September 30, 2004

The Tipping Point; Gladwell, Malcolm

This was recommended long ago by a trusted co-worker (post co-working), so I bought it immediately with the unintended intention for it to become a dust catcher. It has since haunted me on one of our book shelves. I know Malcolm Gladwell's writing from his many articles in The New Yorker.

Continue reading "The Tipping Point; Gladwell, Malcolm"
posted by sstrader at 9:27 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink | comments (0)

An unwatched server

The day--the day--I left for Greece, my server went down. And down for the first time ever. Still having some quirky problems, but I'm sure they won't cause any real trouble until I'm out of town again.

Downside #1 to hosting your own site: IT is only as good as the guy behind the keyboard.

posted by sstrader at 9:25 PM in Misc | permalink | comments (0)

September 22, 2004

Gone vacationin'

Flight's at 2 today to Greece, so there'll be a noticeable lull in the postings. I'll probably get hit by the comment spammers while I'm gone, but maybe there'll be some gems of wisdom ("they have online casinos now!?!"). γεια σου.

Reading Oblivion, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 2, and Top 10, Book 1. Listening to ... shit, gotta get my iRiver loaded with music! Bye.

Continue reading "Gone vacationin'"
posted by sstrader at 8:40 AM in Misc | permalink | comments (1)

September 20, 2004

Faux garde, faux mo

From the introductory column covering the avant garde in the New York Times, titled Pushing Boundaries in Search of Vision:

Postmodernism ... drives artists to mine the past constantly - and flagrantly.

And from an article in the Sept/Aug 2004 issue of the cinephile magazine Film Comment (thanks for the subscription!):

Following the copyright controversy surrounding The Grey Album--in which DJ Dangermouse [sic] remixed The Beatles' White Album [Amazon] with Jay-Z's Black Album [Amazon]--paranoia has reared its ugly head. The fear, in some quarters, has been akin to the horror of miscegenation, as "white" mingles with "black," and record-industry lawyers attest to the sullying of the purity of the original (among other things). It's a fertile time, then, for Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky) to premiere his spin on D. W. Griffith's 1915 Birth of a Nation [IMDB], a film that glorified the birth of the Ku Klux Klan in the face of a cultural/genetic remix sanctioned by the end of the Civil War. Miller calls Rebirth of a Nation a deconstruction of the film, but it's unclear what he means [emphasis mine].
Continue reading "Faux garde, faux mo"
posted by sstrader at 12:20 PM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)

September 19, 2004

Oh drat, part 4

Had a meeting with Dr. Work this afternoon to discuss some software he wanted written. It sounds interesting and could be fun. He's very honest and friendly, and I think we were in agreement with the requirements and intentions of the project.

My finger is losing its range of motion. I was told to stop using the squishy-ball for exercise and to keep it wrapped in athletic tape to get the swelling down. I should be able to start exercising again next week. Since I've been off of it, I can't really tell if I'll have problems with it or not. Good not to think about it--I'll use new age positive thinking to make the bone mend!

Continue reading "Oh drat, part 4"
posted by sstrader at 9:19 PM in Misc | permalink | comments (0)

September 18, 2004

Green Day's rock opera

Green Day is coming out with a rock opera (punk opera) on the 21st called American Idiot. I'm not a fan of Green Day, and although some reviews praise the complexity and experimentation of the tracks ("Jesus of Suburbia" is a 9-minute, 5-part song), the title track is the only one currently available on Rhapsody and it is the same-old-pop-punk-stuff. I guess they get high marks for trying. I'll definitely have to listen when it comes out.

posted by sstrader at 4:56 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

More convergence: PVRs

Over at /., the geeks are duking it out over MythTV (a Linux-based, open source PVR) and Microsoft's Media Center Edition.

Continue reading "More convergence: PVRs"
posted by sstrader at 3:35 PM in Home Network & Gadgets | permalink | comments (1)

Stray Toasters, issue 1, page 40

Stray Toasters, issue 1, page 40

Stray Toasters, issue 1, page 40. Abby, a psychiatrist, sits with Todd who had appeared at her front door and is apparently autistic. Prior to this scene, she recalled the child she had lost in an accident and now avoids deciding whether to report this abandoned child.

Continue reading "Stray Toasters, issue 1, page 40"
posted by sstrader at 3:21 PM in Art , Current Interests | permalink | comments (0)

Why do the facts hate IE? part 2

I finally sat down after work Friday to fix the IE problem. The right column boxes (currently etc.) were resizing irregularly and left justified instead of right. It might have been caused by a template change I made when I added the Comic Page of the Week, it might have been by a CSS change when I applied styles to all of the images, or it might have been just some crap IE problem that surfaced to waste my time. It could have been a lot of things and could have taken up my night (of which I value).

However, in less than 30 minutes I had it fixed and republished (what's the emoticon for patting yourself on the back?) and am here to impart wisdom. And, of course, to write this down so that I might retain some of the wisdom.

Continue reading "Why do the facts hate IE? part 2"
posted by sstrader at 2:24 PM in Programming | permalink | comments (0)

September 17, 2004

Letter from Dave Sim

Sure, it's a form letter, but he still signed it. Cool. And he sent me issue 168, Mothers & Daughters 18.

Continue reading "Letter from Dave Sim"
posted by sstrader at 8:25 PM in Art | permalink | comments (0)

September 16, 2004

XM + Streaming = Big Fun

XM Radio is planning to provide a streaming service to complement its satellite radio service. Currently, XM Radio broadcasts special-interest stations (80s, symphonic, hip-hop etc.) to custom receivers available for your car and transferrable anywhere. The receivers are actually pretty sexy looking.

Where is all of this going?

Continue reading "XM + Streaming = Big Fun"
posted by sstrader at 10:54 PM in Home Network & Gadgets | permalink | comments (0)

September 15, 2004

Why do the facts hate IE?

I obviously haven't been in IE in a while. This site is fucked right now. ... working ...

posted by sstrader at 12:18 AM in Misc | permalink | comments (3)

September 14, 2004

Year of Glad

David Foster Wallace would be proud. Or scared.

Continue reading "Year of Glad"
posted by sstrader at 1:35 PM in Culture & Society | tagged david foster wallace | permalink | comments (0)

Oprah

Oprah is normally not even a blip on my radar. The mild brouhaha over the Jonathan Franzen novel was the last time her name came up in conversation beyond a generic pejorative for mindless, empty consumption.

Well, with this latest stunt, she's outdone herself in tasteless self-absorbtion and egotism. She--get this--she gave a car to every member of her studio audience the other day. 276 cars.

When actors or rock stars or playboy millionaires throw around money, it's humorous decadence. They don't pretend any selflessness and we don't expect it. Their selfishness is selfish, but it's honest. Oprah may give to charities and may be truly philanthropic at times, but a stunt such as throwing her spare change at a grateful audience and basking in their praise is bad taste at best. At worst, as others praise her, it's a sign of a morally shallow America.

posted by sstrader at 10:28 AM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (1)

September 13, 2004

Oh drat, part 3

It's never what you expect.

I got to the doctor's anticipating either an appointment to re-break and re-set my finger or an appointment for surgery to fix what had gone wrong in the natural healing process. It was weirdly neither, but I feel somewhat better about things.

Continue reading "Oh drat, part 3"
posted by sstrader at 5:13 PM in Misc | permalink | comments (2)

September 12, 2004

What you got, homes?

I left work early on Friday (at 4:00) and got to listen to Fresh Air. They broadcast an earlier interview with Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest who runs a company called Homeboy Industries. With it, he attempts to train and employ ex-gang members. Wow. The story was so refreshing, so human. The last time I was as touched was when I had read about the work of Mother Theresa. Father Boyle was very humble and had such a desire to help others.

I've been on panels with born-again folks who will say things like "I don't know why we're talking about economic justice and jobs when what we really need to be telling these kids is that Jesus is their personal saviour." No one would be more horrified by that that perspective than Jesus. He would say: "What are you talking about?" This is about rolling up your sleeves and really walking with folks who are having a hard time. It's about concrete help. It's not about inserting a message in their ear lobe, it's about somehow imitating the god you believe in.

Cool. Listen. His ideas on living a life that helps others are well-expressed and inspiring.

Continue reading "What you got, homes?"
posted by sstrader at 1:32 AM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)

Following Cerebus

Yearning to read good, new comics again, I went to Oxford Comics a week or so ago.

Continue reading "Following Cerebus"
posted by sstrader at 1:04 AM in Art | permalink | comments (1)

September 11, 2004

Blogs, part 3

(Slightly more sober, Scott decides to finish his fragmented thoughts on blogs.)

Continue reading "Blogs, part 3"
posted by sstrader at 11:51 PM in Misc | permalink | comments (0)

The work question

I'm at a crossroads. No, that's not right. I'm at a point where I'd like to make a decision to either stay at the hypothetical company or leave. Leaving will mean two weeks and I'm gone--no bullshit waiting until I find another job.

Continue reading "The work question"
posted by sstrader at 11:41 PM in Misc | permalink | comments (0)

Oh drat, part 2

(In which I begin to record the travails of my broken finger and related psychological issues and recovery.)

Today sucks. Today my hatred of doctors grows. Today I plot my revenge on the one at Crawford Long emergency room who said it's not broken and sent me away even as the bone started fusing obviously crooked. Doctors gotta know you feel that way, that patients can feel such hatred. An x-ray, a splint, and ta-da. Instead, I'm forced to sit here and bitch.

Today I hate myself for playing piano last night. It's really sensitive right now. Something, somehow numbed me to not feel it, and I've been taught a lesson.

Doctor's appointment on Monday, 10 AM. Dr. Atallah (AKA Dr. X-ray) from my second visit to Crawford Long referred me to Dr. Frederick Work, a plastic surgeon.

posted by sstrader at 2:46 PM in Misc | permalink | comments (0)

Blogs, part 2

Kristin had made many statements and raised many questions. I want to break out of the comment and look a little deeper at the content and intent of blogs. Jeez, this subject probably has been written and overwritten, but let's go for it anyway.

Continue reading "Blogs, part 2"
posted by sstrader at 12:13 AM in Misc | permalink

September 10, 2004

Watchmen, issue 1, page 1

Watchmen, issue 1, page 1

Watchmen, issue 1, page 1. Rorschach's journal is a voice-over for the criminal investigation of the apparent-suicide of his aquaintance, fellow super-hero The Comedian.

Continue reading "Watchmen, issue 1, page 1"
posted by sstrader at 11:48 PM in Art , Current Interests | permalink | comments (3)

Augmented 6th chords

In which we quickly revisit our old friends--the Italian, French, and German sixth chords--via the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 30, opus 109.

Continue reading "Augmented 6th chords"
posted by sstrader at 9:21 PM in Music | permalink | comments (2)

September 8, 2004

Oh drat

My finger's broken.

posted by sstrader at 1:23 AM in Misc | permalink | comments (5)

September 7, 2004

Currently Listening To

I was recently drawn back to the Beethoven sonatas while thinking about music form and content in my recent post. I once played the prestissimo movement from the Sonata #30 (in a definitively un-prestissimo manner), and we had heard it performed at Emory a couple of seasons back (by whom?). I really fell in love with the epic theme and variations in the final movement. I love solo and chamber concerts for their intimacy and for the connection you have to these musicians as they perform at the height of musical ability. It's exhausting just to listen to the climax of the final movement with its double-trills, fluid changes in key and meter, and expansive handling of style. Watching it performed 20 feet away was exhilarating.

Continue reading "Currently Listening To"
posted by sstrader at 12:20 AM in Current Interests , Music | permalink | comments (0)

September 6, 2004

TiVo + Netflix = Big Fun

TiVo and Netflix join forces for broadband movies. We may have to upgrade to the new TiVo if this happens.

[ via bump ]

Continue reading "TiVo + Netflix = Big Fun"
posted by sstrader at 10:21 PM in Home Network & Gadgets | permalink | comments (3)

Natural piety

Seems like religion's getting discussed quite a bit lately. Here's an interesting essay by Richard Dawkins titled "What Use is Religion?" In it, he suggests that to understand religion [w]e have to rewrite the question before we can sensibly answer it. The question may not be "how does religion add to the survival of the species?" but instead be something along the lines of "what survival trait gave rise to the behavior that is religion?" He offers some suggestions, but I was more interested in his examples of other "wrong questions" in the natural sciences.

Continue reading "Natural piety"
posted by sstrader at 1:27 PM in Science & Technology | permalink | comments (8)

September 5, 2004

Verb tenses

I've been thinking about verb tenses recently (man, am I boring), how they are formed, and what they mean. I once had them down solid--they're not that difficult--but I always need a refresher when the auxiliaries are used. This entry clarifies tenses and adds some useful insights from my books on natural language processing--although IANALG (I am not a licensed grammarian).

Continue reading "Verb tenses"
posted by sstrader at 10:01 PM in Language & Literature | permalink | comments (2)

Nobody tells me anything

Which is fine, 'cause I don't tell anyone anything either. However, Laurence getting a blog seems like big news. Maybe he didn't want to make a fuss. Or be a bother.

And (BTW), why is it that blogs, a world of writing, is dominated by guys? I thought that women were more the literary set.

posted by sstrader at 1:37 PM in Misc | permalink | comments (9)

September 4, 2004

Semantic government

Paul Ford has begun a series of articles chronicling his conversion of Congress' Web site into semantic Web content. It's a quick read with clean, complete examples detailing his process and with clear insights into a Web guru's approach to this difficult task. It's a labor of interest more than usefulness: he wants to prove to himself and others the benefits of the semantic Web, and he knows that his solution (a hack based on screen-scraping) can easily go out-of-date. Nevertheless, the process is facinating.

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posted by sstrader at 6:00 PM in Programming | permalink | comments (0)

Education

A wonderful article from P. Z. Myers defending a liberal arts education (damn straight!) from a critical article that appeared in the recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. The criticism is ... Neanderthalish. At best. It's gotta be a joke written by someone who is just setting up an idiotic counter-example to be easily torn down. Or maybe not.

I thought taking English meant improving my writing skills, that taking Spanish meant that when I went to Mexico I’d be able to converse, that studying history would be an exercise in learning about the past. Wrong on all three counts!

Dick.

Continue reading "Education"
posted by sstrader at 4:00 PM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (2)

Jon Stewart cracks me up (again)

Recently commenting on a blatant non-truth from Cheney:

Mr. Vice President ... I believe your pants are on fire.

And his classic line regarding the war:

Why do the facts hate America?
Continue reading "Jon Stewart cracks me up (again)"
posted by sstrader at 3:33 PM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)

Cerebus, issue 93, page 8

I frequently dig through my collection of comics--you always "dig through" collections--and thought it'd be good to put up a page every week. Or so. There may be more or fewer eventually. The selections won't be Earth-shattering or definitive; just whatever pages strike me as interesting at the time.

Cerebus, issue 93, page 8

Cerebus, issue 98, page 8. Cerebus, as Pope, and Lord Julius (Groucho Marx) travelling to interrogate Astoria, Julius' ex-wife, who is being held in a cell because she assassinated the western pontiff.

Continue reading "Cerebus, issue 93, page 8"
posted by sstrader at 10:56 AM in Art , Current Interests | permalink | comments (0)

September 3, 2004

Eldorado

This song [Rhapsody] made me happy. It's "Eldorado" from ELO's album Eldorado. The song has a schmaltzy, stolen Motown kinda feel like Jeff Buckley would steal. ELO could really have their heart on their sleeve (it was the 70s after all), but they hold back just enough on this one. Much better than their excruciatingly awful rock-Haydn from the same album--but that same album's also got "Can't Get It Out Of My Head" and several other unknown tunes, so that makes up for it.

Here it comes, another lonely day, playing the game,
I'll sail away on a voyage of no return
To see if eternal life is meant to be
And if I find the key to the eternal dream.

Tangent: I thought their song "Telephone Line" and Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me" were well placed in the wonderful movie The Virgin Suicides from the Jeffrey Eugenides novel.

Continue reading "Eldorado"
posted by sstrader at 9:35 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

He can go to zell, part 2

Two points about Zell:

Continue reading "He can go to zell, part 2"
posted by sstrader at 8:58 PM in Politics | permalink | comments (2)

Useless facts I discovered this morning

I woke up hung over, and my computer had the BSOD. Coincidence?

Sensodyne tastes bad, and it completely clogs up your toothbrush.

Apparenty if you leave Peachtree Lofts early enough in the morning, you get to see strippers walking from The Cheetah to the Midtown Marta station (Strippers, Jerry! Strippers!!). Well, they should be strippers if they're not. And yes, even though they're in regular clothes they Look That Good.

Small compliments go a long way. When I was at the dentist about to complain that my teeth whitener wasn't working (lots of coffee plus a little vanity), before I could say anything the assistant said they looked much whiter. When I was at the emergency room for my smashed up finger, the doctor complimented me on my hands (the non-smashed up part). She said they were very attractive--which Florence Nightingaled me into feeling a little better. Am I that vain?? Maybe.

Apparenty, strippers also get coffee at the Starbucks on Piedmont in Buckhead.

posted by sstrader at 9:28 AM in Misc | permalink | comments (0)

September 2, 2004

The content of form in music, part 1

The book German Essays on Music includes an essay by Eduard Hanslick from 1854 titled "'Content' and 'Form' in Music." In it, he argues that instrumental music has no meaning beyond the notes themselves.

Music consists of tonal sequences, tonal forms; these have no other content than themselves. They remind us once again of architecture and dancing, which likewise bring us beautiful relationships without content.
[People] think that composing is the translating of some kind of conceptual content into tones. But the tones themselves are the untranslatable, ultimate language. Indeed, from the very fact that the composer is forced to think in tones, it follows that music has no content ...

This goes against the more recent theories of formalism, which suggests that meaning is derived from the structural assemblage of the work, and (possibly) the older Aristotelian ideas of empiricism. Form, in the work as a whole and recursively in its constituent parts, provides basic characteristics of expression in both music and the visual arts.

Continue reading "The content of form in music, part 1"
posted by sstrader at 8:11 PM in Music | permalink | comments (1)

He can go to zell

Zell Miller's speech on March 1st 2001 praising John Kerry:

My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend. ... In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington. ... John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment. Business Week magazine named him one of the top pro-technology legislators and made him a member of its "Digital Dozen."

Zell Miller's speech on September 1st 2004 denigrating John Kerry:

From John Kerry, they get a "yes-no-maybe" bowl of mush that can only encourage our enemies and confuse our friends. ... Right now the world just cannot afford an indecisive America. Fainthearted, self-indulgence will put at risk all we care about in this world. ... For more than twenty years, on every one of the great issues of freedom and security, John Kerry has been more wrong, more weak and more wobbly than any other national figure. As a war protestor, Kerry blamed our military.

I agree that indecisive confusion about principles is a character flaw. We should definitely avoid those who are self-indulgent enough to contradict themselves in such a manner. Zell piles on sentence after sentence of rhetorical garbage that scratches the surface of facts. I don't think there's much there, but I'd like to take the time (or find someone who already has) to go over point by point.

Continue reading "He can go to zell"
posted by sstrader at 5:58 PM in Politics | permalink | comments (3)