Tuesday, December 31

the last day of the year is fading fast
on this particular drafty farmhouse
and all its jumbled contents

yesterday showed me ample proof
that eastern kansas has great landscape
just stay on US-24 a little west of manhattan
past tuttle creek reservoir
catch 77 north
it'll take you to nebraska
straight up to lincoln
but first there are low hills and long valleys
rock everywhere the road breaks the surface
scattered houses and all that sweep of grass and field

something there presages mountains
makes you remember why
you said you'd live in the country some day

i always get to this time
the year's well and truly spent,
and it seems like something
ought to come together out of it all

so i could say: this was the year when...
and it would mean something more
than a memory pulled out of context and given a name

it doesn't, not really
and maybe it's ridiculous
to think that it should

this is just another day
it doesn't much care what's on a calendar

the year in review
is a game for syndicated columnists
book reviewers and the evening news
on a tv i don't watch any more
i'll leave it to them

and listen to my sister
when she says brennen, come look at this sunset.

Wednesday, December 25

Merry Christmas, all of you.

Martijn on that westbound train, Eric in Pittsburgh, Erin who still insists it's a fish, Elizabeth and all her amazing crew, Brent the Animator, Mike out in Cali, Jesse playing cards and drinking beer, Jeremy counting pills, N4t3y and Surber if they're both still alive, Stephen and Sarah, Aunt Constance who called at one in the morning, and all the rest, whoever, where ever, and whatever they may be.

friday, december 20

admit it
you still do the white knuckle thing
or at least you still talk a little too much
running dialog with yourself
if there's no one in the passenger seat
both hands sweating on the wheel

westbound I-80
tripping back from the christmas-decorated omaha airport
rearview mirror in the close to full moon
or is that the other way around?
the magnificent almost darkness in everything
and all the lights in that

six lanes at 75 mph by the speedometer
glows beneath the steering wheel gap
office buildings, passenger jets
onramps, truckers, streetlights
what's strung on houses sliding past
knowing that you'll write this
and it won't even come close

admit it
this is beautiful too

Thursday, December 19

people talked me into reading the river why, by david james duncan
the river why led me to read a river runs through it,
by norman maclean
which was not very long
nor as good, really, as why
though still pretty good

duncan wrote this article back in november

Wednesday, December 18

one ring, oh yeah

Monday, December 16

little experiment
what happens if i take five minutes to write this
standing up at some random mail console?

one final down
three to go
but not 'til wednesday
that's practically a glacial age away
and there're hobbits, dark lords, orcs
and ents to be considered too

i think the jury's still out
on that whole political philosophy thing
but i will get back to you
wouldn't want to be hasty.
hrooom.

Friday, December 13

Wow.

Friday, December 13, Morning

Well, we fucking told you so.

True enough, they did. Not that anyone was listening, but they did.

I only wonder:

Does the cypherpunk crowd have any idea of how impossibly difficult it is for most people to use technology to protect what remains of their privacy? Is privacy really supposed to be retainable only by the dedicated few?

What if the whole concept of privacy is basically hopeless? Positing a world where privacy is rendered technologically and economically impossible, what would be the best option - trust the collective benevolence of the world's governments and assorted giant economic entities to take good care of our data? Throw everything so wide open that no one, least of all the govs and the corporations (and the Church, while I'm at it), has anything left to hide?

If you haven't read The Shockwave Rider, do.

(Coming soon: Brennen tries to figure out if he might be an anarchist, or if maybe all political philosophies are at heart components of the same basic lie about reality.)

And while I'm thinking about it...

The Information Awareness Office plays it so weird that one can't help suspecting that somebody on its staff might be putting us on. The Information Awareness Office's official seal features an occult pyramid topped with mystic all-seeing eye, like the one on the dollar bill. Its official motto is "Scientia Est Potentia," which doesn't mean "science has a lot of potential." It means "knowledge is power." And its official mission is to "imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness."

The New Yorker

Yeah, there's some PK Dick stuff of dubious relevance opening that piece, but what's interesting to me is that this is exactly the kind of thing you see all over the place about the whole TIA concept. You can't even quantify how pseudo-Orwellian the whole thing sounds. (I say pseudo-Orwellian because it's saturated with the kind of lame box of donuts and bad coffee in some conference room with folding chairs while we scribble shit on legal pads vibe that 1984 was too dread-laden and menacing to convey.) Somebody might as well have ripped a couple pages out of The Illuminatus Trilogy. They're using a pyramid and eyeball, for @#$%sake.

"one can't help suspecting that somebody on its staff might be putting us on"

Well, aren't they? Do we really need to sound like conspiracy theorists to acknowledge that once the furor over Poindexter's little project has passed, it's going to be remarkably easy for someone to implement most of it, albeit under more innocuous names without scary symbols?

Thursday, December 12, Sometime in the AM

how 'bout a revolution?

if you aren't
pick one: concerned
worried
angry
outraged
you haven't been paying attention

how many times have i heard it?
from how many crackpot lefties, righties, reds, greens
would be hippies and slightly loony activists?
how many songs and poems and books?

how many people i trust?

perhaps it is time to start paying attention.

what's going down

Where should I be looking, if I want to be aware of the movements of the world? Time to build a list.

[WIP]

Wednesday, December 11

No kidding. Not too long ago, I found myself saying one of those things that you only realize is true as you're putting it into words. Trying to articulate the things I'd really like to do, I came to writing fiction - and said "not now. I don't know enough". Of course that's not all I said, because I don't know when to shut up, but that was the essence of it.

Tue Dec 10 19:27:59 CST 2002

all right, it works now.
and i am going to walk away and leave it alone.

i had forgotten
what involvement with even a simple piece of code does to my brain
gets in there and spreads to lurk in every dark corner it can find
until i'm daydreaming the stuff and constantly itching to mess with it
like the early stages of some kind of chemical dependency
junkies have needle tracks
hackers get RSI

if i were exceptionally (or even reasonably)
good at this sort of thing
it wouldn't bother me
but i'm not

so i think, on the whole, that the cost is too high
for something that i'm not going to be great at.

besides,
most of the time
i'd rather have other things lurking in the dark corners of my brain

Tue Dec 10 16:17:43 CST 2002

Ok, so I lied. I wrote more Perl. Just to demonstrate that I have in fact been doing something, here's the current display.pm (390 lines, 13.2k). Its functionality is nearly identical to the previous version, but the code is harder to understand and the comments are less accurate.

No matter how much simpler you think recursion will make things, you're wrong.

Monday, December 9, 23:46 CST

another room
this one's smaller
with more yellow-brown paint and no sink

winter sunlight through the oak tree and in the window
the kind that really does have a different quality
is fading out
leaving us sitting
in the separate lights of seperate desk lamps

me on the edge of my bed
reading the last pages of a river runs through it
and martijn in a chair
proofreading some last minute draft

from here i can read the spines
of every book on my desk
hear the hiss of nothing playing on my stereo

see two bottles
one full of ink,
the other empty of vanilla coke

the glass paperweight with the 1900 patent date
and a trough across the top
that holds, though not at present
a single pen perfectly
for all i know someone's masterpiece

two maps on the wall
full of places i'd like to go
next to a bulletin board
full of flyers and fading ticket stubs

perfect moments
the kind that hold it all
and just let it be

— like walking through an empty highschool hallway
towards the parking lot and home for the vacation

like standing in fog on top of the hill
looking down
at the house and all the trees
you covered in christmas lights
a month ago when snow seemed imminent

like sitting on the floor
early some spring morning
hair still wet from the rain you can hear out the open window
feeling the caffeine buzz in your bones
and the empty span of summer stretching out ahead

like the lights go off and
everyone surges to the stage

like windows down and rolling
on a road you don't know,
desert dry wind and the absolute
uncertainty of a future —

don't come often
but they do come

Saturday, December 7

one good thing about music

friday night, a few weeks ago
maybe closer to a month
i caught an o.a.r. show

the line was long and slow moving
the venue hostile
and the smoke thick

but the beer was cold
and the music was good

i drove a few hours south the next morning
listening to uncle tupelo
and my head full of bob marley lyrics
to spend some time with my grandparents

that night
we listened to country music on old vinyl
and messed with the guitar
i went to bed thinking hard about all kinds of things

about why that little piece of time felt right
in the midst of a lot of things that don't
about the significance of music in people's lives
and the meaning of sharing time and space that way

i guess what i'm working around to
is that i've drawn some definite conclusions
about the ways that it's good to spend time with people.

Friday, December 6, 19:07 CST

ok, that's it, i'm done.
no more perl this year
i just can't hack it

here, have a look:
the current guts of p1k3: display.pm (11.8k, 348 lines)

or don't
it's ugly, folks
i almost feel like i should have used goto repeatedly
just for that old-time spaghetti code vibe

yeah, i know it's not technically a module
and should probably be called display.pl
but the server here is convinced
that .pl files are cgi scripts
even when they're not executable

Thursday, December 5, 11:25 CST

There should be an icon below the body of this update. A quickly doodled image that if you squint just right looks a little like a book and a pen. Click on it, and you should get the text of my abortive NaNoWriMo entry as of today. Which, I'll hasten to point out, I never actually entered, and which currently stands at 2600 words or so.

It's there because it's a relatively fat chunk of content and I needed to test the script. Just a little more tweaking and this should be good to go.

more: nanowrimo

Wednesday, December 4, 11:07 CST

Trying something new here... This might break things badly, but I think some entries are going to have expandable content. So if I want, for example, to dump a five page essay or a set of fat graphics in here, they'll be readily available but not taking up too much space on the front page.

Some notes, for my own benefit, on design philosophy:

  • This would be as good a time as any to move to some kind of database driven backend and quit relying on an outmoded Perl script + filesystem approach. I'm not going to because:
    • I don't want to.
    • It would take more time, and something that works now is better than something that would work really well in the future.
    • p1k3 is supposed to be a way to say things, not a way to distract myself by building an ever more complicated mechanism for saying things.
  • I'm deliberately making the choice to limit myself to an entry-by-date based conceptual framework for p1k3, not because it's the only or best solution, but because it is functional, easy to understand, and acts as a constraint within which to create.
  • Rather than graft a second, more complicated framework on to the existing one, I'm going to expand the existing one in as minimalist a fashion as possible.

Examples to come. This is a facility I don't want to abuse, but hopefully it will prove useful.