Thursday, June 26

Amazingly enough, there's a place on campus showing both the Cowboy Bebop movie and the restored Metropolis. Experience suggests both are excellent, but I think I'll see the badass cartoon first, if I make it to either.

UNL has a sometimes useful calendar gadget. Some of the stuff that goes on around a university like this is worth knowing about only so it can be better avoided, but if you pay attention there are things happening all the time. Some percentage of them are bound not to suck.

Of course, what really goes on anywhere, like most of what you really learn at any educational institution, isn't going to be on official schedules. But if you keep an eye on a few calendars and read the bulletin boards maybe you get a fuzzy idea of the big picture that helps you discover the fine structure of events for yourself.

Anyway, I added that link to the meta page.

Additionally, the Board of Regents voted to increase tuition by 15 percent this fall, and an additional 12 percent the following year. As some consolation, even with the tuition increases, UNL's tuition remains 23 percent below that of our peer institutions. The increases will allow us to avoid further cuts to academic programs and will preserve the quality of the remaining academic programs.

Someone remind me why an extended version of the medieval guild now exercises a state supported near-monopoly on what we cynically refer to as higher education. Anyone? Never mind, I know that one. Someone explain to me why it seems like the most interesting approaches it adopted when it still was a medieval guild don't seem to have carried over. Anyone?

Anyone else going to Alkaline Trio tonight in Omaha? Is this thing even on? Hello?

tap, tap, speaker whine, feedback, thud

Wednesday, June 25

matrimony

My cousin Beau got married the other weekend. So did old IRC partner-in-crime Stephen.

I don't have anything profound to say about that, but it seems like the sort of thing I ought to mention. Congrats, people.

freedom

I am reading Ted Nelson's Computer Lib / Dream Machines right now. I'm skimming around, jumping from chapter to chapter and opening at random pages, because I enjoy reading that way and because that's how the book is actually meant to be read. There is something refreshing about this. Eventually I will have read more or less the entire thing.

I have knocked Nelson in the past, because of his take on the present-day web and because of his views on intellectual property. I still think he's missing the boat by refusing to admit that the web is a workable first step towards better hypertext. There are fundamental elements of his philosophy and design goals which I'm not likely to accept, to put it about as mildly as possible. That said, Computer Lib is the kind of book that needs to be read.

tuesday, june 24

molly: tiananmen square.

what is wrong with poetry is not freeverse
what is wrong with poetry is shitty poets, academics,
and our failure to recognize most of it
over the guitars and percussion.

Thursday, June 19

Last night I found a couple volumes of Charles Bukowski in the library. I was in the basement searching for the one thin book of Eric Frank Russell stories in the whole collection, and I remembered that poetry is down there too, in probably the least accessible part of the whole building. So I went and found some.

His poetry repeats itself a lot. Some of it is too much alcohol soaked masturbation. But I don't mind. I am starting to know good poetry when I see it, some times. This stuff is, and it has about as much weight as anything put on paper ever does.

After reading some Rexroth, Sydney Lea and the better bits of E. E. Cummings and some Bukowski, rhyme schemes and all that jazz have started to seem annoying and false, unless maybe someone is singing them. I suppose I will get over that, eventually, and look again for the real stuff in more ornate language. It probably has something to say too.

Just not right now.

Tuesday, June 17

In the mid 1960s, Vannevar Bush published Science is Not Enough, a collection of essays which contained Memex Revisited. The memex was a concept first proposed in a 1945 Atlantic Monthly article titled "As We May Think". Memex would be a document storage system with the ability to build complex associative trails between documents. It would use microfilm or similar technology to contain the equivalent of a library in a desk. It represented Bush's answer, or part of it, to the problems of antiquated library technology and an overwhelming surge of human knowledge. He wanted a way for ordinary people to meaningfully navigate the information pouring out of the world's academies, laboratories, and governments.

Memex Revisited looked at contemporary developments - magnetic tape, video, lasers, and the digital computer - and the ways they could make a memex-like system to closer to reality.

Bush was not always an exciting or brilliant author. The other essays in Science is Not Enough can be plodding and fragmented. Their outlook, for all its uniqueness, still hews pretty close to standard Cold War Us vs. Them thinking in some ways. It is still safe to say that Bush was a visionary.

There is stuff about this all over the web, because Vannevar Bush is considered an originator of the ideas behind hypertext and a huge influence on people like Ted Nelson (who gave us the word "hypertext" and a lot of impressive sounding vaporware), Doug Engelbart, and Tim Berners-Lee. There is a reference to him in one of the weirder and more fascinating episodes of serial experiments lain.

Monday, June 16

I think the library just screwed me. Seven bucks in late charges spontaneously showing up on my account 15 days after I turn in the books?

A database somewhere is playing fast and loose with the truth as we speak.

Wednesday, June 4

So far this summer, I have read two books.

I bought One for the Morning Glory, by John Barnes, in a used book store in Grand Junction, Colorado last August. I bought it because it had pretty good cover art and because A Million Open Doors was amazing. I remember it was not far on the shelves from an old copy of Atlas Shrugged, which I had read not long before, and I remember that the guy at the counter seemed dusty and wore glasses, and I stood for a long time waiting for him to pencil my purchase into a book and figure out a price. I do not think there was a cash register involved.

One for the Morning Glory was not very good. Nor was it spectacularly bad. It was clever and mildly amusing, and not a great deal else, but even after reading the book the cover art still seemed good. I suppose that is worth something.

The Brothers K, by David James Duncan, was amazing. I do not read fiction like I once did, but Duncan's stuff is a reminder of the power it can still hold over me - and the power that it so seldom really uses. It is a concrete example of what writing is really for, once we have learned to do more with it than tabulate harvests or record the intervals of floods.

The River Why and The Brothers K are both grounded partly in things - fishing and baseball, mill town life, Vietnam, and Russian novels - which I will probably never grok, but that does not really matter. They are also grounded in a deepness and richness of life that rings as true as anything I have ever read.