November 29, 2008


Daniel L. Everett just released his book, Don't Sleep, There are Snakes, describing his work with the Piraha people of Brazil. Back in August 2004, I'd read about his work as reported in a New Scientist article. The Freethinker just published a short writeup of his story [ via Reddit ] along with a a portion of Everett speaking on a BBC special. BBC has a handful of articles dating back to the 2004 story. Language Log, too, has commented on the Piraha language over the years.

(Small gripe: One of the linguists on Language Log complained about the state of the Piraha Wikipedia article, vocally refused to link to it, and yet didn't take any time to clean it up. Where will the public more likely go to learn: from your specialized blog or Wikipedia? The Wikipedia entry is now quite detailed and shows a history of battled edits. Crowdsourcing 1, academic isolationists 0.)

The Guardian just published a lengthy article covering, first, Everett's loss of faith (he'd originally gone to convert them to Christianity) in the face of the Piraha's general contentedness and disinterest in the spiritual. Much is made of this, and Everett discusses both his conversion to Christianity and his loss of faith in the audio above. The Piraha were almost cruelly dismissive of his belief system. Do tell? In the audio excerpt, Everett recounts how he converted to Christianity after his stepmother committed suicide. The Piraha laughed at the story, telling him How stupid! Pirahas don't kill themselves! (I've always felt there should be special punishment for the coercively arrogant who would wrestle a people's beliefs away from them. Missionaries are, simply, some of the lowest scum of a compassionate society. It's human nature to try to dominate others; but it's one of the more distasteful aspects when it attempts to destroy another's culture.)

Second, the article discusses Everett's notable assertion that the Piraha breaks rules of Chomsky's universal grammar (lacking recursion and ideas of numbers and colors that Chomsky believes are basic parts of a human "language organ"). This assertion is less interesting than the extremes of mental representations that the language and people display. The examples show how wonderfully diverse people of the world are: the Piraha have no history beyond their daily memories, they cannot understand the numeric difference in two groups of objects (a pile of four sticks is no different than a pile of five sticks), they have no government, they have no art or literature. Sortof redefines what a culture is, and that's always nice to encounter so shocking an example of variety in human cultures.

The New Yorker has a more conversational account of Everett and the Piraha, including some very funny stories of Everett and the author's interactions with the tribe. They encounter repeated examples of the villagers' complete disinterest with any culture but their own and any events beyond what was happening in the present. "Crooked head" is the tribe's term for any language that is not Pirahã, and it is a clear pejorative. The Pirahã consider all forms of human discourse other than their own to be laughably inferior, and they are unique among Amazonian peoples in remaining monolingual. An entire society of ultra-nationalists. The history of the decades of failed attempts to fully understand the language shows how different it is from other languages--even if it doesn't challenge Chomsky's ideas. The heart of the article:

Inspired by Sapir's cultural approach to language, [Everett] hypothesized that the tribe embodies a living-in-the-present ethos so powerful that it has affected every aspect of the people's lives. Committed to an existence in which only observable experience is real, the Pirahã do not think, or speak, in abstractions--and thus do not use color terms, quantifiers, numbers, or myths.
posted by sstrader at 7:10 PM in Culture & Society , Language & Literature | permalink

November 27, 2008

Paprika (4/5)

[ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]


Saw this refd with Perfect Blue [ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] and admired for its cyberpunk cred. Ultimately for me it was Bergman's Persona (an epitome of postmodern genre) writ in kana and top notch anime. It felt like GitS: Innocence + Miyazaki + Bergman. Animation spoke to the narrative and the narrative referenced the relationship between a virtual world (email, IM?) and the psychological world. There is so much cheap and so much insightful within this film that I forgive the cheap. Honestly, there were so many cultural references that I'm not sure I really understood.

Give it a try, and you'll have the same mixed admiration.

posted by sstrader at 12:02 AM in Cinema | permalink

November 26, 2008

Blog about it


File with the infamous New Yorker cartoon of dogs blogging.

posted by sstrader at 1:45 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

More Palin apologists

Mike Liberman over at Language Log constructs a detailed yet stretchy explanation of how Palin is as talk goodly as everyone else and that it's just nasty transcribers and their punctuation phobias that done did her crooked. He even quotes Camille Paglia's absurdist (true to form) defense of Palin's syntax and prosody as be-bop (already observed by a jazz pianist so eloquently). What was fresh in Paglia 20 years ago is now merely shrill. Such a grammatic defense is Liberman's shtick, and he wasn't ashamed to try to use it to defend Bush's ignorant ramblings, so I guess I should have expected it. There're few moments when the reply "bullshit" is so appropriate and justified.

That being said, the comments on the page (almost wholly and eloquently against such nonsense) are worth suffering the nonsense. Some choice moments:

The problem is not that she is overly ungrammatical (she isn't) or that she meanders (she does, and so does everyone), it's that she uses a blizzard of words to obscure that she has nothing contentful to say.


While I agree with your characterization of natural speech as inevitably composed of false starts and abandoned constructions, and further agree that Palin is no worse in this regard than most people or even most politicians, these issues are not, I think, what really bug most of her critics. But since her critics are not linguists, they often lack the tools to accurately describe what they are offended by. They may incorrectly use terms like "ungrammatical" and such when what they are really trying to get at is the feeling that much of her speech is untethered to human thought. More so than most politicians even.

And the continued implication on this blog that the criticism of Palin's speech is completely groundless is frankly bizarre. Palin uses word salad to obscure lack of knowledge. It's the lack of knowledge that people are reacting to and the word salad the proximate mockable evidence.
Palin's manner of speech reminds me of nothing so much as the high school principals, borough council members, and other similar small-town functionaries I've met and dealt with. This isn't a comment on her mayoral past; it's simply that this kind of speaking -- dressing up a few simple and ill-thought-out basic points in a mass of circumlocutions, filler phrases, and slightly misused "advanced" vocabulary -- is one I've encountered most from people who were either in positions of authority, or attempting to sound like they were.
posted by sstrader at 9:29 AM in | permalink

November 25, 2008

Lisa's dad

Lisa's dad died of a heart attack yesterday morning. Coming a month-and-a-half after my own dad's death makes this both cruel and weird. Her and Mason are on the road this morning heading to outside of Memphis (where he lived and worked) and to meet their mom there. Yesterday they notified friends (email + FaceBook) and phoned between Atlanta and Memphis and Knoxville to arrange what will be done. We're anxious for the end of 2008.

Obituary from the Knoxville News Sentinal:

FOLEY, JACK OTIS - a resident of Mason, TN, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and Flight Instructor for Federal Express Corporation in Memphis, passed away on Monday, November 24, 2008. Colonel Foley was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on June 27, 1942 to Anna Mae Berry Foley and the late Tyler Otis Foley. He attended South High School and was a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, receiving his Degree in Animal Husbandry. After participating in the R.O.T.C program he entered pilot training at Moody Air Base on April 21, 1965 and served his country with distinction for 28 years retiring as an Air Force Colonel. At his retirement he was the Director of Tanker Operations, World Wide at Offutt Air Force Base. Colonel Foley also served in a command position with several military units including Commander of the 922nd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at Hellenikon AFB, Athens, Greece and Wing Commander of the 306th Strategic Wing, European Tanker Task Force, Mildenhall AFB, England, the first unit into Desert Storm. He was a command pilot with over 7,000 hours flying time. Other units with which he served are the 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron piloting the E4 (747 Presidential Airborne Command Post); the 32nd Air Refueling Squadron at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, the first unit of KC10 Tankers brought on line; and the 68th Air Refueling Wing at Seymor Johnson AFB, North Carolina where he served as Director of Operations. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War, flying the RF-4C Phantom II and had 85 missions over north Vietnam and 123 over South Vietnam. Among his many commendations are the Distinguished Flying Cross the Silver Star, and the Air Medal with 23 Oak Leaf Clusters. Colonel Foley is survived by his wife, Deborah LaPierre of Gouvernuer, NY; daughter, Lisa Marie Foley and her husband Scott Strader of Atlanta, GA; son, Mason Wade Foley and his wife, Danice of Kennesaw, GA and their mother, Mickey Mallonee; two step-sons, Marcus Law and Michael Curico, both of Gouvernuer, NY; three brothers, John Foley and William Foley of Knoxville and James Foley of Santa Clarita, CA and three sisters, Dorothy Saulsbury of Hueytown, AL; Margaret Rector of Middlesboro, KY and Myra Sue Ferguson of Morristown, TN. A memorial service will be held at Berry Funeral Home on Chapman Highway, Monday, December 8th. Visitation of friends will be at 12 noon with services to follow at 1:00 p.m. The family requests that Memorials be directed to any Chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Obituary from The Commercial Appeal of Memphis:

Fayette County - JACK OTIS FOLEY, 66, resident of the Braden Community, DC-10 Flight Instructor for Federal Express in Memphis, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and husband of Deborah Foley died November 24, 2008. Services with Military Honors will be at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Peebles Main Funeral Chapel in Somerville with private interment. Visitation from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at Peebles Main Chapel. A Christian Scientist and Knoxville native, Mr. Foley was educated at the University of Tennessee. Also survived by children: Lisa Marie Foley, Mason Wade Foley, Marcus Law, Michael Curcio; his mother, Anna Foley of Knoxville; four siblings and two grandchildren. Memorials requested to any Chapter of Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Peebles Fayette County Funeral Homes--Main Chapel Somerville, TN 901-465-3535
posted by sstrader at 8:48 AM in Personal | permalink

November 22, 2008

Doctor Atomic

John Adams' Doctor Atomic Friday night at the ASO. At times moving and difficult. Here's a PDF of John Adams' notes from the program.

Partial-staging with the orchestra arrayed normally, pushed a little to the front, raised platforms for the singers positioned at the center and leading to the back, and the choir split at the back left and right dressed in khakis and muted pullover shirts. Stage platforms had Oppenheimer's desk at the center and two living-room chairs to the left. Opens with recorded sounds--40s radio, people talking, misc. shortwave-type noises--segueing into the choir intoning the physics of the bomb (matter can neither be created nor destroyed). Supporting them, descending scales shared across the orchestra. Bombs falling on Japanese cities. I know Adams' Nixon in China, Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and the cathartic On the Transmigration of Souls. Music for Doctor Atomic was, at times, as chaotic and difficult as the latter but with arias as beautiful as those from Nixon in China. Singers were dressed as they would be for a full performance and acted out the scenes within the minimal staging.

Atomic intermission. on TwitPic

The opera brought out the drama of the history. The psychological pressure that was killing the scientists, the social responsibility, the uncertainty over how and if they were destroying the world.

Act I ends with the passionate, blues-influenced, charged aria "Batter my heart, three person'd God" based on a John Donne poem. Video with the full aria (taken from gab1279's YouTube group):

Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee, and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason yhour viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely'I love you, and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
Divorce mee, untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

(note the suggestion of the verse harmonies within the interstitial staccato sections)

Much of note: Clever syncopation, the rhythmic skill is astonishing and new. Many examples of how music doesn't have to be derivative. The orchestra was often chaotic behind the singers. Getting the recording (when it becomes available) after watching the performance is mandatory. I would love to see a full staging; there is much drama that could be amplified. The other videos from that group:

"What Benevolent Demon"

"Am I in Your Light?"

"The Motive of It All"

"Long Let Me Inhale Deeply"

"The Countdown"

posted by sstrader at 7:23 PM in Music | permalink

November 19, 2008

The Demolished Man; Alfred Bester

Very 50s crime drama set in 2300 or thereabouts. Halfway in and it's so far a good read.

Continue reading "The Demolished Man; Alfred Bester"
posted by sstrader at 11:49 AM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink

Bad Monkeys: A Novel (P.S.); Matt Ruff

Quick read. Entertaining but can't really recommend it. Good, light reading for the beach (too late) or a flight (none planned).

Continue reading "Bad Monkeys: A Novel (P.S.); Matt Ruff"
posted by sstrader at 11:38 AM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink

November 15, 2008

Server upgrades

Major upgrades on the home server this past week.

First, I upgraded MySQL from 3.23.53 to 5.0.67. Way overdue to get this done. My blog and wiki use it, so there were multi-honed dependencies that needed to be addressed at the same time. I installed it side-by-side on a different port and then copied the individual databases over (using SQLyog). That eliminated the recommended upgrade from 3.23 to 4.0 to 4.1 and then from 4.1 to 5.0.x. I don't have any stored procedures or fancy triggers, so that would have probably been unneccessary anyway.

Then, I worked on my MediaWiki installation and getting that from 1.3.7 to 1.13.2 (I hate lack of zero-padding in version numbers). Only issue was remembering where the database settings were. PHP sets the database URL in php.ini under [MySQL] mysql.default_port and mysql.default_host. MediaWiki set it in LocalSettings.php | $wgDBserver = "host:port";. Make sure you set both values and turn off your existing database service to test! Otherwise you'll look as dumb as I did when I couldn't figure out why it was complaining about and old database version. Idiot.

The Movabletype upgrade from 2.661 to 4.21 was more involved. Database URL and user set up in mt-db-pass.cgi and mt.cfg | Database and DBUser. Change the first line in all Perl scripts from "#!/usr/bin/perl -w" to the actual path (I still think that's an idiotic system). If you get the error Client does not support authentication protocol requested by server; consider upgrading MySQL client, run the following:

UPDATE mysql.user SET Password = OLD_PASSWORD('password') WHERE Host = '%' AND User = 'user'; 

I had to do this even though the user was created fresh in the new MySQL. Dunno why; just had to. If you have to add any Perl modules via CPAN and get the dreaded Can't find string terminator "'" anywhere before EOF at -e line 1., remember that Windows expects double-quotes as delimiters, not single-quotes. Once past all of this, MT happily upgraded the database tables and started anew. The changes in this version are ... mind-boggling, but I guess it's to be expected going from 2.x to 4.x. Many new features to discover.

Expect weirdness for the next few weeks as I iron out things I'd forgotten (like my wiki becoming unauthenticated for the first day, oop). Next maybe I'll try one of those fancy new WEB 2.0 layouts I hear are all the rage.

posted by sstrader at 12:01 PM in Home Network & Gadgets | permalink

November 13, 2008


Gizmodo had the Phoenix lander blog over the past few weeks. They were entertaining and accessible. Here they are, in order:

  1. Hello World, Phoenix Lander Here (12:01 PM on Tue Nov 4 2008)
  2. This is What Landing On Mars Feels Like (4:00 PM on Wed Nov 5 2008)
  3. Martian Ice Is Why I'm Alive and Why I'm Dying (2:31 PM on Fri Nov 7 2008)
  4. This is My Farewell Transmission From Mars (4:20 PM on Mon Nov 10 2008)

The tone, like that of the lander's tweets, is conversational, light, and informative. An image taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was released that showed Phoenix parachuting on to the Martian surface. It was a beautiful image and an impressive moment as one robot watched another begin its adventure. In one blog entry, Phoenix editorializes the event, simply:


Phoenix's first-person blog entries were intimate (As my mission progressed into late summer, I saw a Martian sunset for the first time.) and, at the end, sad ([T]here isn’t much hope that I’ll ever contact home again.). It was Phoenix's Twitter account that opened people up to the conceit that a simple NASA robot could have a personality. All credit goes to Veronica McGregor for her impromptu decision to personalize in order to save space in the 140-character tweets.

Phoenix's last words were "Triumph" in binary.

posted by sstrader at 9:18 AM in Science & Technology | permalink

November 11, 2008


Excellent discussion on Slashdot about alleged media bias during the campaign. WaPo reviews its coverage and admits bias towards Obama. Unfortunately, it's not a very convincing case of bias and the Slashdotters have a field day ripping it to pieces. WaPo's proof:

The number of Obama stories since Nov. 11 was 946, compared with McCain's 786. ... From June 4 to Election Day, the tally was Obama, 626 stories, and McCain, 584. Obama was on the front page 176 times, McCain, 144 times; 41 stories featured both.

Wow. Bias has a pretty even hand these days. It's a shame that they even ran with this story since so many people still believe in the boogeyman of liberalmediabis. A summary from the comments:

I don't see this as evidence of bias on the part of reporters, I see it at evidence of the Democratic Primary running as long as it did.

Also, the Republican campaign(s) threw a lot of mud which of course prompted coverage. If Mccain hadn't put Obama in the news so much, he wouldn't have been in the new so much. If the accusations had more merit the resulting coverage wouldn't have been as positive as it was.

Do the numbers factor in Sarah Palin at all? ... She was in the news quite a bit, at least a HECK of a lot more than Biden. I'm not saying her press was "good" but there was a lot of it.
It wasn't so much that McCain sucked, it was that McCain was BORING. Here was a long-time known political player, running in an unpopular party with an unpopular leader, with a message that seemed to be an echo of the same old Republican Party platform that has governed the country for most of the last 8 years. Then here comes Obama--a fresh, young, handsome guy with a message of change; drawing HUGE crowds at his rallies, inspiring worldwide excitement, defeating a CLINTON in the primaries, and having the historic distinction of being a black guy with a serious chance at winning the Presidency.

Bias aside, word-count is a sucky metric to use as so absolute a barometer of a complex issue like "bias." The guys over at Language Log regularly use Google-hit-count to compare similar phrases (e.g. "could care less" v. "couldn't care less") to determine what's more commonly used. And even though they're comparing count to common use, they don't put too much emphasis on it. Here, people are arguing that more words is better words, and yet Palin's coverage proves the opposite.

[ updated 14 Nov 2008 ]

Editor and Publisher weighs in and agrees with the Slashdotters: the word-count numbers are too minor, the content is ignored re positive/negative, and reporting notable news on one side doesn't mean you're ignoring the other side if they simply did not have anything notable to report on. They also question what "the media" really is: talk radio (too often and for too many, it is)? blogs? news aggregators? Again, it's a shame that this is brought up to give weight to the tinfoilhatters.

posted by sstrader at 5:38 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

November 10, 2008

Winners' blues

The chorus of the internationally interested had a single request last week: don't fuck this up, America. Though initially, I felt that we didn't (and effectively, we didn't) ultimately I think it's Obama's campaign that didn't fuck up. He completely owned the electoral college, getting almost 70% of the votes, but only slightly better than squeaked by with popular vote, getting 52.6% (to McCain's 46.1%). The numbers (minor rounding errors, values taken from Wikipedia):

Candidates (w/l)Electoral Win (%)Popular Vote (%w/l)Undecided (%)

Hearing the post-election revelations of the depth of Palin's ignorance (held back by the press, who, across the board should die the most horrible death any of us could imagine), it's terrifying that a McCain who would risk so much on her could still garner the popular-vote loyalty of so many. I want to think that those who were frightened away by lies of Muslimness or Socialistness were outliers or ignorant. Unfortunately, they were coworkers and college graduates. The willful ignorance of the last eight years won't immediately dissolve into a willingness to reason, but the example set by Obama as a public intellectual will at least hold as a model to define the next eight.

As I read the moderates proclaiming that both Obama and McCain were equally-viable-but-different, I'm reminded of a Tom the Dancing Bug (IIRC) comic. One character is angrily threatening another with a punch in the face. The defender insists that he doesn't want to be punched as Mr. Middle Ground appears declaring: The truth is somewhere in between your two opinions. In order to find a solution that satisfied both individuals, he decided that the first man simply kick the other in the shin (or some other not-as-bad-as-getting-punched-in-the-face attack). Ah, a happy compromise has been reached between the two equally valid opinions!

Sometimes, the supposed middle ground is not closer to truth. McCain's aggressive stance towards and diplomatic exclusion of Iran was in no way a sensible position. Few with the knowledge and authority on the region agreed with him, and yet are we to buy that Obama should approach Iran somewhere between diplomatic talks and aggressive exclusion? Or compare McCain's emphasis on secrecy throughout (his you don’t telegraph your intentions to the enemy during a discussion of the U.S.'s Pakistan policy) with Obama's promise of transparency and openness. That being said, Obama does not have the mandate that the empire-leaning Bush declared he had (and with a much smaller margin of victory). There are middle grounds to be had, and, though I trust that his approach will be fair, we need to watch after him. This is, after all, the guy who cheated us on FISA and the bailout.

posted by sstrader at 1:42 PM in Politics | tagged election | permalink

November 9, 2008

Old photo found with a bunch of garbage in the basement

Third and second from the right are my Mom and Dad. Photo is maybe from the late 60s. Yes, his hat is a patchwork of Budweiser logos. Third from the left (in front) is Jerry Fabec and his wife. Dad's coworker who I only kinda remember.

posted by sstrader at 7:42 PM in Personal | permalink

November 7, 2008

On a host of issues

Watched the Obama Flickr slideshow from election night. It's deceptive to be moved over beautiful pictures of well-dress and well-composed people. However, I can only imagine how black people felt to have this moment and have it with such a composed and intelligent politician and family (us whites had to skulk along with Bush or McCain as potential leaders; they don't inspire racial pride and even go so far as to bring up questions about humanity as a whole).

Brooke Shields in the new VW ads is very middle-aged-sexy. I think she just got on the list. The ads are not at all good though.

Embedding streaming audio in a web page: (1) works for Firefox and Opera using standard HTML, (2) works for Opera and IE using IE hack, (3) works for all three in some manner I have not yet divined. Fuck you, Microsoft.

Last Sunday went to buy DFW's The Broom of the System since I finished Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and needed a novel-not-short-stories. The pieces in Brief Interviews were not as good as Oblivion. Stand out items: The Depressed Person (virtuoso execution!), Octet, and Tri-Stan: I Sold Sissee Nar to Ecko (an inexplicable story of 1980s TV decadence written as Classical history). Before even finding BotS, impulse buy of Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise (I read his blog, now I can read his book! I expect to pass it on to Lisa as the introduction to modern music), Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man (first Hugo Award winner, 1954, s/b short and punchy pulp sci-fi. I vaguely remember the title as one of those passed over during my teen years.), and Bad Monkeys (a Lisa impulse buy, 20 pages left right now and about to finish it, fun and light but maybe prepping for a Big Finish).

Re-hearing the Barber Violin Concerto made me fall in love with it again. Need to revisit his Piano Concerto. At some point in college I purched an ELL PEE with both and wore out the grooves listening to it. Perfect concert piece last night with Joshua Bell: short and catchy and well proportioned as a concerto.

posted by sstrader at 11:30 PM in Culture & Society , Music , Personal , Politics | permalink

November 6, 2008

Where was I?

Busy couple of weeks.


Thursday the 23rd we went to see Cannibal! The Musical with Kevin Roy. Very funny and very, very weird at times. The best and grossest impulses of South Park's Trey Parker. Highlights: the creepy, mechanical look on the pianist's face during intermission music; the disco number sung by the cyclops on the mountain as his black and white sheep friends dance around the stage in a shall-we-say suggestive manner; the "hit" song "Shpadoinkle". Afterwards was an awesome dinner at Sotto Sotto.


On Thursday the 30th, I voted! Took me ~2 hours this year. In 2004, I had a 1-1/2 hour wait. Voting this year went much more smoothly. No complaints except for the bald-faced lie that we needed to turn our cell phones off because they interfered with the voting machines. One volunteer even said that they had "mishaps" the previous day because someone didn't obey. Fuck you and your lying shit. As with how I felt in 2004, I hate how gays lost big in several states. It's odd and disheartening and gives this country a one-step-forward-two-steps-back sort of score on human rights. *sigh*


Saturday the 1st was Wicked at The Fox. Entertaining and funny (though I didn't think it was as funny as the two ladies who laughed-at-fucking-everything-to-the-point-of-annoyance did). First complaint: it needed an overture to open the piece. It started somewhat too quickly and needed a few minutes of music to warm up. Maybe that's not de rigeur for the modern musical? Second complaint: the music was (generally) standard musical style and less demanding than I'd hoped. Genre writing with few chances taken. With the potential for rich psychological examination of the characters, more could have been done. I think of the continuum of musicals going from Rent (blech! horrible, horrible musical) on one end and Sweeney Todd on the other. Wicked was somewhere in the middle. Overall, it was more buffa than what the subject matter could deliver, but still very enjoyable.

Tonight is Joshua Bell at the ASO. Barber Violin Concerto (outstanding piece!) and Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. Yay!

posted by sstrader at 11:35 AM in Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

November 5, 2008

Willingness to reason

Time had a collection of world leaders and thinkers comment on the results. To me, the most stunning and stunningly written was from Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize–winning economist. He's respectful with qualifications, and jabs Bush's unwillingness to reason with a kick-ass quote from Milton: obtruding false rules pranked in reason's garb. And his opening assessment is concise: He won his presidency not as a black American but as a reasoning American who happens to be black. I wish I had written that.

posted by sstrader at 11:36 AM in Politics | permalink


Drinks at the Vortex. Upstairs we ran into a neighbor-that-we-didn't-know party and got invited in. Drinks and looking out at Ptree at the few-but-loud cars. Back home ('cause Lisa wantedtogohome) and the cars are still going. Repeat from what we told each other at drinks at the Vortex: this is a Kennedy moment.

This is a Kennedy moment.

posted by sstrader at 1:12 AM in Politics | permalink

November 4, 2008


Hoping for the best. The polls look good from,, and All giving Obama a 100-150 electoral vote lead (and a clear win). I sadly still hear the ignorant braying of Ayers, socialism, and Islam--from the alleged educated--so I won't hope too much. Just enough.

Exercised, off to shower, the Lisa & I will head to Marlowe's or The Vortex to join the revelers.

posted by sstrader at 7:43 PM in Politics | permalink

November 2, 2008

Killing a trojan

My laptop got infected with something on Thursday (I think) and so Saturday morning was spent cleaning it and every other machine on the network. Symptoms: Google search results looked a little wonky, odd font?, and clicking any of the result links would pop open a new window with advertising crap. I should have save the page for reference. The HTML had a mishmash of odd links replacing what it said the URLs were. Fuckers.

A quick search came up with Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware utility. First run on my laptop found ~16 infected files and registry entries. Clean, reboot, and rerun. Second found four. Third and subsequent runs found one: Rootkit.Agent in a file under C:\System Volume Information\_restore*. Each pass, it would be a different .sys file. Cleaned up the two desktop machines; the web server was completely clean. Lisa's laptop had Rootkit.Agent also. :-(

I had accepted that I would have to scorched Earth both laptops, but then found a reference to FileASSASSIN (also from Malwarebytes) in a forum talking about that particular pest. I rebooted in safe mode, ran the malware scan (since the file changed after each cleaning), found the currently infected file, and used FileASSASSIN to delete it. Reboot back in normal mode and both laptops scanned clean.

According to ThreatExpert, it's a rootkit and a trojan. I have my doubts that it's gone so will be running more scans. Let's just say you shouldn't accept any emailed files from me for the foreseeable future...

The cool new video converter that I found for my Creative Zen, M2Convert from M2 Solutions, Inc., is apparently File Zero for the virus. It was the simplest video converter I found. That really sucks. So, for the search engines: M2 Solutions video converter contains malware.
posted by sstrader at 4:21 PM in Home Network & Gadgets | permalink