December, 2006: 45 posts.
Sardonic Political Comment of the Day
We have always been at war with Oceania.
Been a while since I blogged. More this weekend, promise. Lots and lots of good stuff happening.
Cat and Girl Make Me Laff
I don’t follow many comics or webcomics these days. Over the years I’ve been enamored of ones like Sinfest (fully likable, manga inspired, vaguely religious) and Penny Arcade (a little too inside-baseball, all about gaming and nerds, not my thing, but the ferocity and velocity of the humor can be pretty great, though the language can get to be too extreme). I also like the Perry Bible Fellowship (which I can only recommend if you can appreciate deeply twisted and cynical comics that come in a nearly infinite variety of styles, it can be a bit too adult as well). The most successful comic for me is not even a comic, but an animation, and that’s HomeStarRunner, which I consider just about a perfect use of the web for fun entertainment, and I truly appreciate that it’s family friendly. All that said, my favorite lately is Cat and Girl which works for me graphically, simple while still being fun, and sometimes deeply smart, even profoundly so. Check out the latest one: “Che and Castro were the Steve and Eydie of Socialist Cuba”, — and the silly title is not even the best part! here’s a sample two frames, not funny, but a taste of the kind of stuff that gets inserted into what’s ostensibly a silly webcomic:
I like erudition and philosophy mixed in with my silly kartoon hijinks. Cat and Girl delivers.
As we enter Advent, the season prior to Christmas, the title of one of the bootlegs of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention performances comes to mind. The recording was made in Stockholm in 1967. The title is “‘Tis The Season To Be Jelly.” Here’s the words of the introduction to the rollicking song “King Kong,” spoken by Frank:
The name of this song is King Kong. It’s the story of a very large gorilla who lived in the jungle. And he was doing okay until some Americans came by and thought that they would take him home with them. They took him to the United States, and they made some money by using the Gorilla, then they killed him.
Leave it to Frank to summarize that story in a sardonic, cynical, funny and sad way.
In 1967 I did not exist.
I have a lot of blogging in me today, I think. It’s a windy and interesting day.
Hope and Advent
My buddy missewon has cancer. Her spirits are up. That rocks.
Like I said in that last post, it’s Advent. [Advent (from the Latin Adventus, sc. Redemptoris, “the coming of the Saviour”) is a holy season of the Christian church, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, also known as the season of Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western Christian year. (The Eastern churches begin the year on 1 September.)] Maybe that’s something happening, something in the air. Maybe after the political winds shifted last month, there’s a new kind of optimism happening. Maybe it’s even religious or spiritual in nature?
Or maybe people, while being cynical about the Christmas and Holiday stuff ip all over the place, seemingly overnight, are suffused with Holiday spirit?
Or maybe people just are feeling good because they get more days off work during the holidays?
At Mass this morning, the priest mentioned the UCLA/USC game, which is a huge local football (and otherwise) rivalry, and which UCLA won for the first time in a while. Even mathowie mentioned it, and he’s not even in L.A. anymore. Admittedly, we’re in Ventura County and a few dozen miles away from the heart of it, but it’s still out there in the culture. My stepkids love USC. LOVE it. Here’s a photo chosen by pure chance from leah‘s flickrstream. Tyler’s hero is Reggie Bush, former star running back for USC.
Personally I don’t really care for or care about football. But when my kids are on the field and playing, I can’t help but get into it. They lost last night, outplayed in the playoffs, but they had a great season and showed real heart and hard work. I never really had that experience as a youth. Sports was not something that spoke to me. Not, like, at all. Sports was something you did with your body. The question I would get asked by my elders was “do you want to be a ditchdigger?” – because apparently manual labor was the worst possible thing, ever. I took that to heart, and anything to do with the body was unimportant to me. It was an easy choice to make, because I was often overweight, very cerebral, and shy. So, no ditchdigging, and no sports. Well, there was some T-Ball:
I was scared of the ball. I did enjoy playing catcher, which I did sometimes, sometimes. Of course, memory is tricky. I can say “I enjoyed it” and not really have much in the way of specific memories other than that the glove I had was huge and black and was my Dad’s “grownup” real glove. And I liked how the catcher’s extra mask and padding felt. That was fun to wear. But I also remember dreading being in the ourfield. I was scared of the ball. It all seemed so dumb most of the time. There were legos to be played with, there were books to read. What’s the big deal about some white ball?
There’s a quote in Neuromancer that resonated with me when I was younger. It addresses the disjunction between the head and the mind. (Background: Neuromancer is the sine qua non of cyberpunk literature). Case, the hero, or rather antihero, was a cyberspace cowboy, a hacker with skills to navigate the shared infospace of the net, the matrix, to do jobs, jacked directly into the matrix by means of a port on the side of his neck. He was poisoned by gangsters, and punishment. It meant he could no longer hack inside the matrix. He was a regular person.
For Case, who’d lived for the bodiless exultation of cyberspace, it was the Fall. In the bars he’d frequented as a cowboy hotshot, the elite stance involved a certain relaxed contempt for the flesh. The body was meat. Case fell into the prison of his own flesh.
The body means nothing. The mind, everything. Hey, I resembled that remark!
And look at that capitalization of “Fall” there. That’s an allusion to Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden. For what? For eating from the tree of knowledge. That William Gibson is a cagey. It blows me away that I began blogging before Gibson. But there he is now, blogging away. And here’s a wikipedia article on The Fall of Man.
No longer do I view my body as a prison. It’s a tool, a gift. I can enjoy it and take care of it, and even look forward to having a bike to enjoy. I am annoyed, though, when I have dental issues. Specifically, pain. I look forward to when I have dental insurance coverage again (T minus 28 days). I’m having some issues with my fillings. As in, two are not where they used to be. Thanks, I’ll pass on the ice cream.
I feel like I’m bursting with words today, but I’ll stop there for now. It will be another lovely day. I have some things to do around the house, and project work to do. There’s hope in the air, and expectation in the zeitgeist. It all feels like, victory.
Yours in hypermedia,
Lohan Not Clear On The Second “A”
“Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” – AA Traditions
Fires in Moorpark = Overtime
Time with the kids went into overtime today, fires in Moorpark have meant that school is out for Moorpark tomorrow. Instant 3-day weekend for the kids!
We did find the moment to decorate the Christmas tree and decorate sugar cookies. They may (almost) all be teens, but they enjoy Christmas… they just enjoy some ironic distance from it as well.
p.s: I like eggnog and 7-up and cognac. (ratio: 6:5:1)
Kids off tomorrow, but not me. Sleep soon.
Honestly? I was pretty sad when I heard from Leah that she was headed to Seattle for Thanksgiving. With my family all elsewhere, and few contacts here in the area, and with very short notice, the upshot was that I’d be alone on Thanksgiving. My traveling with her was out of the question as I had previously committed to working on Friday.
So I sulked for about a day and resolved to make it the best solo Thanksgiving ever. And you know, it was!
Thanksgiving Eve I took Leah to the Burbank Airport. Traffic was fine from our place, but on the opposite side of the freeway was daunting traffic. I dropped her off and left her in the hands of the fine folks of the Transportation Security Administration. I left the airport and went and hung out at Fry’s. Fry’s Burbank is themed like a 1950’s Martian Invasion, which is neither here nor there, but it adds to the ambiance. So I walked about, considering Christmas and watching kids play Guitar Hero. So that killed maybe an hour, then I made my way to the Burbank Barnes & Noble. There I bought Scott McCloud’s latest opus on comics: Making Comics. So far, it’s excellent.
Another hour killed, I made my way back home. I bought groceries for the next day, presuming that everything would be closed the next day. Actually, the posted hours on the local Albertson’s was that they’d be open Thanksgiving to the early afternoon. Still and all, I made my purchases. I did pretty well: A 10 pound turkey (their smallest, I avoided the 45 pound monsters), a prepared sweet potato pie, prepared cranberry dressing by Boston Market, fresh broccoli, lettuce, roma tomatoes, blue cheese dressing, and for dessert: the Cars DVD. I went home and hit the sack. It had been a long work day. I got a text message later from Leah in Las Vegas, and hit the sack. She arrived VERY late at SEATAC. You can catch her own story of the journey after her landing over here at Three Car Rides (1 of 3). I got a text message when she arrived but didn’t get up. I slept.
I awoke pretty early, focused hard on the fact that today, there was no work to be done. I blogged briefly, and set to cooking.
The first thing I did was start the turkey. I have cooked a turkey before, many years ago. I’ve seen it done several ways. Some say the brine method is the best. Some say the paper bag method works best. I went with following the instructions on the packaging. I rinsed and dried it off. I set it up on a shallow roasting pan.
Then I made up some stuffing. Leah had previously saved out some bread for stuffing, which I used. I used a recipe she had used a few weeks back. Problem: it called for celery, and we had none. Being alone, I made the executive decision to simply use onions to replace the celery. It very aromatic. Yes, I cried as I chopped it. I sauteed them, mixed the recipe up, and stuffed the bird. I finished that up at 11am. My cook time was 3 1/2 hours. I got the notion to see a movie. So I hopped in the car to see what might be playing. Sadly, no movies started that early, so my car trip was for naught. Still, it was kind of fun to see everything but the food stores shut down. The groceries stores were BUSTLING.
I got home, and put in Cars. I quite enjoyed it. I have never managed to see it in the theater and I really enjoyed it. As I watched, I also worked on peeling potatoes. There must be mashed potatoes. (Flash forward: the thing I didn’t do was make any gravy, which is a little sad in retrospect, but I didn’t really miss it). I peeled and washed maybe 5 medium sized potatoes and set them cooking.
As the end of turkey cook time neared, I put on the broccoli to steam. I also sliced tomatoes and tossed a salad with the iceberg lettuce I had bought. Humble, but tasty. I also snuck some blue cheese and tomatoes. Blue cheese appeals to my palate in the strongest way. It’s awfully high in calories, but the taste knocks me out.
Oh, I forgot! I also bought some rolls, a French bread, and a ham. The French bread I didn’t touch, but I heated the ham and had little sandwiches as the turkey cooked and Cars played. It was tasty.
For the last 30 minutes of cooking the turkey, I removed the foil. It looked PERFECT. All but the top of the bird was a not too-done golden brown.
Cars ended and I put on the on-demand latest episode of The Wire. I had seen it before, but it’s so darn good, it bears watching as I try and keep up with the Baltimore slang and plot developments.
I assembled my plate. Turkey white and dark, a Turkey leg, broccoli lightly salted, a blue cheese salad, stuffing from inside the bird, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce. It was entirely great, and thoroughly enjoyable.
There’s a concept called “taking care of yourself” that doesn’t get much play. It has to do with treating yourself the way you would want others to treat you. On Thanksgiving I truly did that. I think previous incarnations of myself would have indulged in self-pity and loneliness. Instead, I viewed the day as an adventure — an opportunity. As a result, it was a great day. I missed my wife, it could have been different, maybe better, maybe worse, but bottom line, I had a great deal to be thankful for, and I’m glad it turned out so well.
There’s an affirmation I quite like, and it’s a hard one to hear and understand and accept, but it’s apt: I trust that the universe is unfolding as it should. I admit that that trust sometimes comes with great difficulty. Sometimes the trust doesn’t come at all.
Still and all, there’s the universe, unfolding and unfolding, like an infinite origami trick. It’s quite beautiful if you can manage to immerse yourself in it.
Smoke Gets In Your Nose
There’s a lingering scent of smoke in my nose. I can’t quite tell if that scent is leftover from having driven within 15 miles of the Moorpark Fires, or whether that scent is just as present and strong in Camarillo.
Douglas Adams has an essay in Last Chance to See, his foray into environmental writing, about Rhinos. I think it’s Rhinos, anyway. He describes their powerful olfactory senses, and that their sense of smell allows them to “time travel” because of the way scent propagates, they might be smelling something that passed near many minutes ago. Their perception, then, is not in sync with time, so their conception of the world around them, being largely blind, is based on this older information.
I can’t possibly do it justice, but smoke in my nose makes me remember that essay and how much I liked it.
Surprising and refreshingly funny and insightful interview with Drew Curtis of Fark.com. If you have no time to read, skip down to the question: “In general, do you have any advice for traditional news Web sites that are envious of what you’ve been able t
Cory Doctorow on giving his books away free on the internet, and somehow making a living at it.
Never a silver bullet, ever.
Rebirth in Spring City
A moving story. Potter’s Journal: Rebirth in Spring City
Smoke carries the prayers aloft
I know, I have more to say, but honestly, Joe the Potter has great stuff these days. His pottery makes great Christmas gifts, too.
Potter’s Journal: Firing with Lee
Yesterday I arose at 5 am and made my way to the kiln that Lee and I had loaded the night before. The temperature outside was hanging around ten degrees F. That was up from the five degrees of the past several mornings. Lee, always looking out for me, got me a set of insulated overalls that I gratefully wore. I prayed as I kindled the fire in the main firebox. I always do that, asking that the fire goes well and that the pots will carry the spirit of this fire into the homes and the lives of the people who use them. Sometimes if someone I know is sick or in particular need I’ll dedicate the fire to them. Each firing is a ceremony, each stick of wood going into the kiln with a prayer for someone. The smoke that goes up the stack carries the prayer aloft.
The Nose Knows?
Leah’s body rejects nose piercing: The Nose Knows?
There’s always next time. She had it pierced before she knew me, and if I were a betting man I’d say she’ll do it again sometime. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in 15 years. But she likes them.
For a long time I thought the appearance of my mate reflects on me, and my estimation of myself was in relation to that. No longer. I used to reject the idea of such a piercing in my mate for just that reason. Yeah, it’s disordered thinking to base one’s own self-image on the appearance of someone else. Luckily that’s not my style anymore.
Interestingly, one of the few dress code rules at my current employer is “no facial piercings,” so I have an excuse not to be confronted with an impulse to have one.
I thought it looked really lovely on her, for the record. I usually don’t find such things my cup of tea, but it looked really great on her. Then again, look at the canvas it was placed on. 😉
Very nice intro.
Things are really hard, yo. Even when they’re really good.
Another day. Lovely one I think and affirm.
Help me think in MVC
I discovered the Model-View-Controller pattern earlier this year. Well, not discovered, I had read about it in OO programming articles years ago. And it’s been around for decades. But this year I think I’m finally getting it.
I think the reason I never got it was because I’d never encountered a system that used it very well, or forced you to use it. Everything I’ve worked on so far I now understand as very procedural, even in my C++ and Java classes things the OO part of it was not really emphasized more than you’re forced to for those languages.
That said, I think what I’m ready for is some kind of “in the wild” book about OO programming and MVC, something that has some good background as to *why* MVC works how it does. Maybe not a book, but maybe essays? I feel like what I’m looking for is a articles with the theme “Thinking in MVC.”
Being so fresh to it I really have a hard time discriminating good writing about MVC vs. bad writing. I can’t tell a difference between what’s dogma and what’s really useful, especially where to not be so OO, and deciding where to create new classes and when not to.
Any and all suggestions for my intellectual stimulation are welcome.
Two books from O’Reilly:
And some good links for further study:
txt msgs b2ween joe and lp b4 leah left on plane
leahphone: But r there flies?
joephone: No flies but you are a prize
leahphone: The space between us our love does not disguise
joephone: And now my face a smile can not hide
I’ve missed Clay Shirky’s essays. Many 2 Many just hit my reading list again.
Another good Danah Boyd article
Take Model-View-Controller as an example. It’s often referred to as a pattern, but I don’t find it terribly useful to think of it as a pattern because it contains quite a few different ideas.
Need this for a project.
FrontPage est mort
I had not heard this news.
After nine years of being an award-winning Web authoring tool, FrontPage will be discontinued in late 2006. We will continue to serve the diverse needs of our existing FrontPage customers with the introduction of two brand-new application building and Web authoring tools using the latest technologies: Office SharePoint Designer 2007 for the enterprise information workers and Expression Web for the professional Web designer.
Science Fiction Definition via Bruce Sterling
In 2004, Bruce Sterling spoke at the Long Now foundation on the topic: The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole. One sequence jumped out of me when listening to the audio because of the very funny at once insightful and dismissive definition of Science Fiction he cites. Before this part he’s talking about the sheer incomprehensibility of what it means to actually have a singularity occur, and how despite this incomprehensibility, science fiction writers still manage to use singularities in their writing:
When you think about it it’s a great place for science fiction novel but makes very little sense otherwise. “It’s because we had a singularity blow throgh here, that’s why” – it came and like ripped everything apart and it’s just like it’s left pieces of itself wandering around bending the plot any way I want. Kind of like the Gods on the plains of Troy.
Why would Science fiction stop to this? Why are they deploying this grand mathematical notion as like, a source of plot coupons?
Well I’ll explain this to you, and if you learn nothing else about science fiction you need to know this. This is the classic Peter Nicholls definition of science fiction from 1976. It’s very difficult to define science fiction. Many people have tried. Okay…
“Sci-fi can be succinctly defined (I’m quoting him) as speculation, whether based on established scientific facts, or, on logical pseudofacts, consistent with the framework of the fiction in question, involving smelly, green, pimply aliens furiously raping or eating or both beautiful naked bare-breasted chicks, covering them in slime, red oozing living slime, dribbling from every horrific orifice squeezing out between bulbous pulpy lips onto the onto the sensuous velvety skin writhing sweaty dripping blood and bruised whips brandished by giant blonde with vast biceps androids, and written in the gothic mode.”
That just rocks so hard.
Really funny moment.
Time Time Time; Experts I Treasure
In the past three months I’ve been making a concerted effort to make better use of my time and energy. For a very long time now I feel as though my energy has been unfocused and ill-spent.
One of the large issues for me has been the incredible amount of email I receive. A big part of that was the many email newsletters I subscribe to. Well, was subscribed to. For the past month or two whenever I get one of those emails, I stop and consider whether it materially contributes something to my well being, financial well being, friendships, or family life. If no, then POOF, it must be unsubscribed from.
It’s been a great boon to me to not have a steady stream of promotional material and news come to my email inbox. Having items not insistently demand my attention has been wonderful.
Another issue I’ve had is keeping up with San Diego. I love San Diego very dearly. My favorite place on the planet is La Jolla Cove. I have much family there. But being the responsible party for my San Diego sites [1,2,3] was a side drain on my time that was part of a cohort of projects that diluted my focus. So they had to go. Last month I was able to sell them. I was able to make some money for them, which was quite useful, but more, they went into hands that will continue them in a form I feel and think will be positive.
These are two factors which have left more time for me. And a nice chance to rediscover the temporary nature of some projects. It’s also great to take stock of the things I’m doing and be able to evaluate why it is I’m doing them. Mind you, some projects one can’t simply sell or abandon.
One thing I’ve done is started reading RSS and Atom feeds again. I use Google Reader to organize and read blogs and anything with syndicated content. This is a great way to keep track of things, but to be “the decider” when it comes to when I look at them. I organize them into categories: ours (blogs leah and I work on or maintain, flickr feeds of ours, etc), people (blogs in a voice more or less by one person), writers.laish (blogs by people in leah’s nascent writer’s group), forsale (craigslist feeds for “for sale” items), group (blogs like metafilter or boingboing, which don’t really have a single person at the helm), jobhunt (feeds for job postings), links (link blogs like waxy’s links and larger link sites like fark), and sandiegobloggers (a holdover which i don’t beat myself up about if i don’t read, there are many). For several months I simply gave up reading blogs or keeping up with feeds, because I was so busy with work, but I ended up even more frustrated because there were people and information sources that I ended up checking anyway, and doing it ad hoc took more time than simply reading them in an RSS reader. I tried bloglines for about a minute. And I had been using NetNewsWire, which is great software, but is not nearly as mobile as I am. When Google Reader got good recently, I jumped in and have not looked back. It’s all very “Web 2.0” of me, I’m sure.
Checking on blogs can be every bit as compulsive as checking email, but having one-stop shopping for my reading (with the exception of blogs without feeds: I’m looking at you Tom B!) is great. It allows me to scan with a different kind of emphasis.
That emphasis, and thinking about that emphasis, has been a chance to look at what I enjoy, and why I enjoy what I enjoy.
So I’ve been reading and watching with a more discriminating eye.
I already talked about Cat and Girl the other day. Now I’m going to talk about two other folks who make me happy to read. And moreover, who are making me smarter.
The first is from the same comics and animation category Cat and Girl come from. It’s animating genius John Kricfalusi. I think I discovered his blog either via Coop or BoingBoing, either way, he’s great. His blog, titled “All Kinds of Stuff” is really rather focused on animation, animation history and illustration technique. Just in the past two days he’s had two great posts: first, here’s an excellent IM dialogue about a copy of an illustration — I’m not actively illustrating, but I am an avid doodler. I love to doodle in meetings, and I just know that the drawing jones is going to hit me real soon now. And here’s a post about a background painter from Hanna Barbera that includes wonderful commentary about the history of HB cartoons. Now, John K is the man behind Ren & Stimpy, which despite the fact my wife does not like them, and the fact that I typically despise potty humor, really caught my eye when they came out in the 1990s. Much of what John K does these days is too ribald for my tastes, but he remains a helluvan animator. The thing that really stands out to me is that he’s really articulate about what he likes, what he does not like, and why. Here’s a brief history of Hanna Barbera:
1958 – adventurous, radical, experimental, fun. Every cartoon feels different.
to 1960 – still very professional yet more conservative (leaving out the first season of the Flintstones which I will talk about later)
1962 – conservative, bland and repetitive, HB starts recruiting young inexperienced artists who never animated.
1965 – ugly xerox lines, Iwao Takamoto reluctantly imitating Ed’s design style, Saturday morning executive interference.
1967- Iwao and his crew starts to design harder to animate characters in a pseudo 60’s Disney style-which are impossible to animate well with a low budget.
Gang cartoons start which further hampers the chances to animate well.
1969 – Scooby Doo-absolute crap. Ugly design, sloppy amateur execution, not written by cartoonists anymore-the ugliest BGs ever. The end of the world.
I really appreciate the curmudgeonly aspects of that, but more, I really love that John K. points out the stuff he LOVES.
That matters, it’s inspirational, and keeps me coming back for more. Okay, I’ll point out another post of his, here’s a quote:
Without contrast or punctuation you have monotony. Controlling contrasts is very difficult and I’d say even impossible for weaker artists or actors or writers. Today’s prime time cartoons are extremely monotonous because they have no punctuation or contrasts in any of the creative aspects of them. Everything just drones along at the same pace, volume and evenly spaced design. Nothing is more important than anything else. It all just lays there and expects you to weed through the morass to find what the entertaining parts are.
I love that. He also includes copious examples of what he likes and does not. “Show, don’t tell” they tell you in the screenwriting courses. Maybe that’s true for blogs sometimes as well.
It looks like there’s lots to like there.
I’m simmering with ideas.
It’s a great day.
My post asking about MVC was updated.
David Byrne and David Letterman
When I was a teenager, these men were my heroes. Byrne is gawky, nervous, perhaps not entirely there, and a bit spooky. Letterman is a lovable jerk, always projecting a detached, superior irony.
I saw myself in them at the time. What does it mean that my teenage self (age 13-17 mostly, and beyond) it meant for me to be an intense fan of a neurotic and a smartass? I leave that as an exercise for the reader.
And I’m not kidding about them being heroes. For about 10 years I collected every magazine with interviews with them. Those magazines are in the garage now, in plastic bags. Perhaps I’ll sell them on eBay.
Pre-internet, being a fan meant always being on the hunt for such materials. It meant scouring tv guide to see who was on when, and keeping an ear on the radio for news of who was touring when. I visited magazine stands, bookshops, record stores. I was a collector. Now such obscura is a few keystrokes away on google or youtube.
Tower Records, touchstone of my youth, is bankrupt. World Book & News on Cahuenga in Hollywood, which continues to be magazine mecca for me, is too difficult to park at. I’ve tried to go about three times in the past year, and each time the parking is too terrible to contemplate stopping. C’est la vie.
I don’t know what I expected of the future, but here we are.
All these moments, lost in time, like tears in rain. Only not lost, they’re preserved on youtube and eBay.
Look on my works ye mighty, and despair.
The letter to Turner makes the point that there are “two fundamentally different visions of the Library”: a neutral space for unbiased academic research conducted by scholars, or a conservative think tank and policy institute that engages in legacy polish
I like the Cathedral very much. This is a nice photoessay.
That lady is wearing tribbles. That’s weird.
interesting take on what’s available free.
The author was killed by an IED. He had fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. A gifted officer, he spoke numerous languages, including Arabic. His PowerPoint is the essence of what Thomas PM Barnett describes as the SysAdmin force.
1946 Nightmare Pottersville = 2006 Las Vegas
One of the great cliches of Christmastime is the airing and re-airing of It’s a Wonderful Life. Jim Kunstler, writer of the excellent Geography of Nowhere he of with a blog name that is not safe for work. writes about the parallel universe vision of George Bailey’s Pottersville, and how it bears a close resemblance to Las Vegas.
Clusterf*** Nation by Jim Kunstler : Not So Wonderful
At a crucial point in the story, Clarence the guardian angel takes George Bailey on a tour of Bedford Falls as-if-George-had-never-been-born. Only the town is named Pottersville now. Main Street is lined with gin mills, strip clubs, and dance halls instead of wholesome banks, groceries, and pharmacies. (Oddly, casinos are absent, because in 1946 we lacked the vision to see how truly demoralized our nation could get.) Prostitutes ply the busy sidewalks. Now the weirdest thing is that Pottersville is depicted as a busy, bustling, lively place — the exact opposite of what main streets all over America really became, thanks to George Bailey’s efforts — a wilderness of surface parking, from sea to shining sea, with WalMart waiting on the edge of every town like Moloch poised to inhale the last remaining vapors of America’s morale. Frank Capra could imagine vibrant small towns turning their vibrancy in the direction of vice — but he couldn’t imagine them forsaken and abandoned, with the shop fronts boarded up and the sidewalks empty, which was the true tragic destiny of all the Bedford Falls in our nation.
Most ironically, today America’s favorite main street town, Las Vegas, is Pottersville writ large, and most Americans see absolutely nothing wrong with it. How wonderful is that?
Kunstler is an alarmist. He explains America as a morass of gasoline dependency, and when the price and availability of oil reach crisis point American suburbia will implode in a way that will truly undermine our culture. I have hope his predictions are incorrect, although his explications of how suburbia evolved, and how genuinely toxic it can be are powerful food for thought.
When we lived in San Diego, we lived in a house built in 1896. We were walking distance to a Church, and to a corner store. We now rent what my father describes as a McMansion, built in the 1980s. We don’t have a Church within walking distance. No corner store either. The 1896 house was far more humane in many ways. Our current home is car-dependent. It assumes cars. Without cars, it does not work.
Recipe for disaster? JHK’s work predicts an end to easy gasoline, and then cars, and then, a catastrophic end to suburbia. Is it plausible? It makes logical sense. But is the first part of the prediction realistic? An end to easy gasoline?
I leave that as an exercise for the reader.
I kid you not, this morning on my commute to work I saw the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile travelling south on the 101 around Newbury Park, California.
It was a delightfully surreal moment for me.
Great PDF on how eBay scales the way it does.
I think I mentioned that the San Diego web sites are no longer in my hands. Well, here’s yet more evidence that my letting go was the right move — WebSanDiego.org is set for more changes.
Very exciting stuff.
Image of the Day
He cracks me up, despite myself.
project tracking. open source. better than bugzilla?
Happy Anniversary, Baby
I donated some dough, and got a comic! Neat!
Laundry almost done. Presents almost packed. Cards almost mailed. Almost almost almost. What better thing to do than to blog?!?
Doug Welch points out what could be pretty interesting — wergamers.com. In person gaming. Why, we could call it, an arcade! Seriously though, this looks really cool. The boys might dig it too. Lately they really love playing NFL Street.
LAVoice.org has an article on where to buy a bike. I’m *this* close to buying one. For real.
My brother-in-law took my niece to be on the radio. Check it out.
Ouch! The Spider of Doom — that’s more or less how I hosed sandiegobloggers for those months. Luckily, now it’s in much better hands. The Daily WTF is now a must read for me. Such wonderful folly.
Have a good thought for missewon, willya?
I’m not sure I agree with the list, but it’s not a bad list: 50 Greatest Cartoons.
While we’re on lists, how about Movie Musicals? I grew up on Fiddler on the Roof and Sound of Music, myself. I am SO much older and wiser. Telling you what to do..
There’s folding to do, dude.
Possibly more over on the vox.
What’d I Miss?
1. Merry Christmas!
2. Back from Utah. Great trip.
3. James Brown and Gerald Ford died? That sucks.
4. Earthquake in Asia knocks out lots of internet? That’s technically interesting and somewhat sad.
5. Email and work to catch up on.
6. Wait, we didn’t send the Christmas cards? (That was my job, and we’re way behind, sports fans)
7. Love and Peace to all you all out there.
8. Seriously, what’d I miss?
Wedding Chapel Las Vegas Reception, Wedding Chapel Reception Las Vegas Nevada, Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas Marriage Reception, Wedding Chapel Marriage Las Vegas, Wedding Chapel Marriage Las Vegas Nevada, Wedding Chapel Viva Las Vegas Nevada, Viva Elvis Rewhere leah and i got married two years ago.
interesting infoviz idea
Americart Pricing Change for Pair Customers
I loved Americart at $15/month when it was through Pair.com.
The pricing has changed now, and the minimum is now at $40/month. I dislike this change immensely.
Any Americart workalikes out there that are at a lower rate? I think it’s time to move away from Americart, much as I have loved recommending them to clients.
More than doubling prices SUCKS. It feels like extortion. And I have to pass this cost along to my clients.
Update: I got the lower rate for one year for a client. I will be looking at alternatives.
Thought of the day from AskMoses.com:
If you are not at peace with others, examine if you are at peace with yourself.
Kanab From Above
My brother in law took this great picture of his daughter above Kanab. I love how the photo implies Kanab is some kind of metropolis. It’s a great town, but don’t think for a minute there’s more than one stoplight. 🙂
Many of my in-laws went on a hike on Tuesday. It was quite a hike, apparently I went more than 2/3rds up the red rock bluffs. Then, that was it. It was over a mile in distance, it felt as high as that photo shows. Maybe 15 stories or so, but that’s just a guess. Most of the family went the full distance, My calves hate me, but they’re in for more of a treat when I (finally!) get my bike. I think my knees are alright. They’re looking forward to less weight pressing down on them.
As a fan of Batman, I find this to be very fun.
interesting conversation here about the HTTP verbs that aren’t GET and POST
Digg kinda scares me, too.
potentially useful library
100 Best First Lines from Novels
capping 2006 in Iraq. pretty grim.