue. For those not in the know of what I am talking about, it's important to understand the concept. I will be brief. Philosophy, Science, Literature, Art, and all of the big things that make our life better can be thought of, in one model, as a dialogue between the current trends and past trends. Current trends answer questions and ideas of the past, and ask new questions and make up new ideas that will be responded to by the future. Current trends also discourse together, a conversation amongst memes, and develop into a general identity. In this model, a philosophy, or a novel, does not exist as a being in and of itself, but as a moment on a time line. It fits into its place.

What I take him as saying, when he says we are insular and ignorant of it, is that we write novels and literature based on the trends of America, not as a response to the shaping of literature, not in response to what the world needs from strong literature right now. I'll leave that up to you as to whether you agree or not. I will say, though, that I see the same basic problems in his statement as I see in people who hold that "All American Beer is Watered Piss!". It is an attack on mainstream, pop versions. It is an attack on the readily exported "America" that is the syndication of Fox and CBS. I will admit that there doesn't seem to be many Americans actually trying to make strong, consistent literature (probably less than 100, if I had to just randomly guess) but there are some, and to say there are none is too much of a blanket statement.

Feel free to discuss.

Si Vales, Valeo

(11:47:04 AM CDT) I'm Feelin' It

God. If I am going to wake up feeling hung-over two days in a row, I really need to retcon my past couple of nights to include booze. A mixture of insomnia and random high humidity plus pollen is going to get me. On top of that, last night's tennis game, in which I got to pull off a couple of nice scrambles, has apparently turned my knees and lower back old. Jesus. Yay for painkillers just to face the day.

My horoscope this morning says "Intelligence isn't always about what books you read. You're as smart as you feel." What if I feel smart, and I do feel smart, because I read books. I think that's what we call a loophole. Maybe a paradox. Ok, not really. I feel smart because I am smart, you plebes. Oh, yeah, that's right.

In other smart news, CNN.com has a video of a man punching a shark. I haven't watched it yet, but if someone would watch it and then tell me how awesome it is, that would be awesome.

Now that I got the random little thoughts out of the way, a couple of more substantial ones. One of the reasons my sinuses are hurting today is because we had some sort of fire nearby last night. Never could quite pinpoint where, or what type of fire, but sometimes it would smell like burning rubber or wet lumber and sometimes it just smelled like burning leaves or something. I suppose it could have been both, someone may have raked up their yard and that pile might have included bits of trash. It also could have been a housefire or a burning car or a burned out something. I don't know. I didn't see any notices on Al.com, but then their coverage of things like crimes and fires is really random.

At the worst point it was so bad it was setting off our smoke detector. I went outside, after shutting windows and getting the AC going to filter the air. I could hear a couple of other smoke detectors randomly beeping (not a sustained beep, more of a "tweet" every minute or so). There didn't seem to be any specific apartment at the cause of it, nor did I see anything like a definite smokiness to the air that would give me something to call the fire department about. I looked around for a bit, and then made a note to check later. I never did, which I kind of feel bad about now, but I didn't get strong sleep the night before and was starting to get kind of spaced out last night. I went ahead and trying to go to bed about 2am, with a couple of Valerian Root capsules in me. Sometime about 4:30am I suppose I was out. Never did hear the smoke detector go off again, and never did hear any alarms outside.

Also, with today being the last day of September, I've decided to do something that Sarah has wanted me to do for a while. I made a small order through Amazon, but once that is up then I won't be buying anything else for myself for the next three months. She wants me to do this for Christmas every year, and rightly so. I'm bad about going "Oh, I want this movie" and then just buying it, making it hard if not impossible to actually get me any gift without just picking something up at random. I went to do it a year or two ago, and then broke the promise left and right. Heh. This year, partially thanks to having no real money ad infinitum, I'm going to do me best to stick with it. The only exceptions to it I can think of are getting new productions from HPLHS if they release any (they are working on a couple of projects, but it is not known how long before they get them finished), maybe a single volume of the new EC Archives since those things are kind of hard to track down after a couple of months, and I have a couple of free DVD coupons that I have to spend before the year is up. Outside of those 3-4 things, though, I am good, and those things are only picked out because of potential limited availability.

Let's see if it helps Sarah to get me something for Christmas or our anniversary. Heh.

Si Vales, Valeo

September 29, 2008. Monday.

(09:30:43 PM CDT) Happy Banned Books Week! Let's Have a Burning!

It's that favorite time of the year - BANNED BOOKS WEEK - when we pick a handful of books to consign to greater oblivion for reasons moral, personal, or political. What books will you choose to ban this year? I'm going to have to go ahead and recommend Paul of Dune. Just let it die, man.

Oh, and maybe Twilight, because day walkers are cheese. Glittery, overly emotional cheese. Like a really wet Brie.

So, yeah, that's my ban list. What about yours?

Si Vales, Valeo

(01:30:17 PM CDT) Only the Geek (450 pages, the Morning After)

Possessed by that perverse demon Pervoluto*, I read through Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said and then through Cormac McCarthy's The Road last night (with other, minor reading also done on the side). That's something like 450 pages on the nature of grieving, loss of self, loss of identity, despairing and uncaring worlds, utter distrust in our fellow humans, and bittersweet endings. I teared up a couple of times, but overally just couldn't stop until I had finished them both. About 6:30am this morning, I blinked a couple of times, put down the just finished The Road, and slept for six hours. Now I'm slightly "hung over", blinking my eyes, sipping a mixture of oolong tea and pink lemonade, and listening to The Orbs Orbvs Terrarvm.

Geeks. I swear to god.

Si Vales, Valeo

*: I choose "pervoluto" (Latin for "I read") because it's pun with perverse. I feel it interesting to point out that another word for "I read" (due to the fact that books used to be scrolls) is evolutio, which means, much like pervoluto, literally "I unroll". Evolution, as a term, refers to the unraveling of a text, and could have just as easily been called Pervolution (Darwin's Theory of Pervolution does have a nice ring to it). Pervert, however, comes from a "similar", but not related, root, meaning "to twist". Other words that are closely related to Latin words for reading include Lego ("I gather", meaning in some uses "I gather words") and Volvo (also meaning "I turn" or "I unroll").

September 26, 2008. Friday.

(02:19:53 PM CDT) Two Conversations about Library Science, Random Musings about Said Subject

I've had two conversations (one via chat, one in person) over the past couple of days about the topic of "library science". The most recent of which was with Austin, who isn't huge into educational matters, who was confused as to why you would ever want to study such a thing. The more poignant of which was with Katie, a fellow soon-to-be-MLISed, in which I discussed the changing issues facing librarians. The two combined together, along with a conversation I had a week or two ago with Sarah, to make me think about the following things.

If you take the general industry of focus as being "information", it seems that you can divide the main participants of maintaining and utilizing the information into three rough groups. I am not referring to the customer/client, who is looking for information. They are assumed to be a given. Nor am I talking about the researcher, who generates new information, whom also is assumed to be a given. These two are the bookends, to use a pun, to the three general classes I am talking about.

The first class, as I see it, is the Librarian (chosen first because this is the closest to my own interest). Librarians, in various forms, are the direct, physical handlers of information. They shelf and sort books. They store and inventory journals. They organize and promote. I'm thinking beyond the simple idea of a "public" or even "academic" librarian, into anyone whose field involves maintaining direct contact with information: database handlers, specimen assistants to a lab, etc. They rarely make the rules they work within, and generally work either as an auxiliary to the researcher or as a liaison with the customer/client. They do not necessarily become experts of the contents of information, but are often well-versed with how to handle it.

One thing I find interesting is the fact that Librarians used to be possibly the greatest of the three classes. They handled primary documents whose value was immense due to the great cost involved in replication. Also, the number of documents used to be more manageable, meaning that a Librarian had a fair chance of being familiar, if not well versed, in all of them. As the number of documents increased and as their cost decreased, the Librarian has been downgraded to more of a clerk position. They are not the gateway to research, so much as an assistant to reserach.

The second general class is the Communicator and has as it's two large subclasses the Journalist and the Academic. These are the people that delve into the information and communicate it to people at large, often with relative high degrees of specialization. A communicator may create new information, but more often creates new ways of looking at information. They are, of course, valuable, because they are able to dissolve large blocks of raw data and spit it out into more manageable chunks. They also are potentially powerful, because they way they release information can vastly alter the public's perception of what the information entails. There are always massive debates about what sort of integrities a Communicator should have, and there always will be. The editorial choices made by the Communicators often inflate the primary sources and create a larger data width. This is their flipside, that they can obfuscate raw information by overwhelming it. Their largest drawback is that they can sometimes overly simplify information into something that is untrue, such as the belief that Europeans needed Columbus to believe the world was round.

The last general class is the Artisan. These are the people that design the technology that makes information send, retrieval, communication, and storage possible. They include typesetters, bookbinders, editors, shelf builders, mail carriers, network admins, and website designers, among several others. The Artisans often design patterns that are not particular to any given instance of information but are applied, at best, to particular subsets. The primary duty of the Artisan is not to work directly with the information, but to set up tools and concepts that will allow or alter the flow of information. In some cases, say Wikipedia or a bookshelf, the Artisan's plan may be only slightly influenced by the concepts of the type of information. In others, say an editor or typesetter, the information may be specific to each instance, but general schemes and techniques will be overlap all of the instances, and will be more important to the Artisan than any given instance.

Now that information is "cheap", and the search for and maintaining of information is amazingly democratic (with all the good and bad that implies), the Artisan is quickly becoming the king of information. He or she alters the flow of information by changing the rules by which information is accessible. Cover design and blurb text, chosen by Artisans, makes a huge difference in the selling of books. Website designers, especially in this new "2.0", make regulations and design choices, sometimes arbitrarily, that determine how information can be accessed. The idea that the Internet allows everyone to research anything means that the designers of Google's search algorithm have had the largest personal impact on information technology of the past decade. We find the sites their algorithms choose, therefore we find the information their algorithms choose. This isn't a slam against Google, but a marvel at how something so utterly opaque, the complete opposite of the old Librarian who transparently discusses the reasons for recommending a journal for research, now dominates how so much of us look at information.

What to do with these musings? I don't know. this is just the first step in something of a personal manifesto about how information is to be handled, at least how I want to handle it. I know that, in my interests, I combine different aspects of all three. I enjoy helping people find information, enjoy working with it directly. I do research and talk about information. I also work on ways and means of transporting information, from my own website to my extremely open ebook project that I am working on. I suspect that a lot of people working with information cross lines, from Researcher to Client to Journalist to Artisan, on a regular basis. Now comes the bit where I take these ideas, and I see how well they fit the real world.

Si Vales, Valeo

(12:54:46 AM CDT) Still Saying It Makes Sense in Russellville (Dead Foot Mystery Explained!)

From http://blog.al.com/breaking/2008/09/tests_suspected_childs_foot_ac.html.

Police say ttests on a foot believed to be from a young child determined that it was actually from a dead bear.

In other awesome news, I watched Redneck Zombies tonight. Those are two awesome things to do, reading that article and watching that movie. Back to back, almost.

Si Vales, Valeo

September 24, 2008. Wednesday.

(12:13:42 PM CDT) IOLET: Music from the World of Neal Stephenson's Anathem

Yesterday, I got to show my fandom by receiving a slipcase promotional copy of IOLET. It's a seven track CD of various chant music which you can preview (I believe in it's entirety) via Stephenson's website. I definitely recommend you give Track 2 ("Thousander Chant") a spin. Especially about the 3:30 mark. Wow and neato come to mind. Sort of Tuvan but not Tuvan at the same time. You also might like Track 3 ("Proof (using finite projective geometry)") as a demonstration of the other side of the style. This CD was apparently only available at a couple of cons, promotional gatherings, and the ARC copy of the book. There is a guy selling copies on ebay for a few dollars (he is up to $4.25, now, it has went up slightly from when I ordered) who I suppose snagged a stack from one of said events and is trickling it out to make it seem more scarce? I don't know, maybe he just had a couple. Maybe he has a whole box. It's sort of trivial, since the CD is limited item and 3-4 dollars isn't a bad price to pay.

I really dig the CD. It makes for quite different and intriguing listening. Of course, I also listen to quite a bit of chant and throat singing. If that's not your thing, you probably won't like it. I'm not reviewing it outright just yet because you can hear the songs for yourself above and I figure it's best you do it that way. I am intrigued by the mathematical significance of the names. If you read David Stutz's IOLET blog over at the synthesist, he brings up the names: "Many people who have heard pieces from the Anathem music project might think that the music is simply a fiction that accompanies the book, and that the science-related titles are a fanciful nod to the plot. As the composer, I certainly hope that the music stands on its own in this way, but for the geeks among us, I also think that I ought to explain that there is another level to the music. Most of the pieces are direct attempts at mapping mathematical structures used or named in the book into music. "

If you head over to CDBaby, they have the official copy of the CD for sale in physical form or as a digital download. The main difference (only difference?) is the inclusion of a new track 5 which pushes the other tracks down (doesn't replace the track 5 on the promo copy). It's the longest piece on the official copy, at 13+ minutes, and it is the only piece to use female voices. You can preview it through the page above, or you can just click here to hear a 20 second clip (LGT the preview "stream" at CDBaby).

If you are wondering about the cost versus value, there is an additional bonus in that the profits will go towards helping The Clock of the Long Now. In other words, if you pick up the $10 mp3 copy (which is how I bought it, when it became available), its the same as donating to the Clock and getting free music.

Definitely recommend you give it a sampling if nothing else.

Also, if you have the promo copy through whichever means, and are wondering if the official copy is worth it for a single song, I will leave that up to you. I like "Mascheroni Circles" (probably my second favorite) and consider the cause to be interesting enough to be worth it. However, there is a chance that it will available for purchase as a single track later and the chance that it will be torrentable or something increases over time ("On a long enough timelime, everything becomes available on The Pirate Bay"?).

Si Vales, Valeo

September 23, 2008. Tuesday.

(09:23:17 PM CDT) Walking Down to UAH, I Hate Leaf Blowers, I Adore Brian Keene's Blog

I have this uncle, see, who has played around with a few explosions in his day. When I read Brian Keene's blog entry about blowing things up and coming to grips with how daddy's can be too soft sometimes, I was surprised at how the first paragraph is pretty much an "Uncle Roy" story near verbatim:

Before we begin, I’d like to apologize to my neighbors (all of whom I suspect read this Blog) for yesterday’s rather massive explosion. I honestly did not know that an open-topped, steel, fifty-five gallon drum would explode like that just by adding gasoline and a dozen aerosol cans. Suffice to say, there were more flames atop yesterday’s burn barrel than there were on yesterday evening’s birthday cake. You can rest assured that I did this strictly for research purposes, for I am a writer, and life is one big research project. And I think we all learned something from the incident–that standing that close to such an explosion results in you losing most of your back hair and suffering first-degree burns on your arm.

The rest of the blog entry is also worth reading.

I got my butt out of the apartment today and headed down UAH way. Just figured I would coast around campus and then pick a shady spot and read Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders. I ended up wandering less than intended, but did find a shady enough spot in what used to be called "the quad" even though it wasn't a quad. That thing with the slab and the volleyball court and the benches and flowers and the squirrels. That thing. I just sat there and read the book over a couple of hours and drank water and watched people go by. Then I listened to an episode of Robert Rankin's The Brightonomicon and watched people go by. Then I walked down to John's Big Brother and picked up some vegetables and then went home. About a four hour outing. It was mostly fun. I haven't really been out on my own in a while. I don't drive, and that's a big part of it, but since my time as Manager there simply hasn't been much reason for me to leave the apartment for more than a scroll around the block without someone else around. Getting out and walking around for four hours and not really being known was relaxing.

As an aside, something that I noticed that was different from when I went to UAH was the number of student smokers is down (at least this afternoon). It occured to me after I had been there for an hour and I saw a guy lighting a cigarette. The fact that it stood out to me was what made me pay attention. When I was student, a fair number smoked. I would say maybe one in five or six. Enough that you regularly had people sitting around where I was talking and smoking. The front of CCRH and the library would have a little clump of smokers, each, and the side doors of the UC. There were no smokers in front of those buildings when I passed by. In fact, for the remaining three hours, the only other smokers I saw was another guy and this one probably 19 or so year old female that looked sort of aggressively around at everyone while she was lighting up. Next time I go to campus I'll have to go by the front of Morton Hall and see if there is still a cloud of smoke there. If I can actually see the front of the building, I will know that student smoker numbers are down.

Something that was UP, however, was leaf blowers. Look, apologies if you are a leaf blower fanatic, or if leaf blowers have made your life better somehow, but is there any dumber invention in such wide use? They take as long as a rake, involve ten times the noise pollution (when they are at their quietest), have to use about as much energy as a rake, and their whole purpose seems to rest on "Why rake up fucking leaves when you can blow them into the street and your neighbor's yard?". I'm sure there are reasons for them, like emptying out gutters and the like, the kind of thing where you use them and then rake up the aftermath, but the standard use I saw today was to blow bits of cut grass all over the place, including back on the user, and on all the people walking by. I just don't get them. Assuming they are something I should understand, someone help me to understand them.

Alright, time for finishing up Job so I can get some sleep.

Si Vales, Valeo

September 22, 2008. Monday.

(02:00:01 PM CDT) Bag o' Links of Interest (and one of utility)!

Here are five random things that I noted this afternoon.

Apparently a child's foot was found by a dog this weekend. No other remains are yet to be found. That's creepy, and for some reason Russellville seems like a place where something like that could happen.

For those who like Exploding Dog (the art strip, not bombastic canines), there is a weird distant cousin to the idea called The Creature In My Head. The artist takes odd little phrases and draws a little monster to go along with it.

According to a British article, the average British citizen breaks at least one law a day. While a good number of the average infractions make sense (speeding, illegal downloading, etc) there are a couple that are odd (even when I know the rule in question) to mine American eyes: "Not having a TV license" and "Having sex under the age of 16". When you think about it, I imagine that on average, this holds true for the world, though, the breaking of at least one law a day.

Sarah asked me something about food ratings. I dug around for a bit and finally came up with this link: http://foodscores.state.al.us/. It allows you to search for food ratings by name and by city, and you can sort by date and by food rating and that of sort of thing. It's one of the things I try to keep up with, so I'm definitely going to bookmark that one.

Finally, apparently M83 released another video a couple of months ago. It's another weird little surreal high school epic. I recommend it for a watching, if you have the time:

Si Vales, Valeo

(11:13:44 AM CDT) James Gunn's PG PORN, in which Rule 34 implodes?

I'm not 100% sure what PG PORN is, though it fits the humor of James Gunn and it's description intrigues: "How many times have you been watching a great porn film - you're really enjoying the story, the acting, the cinematography - when, all of the sudden, they ruin everything with PEOPLE HAVING SEX?". I will definitely be tuning in on October 8 to find out if this is a prank, genius art, or a waste of time.

As a preview, the website does share with us the following picture of Nathan Fillion in the midst of a nonsexual "o face". Ah, Captain Malcolm Reynolds, is there anything you can't do?:

Si Vales, Valeo

(12:42:14 AM CDT) It's a Matter of Appeal (i.e. bad puns and Cory Doctorow's theory on publishing crisis)

As I sit here, starting to peel because, for a man who is at least midly allergic to sunlight, I did a dumb thing; I am scanning some various book industry links and BoingBoing and I find one that is both. Cory Doctorow made a post (for those unfamiliar with the BoingBoing method, they post links to other blogs and cool things, mostly, along with commentary) with a link to an article about the problems with book publishers: Publishing Crises (incompletely) explained.

While the article deals with the fact that advances and publisher expectations for books seem to be a roller coaster ride (something I have pointed out as an outsider only casually linked to the chain) that occasionally goes off the track, Doctorow's post points out something that did not occur to me. Namely, books are mostly encountered in non-bookstore places. You see them in Walmart, Walgreens, Target, airports, bus stations, drug stores, convenience stores (though rarely), dollar stores and the like. They tend to come in two types: first run and remainder. The remainder stores (dollar stores, for instance) buy books from the remainder market. Some, possibly even a big some, are remainder books not marked as such and passed on at a slight discount. Walmart does this some, and most dollar stores primarily do this. However, the majority come from prepackaged sets mailed out by megadistributors (say, Ingram) who choose a wide stock of books for stores to carry. I'm sure that stores like Walmart have some say in their selection, but the choice is largely made by algorithms and simple numerical energy. James Patterson will sell, therefore James Patterson will be sold.

Quantities are often a weird thing, as well, and this is something that Doctorow doesn't cover. Even when smaller run books are given a chance at non-book venues, they are done so in singles. I found, initially, some of Gaiman's stuff back before he became quite the household name at my most local Walmart. There were single copies. If I bought it, I never saw it again. Other books had a similar fate. Several times a friend of mine would have a book that I could not find. Why? The single copy that Walmart was ever going to carry was apparently snatched up and done for.

And that, friends and loved ones, is why I used to actually get excited when my brother Danny and I would drive down to Mobile and spend five or six hours shopping at Books-a-Million. How excited? Way, WAY, excited.

I do find it interesting though that the same process (allowing programs to figure out which titles to buy) actually works out well for DVDs and, historically, though not so much as of late if industry news is accurate, CDs at Walmart. All day long you can find poor quality doublepacks of DVDs going for $5.50 and twoferten. Maybe, you know, just maybe, I get to whip out elitist card (I know, bad Doug!) and say the reason this model no longer works for books, the reason why it was used to begin with, is because we are overall losing our respect for them. The other day I mentioned to an old friend about the problem facing librarians and his response "Well, yeah, they are a dying breed, we all have the Internet, now" which goes to show a lot about the kind of issues book lover face.

And, it saddens me to say, I don't see book lovers actually winning this one.

Si Vales, Valeo

September 21, 2008. Sunday.

(11:38:52 PM CDT) M.C. Lego, or it's hard to make a joke about M.C. Escher's name without sounding like you are referring to a Trip Hop superstar

While reading this Fark thread about this awesome Lego rendition of a aircraft carrier, I was made informed of this guy who does M.C. Escher prints in Lego form. I geeked out. Why did I geek out? I couldn't tell you why besides of the fact that things like this excite me:

That's not all! The people who brought you crazy stairs, also brought you, well, more crazy stairs!:

Somewhere in there he talks about how he makes the illusion of reality getting cracked open (its sort of a perceptive angle thingie) and then he links to the virtual rides portion of the official M.C. Escher website. The virtual rides is neat, but not super cool, since it is handled different than what I imagined. What it does do, however, is shows a way that some of the reality bending angles are possible to be built, depending on how perspective works. It is a little like seeing a magic trick disected by another magician who is showing another way of doing it, but maybe worth a time waster if you have time to waste.

Si Vales, Valeo

(01:03:30 PM CDT) Aftermath to the "Long Walk". Follow-up to Cyclist's Death. Hurricane Ike Photography.

Friday hit Sarah and I harder than I realized. After the "Talk Like a Pirate" Party, I came back here and slept for right at twelve hours, which should have been enough to rest any weary old soul. However, pretty much the whole of Saturday was a wash. We had two potential social gatherings (one here, one at the shop) and did neither. The first real sign that we were not going to be able to move much was when I played through the Flight of the Conchords radio play. By the end, I was sort of a lump in a chair and Sarah was fast asleep. I let her take the nap, half dozed whole surfing the net, and then eventually went to John's Big Brother to pick up the stuffs to make some hamburgers and ate in. It was kind of awesome. We sat back and did the whole brain dead boob tube experience. Three episodes of Trinity Blood, an episode of Engine Sentail Go-Onger, and five or six episodes of Kamen Rider Kiva. That's more subtitled action than you can shake a stick at. Then Sarah passed out and I stayed up and alternated between light reading and light napping until sometime this morning, a good five or six hours than I figured I could stay up. Passed out good, slept to 9am, and feel a lot better today. Sarah does, as well, so I think we'll survive our own "stupidity". Heh.

Also wanted to leave a quick link to a follow-up on the cyclist death: Cellphone Cited in Cyclist's Death. Looks like a collaboration of unfortunate events. The bike swung out for some reason, and the SUV driver looked down at a beeping cellphone. Had the two events not happened at the exact same time, it wouldn't have happend. Some people have lept on the fact that the helmet was knocked off as proof that the cyclist didn't care for her own safety. I'm willing to be that if we strap a helmet on anyone and then strike them about 40 mph, it's not going to handle it too well. This is cyclist helmet, designed to take about 15-25mph hits, not car crashes.

Also, just to get the link out of my "For Linking" bookmarks, I came across this rather awe inspiring set of pictures taking during and after hurricane Ike. I grew up close to the coast (about an hour away, depending on how you drive) and often hurricanes would come through with some amazing power. We would get rivers that would be 10-20 feet above their banks, maybe ten times wider than they normally were, and we would get swaths of forest shattered by winds. We never got anything like this. I used to be pretty sure that I would end up in Mobile, AL. While that isn't likely to happen now for other reason, I think the past couple of big-name hurricanes has nailed that potential closed.

September 20, 2008. Saturday.

(01:17:14 PM CDT) Doug and Sarah's Little Adventure (Urban Hiking + Bus Riding)

Sarah and I are hike fans. We enjoy getting out for several hours and hiking around. We are also walking fans, and enjoy being pedestrians and strolling about. At some point in time, we decided that several factors ((a) heat, (b) poison ivy, (c) spiders, (d) gas to get there, (e) etc) would reduce our ability to do the traditional hike on Monte Sano or Hays Nature Preserve until sometime October, and that with a little gusto we could turn sub/urban strolling into more a full hike experience. I needed a few additions. I would have to increase length from a two mile or so scenario to something greater than four. I wanted there to be terrain differences, ups and downs and different sorts of ground to walk on. While destinations are fine, and a good goal, I also wanted to incoporate a sense of "trailblazing", of a randomly picking paths, and the sense of taking breaks and stopping to refuel. It would be hard for me to sit down and say exactly where the line crosses from being a pedestrian into an urban hiker, but the line was crossed yesterday.

We set out at about 9:15am yesterday morning from our apartment. We took a quick walk up to Bojangles and got some breakfast (recommend their ham biscuits and steak biscuits, I do) before cutting through to the UAH campus, with a stop over at Tuesday Morning, just to see what they had, and heading over to Morton Hall to see if we could visit the long time den mother of the UAH Honor's Program: Betty Cole. Betty wasn't there and so we headed down to the Credit Union to pick up a couple rolls of quarters and then hit Holmes and headed towards Downtown. We stopped off and picked up some waters before doing so. The day, which wasn't scorching, was already proving to be hot enought to hurt. We crossed Jordan at about 12:15pm.

The next stage was kind of rough. Those who have went hiking over rocks and rough ground and have spent a long time walking over sidewalks will tell you, usually, that the latter is rougher. It is. Not at first. Maybe not even for the first half hour. After the hour or so it took us to get from Jordan to Monroe street, though, it was starting to feel a bit rough on the bottom of our feet. We made a couple of random stops here or there to see things, but that portion of the trip is also the most boring, with very little to do besides look around at a few closed buildings and admire the number shopping carts someone has abandoned down in the stream right past Triana. There is some weird playground off to the left (if you are facing Downtown) that I do not quite understand. It seems to be fenced in on all sides and doesn't have an obvious way to enter. I'm sure if I had crossed the street (we were on the right side) then I could have seen the path in, but I find it fun to picture it as its own little microcosm.

Once you complete that tedious stretch (made tolerable because of a fair amount of shade and some odd sights, however few) you are Downtown and can wander about at leisure. It was a few minutes past One (1:10pm or so) and I knew we wanted to hit up Garden Cove before 3pm, when they close on Fridays. We headed down Holmes until Kaffee Klatsch, and then went up Clinton until Green and headed out to Garden Cove. It would have been around 2pm, factoring in the stops and waiting at pedestrian crossings. We were definitely feeling it. Even with the pleasant stops and side excursions, we had beeen on our feet since about 10am, when we left Bojangles. It had turned out to be hotter than expected, and we were showing signs of sunburn already. I decided that we would lunch at Garden Cove, rest for half an hour before continuing.

After picking up some bulk pumpkin seed cereal and a bag of raw sugar, we grabbed some plums, some apples, some honey & pistachio bars (with mixed fruits and other seeds, excellent trail food), and some sesame treats along with a trio of Honest Tea's cold drinks and made lunch in the Cove's gazebo, kicking off our shoes and sitting back for a bit.

After lunch, our next destination was to retrace our steps and head down to the park to take another brief break (as well as get off the hard surface we had been mostly walking on since before Noon). This is the only time during the day that we had any issues with being pedestrians. As I went to cross the street about Todd Towers, I had stepped out into a crosswalk and some jerk in a truck, who at the time was a good 30 feet away, refused to slow down at all and kind of sped up, forcing me to back up. He ended up passing by me only a few inches away. Had I swung my arm forward he would have hit it. Part of me wishes I had just stepped out and refused to step back, but medical visits are rarely fun, so I did not not and it's for the best.

We stopped by Sam & Gregg's (sp?) to see if Niko was about, and finding him not there, went into the park and enjoyed dangling our feet in the water and sitting and walking on grass. Unfortunately, cloud cover started picking up and the temperature dropped as the wind increased. The enjoyable cool was marred by the chance that this could lead to rain. We scooted down to the library (puzzling over the fact that there doesn't seem to be a crosswalk to cross from the park to Monroe between the intersection at Church Street and, half a mile down the road, at the parking garage. The road there is kind of loosely traveled, so it's easy enough to cross without one, but there is even an intersection about the middle that has a stop light that would make a natural choice. I suppose they expect people to go under the bridge and then come up the grass on the other side. Or maybe there used to be one before they changed the bridge and they never put it back? I don't know.

At the library, Sarah checked out a copy of The Road and I bought a collection of Poirot novels by Agatha Christie (yay for $1.50 at the Friends of the Library store). We were notably exhausted at this time. The promise of an hour and a half of walking just to get back home appealed us not at all. Instead, I whipped out my little shuttle bus map, and we figured out the transfer station was only about a mile away. It was kind of hot, the promise of rain apparently gone, now, but not an unpleasant walk down Monroe and Church to get to the Visitor Center and the transfer station. We plopped down, waiting for Bus #4, and then realized the Tourist Loop bus would be there sooner and stop just as close to our apartment. We paid $2 and rode it down to Julia Street. A quick walk later we were back at home and all was well.

I have a good sunburn today, and feel quite tired. Sarah is the same, but seems to have faired better overall. It was fun. What's more, I can now attest that the Huntsville Bus system is actually better designed than I realize. When you get the shuttle schedule, it only lists a handful of stops for each Bus, but there are actually quite a few more stops than that. And the drivers are friendly. The seats are comfortable. With the transfer station (and, admittedly, the chance of having to wait for a bit), you can get to quite a lot of places in Huntsville. If you have to get there in a hurry, it might not help, but as long as you plan ahead and bring something to read while waiting at the station, I don't see it being a huge problem. Whether or not is cost effecient for you depends on a handful of things. It costs $1 each way whether you going a couple of miles or ten miles. If you lived South Huntsville and wanted to visit Madison Square Mall (or the Space and Rocket Center) then I think it would be worth it, gas wise. If you lived on Julia street and wanted to visit the same, probably not, but once you factor in not having to deal with traffic, and being able to sit back and relax on the trip, it starts making some more sense. I have another roll of quarters and I am going to take the bus around some, next week, just to get a better feel for it. I'll post about that.

After our long trip was said and done (about six or seven miles of walking, another two or three by bus, a grand total of nearly seven hours of outing) we came back here and showered and tended wounds (i.e. sunburns). Then we went out, ran several errands, and picked up some pieces of a pirate costume for Sarah. We got the costume on, and then went and got food before spending the rest of the night hanging out with Raymond and the Makeshop during their "Talk Like a Pirate" funtime. Spent three or so hours over there just goofing off and relaxing. My one attempt at "talking like a pirate", in which I said "copyright sucks!" mostly feel upon deaf, deaf years. When I talked like a "butt pirate" though, I got a chuckle. It is a said world we live in. I did, however, get to make several references to BoingBoing's recently posted (link-to-a-)article, about how orgasm helps to releave nasal congestion in men. The link is safish for work, I suppose. I'm not sure I buy it. I'll wait until further reseach develops. It does lead to a few new pickup lines, though: "Hey baby, want to help unstuff my nose" and "You look as good as an entire box of Sudafed". I'm done! I promise.

Si Vales, Valeo

September 19, 2008. Friday.

(02:59:22 AM CDT) Book Stuffs: Browse Inside Anathem, "Hot" Interviews, Raw Dog $5 Booksale. + Chemistry Bonus!

Snooping around on Neal Stephenson's website the other day, trying to track down information on a music CD that came with ARCs of Anathem I came across two interesting facts. First off, the the music is available for streaming on his website. Secondly, the first two chapters of the book, coming in at about 150 pages, are available as a Browse Inside title. I recommend giving both a brief-if-not-more glance if you have time. The music is all weird and chanty, kind of a weird Tuvan style. The book itself is a fun read, at least an interesting one, and getting a glance at it's odd word patterns can help to pass the time.

As a third bit, there is apparently a trailer for the book on the website. What I saw looked low budget and full of half-spoilers, so I didn't finish it. If you are interested in seeing what sort of trailer a book might have, go for it. There are some other interviews and stuff there I haven't watched, yet.

As far as interviews are concerned, I came across an interview with Antonia Quirke, tonight. This might be the first time that an interview that mostly talks about the author really makes me want to read the book. She describes her first movie, A Street Car Named Desire, and how she was overwhelmed by the sheer masculinity of Marlon Brando. It's just one of those odd, intriguing confessions that you only hear about every once in a while. The book, Choking on Marlon Brando, has gathered some praise (only a couple reviews are up on the Amazon.com page) and sounds interesting. It is about an obsession with male movie stars and tracking them down in various ways. It sounds interesting enough.

Finally, Jeremy C. Shipp's Myspace Blog had a post tonight about Raw Dog Screaming Press having a $5 Book Sale. I've looked at some of the titles, and they seem interesting. I might order one or two. However, Vacation (Shipp's book) is on sale and I can recommend that as an interesting book to pick up.

Si Vales, Valeo

Yay for chemistry!

September 18, 2008. Thursday.

(01:50:55 PM CDT) The Best Free (as in Beer) Album I've Heard All Year

Yes, I know this is the year that brought Nine Inch Nail's The Slip for (real) free, and that albums like The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! and Ghosts I-IV were released "for money" but torrent assisted downloads were apparently accepted as a legitimate spread of the medium*. Still, though, my money (or lack thereof) is going to have to go to Brad Sucks and his new album Out of It. It is available free (as in beer) if you get the 128k mp3s, or you can (apparently?) name your price and get the higher quality stuff. Frankly, the 128kpbs sounds fine for me, but then I'm not blasting the tracks through some sort of high end stereo equipment.

Anyhow, his music is...well, I guess you would call it slacker rock. Most of his lyrics deal with a stoic resentment towards life. I know that doesn't make much sense, but you get lyrics like "All my time has turned to days that I will waste until my dying day..." and, from his previous album, "Seems you've mistaken me for someone who cares. I'm just a dirtbag under the weather, and overrated...".

I really enjoy his "one man band with no fans" act. Just wanted to point that out. You can get both of his albums for free at his website. If you want to see some samples, I'll go ahead and embed the Youtube video for his song "Dirtbag" (not an official video or anything):

Si Vales, Valeo

*: The album The Inevitible Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!, however improbably named, apparently was free at one point in time, according to the Wiki. According to Saul Williams own website, it is available for pay from iTunes.

September 17, 2008. Wednesday.

(11:02:56 AM CDT) Battle's Bus and Bike Plans in Light of the Past Couple of Days

According to Tommy Battle's "battle plan", especially his section on public transportation, we need a better bus system and we need more bike paths and walking paths. Now, let's be honest for a second. Campaign promises are worth just about nothing in our current voting system (I've suggested, before, that we pass a law that says any candidate that fails to actively promote campaign promises after getting into office should suffer some degree of legal punishment). With that out of the way, I will continue this post with the expectation that he is going to try and get us those things.

I've just noticed that news, lately, seems to be showing a lot of merit to his suggestions. Not only would I prefer more walk paths because I am primarily a pedestrian, but with news of the UAH student being killed when her bike was struck by an SUV and then today's news that some (only two or three, it seems) city buses will reduce their routes until fuel issues are settled, it just seems a good time for Huntsville to try and reduce it's passenger vehicle stamp. I know the reduced route bus thing is only temporary until more fuel gets here next week, but it does underline a big problem with Huntsville's current committment. If buses are reduced at the times they are needed the most, it doesn't really help anyone. At the same time, where is the money and gas supposed to come from if Huntsville's citizens don't actually use the buses? I don't know.

I think Battle's plan for making more obvious busstops, with more obvious times and routes, and increasing the bus routes by distance and number, are dead on. And we need to have some sort of city wide education that explains to people that bicycles do NOT belong on sidewalks and the justification of hitting one cannot be "If you want to ride in the same lane as an SUV, you take the chance and deserve wht you get". We also need to crack down on cyclists who do bullshit like ride down the road until they get to a red light and then whip over to the crosswalk to ride across it. We need to establish clear rules for bikes as vehicles in this town, approved routes or something, and we need to bust on both sides of that fence for violating those rules. Harrass a cyclist? That's a fine. Drive a bike between cars? That's a fine.

Anyhow, this is a long about way of saying that Battle will get my vote on October 7, and then we should seriously stay vocal and loud and make him uphold his public and non-motorized transportation plans. I think it would be really good for Huntsville to have more sidewalks, more cross walks, and just the general ability to get around without having to have a car.

Si Vales, Valeo

(10:26:10 AM CDT) The Recurring [Dream] Theme

With a frequency of about once per week, I have a dream that shares a common theme with past dreams, similar dreams, but the circumstances vary to some degree. I rarely, if ever, have truly recurring dreams, but I do have a couple of general themes, with "The Labyrinth" being the most prominent. The theme that I am talking about today is my equivalent of the "going to class without clothes on" style dream. I dream that I get stranded, often without adequate cause and almost always without adequate solution, somewhere down in South Alabama, roughly the area that I grew up in but not always precisely that. Last night's dream, for instance, involved a pair of trailers that I know from being down Highway 31, and I have visited them before, but why my family lived in them, I don't know. Why I even thought about them, I don't know. The theme involves certain similarities. I travel South for one cause, and then get distracted, and end up unable to come back up North. Then, when I am trying to explain to my family that I want to go home again, they are so happy to have me back, or so oblivious to the fact that someone would care about being stuck in Flatrock(ish), that the only way I would be able to get through to them would be to be rude or insulting and I refuse to do that.

Dreams are often not about the things we dream, or they are, just not the obvious way, if dreams are about anything, and so I don't take these as dreams that mean "Doug doesn't want to go back home again". I'm pretty vocal in my not wanting to move back down to Evergreen, though with planning I wouldn't have a huge problem with it. If anything, the dreams seem to be about me doing it without planning, being separated from my life up here without any real pause, any real justification. I think that bothers me. I've had "back in Evergreen/Flatrock/McKenzie" dreams as long as I have been in Huntsville, but I think that the dreams changed character about the time that I started dating Sarah, and became much more intense about the time that I married Sarah. Since then, I have had several of them. One of the big tricks, though, one of the big internal logics, is that I can never quite remember what is up there for me in Huntsville. I remember needing to get home, but can't recall why. I might remember having pets. I might remember needing to be somewhere. I just can't remember where, or for what reason, what sense of urgency.

How much of this stems from a feeling of not being able to really tell my family how happy I am, how content, I don't know. I also don't know if grad school has increased this, with my potential plan to move down to Tuscaloosa in Fall 2009 (by myself). I'm also just a flat out worrier. I worry about things breaking down all the time. This might simply be a way for my mind to worry about that, a different sort of breakdown. I just know that I have the dreams once every week or two, and have had them for a while. They just feel stronger now, I guess.

Si Vales, Valeo

September 15, 2008. Monday.

(02:55:28 PM CDT) David Foster Wallace, RIP.

I am not sure if this news means anything to most of the people who read by blog, but David Foster Wallace apparently committed suicide this past weekend. He was 46. I'm not sure how obscure he was, but I know that most of the times I talked about him to my friends, I got a tad bit of a blank stare, and I hang around some fairly avid readers. He's probably best known for Infinite Jest, a big book that has a high density to it. It's one of those meaty reads that you plan and build up to. Possibly the best description of it I have ever heard was the time I saw it ranked in the top spot in "Books you would love to read but would never finish".

Here's a link to CNN article. Note, they refer to him in the headline as "Infinite Jest author, aged 46".

I don't know if I have anything else of merit to say, or add, or to speculate. I don't even know if I would recommend him to many people, because he is one of those you will either love or hate, and sometimes you have to invest a good number of hours of your life in order to find this out. If you find one of his collections of shorter pieces, say Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, then pick it up and pick three or four and try them. I once read a review of him that said that even his shorter works have the same sort of reading cycle that his longer works have. You start out with hope that it will be great, then you get confused, then you start getting angry at the wasted effort that went into this, and then you end up convinced you just read one of the best things ever.

I do have a couple of random thoughts off the top of my head. First off, with the suicide of Thomas Disch a couple of months back, that's makes two obscure but important writers gone in a single summer. Maybe more. Am I forgetting anyone? Secondly, it kind of hit this morning that most of the men whose writings I truly respect are gone. I have about ten or so still alive (Gaiman, Stephenson, Doctorow, Danielewski, Bradbury, Palahniuk, Lansdale, McCarthy, a couple of others) and a few still writing (King and Moore, primarily) that I still adore even if I don't have quite the sense of awe towards. Others that I enjoy and see the merit in, but a lot of my most trusted writers, authors I will always give a chance to, are dead. A good number by their own hand or due to life style choices. Ah, c'est la vie.

I'm sure I had another point, but I'll swap it out for this, an entire short story, called "A Radically Condensed History from a Postindustrial Life", from Brief Interviews and then I'll go do a double shot for Wallace. I won't, however, promise to read Infinite Jest again. Well, maybe next year.

When they were introduced, he made a witticim, hoping to be liked. She laughed extremely hard, hoping to be like. Then each drove home alone, staring straight ahead, with the very same twist to their faces.

The man who introduced them didn't much like either of them, though he acted like he did, anxious as he was to preserve good relations at all times. One never knew, after all, now did one now did one now did one.


September 14, 2008. Sunday.

(01:23:03 PM CDT) Followups, David Bowie, Huntsville the crazy town, Japanese bathing suits from the past, and pun-filled games...

Alright, some followups. NObama Minivan has two new stickers. One of them is a rather lame "Say NO to B.O." (again with idea that elections are only about voting against someone) and the other is the much superior "If Obama is the answer, it must have been a stupid question." Best one on the minivan. It's snarky, pouty, and without any justification. It's political bumperstickerage at it's finest (which is to say, it's most insipid). I've promised to moratorium political speech and I'll return to that, but just thought I would share. I did finally find out who the owner is, and he's a nice enough guy, who has a very nice dog and a half-dozen sweet teenage girls that hang around his apartment. They all refer to him by first name. I'm not sure what is going on.

Second followup, of a sort, is a list via Eric Forbes's excellent book blog about past winners of the Booker Prize. If you want current literary fiction post-1968 (Commonwealth and Ireland, only, though) then that's a good place to start a list. You toss in a list of similar American and Asian books (I'm not 100% of good lists for either, but I'll dig around) and you have a good 100-300 titles of fair to high quality literature to get lost in.

Speaking of books, I've been digging into the strange, tasty morsel that is Neal Stephenson's Anathem. It is definitely interesting. As of right now, I recommend buying a copy (link to Amazon.com's page for it). Not too many reviews yet and for good reason, I figure it will take me up to two weeks at least to read this, and you know how fast I read. The book has a complex internal social order and a new language that is based on a "decayed" English. Friar (or Father, as in a priest) is Fraa. Sister (as in a nun) is Suur. The title is some combination of anthem and anathema. That sort of thing. Lots of that thing. Part of the book seems to be using the clues to build up a context. It starts out inside of a small community and I bet it spreads out after giving you a primer of sorts.

Ok, now to clear out some random thoughts and get them down for others to enjoy or to shake their head at:

  • Trying to watch Labyrinth (link to a Youtube clip that has about 10 minutes of the movie, Bowie's bit shows up around 2:00-2:30, start watching for sure about 2:35) after seeing the David Bowie Parody on Flight of the Conchords is pretty much an exercise in hilarity. It made me laugh, anyhow.
  • Huntsville went crazy this past Friday. CRAZY. Not only did people who did not need gas flock to pumps in a panic, paying $4.50 a gallon for gas that would have been $3.50 on Monday if they would have left it alone, but they completely drained the pumps. THEN, on top of that, most everyone I know was driving around per normal on Saturday. Meaning that the panic about running out of gas didn't stop them from going shopping and heading down to the mall and stuff. Sigh. You would think that their fear of not having gas this week would have, you know, triggered some sort of damned conservation response. And, on top of those two things, we had a drive by shooting?!? What the hell Huntsville? Did Mad Max come on TV a few days ago and start some sort of shit?
  • Flickr sets of post-colored black and white photos of Japanese Maiko and Geisha, most from the late Meiji-era, in bathing suits are strange and beautiful and worth looking at.
  • Figured it was, but that whole SUICIDAL TEENS ARE WELCOME TO ENLIST sign is a hoax.

Ok, back to reading some Anathem or playing some Nord and Bert Can't Make Heads or Tails of It, which is a crazy, crazy game. Crazy. Like Friday the 12th Huntsville. Crazy.

Si Vales, Valeo

September 11, 2008. Thursday.

(01:06:27 AM CDT) Yay, life!

As of about an hour ago, longer by time I actually get this up and posted, my dad would have been 73. He's been gone for about fifteen months, now, and I don't really grieve for him any more, but the birthday bit does bring it to the surface. I'm not crying sad, I'm just sad. I'm not wistful, I'm just introspective. Yes, there is a difference.

The last time I remember celebrating my dad's birthday in any way would have to be a decade ago. My family is fairly lean on birthdays. We get a cake, store bought, and that's about it. Few gifts. Few special anything. One of the "jokes", as morbid as it may be, was that my dad's birthday got overshadowed at the end (I'll leave you to figure it out). Going out and buying a cake and festive party hats may be misunderstood.

I'm going to knock back a few drinks, read some American Gods, go for a short walk, listen to some HPHLS, and I have no idea what order I'm going to do this in.

Now, this is not exactly the post to shove this in, but since I do not feel moribund, I would rather leave death to the dead (with all due respect, of course), and so I plan to celebrate the bits of life that were good to me, tonight.

First off, probably swam in the Fontainbleu pool for the last time of the season. It's already getting cold, and the pool doesn't feel as clean as it could. Sarah and I enjoy swimming, but the time table for us is weird. By the time the others start getting involved, the pool gets more crowded than we like. Well, thank I like. I'm not sure how she feels on it. I end up swimming more in the initial cold bits than any other time. This is, in my case, complicated by my divorce from sunlight, and the long summer days confine me to a small window of comfortable swimming before the pool closes.

Tonight, Sarah and I listened to BBC Radio 4's production of Porshia, which is a funny little introspective play involving a man getting trapped inside the mind, and eventually the body, of the woman that he has a crush on. It has some clever bits, but doesn't fancy itself as too clever, and works well. If any of you have watched either Peep Show or Smoking Room, Robert Webb is the main character of the play and does a good job. I wrote a review of it. If you head over to BBC Radio 4's Friday Play it is available for about 24 more hours after I make this post. I'm trying to find a good, official copy of it. Barring that, I might go ahead and just post my streamdump.

By the way, if you ever wanted to see what the behind-the-scenes of shooting a sex scene in a radio play might look like, Youtube has the answer. That is Porshia's making of, and includes demonstrations of the sound effects. There is no nudity, not even any real sexual motion or anything, but there are sounds and sounds and sounds. Consider it not safe for work, or "headphones required". You don't want the bloke in the cubicle next to you asking "What's he got on the old shooter, eh?" Youtube.com also has the video for "Lemon Incest" (a French Song from the 80's). Youtube is not to be trusted, because that video is more safe for work than the first one. Sigh. Yes that's his daughter. Yes, I'm sure she's like 14. Yes, I'm sure it means something. No, I'm not going to say what.

Finally, I read the 10 Commandments of Facebook and I laughed and laughed and laughed. And laughed. By the way, Allen? Number 8, buddy. Number 8.

Good night...

September 10, 2008. Wednesday.

(01:29:59 PM CDT) Book News

Some random book news and brief musings. First off, Neal Stephenson's Anathem (link to Amazon.com) has shipped. I should get my copy tomorrow. Early reviewers are giving it generally high marks, but how they read through the 900 page book that came out yesterday, I don't know. Maybe review copies? Exceptionally fast readers? It could be anything, really. Most of my friends who know him are Stephenson lovers (like me), Stephenson curious, or at least Stephenson positive-of-neutral. For those that don't know him, he tends to write long, convulted plots starring, often, a central geek who meanders through social networks in order to bring about a fairly esoteric conclusion. His books are chock full of real history, false history, clever word plays, and all sorts of other random bits. His earlier books were shorter, and a little bit more comically bizarre, but his later stuff (Diamond Age and on) have been longer and denser, kind of a geek Pynchon. I recommend him, of course. Start with Cryptonomicon.

Secondly, I'm posting this because I just found out about it myself, but for all of you American Gods fans out there, there is an extended version of the novel importable from Britian. It has about, it seems, 200 more pages of text. I want to get a copy and then read it as a Christmas gift to myself.

Third, if you haven't read Dickens but think you would like to, or have read Dickens but realized (as did many) that Great Expectations might not be the best book to showcase him, or if you have read Bleak House and want more: try Nicholas Nickleby. By the time I am done, I think it might be my new favorite.

Now for a couple of real news articles. Looks like the Harry Potter lexicon was blocked by a Judge. I'm still kind of unsure why this book was blocked when there has been so many other unauthorized books. I think it says a lot about her respect for the material (the lexicon) that she would feel the need to block this one to stop it from hurting her own intended lexicon. I don't know. Other established series (e.g. Star Wars, Star Trek, etc) have had similar products come out and get snatched by the fans. I'm sure that if the lexicon came out, and Rowling released an official one, the official one will do just as well. Of course, my stance on copyright tends to be "let the author set it where he or she may and then deal with the consequences" and I say it stands here. She wasn't comfortable about it, and it's still her work (unlike the examples above, which have many writers in many formats, the canon is exclusively the design of Rowling). I'm ok with her decision, even if I don't fully agree with it.

Also looks like the Booker Prize shortlist was announced. I've not heard of any of the books on the list, but that's ok. The Booker Prize is an excellent event to keep track of if you want to find some new books for your snobbiest of collection. While some complain that Booker isn't want it used to be, I find that keeping track helps of it helps me to stay abreast of current literature (by which I mean literature, not pulp-writings), at least those of Commonwealth (or Irish) status. If you want, here is the Wikipedia article.

Finally, for my friends that like Bizarro or surreal fiction, looks like there will be a Bizarro Con this year, in Oregon. No way I can go, but thought it would be neat to get the news out there. From what I've seen, that Myspace page IS the official page. If I find a better, I'll pass it along.

Si Vales, Valeo

September 09, 2008. Tuesday.

(05:46:38 PM CDT) Why I am avoiding all political message boards from now until the first week of October (aka, the "Palin-drome")

While this idiotically long campaign trail has had its share of ironic statements, double standards, hypocricy, backpedaling, name calling and, well, idiocy, it has been absolutely amazing in the fact that proves that people that make statements like "How will Hussein Obama control his black rage in the white house? MCCAIN 08!" can actually sign up for Internet service, hold down a job long enough to pay for it, and, amazingly, use the written word to express themselves. I'm starting to see the flaw in mandatory education. In a more perfect world, all of these "Hes a terrorist!" and "Sheeple will vote for McSame!" wouldn't have had the educational tenacity to get a learning, and would be spouting off their unreasoned bigotry against McCain and Obama to their family and inbred friends. The sort of idiots who think that this clip is Obama claiming to be a Muslim, which means they didn't even listen to it.

I digress. I have decided, based on all that above and more, to avoid the hell out of political news and especially political message boards. I know that I probably bore you all with my continued hyping on various things, but really, most of my posts are about unfact gets claimed as fact and how FUD is dominating this campaign. I've been keeping up with all the FUD and stupidity for months and I really just don't want to anymore. I've read probably an hour of campaign coverage every day since sometime around the end of 2007. They can keep it. All of it. I'll come back, end of October, catch up, which will take about twenty seconds since nothing significant besides name calling has occurred in about two years, and then write in "Jesus H. Christ, YOUR Lord and Savior" on the ballot. Suck it, demtards.

This plan of mine was motivated by general dumbassedness that has been brewing, but got stamped hard and fast over the past couple of days by a series of events. I've been made more and more aware of something that I'm calling "the Palin-drome", though you could also call it the "Obama-drome" since the same things happens to him, it just seems to have gotten worse since Palin has been the scene. Here's my definition: Palin-drome, two events, that are the same event, interpreted in completely different ways depending on who is reading it. For instance, Palin's youngest son, with Down Syndrome. She's been on magazine covers with him, has been declaring him "proof of the goodness of life", has trafficed him around (however small, but there). He's obviously a part of the campaign, having as much face time as her husband. Wait, that's not right, when Biden commented that (paraphrased) "Parents with special needs kids should be interested in stem cell research, not blocking it" he was told that it was a new low, that he was bringing things up that should not be brough up, and he shouldn't attack Palin's kid like that. Note, when you read the article (and you will have to scroll down, because the NEWS PEOPLE ARE FUCKING TRYING TO BLOW THIS OUT OF PROPORTION) that his statement is largely "I don't see why they wouldn't, there is an option right there." Note the response: "despicable".

How about this one, you put lipstick on a dog and you get a catch phrase that women were chuckling about for days, a cute little play on words. Then, Obama says that if you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig. OUTRAGE. I mean, that's like saying women are an animal usually used to describe women negatively. He must mean ALL white women are pigs, because he is racist and sexist. Nevermind that Michelle Obama has been referred to as a "horribly ugly woman". That didn't mean all black women. See, you have to understand subtle differences.

How about the fact that evangelicals now fully support unwed teen pregnancy? Jesus, folks (no pun intended). Life happens, but a lot of these praisers are the same people who went off on a rich white unwed pregnant teen not that long ago. And, again, what would have happened if Obama had a 17 year old daugther who got pregnant?

Or the flipside. Know how Palin got that trooper ex-brother-in-law of hers fired? Did anyone else mention to you that one of the complaints against him was the fact that he tasered his 10 year old stepson? Sure, it was a controlled environment, but crap on a stick. Same event, two different meanings.

What really sucks about all of this is this great outpouring of energy for, what, a couple days of camera time? Maybe a week of limelight focus. And then we move on. No sin is indelible if people get bored of it. We just move on to the next family crisis, until we get the next chance to invade privacy, to sound like blowhards or noblemen, to take something else out of context.

I think the sad thing is that most of this is people like me, bloggers and commentators that have about zero interest in doing anything except run our mouths. How many of those poltical blogs earn tons of money from advertisements? How many push the boundaries of decency and integrity, implying half-truths just to get a few more thousand hits? I'm including anchormen and the whatnot with this. Political blowharding is easy, and it's addicting, and I think I want to wash my hands of it until right about the time of Huntsville's run off for mayor. Hell, I may even go volunteer. This Youtubization of our politics has saddened me. Ah, well. C'est la vie...

Si Vales, Valeo

(02:34:19 PM CDT) One of those...you know...days...

I feel exhausted, far more exhausted, I am sure, than I should feel. There is almost no way in the world that the next twenty minutes will not involve a nap for me. That's something to look forward to, yessiree.

I wish I could say that I have been productive today, and I have done a few things, but after about 11am I entered into the "sludge" and my productivity has went to nil. Looking at the clock, I see that an hour has past since I talked to Sarah at work. All I have done in that hour, besides change a couple of pages on my webpage, is check the mail. It apparently took me 45 minutes to check the mail. I'm assuming that I fell asleep somewhere along the way. Sheesh.

Two things I did that has linkable results are writing a cue sheet for Audible's download of Robert Rankin's The Brightonomicon and writing a review of Pendant Productions Star Wars: Blue Harvest (not the Family Guy episode). I've also done some research into the OLPC XO and think that I would like to get one, though a friend has suggested I got for the EEEPC instead.

The cue sheet was a big deal (relatively speaking) because Audible's download copy is not broken up into 13 episodes, or into anything useful like that, it is the contents of 7 CDs (and about 7 hours of content) in a single 300mb mp3. Now, in a few days, I am going to give you convincing reasons why you should get the audio adaptation of The Brightonomicon, but for now assume that it's a pain trying to manipulate a 300meg mp3. While most modern mp3 players have long had the ability to store position, that does sort of tie you up for a good time. If you want to move on and then move back, that is one hell of a seek (though several have started making podcast bookmarks, though I'm not sure how well they will work with a 7 hour "podcast"). If you want to burn it to audio CD, you have to split (and guess, since each episode is only ABOUT 30 minutes) it up and then burn it and do it over and over again. The cue sheet will enable anyone who takes my advice (give me maybe a week to finish the series) to enjoy the Audible download without too much hassle. By the way, as an aside, I tried loading the mp3 into Audacity to split it that way, and had to kill the opening after about a gig of expansion. Apparently seven hours is a lot of wav files.

Going back in time, last night, inspired by a good deal on a 100 spindle of DVD+Rs for the price of 50, I ordered 100 DVD-Rs. I'm a dumbass.

Tonight, I only have plans to eat some hot stew made from anasazi beans and sirloin with toasted sourdough bread and cheese, and then pick up the DVD release of Pumpkinhead and come back and not watch because I am too tired to watch it. Then I want to sleep until I am tired of sleeping. I call it my five hour plan, which would make characters in John Ringo's Council Wars series wince, but only 1/8760th of a wince, because it has only 1/8760th of an historical context.

Si Vales, Valeo

September 07, 2008. Sunday.

(08:44:13 PM CDT) Strages. Beans. Some "for fairness" coverage.

Last night, hung out with my old friend Raymond and a couple of others. I drank some nice, room-temp German beer and we watched a lot of movies and hung out almost until dawn was upon us. The movies (including Creepshow, Creepshow 2, Godzilla: Monsters All-Out Attack!, and Beerfest) were mostly background noise, and we talked about wide mix of topics. We sang a lot of "Hold me closer, Tony Danza" (and it's variant, "Hold me closer, Ted Danson"). I got to comment, during the "Ted Danson's a zombie!" portion of Creepshow that that was the worst episode of Cheers, ever. It was all a good time.

Today, Sarah and I headed down to Garden Cove to pick up some bulk cereal and some legumes. I'm trying to get more into legume eating. I mean, I like beans. I have a fairly constant store of garbanzos, black beans, and kidney beans. I know that, world-wide, they tend to be more essential to the diets of people than meat, and make a healthy alternative. Sarah and I also love the taste of beans and like playing around with recipes. This time, I picked up some popular asian beans: soy, mung, and azuki. I also picked up a bag of anasaki beans, which is a American Southwest bean similar to pintos by all appearances. I'm going to start with soy and see what sort of fun stuff I get out of them, because they are cheap, have an immense amount of nutritional value, and look fairly easy to store and keep. Then, I'm going to cook part of the mung beans and see about trying to grow sprouts out of the others. For the last two bags, I'm going to probably try and cook the azuki in some sort of slightly sweetened rice dish and the others in a bean and tomato stew I have planned.

For those who did not know (I did not know, so there you go), and I'll bold it to make it stick out, Garden Cove apparently has First Sunday and Third Thursday sales, where you get 10% off of everything. Just an FYI.

I want to end this with something I found tonight by way of a webcomic I read. It is about Sarah Palin. Now, again, she is not running for president. She is not running for anything besides to be a tie breaker for the Senate. No one is voting for her or against her. And, really, I think the attention showed to her (good and bad) has been a calculated maneuver designed to take some of the "historical election" sails out of Obama's campaign. I know some would consider me cynical for saying that, but come on, so many polls and responses have born up my statement. "I'm glad I can get a woman in the White House" stuff is all over the place. What's sad is that it's a completely idiotic thing to say. Both the presidential and vice presidential candidate for the Green Party are women. How about that? We have people who are anti-Republican saying they will vote for Republican because it's a blow for the sexist agenda of politics. Don't be stupid, folks. Vote Green if you want to say you voted for a woman. Vote McCain if you like his platform, not because of a publicity stunt.

Anyhow, though I have no intention of voting for McCain at this time, I did want to share something. I will probably research several bits of it myself in a couple of days, but this is a list of debunked negative rumors about Sarah Palin. A couple of them only slightly debunk things. Several of the negative rumors are ludicrous to begin with. In the case of the "banned books" thing, it talks about how the list is false (which is obvious) and tries to make it sound like the whole thing is falsish (not false, but not enough truth to make it a big deal), but I'm not 100% sure of this right now. I have heard a few different versions of what was asked, what was said, what was intended, and the like. Like I said, I'll look into it.

Si Vales, Valeo

September 05, 2008. Friday.

(12:58:35 PM CDT) Conspiracy Theory Lite

I am NOT a conspiracy theorist. Especially not big theories. Especially not theories that entail some sort of Communazimilitarindustrial Jew plot. I am something of a reasonable guy, and I note that the "official" line spouted by the powers that be can regularly be full of so much bullarky as to induce a slight pong to the air, but I tend to run most things through a parsimony empowered "Is this shite?" detector. Sure, my detector could be wrong, and I could be a fool, but it at least keeps my world simple and, generally to the evidence, correct.

Case-in-point #1, the moon landing. Did we land on the moon? Yes. Why do I say that? Because it would require so many thousands of people lying, continuously, for years, that it is more plausible to think that we just scraped by on technological requirements than it is to think that such a thing was faked. Maybe if there was one moon landing, and it was barely covered, then I could think something was up, but multiple moon landings with multiple crews and support crews? Most conspiracy theorists have no idea what it would take to organize a lie of that magnitude. Could some of the footage have been faked, much in the same way that most food commercials use fake food to make it look better? Yes. Does this mean it was all faked? No. Is this "not likely to get that many liars" test the only I have? No, it's not. It's just the first and easiest one. The second one involves the fact that most of the people who think it's faked have the a grade school understanding of science and the scientific method, and take things like "The radiation may be too much," as "THE RADATION. IT IS FAR TOO MUCH!!! DEATH!!!"

Case-in-point #2, the flouride thing. Is flouride a military-industrial plot arranged by Jewish money backers in order to put forth a Nazi mind control experiment that will force the population into sheep-like domicility so that they can forced to serve in a mega-army? Nope. Why? Because I apply my first "Is this shite?" test. Does it involve Jews, Nazis, the Soviet Union, our bodily fluids, mind control, or the military-industrial complex? If you answer "Yes" to one of those, it's suspect. Two of those means it is unlikely. Three of those? No way. It's an insane person's wet dream. The second test, does it involve more than 50 people having to keep a secret for more than 50 years? Yes. Then it's probably not true. Question three, does the internal justification of the theory negate itself or does it require shaky, unscientific beliefs that usually stem from a single source? Yes. How do domicile people make a better army? Do you know people in the military? They may be good at taking orders, but they are far from domicile. Question four, does it imply a sense of elitism in the holders of the belief? Yes. In this case, very much so. Read the websites. People drinking from well water, talking about how they think much more clearly than the sheep around them. Etc.

Now, again, is sodium flouride in water good for you? No. No reason to believe that. Flouride exposed to teeth has shown some positive results, but are far from definite, and this says nothing about consuming the water or anything like that. Most of the tests I saw pulled used calcium flouride, anyhow, which isn't in the drinking water. Hell, I'm sensitive to flouride. I would rather it not be there, but I just filter it out. Besides, it costs too much money to keep it up for very little benefit (for instance, most surveys across flouridated and non-flouridated populations show an equal degree of tooth care improvement, meaning that the control matches the experimental set).

Wow, that was meant to be a paragraph of information. Ah, rambling. I blame the Kit Kat bar I just ate. The CHOCOLATE. Which was made my Jewish Nazi-Communists in Brazil. Fact. That was all a build up to point out that I am not a conspiracy theorists, but I am paranoid. Probably more paranoid than you. I'm not paranoid in the traditional sense: I do not think that everyone is out to get me, I do not think that some great force is controlling us through illegal means, I do not believe in my own sense of self-importance so much that the entire world must be revolving around me. I am paranoid because I assume that everyone, at all times, is up to something. I assume you have your own agendas, your own thoughts, your own plans, and your own selfishness. I assume that most actions are self-serving, self-fulfilling, and that most things people spout as personal philosophy are self-attempts to edify the self. That's right, I assume the truth. I also think that most people participate in something of a constant, complex game theory and I think they get it wrong a fair amount of the time and this injects chaos into their social manuevers. I do not think my fellow humans are stupid or evil, I just think they are up to stuff, and this stuff has unexpected consequences. Ok? And, I never, ever, trust anyone to not be playing this game. Just to let you know, if you are reading this, I do not trust you in that "universal" sense. Ever. I trust you enough to be my friend, assuming you are my friend, and I probably allow my love of you to quiet the processor in the back of my head, but I don't exactly trust (meaning: firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing). I'm the guy, back when I attended bible study, who asked "How do we know that others have a soul? How do we know they aren't just automata sent by God to test us?"

I trust Sarah most of all, and I've already come to grips that I will probably have to shoot her shortly after a zombie outbreak.

Now that I have weirded you all out. The whole purpose of this post was to post these next two links. A week ago (maybe?) Adam Savage of Mythbusters made a speech thingie in which he mentioned an RFID segment getting killed. The reasons he gave was pressure applied against them in a conference call due to the fact that the technology isn't safe but is being used more and more in credit cards and stuff. Or, well, he implied that middle bit. Standard security issues, right? Making shows showing how easy it is to break into something just increases the chance that people will try and break into something. Standard business, as well, right? Your product and stock will do more poorly if people stop having faith in it.

Then, an article pops up in which Adam retracts his statement. Not only does he retract it, but he changes the name of the guy (from Tory to Grant) who was involved. Turns out that they did not kill it, and oh, by the way, Discovery channel had nothing to do with the decision but their (they = Mythbusters) producers may have. The second story seems more suspect in ways, since his initial speech was given off the top of his head and in an earnest way. The second one kind of invokes a couple power levels and the doesn't quite delineate which ones were involved.

How does my paranoia take this one? I assume the first one was truer but sponsors didn't need it to sound true and a lot of legal trouble could develop. How about you threaten them and say that you will hold them responsible for a bunch of geeks trying to crack RFID now that the thought is in their mind? How about you threaten and them and say "If you don't retract that, we will sue you for inciting criminal acts?" That would be my most paranoid interpretation, but the one I have the least faith in.

How does my "Is this shite?" work against my own theory? I have to conclude that Adam repeated second hand knowledge, which had partially embellished to make it more fun (possibly both by him and by the person who told him) and then, some time later, said it in answer to a question without really thinking about what he was saying. In other words, I think that Texas Instruments version of the story was true, even if I think that pressure may have been applied later on after that event. Even if the pressure was simply a producer going "Are we responsible for this?"

There you go, a glimpse into my mind this morning.

Si Vales, Valeo

(02:18:14 AM CDT) House of Ginger Root!

I just stayed up, drinking (only a little) gin and watching Ginger Snaps. Longer review might be forthcoming, but for now "do" will suffice. It makes me feel like I've been a bit too rough on goth girls...or not rough enough...wink wink...nudge nudge*

Then I read today's XKCD...and I laughed:

Seriously, though, that was one hot werewolf.

Si Vales, Valeo

* remind to tell you about that later

September 04, 2008. Thursday.

(09:08:02 PM CDT) Oregon Trail and two webcomics that made me think about stuff.

I swear I was going to get things done this week, and I mean "really done", but haven't had much luck or much energy or something. I've gotten a few "projects" out of the way, but way below the line I was expecting. Ah, well. No biggie. That's what next week is for, right?

One project is adding some new pictures to my galleries. I'm not sure why I keep putting that one off, but I have the pictures all cropped and edited and everything now, so that shouldn't take too much longer. Just some simple HTMLing. I also have an honest to goodness writing project I am going to start on, next week. It won't involve zombies. I have a plan for writing some stuff that involves zombies, but this isn't it. I'll get you some details soon.

I read a lot of webcomics, ok? I generally stay away from the "drama" comics and whatnot, and focus on the short one-liner style comics, or some geek comics. Continuity isn't evil, I just prefer it to be secondary to the fun factor. Sometimes, though, even the comics I read will make me remember something, or chuckle.

Like this comic by Commissioned. The guy gets called out for being racists against gnomes. I found it funny, because TSR once had issues because they portrayed some sentinent races (say, dark elves for instance) as being more evil and more wicked than others. At the time, I know they slightly retooled the racial images, and possibly characters like Drizzt were born out of that, but overall they just shrugged it off. Goblins and orcs are goblins and orcs. If you start thinking of them as complex characters, it just muddles the XP bonus.

The other one that made me chuckle-think was the strip from Do You Work Here. More than the strip, the description struck me as full of the truth: "What lowers morale is talk of reducing costs. It's having meetings about it and coming up with clever slogans...What lowers morale is trying to uphold policy only to have someone higher up override policy...They made up words, [and then] spelled them incorrectly..." The writer then points out that retail is one of those jobs where they want you to make as little as possible, sale as much as possible, have as few benefits as possible, and do it with a big smile. He doesn't say it like that, but there you go.

I'm just glad that most of my friends are out of that, even if it looks like I may be going back into it part-time this Christmas just to build up some "start o' college" cash.

Before I sigh too loudly, let me shower you with this wonderful gift. It is a torrent with the game Oregon Trail and an emulator to play it. It is for Windows, but I got it to run fine under Linux. I played it, and beat it as the banker (I played it as the carpenter but accidently quit in the middle by mashing the wrong button). If you want to play it you start AppleWin.exe and let it run it's configuration thing. When it comes up and goes to the command prompt, click the disk on the right that says "MASTER" and load Otrail_1.bin. Then click the Apple logo. When it gets to the "flip disk over" prompt, then click that same disk (not the second one) and load Otrail_2.bin, and then hit space bar. Do not reclick that Apple button (which is what I did). There you go.

Have lots of fun.

Si Vales, Valeo

(03:12:23 AM CDT) Memepool Style Links After Slightish Update on the Palin Book Banning Thing

After finding a discussion on BoingBoing about Palin banning books, and reading the points and counterpoints, I found mention of an article in the New York Times where Palin later remarks that questions about banning books was rhetorical. I'll let you read the articles and decide. I notice that the named librarian is different. I will need to dig up some more things, but according to this article it seems more like she brought it up, people complained, and she dropped the issue.

I want to make an aside here, and say I agree with Martin here on the Palin pregnancy thing. Leave the daughter alone. However, point out the fact that her (her = the mom, not the daughter) wanting to cut sex ed and push abstinence obviously doesn't work. At least, it has issues. Evangelicals are still piping up that "a baby is a joy" but we are talking about a baby born out of wedlock. Let's take something out of context, here, and point out Richard Land, the Southern Baptist president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, says that premarital sex is good. Sure, that's not what they are saying, but that's what they are saying. If you make an unwed teenage mother a saint of pro-life decisions, then you are opening a hell of a door.

Speaking of books that should be banned, here are a couple to look at. While the worst bit about this book is they decided Cooking with Pooh was a good name, the second worst is the fact that, if you scroll down, you will find people thinking that a book, readibly available for under $2 on the Amazon.com Marketplace, might be worth up to $200. That's a price range of $198. In other words, the most expenisve version is 9900% the price of the least expensive. Ok. By the way, if the phrase "Cooking with Pooh" enticed neither giggles nor groans from you, then you might be able to see the dolphins in this picture (warning, since the rest of us and all of your coworkers are dirty, dirty people, we do not see the dolphins and that picture should be considered at least midly not safe for work. However, if they ask, tell them all you see is dolphins, look closer, and then go "OOOOHHHHHH, wow, did not see THAT!")

How about Dick Hafer's anti-gay illustrated book Legitimate, Alternative Deathstyle? You are going to have to trust me here, but if you can take random hate and random discussions of sex, you have to read this. Not only does it portray gay orgies as involving blades, ropes, and baseball bats; but it discusses how many germs the tongue imparts to the anus before the other way around; and it implies that gay men have sex 8-10 times a night. The best bit? The "life pattern" of the gay man. Sex. Sex. Sex. Work to afford more sex. Sex. Die (if a disease doesn't get you first!). The second best bit? The proof that being gay is a choice by saying that gay men sleep with men!

From books being banned, to news I am totally neutral about involving books, but interested in, some of my advice (I know, I know, the EGO on me) has been taken and it looks like a publisher is going to actually promote a book. They are going to set up websites, tie-ins, and have different authors work on different parts of the series. This means that if you have a favorite writer, and you are a kid, there is a chance that your favorite will be involved with a portion of the series, and therefore you will want to read all of it. Ok, I lied. While the idea of "MTVing" books makes me nervous, the fact is, this is about as good of marketing as books are going to honestly get. Awesome, but potentially sticky.

Last link about books, here is a BoingBoing post about a book about photobooths. I have some friends into amateur photoboothing, and several people I know enjoy them from time to time. Just thought it would be fun to share. If you have no interest in books on photobooths, how about this BoingBoing post about (and you will have to excuse the excitacaps, here) A CONCRETE "PRINTER" THAT WILL POTENTIALLY ALLOW YOU TO PRINT A HOUSE ON DEMAND!. Tee hee! HAHAH. AWESOME!

And now a couple of links closer to my heart (though printable houses are pretty damned close to my heart). Stephen Fry wishes GNU a happy birthday. I love Stephen Fry. A lot. Listening to him on BBC Radio 4 or catching one of the shows he is part of is always a joy. This made helped to make my night.

Finally, for Sarah and Alicia: Grant Mayor-Elect...um...made news.

Si Vales, Valeo

September 02, 2008. Tuesday.

(12:09:30 PM CDT) Straight from the something....The Voice is dead, and Palin is pro censorship

In today's news, Don LaFontaine died. I'm having trouble picturing a world without him doing the voice over trailers. You know, this brings to mind the death of Phil Hartman. He was everywhere. When he passed, suddenly a dozen shows had to deal with him being gone. LaFontaine's voice is the very model of how to do a movie trailer. Not that there aren't other really talented men and women doing them, it's just, you know...

In other news, Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears outlive another one. Winehouse smokes crack, people. CRACK. That's not how a healthy 25 year old looks.

I would say "Now, in all seriousness," but this is me. I just wanted to pass on this little nugget. I am a moderate in so many ways. Just about any stance that comes up, I have at least two opinions on. There are a few basic exceptions, but we won't talk about those right this second. What I will point out is that I am almost always, 100% anti-censorship. I am pro-erudition and pro-library. That's why the following quote, from this Time article strikes me as the coffin that means I will never, ever vote for the McCain/Palin ticket:

"She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." The librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire her for not giving "full support" to the mayor.

I even understand that it is something that the voters wanted, but considering that she fired and threatened several other people for not falling into her ideaology, then that's not something I want to see in the White House. Especially with the pro-censorhip tossed in.

Si Vales, Valeo

(08:41:34 AM CDT) Man...

I'm not normally a "wish for the future" sort of guy, but the heat of Alabama's Augusts (patent pending) makes me glad to see the corner of summer turned. Sure, this just means it will all come crashing to a Christmas seasons, and bah-humbuggery (no pun intended), but at least I don't have to worry about my health upon stepping outside.

Part of me wants to say "nothing much since my last journal entry" but frankly there has been quite a bit since my last journal entry. In fact, you could say with a straight face that my journal entries stopped showing up because I was doing things to write about. It is not irony if its true.

Niko came over on Friday and hung out. Not for a huge long time, but for a little while. We watched through some stuff (some Southern Living cooking show in which several the recipes were not all that Southern) and then played a couple of rounds of Munchkin Cthulhu with HPLHS's Call of Cthulhu (the silent movie) in the background. After that, and most of the memories of that, are a blur.

Saturday was much busier. Alicia came up from Auburn to visit for the afternoon through night. We put her through a game of Settlers of Catan and then her and Sarah did some random shopping. I cooked a big pot of black beans and pork to go with some cornbread and we had a proper Southern style meal. That night, some friends came over and we all hung out. A copious amount of beer was drunk. It was all good.

Next day, I showed Alicia The Ring (she likes J-horror, but has never seen any of the Ringu films or their remakes). She seemed to enjoy it ok. Then some other stuff was done. I know a hair cut was involved, but frankly I have no idea what else because I was exhausted by Sunday night. I remember fighting sleep pretty hard.

Yesterday was a cleaning day, at least in part. We emptied out two closets. Took every box and bag and emptied them, and then threw away stuff or marked it for Thriftstore giveaway. It took longer than I expected to get through the two closets, but it's good that we did because we found a handful of CDs that I though were missing, and I found not only Ultimate Wizardry Archives (worth over $100 on auction sites and Amazon.com) but also my Ultimate Might and Magic Archives (looks like $80) and my Quest for Glory Archives (similar value, though I am missing the somewhat lackluster second disk with the glitchy demo and the soundtrack to V). I recently found my Ultima Archives (which is surprisingly not worth that much). All in all, this means I can play hundreds of hours of pre-1988 or so RPGs. I smell marathon.

Besides that, I found paperwork that isn't essential right now, but is good to have located (like my diploma from UAH) and some addresses and whatnot that I would like to contact. I also found a weird crapton of loose papers and notes from the end of UAH through the early part of my time at Book Gallery. It was weird reading some of that, like a mini-time capsule. We also found our old answering machine, which I will probably use so that we can turn off a couple of the features at AT&T (just to drop our bill, some).

I guess that's it. I was kind of sure I had something that I was building up towards, but ah well. Have a good one.

Si Vales, Valeo

Written by W Doug Bolden

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The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".

"The hidden is greater than the seen."