Thursday, December 27, 2007

O-H-I-O

I have been a bad blogger recently. Who hasn't? (The good bloggers, I suppose.) I'll continue my absentee ways for a little while, yet. My parents are visiting, and then there's New Year's, then the BCS Championship Game, etc. My point: don't hold your breath, but don't give up on me, either.

In other news: As I am fond of saying, I'm not an Ohio State alumnus, but I bleed scarlet & gray. That said, today I found a website on the OSU AD's website that is dedicated to the best cheer ever: O-H-I-O

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Storefront Houses of Worship

This is a very cool project: Brooklyn Storefront Houses of Worship photo album.

fonk you

found poem

Uzma u r such a bitch
u stink of fish
u need a shave
u need 2 get rid of dat stupid pout!
u need 2 sort out your eyebrows
GO 2 SPECSAVERS!!
Use some vaseline on ur crusty, chapped lips
use coco butter on ur moustache!

fonk you

This is the truth

This struck me as a little gimmicky, but it's interesting & thought-provoking, nonetheless. And being a person who enjoys patterns in and general experimentation with language, it's a pretty cool video even aside from its subject matter. (And if nothing else, the comments seem to indicate that people find it provocative.)

Einstein & good music

This morning, I listened to two lengthy podcasts about Einstein, one exploring his ethics, and one his creativity. The first was a combination of Krista Tippett's (host of American Public Media's program Speaking of Faith) interviews with S. James Gates, Jr. and Thomas Levenson. The second was a speech given by Walter Isaacson in Silicon Valley.

This page gives a good rundown of the particulars of the first podcast, with a number of excellent quotes: Einstein's Ethics. One of my favorites:

The world was promised freedom from fear. But, in fact, fear has increased tremendously since the termination of the war. The world was promised freedom from want, but large parts of the world are faced with starvation while others are living in abundance. As far as we the physicists are concerned, we are no politicians. But we know a few things that the politicians do not know. That there is no escape into easy comfort. There is no distance ahead for proceeding little by little and delaying the necessary changes into an indefinite future. The situation calls for a courageous effort, for a radical change in our whole attitude and the entire political content.
The idea of politicians delaying change into an indefinite future is a concept to which, I imagine, people from every period in history can relate.

You can listen to Isaacson's speech (and, I believe, the Q&A that follows) here: Inside the Mind of Einstein.

On a related note, I discovered something on the Speaking of Faith website: if you search for "musical score", you will be presented with a list of playlists from archived programs, composed of just the music used (in segues and what not). I'm currently listening to the playlist for Einstein and the mind of God. Good stuff. Especially if you want excellent, non-obtrusive music, say, for work (or blogging!).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Two Things

I hadn't heard of Kim Stanley Robinson before today, but I like what he has to say about technology and what he calls "natural primate actions" in an extremely lengthy (by blog standards, anyway) interview, which I will likely never finish:

People try to do stupid technological replacements for natural primate actions, but it doesn’t quite give them the buzz that they hoped it would. Even though it looks quite magical, the sense of accomplishment is not there. So they do it again, hoping that the activity, like a drug, will somehow satisfy the urge that it’s supposedly meant to satisfy. But it doesn’t. So they do it more and more – and they fall down a rabbit hole, pursuing a destructive and high carbon-burn activity, when they could just go out for a walk, or plant a garden, or sit down at a table with a friend and drink some coffee and talk for an hour. All of these unboosted, straight-forward primate activities are actually intensely satisfying to the totality of the mind-body that we are.
Also, I discovered the blog Making Light today. The most recent post amuses and disturbs me, and it finishes with this clever observation:
We’ve created a culture in which the stupid are consistently triumphant, and the rest of us just keep our heads down.
Does anyone else find that frighteningly accurate?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Year in Blogging

As seems to be a common disclaimer amongst those participating—and by that, I mean the two I've noticed so far—I'll point out that I don't usually bother with memes, but I found this an amusing alternative to the next 10 minutes of my job. I first came across this one at Stephen's Lighthouse.

Without further adieu, the first sentence from the first post of each month this year (and for January through May, I'll be using the posts from LaToVP)

January:
my feelings, that's what.

February:
1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?

March:
(photograph)

then

What spear is this I wield? (link)

April:
Today is small and tired;
the rain, the rain.

or

NaPoWriMo '07 begins today, & I think I've got it in me.

May:
I have decided to ease off the blogging for a while.

June:
Welcome to Mlog, my new(est) blog (which, for future reference, you will be able to find at both matthew.laffertywhistle.com--that one probably by the 15th--and matthewlafferty.blogspot.com).

July:
I've recently become newly amused by del.icio.us (notice the new addition to the sidebar), and not only because I find the URL frightfully clever.

August:
I'm in the minority, here, I realize that; but honestly, apart from having children--which is all manner of awesome--who eventually learn to care for themselves and converse with you, why on earth would you want something else in the house that eats a lot and poops on the floor and will never learn to say, "don't worry, I'll clean up the feces I just deposited on your pillow"?

September:
I've been away for some time; I've been busy.

October:
(video)

then

Although the Lord has given you
bread of privation
and water of oppression,
HE Your Teacher,
will not hide himself from you. (link)

November:
...the utmost possible novelty would be the difference between me and myself a year ago.

December:
I've always said that I'm a minimalist in theory only, because, you know, I really like
stuff.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Link-Fest

(to be a highly irregular feature)

I am officially hooked on StumbleUpon. Here's the proof.

Two music-related discoveries: musicovery and liveplasma. Don't have the old iPod at work today, but Google Operating System had my back with this post about YouTube, which mentions the two sites in question almost as an aside. I've been listening to musicovery's selections (on "discovery" mode) and learning more about the general sensibilities of unfamiliar bands on liveplasma. Let the good times roll. (Oh, and the YouTube visualization feature for discovering new videos is pretty cool, too.)

Common Errors in English (usage). This guy has the exact right attitude, in my humble opinion. And I'm embarrassed to admit I've always said "for all intensive purposes" (blogged it, too, if memory serves). Oh, and you say it was an historic event? Take that!

Mixx, by the way, has me almost completely weaned off Digg. Go figure.

I guess that's all. It's Friday, and I'm going to see three of my best friends tonight. w00t!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ex-Tumblr, Etc.

Hopped off the Tumblr wagon today. I have no doubt it can be very useful and interesting, but it would have become, for me, (at least) one too many components in my attempts to organize and understand my socialmedia life.

Written in my Google Notebook yesterday:

What are the pieces of my socialmedia world?

Blogger
Wordpress
Twitter
Tumblr
Del.icio.us
Stumbleupon
Facebook

And how do I use/coordinate them all?

Blogger: general(?) blogging. something approaching essays. longer interesting thoughts, with some structure. analysis.
focus: general(?)
Wordpress: literary (Madison Arling) blogging.
focus: literary
Twitter: microblogging. interesting stray thoughts.
focus: thought. right now.
Tumblr: aggregation
focus: bring together content from my other blogs (minus the Blogger). post media (videos, pictures, etc.) that do not necessarily warrant/need fuller accompanying posted material. right now.

Del.icio.us: social bookmarking of sites I may want/need to remember/access (possibly much) later.
focus: ?
Stumbleupon: social bookmarking in a truer sense. developing community of people who are interested in the same sorts of sites I am. (eventually) recommend my own posts.
Facebook: communicate/keep track of people I really do know and who are not near me geographically (for the most part).

It occurs to me that this might all mean the end of Del.icio.us's usefulness to me. I like that I can share the most useful of links to my friends (via Facebook and Blogger), but between Google Bookmarks and Stumbleupon, I just don't know if I see myself continuing with it. Is Del.icio.us-killer a term yet? It might be for me, and soon.

Further: but is it worth it to drop Del.icio.us altogether? I have a number of links there, and the process of transferring them seems at once daunting and not worth the investment of time.

(Emphasis—strikeout—added today)
I decided that the hassle of figuring out how to utilize the aggregational possibilities of Tumblr, on top of figuring out what to do with Tumblr otherwise, just isn't worth it. So scratch that from the list.

The question remains: what do I do about Del.icio.us? It's a fantastic site, but I don't know what use I have for it anymore. Stumbleupon will surely satisfy my desire to discover new & interesting websites right now that I don't necessarily have to care about later. True, Stumbleupon doesn't have the advanced tagging features that make finding the sites later as easy as it could be with Del.icio.us, but when have I actually gone back and found sites I've bookmarked using Del.icio.us anyway? The answer is, I haven't, not really. Besides, Google Bookmarks can more than handle that particular task.

If it will not be unusually helpful in finding interesting sites weeks or months from right now, what is the possible use for Del.icio.us? I can see none. Stumbleupon seems to me a much more intuitive means to discovering new sites, with the added inducement of a like-minded community, and if I want to actually save a site for future use, Google Bookmarks is up to the task.

And what will I do with the bookmarks from Del.icio.us? Perhaps a quick perusal to make sure I'm saving any I might need, but that account's days are numbered.

Note too the question mark after the "focus:" for Blogger. I think I could safely erase that now, but I won't. I am perfectly at peace with shorter posts here that warrant no deep analysis or explanation. Life is not a serious essay without asides, and neither should be this blog. I leave the question mark, though, because I am convinced I will never be sure what exactly I want to blog about, and that's fine. I'm interested in a lot of things, and so should be this blog.

I'm sorry

Found poem

I'm sorry if
I made you mad.
I've got a ring
for two dollars.
Rite me back.
I'm very sorry.
If you don't
have the money,
I'll give you
the ring free.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tumblr

Hopped on the Tumblr wagon today. As I said in the first (test) post, I'm not sure how I want to/can use it yet, but might prove interesting to find out, right? In the very least, it could prove an interesting combo of my various online presences. Check it out here (not much to see yet, obviously, but give it time.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Madison Arling

Alternate post title: Varjak Paul will likely reappear in the near future, though not where you may think.

I've started a new blog that has been a long time coming. Hopefully, I won't let myself down with this one.

As long as the story of Madison Arling has ripened in my mind, I have managed to actually produce very little of it. Most of today's output is stolen (from this story by H.P. Lovecraft, which manages, in its first paragraph, to touch perfectly on some of the ideas surrounding MA), but it's a start.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What's your ambition?

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (New International Version)

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
This passage is a harder one than most people would admit. And I don't know about you, but I think I'd be pretty hard pressed to support my family by working with my hands, so I'm going to go ahead and assume there's some room to breathe in that phrase.

The thought of people minding their own business... we do, but we don't. I need more thought on that.

The Application of Word to Thing

Didn't know much about Mike Huckabee until I read this article in GQ. I probably still don't, but it was an interesting read, nonetheless. I liked some of what he said, but I was disturbed by this line:

I’m likely to support the Republican nominee whatever our options are—because anybody on our side is better than anybody on their side.
which basically sums up nicely why I generally can't get interested in politics. It's almost less that the system is a joke than the politicians are, for all intensive purposes, very intelligent 7th graders. Despite my feelings to that effect, I really am thinking about maybe paying attention to what they're all saying as we head into the '08 election. (Don't count on much of it finding its way here, though. I couldn't bear to become yet another irritatingly smug political blog)

This isn't exactly new information, but I was still mildly amused by an article on Time's website about Social Security numbers. Apparently, you don't really have to give it out to everyone on the planet. Who knew?

I don't even know what to say about this next thing. I know nothing at all about this Denis Johnson fellow, except that his book, Tree of Smoke, won the '07 National Book Award, and that I don't plan on reading it. That non-plan, though, is not due entirely to the article on the Atlantic Monthly's website, which, well, lambastes both book and author (and I mean that as close to literally as possible, as I get the sense the article's author would like to actually beat Denis Johnson with a cane). I don't plan on reading it because, frankly, I don't care about it. I tend to hold a rather dystopian view of contemporary literature in general, but I don't think I'm alone in thinking that the novel has gone a strange, unfortunate way. I don't even know what makes novels good anymore, and as such, I have little interest in reading new ones. I know, I know... I was an English major (whatever that means), and I should know better, and maybe I'm way off-base, but I can't help but feel that literature is heading away from the likes of Johnson and his ilk, from their particular way of killing trees. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe (almost certainly) it's not as black and white as all that. Still, would you want to read a book whose first words are “Last night at 3:00 a.m. President Kennedy had been killed"?

Anyway, the article also brings to mind this lovely gem from Ezra Pound:
The individual cannot think and communicate his thought, the governor and legislator cannot act effectively or frame his laws without words, and the solidity and validity of these words is in the care of the damned and despised litterati …when their very medium, the very essence of their work, the application of word to thing goes rotten, i.e. becomes slushy and inexact, or excessive or bloated, the whole machinery of social and of individual thought and order goes to pot.
Word to thing, indeed. Slushy, inexact, excessive, bloated. Anyone want to stand up and say those words don't describe a lot of "important" writing these days?

Oh, the rot.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Where have you gone, Tuesday Johnson?

(does not work well to the tune of Mrs. Robinson)

Anyway, I'm done with Flea Circus. All of a sudden I remembered, I'm not really that funny. At least, not comic strip funny. Still, it gave me something to do for a short while. Props to people who can do it well.

In other news, here's a found poem from today:

My Period (title mine)

I'm about to start my
period and I
always have a slow
brain & can't find
words. It always
happens right B4.

Monday, December 3, 2007

On Minimalism

I've always said that I'm a minimalist in theory only, because, you know, I really like stuff. And I don't mean that in the oh-my-gawd-I-have-to-have-everything-I-see kind of way (though my wife would surely argue that I have my moments). Thing is, I'm a very tactile person. I like having things to feel & hold, which means the problem I have with minimalism in practice is that it doesn't allow much room for useless crap that feels nice under my fingers, and that's not cool.

However, I always find myself coming back to the idea. If only I could get rid of all this stuff, I think. I get over it, rationalizing my need for boxes that have yet to be filled, magazines I'll never read again (seriously, I'm going to scan in the covers, and they'll make an awesome, I don't know, something, and then I'll throw them in the garbage. There's always a reason, isn't there?

And still I come back to the minimalist thoughts. It would be awesome (perhaps only to me) to have many, many copies of the same outfit, to wear the same thing every day. One less thing to think about, less cluttr in the mind, yes? (To which I internally reply that I'd need a dress outfit in there somewhere, and there's the seasons to consider...)

It would be awesome to abandon my home computer for all file-storage needs. I'd love to keep all our pictures on Picasa Web Albums (though we've become camera-trigger-happy since the birth of our first child a year and a half ago, which means we'd probably have to either store the pictures on the computer, back them up to cds once we reached the online storage limit, or purchase more storage space). I already store all my writing online at Google Documents & Spreadsheets. Music is another thing. I love Anywhere.fm, though it currently supports only .mp3 files (if you think I'm taking the time to convert all those blasted .mp4s, you've got another thing coming, and I'm not holding my breath for the promised support for other file types). And that'd be about it. I use computers almost exclusively for the internet (which I can get anywhere), word processing, music, and photos.

It would be awesome. But I'm not holding my breath.

What about the rest of my house, you ask? Good question, and not coincidentally, where my minimalist tendencies usually hit the skids. I love books. Love 'em. I don't know if minimalism allows room for a horde of books I probably won't read again or haven't yet made time to read. Then there's the music books to consider.

I have to stop and wonder what minimalism even means today. Or at least what it would mean to me. As I've said, I think connections are a big deal. What the aspiring minimalist will encounter, however, is the realization that modern connectivity requires more & more stuff through which and by which we make the connections that mean the most. What does that say about me? About us? Does all the stuff help or hinder the connections we make? Is it time to think about choosing between the connections and the stuff?

And the new year approacheth, with a frightening pace, full steam.