December, 2005: 35 posts.
Latest Stew Lyrics: Gary’s Song:
Gary now I know I was wrong
I missed up
And now you’re gone
Gary I’m sorry I neglected you
Oh I never expected you to run away and leave me
Feeling this empty
Your “meow” right now would sound like music to me
Please come home ’cause I miss you Gary
Gary come home (Gary come home)
Gary come home (Gary come home)
Gary can’t you see I was blind?
I’ll do anything to change your mind
More than a pet you’re my best friend
Too cool to forget
Come back because we are family and
Forgive me for making you want to roam
And now my heart is beating like the saddest metronome
Somewhere I hope you’re reading
My latest three word poem
Gary come home (Gary come home)
Gary come home (Gary come home)
Gary come home (Gary come home)
Gary come home (Gary come home)
Gary come home
Gary come home
Gary won’t you come home?
This song is now available via the iTunes Music Store or on amazon on SpongeBob Squarepants – “The Yellow Album”
Mark Cuban has a great post on his blog called Success & Motivation – Redux — it’s a nice reminder, from someone who has been in the business world for a long time, with many ups and downs, that it takes hard work to be successful.
Word of the day: _dogged_.
For those of you who have had problems commenting on posts — well, you could comment but you would get big stupid hairy PHP errors, please feel free to try commenting now and tell me whatchoo get in terms of success or failure.
Thanks much y’all!
*Update:* I have also upgraded San Diego Blog
I had meant to post this some time ago, and have managed not to for, oh, about a year. Herewith, a tale from the bowels of the metropolitan region…
Leah and I had just moved to the L.A. area. It was during all that rain, not that that matters. I was taking advantage of the free WiFi at Burger King and at the local public library. We were living by our wits, everything was in Storage, and we were not sure anything would be working out at all, but we were “going for it” regardless.
The setting: a motel in Sherman Oaks, the 777 Motor Inn. At first glance it was not seedy. It was rather nice, with Christmas Wreaths on the doorways of the rooms. It was January. Maybe that was not such a great sign.
I need to do email to work. I was looking for fulltime employment or freelance or anything, and I was also scouting for places for us to live more permanently. It was taking longer than I would have hoped on both counts.
I was sitting in the “lobby” of the motel, a small room no more than 10 feet square. Pamphlets for Knott’s and Santa Barbara in one corner, a bureau with newspapers on it to my right. I sat in a cheap 4-legged chair at a teeny desk, checking my email.
Suddenly, a fellow begins talking to me. He has tattoos. He is talking fast and is clearly a tweeker. As he talks I can see he has a tongue piercing.
He asks me what I’m doing. I reply “email,” though he also looks over my shoulder to see a screenful of what clearly looks like an email inbox. I figure this is the end of the conversation, and I really don’t want to keep talking to this guy. So I put my head back in my email.
Mr. Tats then asks me what I do for a living; he’s clearly curious and wanting to conversate, and I am giving off every vibe I can to say, without addressing him, “I am doing my email and I do not want to talk to you. He asks me again. I cannot make him go away by will, so I reply, tersely, “web work.” Figuring then, that the situation needs more symmetry, I ask him what he does for a living.
The reply comes: “pornos.”
My reply: “oh.”
I return to my email, and now I’m really sure I am done talking with this fellow. He continues to jabber at me, and suddenly he wants to sell me a laptop. I politely tell him I really need to work on my email and it’s hard to concentrate when he’s talking to me.
He wanders off.
Reading it now, some 10 months later, it occurs to me that I could have skipped the uncomfortable moment where I found out what this San Fernando Valley idiot does for a living had I said to him, up front, that I can’t talk to him, as I am working on my email.
Of course, it might not have worked, but it’s fun to speculate.
Kanye West has a nice little sequence from _Gold Digger_, which was a hit for a few minutes. Lots of bleeping because it uses the “N” word. But this bit about the ambition has some _teeth_ in it:
You go out to eat and he can’t pay
Y’all cant leave
There’s dishes in the back
Ya gotta roll up ya sleeves
But while y’all washin’ watch him!
He gon’ make it to a Benz out of that Datsun!
He got that ambition baby
Look at his eyes
This week he moppin’ floors
Next week it’s the fries
I just read ‘Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion’. That response to a work of fiction is no doubt an indicator that something interesting might be going on in there.
I never liked “Fantasy” as a kid. I had a very large imagination, but I was more interested in science fiction and comics than fantasy. Things with swords, or magic, or wizards did not speak to me. So try as I might, I never read _Chronicles of Narnia_ or _Lord of the Rings_, well, I started, but I could not finish them. I suppose I could now. I’m thankful now that the movies of these works have come out and allowed me to enjoy them such as they are.
The question is this: why didn’t fantasy move me as a kid?
These days, as a thirtysomething adult American male, it’s easy to dismiss my predilictions as prejudice. I hate Jethro Tull, I can do without most horror movies, heavy metal is usually boring. These are all rather arbitrary tastes, built up over years. But how to explain the child-me and his … (what’s the opposite of “affinity”?) natural avoidance of fantasy?
Let’s take a shot at trying on this lovely Monday morning. First, what were my tastes in that crucial age 7 to 12 time period? The things that moved me were things like Batman, or Snoopy and Peanuts. I liked Legos. I liked Star Wars. Voltes V (a giant Japanese robot). I liked listening to music and the radio. I liked to draw. I was a pretty devout Catholic boy. Is there some common thread here? Well, actually, maybe not.
Star Wars actually disproves my point, as it’s definitely a tale of fantasy, and of hierarchies, and sacrifice, and “magical power” via the force. But it dresses it up in the “sciencey” part of science fiction. So maybe I’ve disproven my point right off the bat.
Batman and Voltes V, fit neatly in a whole other worldview, one which I still have a great affinity for. That point of view is that science and technology will provide power. Batman is just a traumatized kid, who, with money and discipline, manages to become the greatest detective of the world. Gadgets and smarts and physical intelligence rule the day. Likewise, Voltes V is a giant robot, but the underpinnings of the robot are that it’s the work of a scientist, and it’s driven by a group of kids not too unlike me. There’s a “reality” there that connects these works to the world where I live.
Meanwhile, in the realm of fantasy, the connecting reality is far more tenuous. A magic piece of furniture that’s a portal to a whole other world? Elfs? Dragons? Where are these things? What on earth do these things have to do with me?
Perhaps I was exercising all my suspension of disbelief in being a Catholic kid. Transubstantiation was literally true for me then, with a doubtlessness that I cannot muster now. My soul and the spiritual balance thereof was very real to me. But even then, I was always taught of the value of “works” in providing for spiritual reward. I digress, but it’s worth noting here that the notion that we are saved merely by faith still rings hollow to me. Actually, I believe quite strongly in redemption, even for the very wicked. Have I told the story of the conversation I had with a guy on a plane where we discuss whether or not Darth Vader could *actually* be redeemed, and wasn’t he really a Hitler figure, guilty of the worst kinds of genocide, and I, as a 20 year old, argued passionately that he _could_ indeed be redeemed. I still believe that, as I search my heart.
Where the heck was I? Oh, yeah, saved by faith? Yeah, I don’t really buy it. If you have great faith, but have done harm to others, you have some hell to pay I think. And those who have not heard the Word, but have been good people in this world, are deserving of respect, and should it exist, salvation.
You know, for an agnostic, I sure do have a lot of opinions about salvation and redemption and faith. Well, I suppose I would.
Which reminds me… go see _Walk The Line_ – it’s really good. But there’s one moment in the film where I was surprised at my own reaction. The moment is where Johnny Cash is saying that he will sing for prisoners, and the record company dude says (paraphrasing) “Your fans are good Christian folk and they don’t want you to go trying to make a bunch of murderers and rapists feel better.” Cash replies “Well they ain’t Christians then.” To which my reaction was a giant, angry AMEN.
This really strayed. Thanks for listening.
Blog post of the day: Mother of All Trials…:
It wasn’t really like a trial. It reminded me of what we call a ‘fassil’ which is what tribal sheikhs arrange when two tribes are out of sorts with one another. The heads of the tribes are brought together along with the principal family members involved in the rift and after some yelling, accusations, and angry words they try to sort things out. That’s what it felt like today. They kept interrupting each other and there was even some spitting at one point… It was both frustrating and embarrassing- and very unprofessional.
One thing that struck me about what the witnesses were saying- after the assassination attempt in Dujail, so much of what later unfolded is exactly what is happening now in parts of Iraq. They talked about how a complete orchard was demolished because the Mukhabarat thought people were hiding there and because they thought someone had tried to shoot Saddam from that area. That was like last year when the Americans razed orchards in Diyala because they believed insurgents were hiding there. Then they talked about the mass detentions- men, women and children- and its almost as if they are describing present-day Ramadi or Falloojah. The descriptions of cramped detention spaces, and torture are almost exactly the testimonies of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, etc.
It makes one wonder when Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and the rest will have their day, as the accused, in court.
I’ve actually wanted to add tagging to my posts here for a while. Here’s the first test to see if there’s any chance of this working.
Song Portraits by Stew are available, maybe even by the holidays. I love the idea of these things, though I don’t think they’re in the cards for those I love. Mayhaps next year.
There’s not much on the internets about the marriage of my hero, Bruce Sterling, author, blogger, design instructor, and speaker to one Jasmina Tesanovic.
I read his blog, and his Viridian list, bought his new book Shaping Things and had no idea such an event was forthcoming. I was not surprised that he would want privacy for such an event, I myself was quite private about my own wedding last year up until a month or so before.
I was surprised because my understanding was that Bruce was married with children, and there is google-able evidence that he was married to Nancy Sterling, the mother of his two children. I know he and she and their kids shared a big home in Austin at which they threw big parties.
It’s interesting to maybe the folks who follow these things.
Coming in January to a bar (more or less) near you. There’s more information at San Diego Blog: San Diego Blogger Party!
(From Leah’s side of the family, December, 2004).
Paraphrased because I couldn’t keep up with the goodness and silliness.
- Always say your prayers
- Take moonlight strolls and talk about the innermost things.
- You’re so good to me.
- Read your scriptures.
- Let her put the toaster wherever she wants.
- Talk to each other like all the time.
- Buy low, sell high.
- He makes me laugh harder than anyone in my entire life.
- Give each other toys for Christmas if you like them.
- Do your checkbook together.
- Smile alot.
- Don’t let him do the music.
- Just remember, she’s always right.
- Be yourself.
- Have lots of play-doh and coloring books.
- Go places with each other.
- Consult your wife.
- Never smoke crackers in bed.
- No matter how thin you slice boloney, you can always smash a window with a brick.
- Just have fun with it.
- Give your kids whatever they want.
- Consult with each other before you do anything.
- Don’t tell each other exactly where you put everything so you get in a fight.
- Play with your friends.
- Make decisions together.
- Have you seen her smile? It encompasses her joy and her beauty.
- Do things each other love.
- Say your personal prayers.
- Have family traditions.
- Do as many things as you can with each other.
- Go on a weekly date.
Some time ago, my sister sent me this, also at: amywelborn.com/catholicwriters/silence.html:
Silence by Shusaku Endo
St. Francis Xavier brought Christianity to Japan in 1549. Sixty years later, while there may have been an estimated 300,000 Christians in Japan, the apparent success of the Church’s mission was about to come to an end.
The shogun who had reunited Japan after years of civil war had grown suspicious that the foreign missionaries were paving the way for conquering powers. In 1614 missionaries were expelled from the country and Japanese Christians were presented with a choice: either apostasize or be brutally killed.
The terrible persecution of Christians in Japan in the early seventeenth century produced thousands of martyrs, a fascinating underground hybrid church called Kakuro which survived hundreds of years in secret, and an enduringly ambiguous relationship between Japanese culture and Catholicism.
Shusaku Endo (1923-1996) used these themes in his many novels and short stories. Endo, baptized at the age of eleven because his mother had turned to the faith in the wake of personal difficulties, described his Catholicism as “a kind of ready-made suit…I had to decide either to make this ready-made suit fit my body or get rid of it and find another suit that fitted…”
As a Christian child in Japan, Endo was taunted by his peers for his religion. As a student come to France after World War II to study Catholic novelists, his faith was irrelevant to those who may have shared it, but who deplored him nonetheless because he was Japanese. It seemed, at that point, that it would have to be the suit that changed — it brought him nothing but suffering.
But on the way back to Japan from Europe, Endo visited Palestine. In walking where Jesus himself had, he came to understand that the Christianity he had known was incomplete, for it had never revealed to him the Jesus who had lived, suffered and died for the outcast. It was this Jesus, he realized, who could reach beyond culture and connect with the Japanese soul.
In his great novel, Silence, Endo uses the background of persecution to contemplate these knotty questions. He gives us the story of a young Portuguese priest named Sebastian Rodrigues who travels to Japan from Macao to confirm the impossible news that his mentor, Father Christovao Ferreira has apostasized.
Rodrigues arrives in Japan, his trusting faith nourished by the memory of a treasured face of Christ, full of “vigor and strength,” an image that expresses the certainty of God’s presence in his mission.
But events quickly turn. Rodrigues is disturbed by the simplistic faith he finds among peasant converts and stunned by the brutality of suffering they endure when discovered by their persecutors. As he attempts to make his way to Nagasaki, avoiding the authorities, alternately guided and betrayed by a Judas-like figure named Kichijiro, his questions mount, and where once he had found certainty, he increasingly hears only silence.
God’s silence continues when Rodrigues is captured. He can hear nothing but his own crashing spirit and the cries of his suffering fellow prisoners, cries he is assured he can bring a stop to by a simple external act, one that he discovers beyond doubt his mentor had, indeed taken: he can apostasize by trampling on a fumie, an image of Christ, no longer serenely triumphant, but “ugly…worn down and hollow..”
And does the silence break? I must leave you to open the pages of this moving, provocative novel to answer that question for yourself.
cleaning out old files, and found this old transcription:
yr own world (blue aeroplanes) from beatsongs
give me you and the whole wide world
give me your tapes and your secret photos
i’ll give you my money
just give me a car
and tell me where you want to go
let’s go to where we’re both in love
and no one tells us what to do
and i will get you
call you bliss
i will get to feel like this
i will want to see you
i will catch a plane
if i want to see you twice
i’ll catch that plane again
y’know i’m living in my own world
living where i want to be
living in my own world
together, yes, and separately
now we are young and we’ll go far
we’ll name our children after our car
and crystal-toting plaster casters
sing our hymns and hear us sing
nothing is an unmixed blessing
drive me down to each west coast
if you can read this, you’re too close
i still want to see you
i will catch a plane
i will want to see you twice
i’ll catch that plane again
and we’ll be living in our own world
separate on account of me
living in our own world
but only temporarily
well, i fall in love
it’s never enough
to see how others fall in love
i wake you up, you take my hand
you take me down to disneyland
everybody’s happy sometimes
now check this truth and hand it to me
meantime, can i stop writing now?
i really want to see you
i will catch a plane
i really want to be with you
i’ll catch a plane and a train
until i’m living in our own world
give me a message i can see
living in our own world
call me, call me, call me, call me
call me anything…
i really like that song. i wonder what happened to that band?
Stephen Bury = Pseudonym
Stephen Bury = Neal Stephenson + his Uncle
Stephen Bury = Neal Stephenson + J. Frederick George
J. Frederick George = George Jewsbury
∴ Stephen Bury = Neal Stephenson + George Jewsbury
Random House has rereleased Interface and The Cobweb (two pretty great technothrillers cowritten by Neal Stephenson and George Jewsbury). They were formerly released by the pseudonymous “Stephen Bury,” but now they are re-attributed to Neal Stephenson and the pseudonym J. Frederick George.
This was news to me. I mean, I knew it was N.S. and his uncle, but I didn’t realize it was going to be explicitly public.
This horrible error message on phpMyAdmin:
Client does not support authentication protocol requested by server; consider upgrading MySQL client
On my local MySQL installation. I am running PHP 4 and MySQL 4.1 and phpMyAdmin on Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” worked like a charm, despite the fact that I’m not using 10.4, I’m running 10.3.9.
Huzzah for tools that work locally when one has no net connection!
Yesterday we visited Leah’s sister’s family in central Utah. It was a great time. We made chocolate leaves! Crazy.
One of the things we did was visit Horseshoe Mountain Pottery in Spring City, Utah. It’s beautiful country out there, and the pottery was beautiful.
See Joe’s Studio, where he makes the following set of statements, quite unique I think:
These are hard economic times. The art market seems to be on hold. Please consider making more of your gift giving purchases at Horseshoe Mountain Pottery. Think of us for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and holidays. Consider pottery for your business associates, employees and clients. We can even do something special for large orders.
This pottery is made with daily use in mind. It’s intended venue is the house hold dinner table, the kitchen, the hand and the mouth. I am mindful of this scenario when making the pots. I want them to integrate in use rather than demand attention. I try to make simple shapes with minimal decoration while still meeting the aesthetic needs of the people who use them. This works best for me. I have a great appreciation for the work of potters who employ more active surfaces. I do not intend to say here that this is the right way to do it.
It’s so cold here, but beautiful.
The fundamental issue here is security, but it’s not the security most people think of. James Madison famously said: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Terrorism is a serious risk to our nation, but an even greater threat is the centralization of American political power in the hands of any single branch of the government.
Over 200 years ago, the framers of the U.S. Constitution established an ingenious security device against tyrannical government: they divided government power among three different bodies. A carefully thought out system of checks and balances in the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch, ensured that no single branch became too powerful.
I didn’t talk about the political dynamics in either essay, but they’re fascinating. The White House kept this secret, but they briefed at least six people outside the administration. The current and former chief justices of the FISC knew about this. Last Sunday’s Washington Post reported that both of them had misgivings about the program, but neither did anything about it. The White House also briefed the Committee Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and they didn’t do anything about it. (Although Sen. Rockefeller wrote a bizarre I’m-not-going-down-with-you memo to Cheney and for his files.)
Cheney was on television this weekend citing this minimal disclosure as evidence that Congress acquiesced to the program. I see it as evidence of something else: if people from both the Legislative and the Judiciary branches knowingly permitted unlawful surveillance by the Executive branch, then the current system of checks and balances isn’t working.
It’s also evidence about how secretive this administration is. None of the other FISC judges, and none of the other House or Senate Intelligence Committee members, were told about this, even under clearance. And if there’s one thing these people hate, it’s being kept in the dark on a matter within their jurisdiction. That’s why Senator Feinstein, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was so upset yesterday. And it’s pushing Senator Specter, and some of the Republicans in these Judiciary committees, further into the civil liberties camp.
It escaped my notice for a year that the day I was married also happened to be Frank Zappa‘s birthday.
It is many other things too, including the birthday of Joseph Stalin, Phil Donahue, Jane Fonda, Samuel Jackson, Ray Romano, and Andy Dick. It’s also the day of death of F. Scott Fitzgerald and General George S. Patton.
Also, sometimes it’s the Winter Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, as it did this year and last, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department.
Given how much a Zappa fan I am, Leah remarked to me that she feels a bit hoodwinked by the date of our wedding. I assured her, and now you, that I really had no idea. I was as surprised as anyone when I read in a journal that someone was wishing Frank a posthumous Happy B-Day.
And that’s the true fact.
I believe “The Saddest Metronome” would make a great name for a blog. It’s a phrase from Gary Come Home.
Today I’m working and enjoying, as I work, some Zappa videos on YouTube, particularly the video for You Are What You Is (Lyrics) (warning: potentially offensive and/or very silly). The St. Alphonzo Suite featuring John Belushi scatting/singing as the Samurai at the beginning is inspired and peculiar and reminds one that SNL was one pretty unpredictable in a good way.
That reminds me that Waxy pointed to SNL – The Chronic of Narnia Rap the other day and I keep returning to it because it’s funny and goofy, and not a bad song at all. And probably for the past 10-15 years I have found SNL to be consistently unfunny and tedious. Maybe that’s changing.
I’m a little tired and fluish. Time to get some fluids and start the day.
From an interview with Bruce Sterling in 1998: Cyberpunk writer helps define the future of cyberspace:
*Q:* Do you think you have a bleak vision of the future?
*A:* The future is a form of history that hasn’t happened yet. It’s as if you’d asked if I have a “bleak vision” of the 19th century. Well, yes and no. If you were a Victorian railroad engineer in the 19th century, the world was yours, you were having a fantastic, progressive, marvelous time. But if you were a 19th-century American Plains Indian, you were basically enduring a catastrophic, murderous dystopia. You have to comprehend both these experiences and their direct relationship to one another. Then you can achieve a historical understanding. Is it bleak? Yes, no, it doesn’t matter. It’s what happened.
US Airways lost 3 of 4 bags flying from Roanoke to Charlotte to Los Angeles. That is pretty stinky. To add insult to injury, the movie on the flight was _Dukes of Hazzard_.
…just playing, US Airways rocks. Can’t wait till they call me and let me know my bags are found.
…no really, I can scarcely wait.
I’m still sick, finished a course of antibiotics this morning. _To health!_
We had a terrific time in Virginia. There are even a few photos.
We launched a site last week. MLI Laser. We did the html and CSS. Quickie site, but a fun one!
Today we’re travelling again, this time with the kids.
Ho hum. That’s some sad.
Regardless, work must be done, offline. I’ll be uploading later.
In 2006 this blog will turn 5 years old. My first post was in February 2001.
Meanwhile, I’ll have been building webpages in one form or another since 1996, which is 10 years of making HTML.
I’ll be 36 years old this year. 10/36 is 27.8% of my life. Meaning for a quarter of my life I’ll have been “on the net.” How cyberpunk is that? Jack into the matrix brother.
So so much more to come!
Happy New Year. May Blessings Abound for you and yours.