Friday, January 31

If things look weird here, it's 'cause I'm messing with stuff I don't understand. Sooner or later it'll work again.

Tuesday, January 28

We've got indie film. Or dang near, anyway.

And it's a sub, unless you're eating it during a football game with little smokies and a cold beverage, in which case it might be a hogie.

more: turtle

Monday, January 27

morning

Nugs.net - Streamable Phish, and 30+ Grateful Dead shows for download. Tip of a musical iceberg?

afternoon

in the library again
looking out the window and trying to think
amazing how difficult that can be

there are things i want to be writing:
what i think about this coming war
and about war protest, activism, government
that sort of thing

lyrics
to music i haven't actually come up with yet

a paper due
on the contrast between
thomas and the canonical gospels.

instead i watch traffic lights
and people walking by
in what leo kottke referred to as the crepuscule

and drift.

Sunday, January 26

early

Anyone looking for a decent weblog script?

Blosxom (pronounced "Blossom") is a lightweight yet feature-packed weblog application designed from the ground up with simplicity, usability, and interoperability in mind.

Fundamental is its reliance upon the file system, folders and files as its content database. Blosxom's weblog entries are plain text files like any other. Write from the comfort of your favorite text editor and hit the Save button. Create, edit, rename, and delete entries on the command-line, via FTP, WebDAV, or anything else you might use to manipulate your files. There's no import or export; entries are nothing more complex than title on the first line, body being everything thereafter.

Despite its tiny footprint, Blosxom doesn't skimp on features, sporting the majority of features one would find in any other Weblog application.

Looks exactly like what wasn't available when I started writing my own. As my buddy Nate (my more sensitive readers might just want to take a pass on that link) would say, have fun, kids.

late

suppose the universe
really did just explode into being
of its own accord?

might make problems
for your ill-defined theism
but it sure does appeal, some days
you notice that there's a quality
of improvisation to the whole damn thing

a whole thing which happens
to include my awkward self

sitting here listening to drum music
made by people with more rhythm in the joints
of their left big toes
than i've got in my whole body

makes me wonder if i could
maybe just borrow some

saturday, january 25

leo's invention
are not half bad.

friday, january 24

yesterday i hit the internet archive
and found some things i wrote
back in the day

i was going to put them here
then i read them

they aren't worth it

makes me wonder
what will i think of this
in a few years?

Thursday, January 23

text

A GPLed English interpolation of the Tao Te Ching.

Thirty spokes meet at a nave;
Because of the hole we may use the wheel.
Clay is moulded into a vessel;
Because of the hollow we may use the cup.
Walls are built around a hearth;
Because of the doors we may use the house.
Thus tools come from what exists,
But use from what does not.

There must be a hundred English versions of this thing. No one of them that I have read catches quite the same meanings, or contains all of the things that make me keep coming back to it. The idea of cobbling together my own interpolation, fundamentally ridiculous as it is, has been drifting through my brain for a while.

I don't read the language. I don't know the culture, the context, the history. I don't even claim to grok all those translated versions.

And yet, why not?

well, almost 24 hours

Wikipedia is indeed pretty excellent. It's been one of my default references for months now; it's amazing how often it will contain a concise, low-BS breakdown of something I've only just discovered.

Today, frex: The Gospel of Thomas, which leads to Gnosticism, which loops back into the PK Dick stuff I've been reading lately, which is often awkward and brilliant and doesn't have much in common with my perception of reality, except when it does, which is a little scary.

Wikis fascinate me because, contrary to most of my expectations about human nature, they seem to work. They're based on a simple idea - anyone can edit any page - that appeals to me on a gut level. It appeals in a way I've come to associate with things that are just too good-natured to work in the real world.

I think this is pessimism on my part. Probably there is an intersection between good-natured and realistic which both triggers those specific warm fuzzy feeling receptors and is built to cope with the way things really are. Probably this intersection is where really worthwhile technology arises.

Wednesday, January 22

My friend Mike tells me I'm giving him a headache. Point taken. Sweeping philosophical generalities and crashingly bleak 10th century Chinese poetry are hereby suspended for the next 24 hours.

It's snowing again.

Low are going to be in Omaha on the 27th of February, with Haley Bonar opening. I think I will be there.

Tuesday, January 21

afternoon: contraria sunt complementaria

Flipping through a now-full notebook, hitting something I thought was important enough to try really remembering on almost every page...

Niels Bohr: "A great truth is a truth of which the contrary is also a truth."

The truth is that in the metaphysical and religious sphere, articulate reasons are cogent for us only when our inarticulate feelings of reality have already been impressed in favor of the same conclusion.

— William James, Varieties of Religious Experience

I never finished Varieties, but now I think that I will.

As stung by tempests
A wave I have seen
Dash itself against the rocks,
So in these bitter hours myself only
Am by my thoughts destroyed.

— Anonymous, tran. Arthur Waley

I wrote that down, I'm not sure why, without quite knowing what it meant. There's another one on the page facing it, in big parentheses with a little arrow pointing across. I don't remember if it was given as an alternate translation, or just another poem in the same chapter.

Like a wave that when the keen wind blows
Dashes itself against the rocks –
It is my own heart only
That I shatter in the torments of love.

— Anon., 10th c.
tran. Waley

morning: anamnesis

It is early in the morning, and in a little while, I will be analyzing Latin verbs in sentences about Caesar and the Ides of October. Sentences like Idibus Octobribus has dedi litteras, quo die, ut scribis, Caesar Placentiam legiones quattuor.

A moment ago I was reading What Would Toshiro Mifune Do? and thinking about the only Kurosawa film I have ever seen in its entirety.

Ikiru is actually a great film. I remember that everyone who was watching with me walked away in disgust during that seemingly interminable wake scene. Now that I think about it, that scene might have been the truest part of the whole thing. Or perhaps not. I've likely forgotten as much as I remember, because that's the way it works. I don't believe like I used to that art can really carry the whole weight and shape of the truth, but sometimes it can come close. It's just that we forget. We read the words, we hear the song, and for a moment or two we get it. Then we move on, and we forget.

What would life be like if we could remember all the true things we know, all at once?

monday, january 20

i start to wonder about the visual hallucinations

little red–white–orange sparks
out the corner of my eye just as i'm turning the key in the door

probably just it's late and i'm tired.

right?

more: california_stars

sunday, january 19

stagger, if not quite stumble in
a little before seven
looking like a refugee from dazed and confused

wonder if the streaks of silver-white
shooting past the window in the almost-light
are snowfall
or just symptoms of twenty-four hours awake,
the kind of thirst that makes you dizzy,
alcohol and its byproducts still doing things
forgotten from highschool chemistry

you know it's not important
but your brain's still turning
long past any reason not to sleep

any reason, but that sometimes
everything changes with little warning

not to imply anything too profound, i guess
i'm just constantly amazed
by the way things are almost never quite what you think
especially before something forces you to really look

by the way experience
is in some sense the only kind of knowledge
you are ever likely to have about the things that matter

by the places you find the things that matter.

Thu Jan 16 20:35:24 CST 2003

I just borrowed this simple Perl script to ping weblogs.com automagically.

I just realized I'm doing it again. Getting sucked back in. Glowing monitors and little bits of code and e-mail checked too often.

Just. Walk. Away.

Thursday, January 16, Afternoon

answers to questions implied by search strings which have found this site

I don't think there is any feminism in The Taming of the Shrew.

I still don't know what an upper case cursive Q looks like. It's one of those letters I didn't bother with when I finally decided I should know how to write. The one they tried to teach us looks like a big fat 2, which I still think is a bad idea.

I probably found this too interesting.

You can make vim do a screen flash instead of beeping by doing :set visualbell, or turn the bell back on by doing :set novisualbell. If you don't want it to do either, then :set visualbell t_vb= sets the terminal display code for the visual bell to nothing.

errorbells toggles whether vim will ring the bell for an error message.

A six week old lab puppy looks sort of cute and sleek and somewhat wrinkled; not quite entirely unlike a seal might if it were a bird dog. If there is Wayne State College porn, I'd like to remain blissfully unaware of its existence. I don't know the fat content of Vanilla Coke - it has to be somewhere in the neighborhood of none, doesn't it?

Thursday, January 16, Late Morning

drove laci to the airport yesterday
he'd been wanting some real snow for months

a few flakes
more ice really than snow
rattled down as we got in the car
we joked about it
it's been the brownest winter i can remember

i'd guess it started snowing around four o'clock
and to my surprise
it didn't quit before i went to sleep,
looking out the window at the tree

there's probably a good three or four inches
of beautiful powder out there

i'm guessing laci's finally back in australia
right about now

Thursday, January 16, 11:19 CST

Excellent summary of reactions to Eldred v. Ashcroft, via Politech.

Salon: "Some of these bootleggers, they make pretty good stuff."

We now return you to your regularly scheduled non-blog.

Wednesday, January 15

this is me,
quietly extending my middle finger
in the general direction of the united states supreme court.

more: snow

Tuesday, January 14

True that, I think.

Simplicity and the concrete are good. Say what you mean and quit talking when you should. A knife in the gut, rain on wet rocks, dirt on your shoes: All a billion times more interesting than anything you can say to me with the word "paradigm".

This doesn't mean pretend to be Hemingway, or King Solomon.

Monday, January 13

(I'll figure out a standard for this quoting thing, one of these days.)

Stephen:

Bren: Yes, all of my mp3s; and no more RIAA (in theory). No more Arlo Guthrie, The Red Hot Chile Peppers, Weezer, No Doubt, 95% of radio, et cetera. My current fix for hearing new and cool music is to find something good on cdbaby.com via their excellent search/browsing/listening features. Then I check mp3.com and see if that artist has elected to share some of their songs. If they have I download their selections, if not then I accept that. Either way I mark down the band into a database of Bands I Want CDs From, moving up to Bands I Will Buy From if I consistently enjoy their music.

Fair enough. It's not a length to which I'll be going, but I understand it.

I won't be boycotting RIAA approved media (and certainly not bands on RIAA-member labels) in a strict sense any time soon, because I think that giving them any more control over what I can listen to is a mistake.

What I will do is continue to explore the musical world outside of their domain, and continue to bypass their hold on the good music within it as much as possible. There's still no law against buying used CDs (or tapes, or vinyl, or player piano rolls, or sheet music). Laws pertaining to filesharing remain essentially unenforceable. The mix tape and the burned CD won't be going away any time soon. If I ever believed that obeying the law was a moral imperative, I don't any more, and I'm going to continue seeing these things as valid tools in the ongoing quest for more and better and truer music.

All but a few of the dollars I've spent on music in the past two years have been channeled into purchases of media and merch directly from artists, a little used media, and a lot of live music. Maybe this isn't optimum. My actions are perhaps statistically insignificant. Regardless, I'm quite certain that in music it's possible, if sometimes inconvenient, to escape the standard lie.

I don't doubt that there's a universe of excellent music existing outside of the nexus of RIAA-member record labels, generic chain music stores, and radio as a wholly owned subsidiary of Everything That Sucks in Media. I stumble across it on a regular basis. Sometimes I find myself surrounded by it and I'm awed that anyone can move through life in what should be the most musically alive civilization in the history of the world and remain deaf to it.

I just watched most of Under the Radar, which is a repeated smack upside the head with the sheer possibility of the music that lives and breathes outside the crushing embrace of officially sanctioned mainstream success. Music which may sometimes starve to death out there in the unpredictable dark, but which does not die the officially sanctioned death of Behind the Music sponsored mainstream failure.

(One of these days I'm going to swear off bad extended metaphors for good, but they sure can be fun.)

more: it

Sat Jan 11 11:30:30 CST 2003

Just for kicks, here's the latest version of the p1k3 display script (with a .txt extension this time around). The comments should be a little more helpful on this one, and everything should actually do what it's supposed to.

It'd still be difficult–to–impossible for anyone else to use the ugly little beast, but I'll get it there.

While we're on an HTML kick, I've just noticed a couple of tricks, at least for those of us anachronistic enough to be writing this stuff in a text editor.

I have an irrational fondness for slapping long strings of words together with dashes, like the difficult–to–impossible earlier. This works ok when you know how it's going to be displayed, but it can do ugly things to word wrapping on a web page, since it's treated as a single word. Unless you replace those literal -'s with an – or — entity, like:

difficult–to–explain

Which seems to word wrap, at least in some browsers.

The other thing is that you can insert a title="..." title attribute in pretty much any element, which is a useful way to go around creating little tooltips that graphical browsers will display on a mouseover.

more: display.txt

Friday, January 10

brent: go for it

stephen: all of your mp3s?
i don't think i could do it
at least, i'm pretty sure i couldn't walk away from everything
somehow affiliated with the RIAA

— zeppelin, u2, wilco, dylan, phish, the dead, weezer
even arlo guthrie and the beta band —

still
it's worth thinking about
some of my past and present addictions aside
real music does in fact live mostly under the surface

eric: rock on
or edit on, i guess i should say.

Monday, January 6

you could learn a lot splitting firewood
although i'm not sure that i ever did

things about balance, heft, and precision
how to lift and carry and stack
how to read the grain of a log
the qualities of wood
and by extension of trees:
endless variation in cottonwood, ash,
maple, mulberry, walnut, and cedar

wet, green, dry, rotten, punky, rock hard,
straightgrained, gnarled, knotted, bugeaten, and just flat stubborn
all transmitted in the shock that runs up the handle
the resounding crack, chunk, thud,
the ringing denial of a piece so hard
something really should have shattered.

things about patience.

i don't think i ever paid the attention
these things were due

still, trying to show heather how

(swing the maul high from the center of your body,
space your hands well apart on the handle,
then bring them together at the end as you start the downswing
let gravity do the work
it's simple, but trying to explain
makes it complicated)

seems like i must have learned something.

Friday, January 3

Stephen:

As an aside, I know that the html tag "i" has been deprecated to "em" but what is the correct tag to use when you explicitly want to italicize something instead of emphasizing it (a book title, for example).

At this stage of the game, I'm pretty sure that the official line (if there's such a thing) is that you should use CSS for all explicit physical text styles (bold, italic, underlined, etc.), and content based markup like <em> to describe the text.

The <em> tag defaults to italicized text in all of the graphical browsers I'm aware of, but if you want to be explicit about styling, you can approach it a couple of ways. The simplest is probably to use <em> and explicitly set its font-style to italic in your stylesheet:

em {
   font-style: italic;
}

For finer grained control than that, you could define a couple of different classes of <em> tag in the stylesheet:

em.book {
   font-style: italic;
}

em.album {
   font-variant: small-caps;
   font-style: italic;
}

And then use, for example, <em class="book">River Teeth</em>. This is the approach I'd take if I felt the need.

Furthermore, for any given element, you can also insert a style="..." attribute with specific style information. And I believe the <span> element can be used to apply style to any text you don't want to enclose in content based markup. So you could also do <em style="font-style: italic;">A Scanner Darkly</em> or <span style="font-style: italic">For the New Intellectual</span>.

Wednesday, January 1

There's no such thing as a blank slate
but the illusion sure can be nice.