June 30, 2006

Rum, sodomy and...

In case it's not on your regular reading menu, a recent posting from Crooked Timber tickles the risibility meters (they're stereo...): The Holy Trinity is getting a makeover.... Puts me in mind of a favorite Pratchettism, in which I first encountered the [well known British] term "godbothering" [glossed as "fervent religious grovelling"] :

Archchancellor (of Unseen University) Mustrum Ridcully: So... how are things in the godbothering business?

Chief Priest of Blind Io: We do our humble best. How is the dangerous meddling with things man was not meant to understand?

Ridcully: Pretty fair. Pretty fair.
(incidentally, they are brothers)
(from Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man, pg 91)

Posted by oook at 07:25 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2006


Thanks to Netflix and my own taste for the epic, I'm now entangled in Heimat II (more here). The first 11 episodes of Heimat I were certainly engrossing, but the second series is even more so because the characters are of my own age cohort. The events are mostly in Munich in the early 1960s, but they're close enough to early 1960s Cambridge to give me a lot to think about. I've just watched the episode set on 22 November 1963, the day Kennedy was shot, and I was transported back to my own vivid memories of the day.

Yesterday I sprang for the 20-odd VHS tapes for both series (used, via Amazon), and today I found (via the Wikipedia page) pointers to Heimat script (German language) and The Second Heimat script (German language). This is sufficient inducement for me to attempt to retrieve/extend my college German (last seen disappearing in the rear view mirror 45 years [and several languages] ago).

Posted by oook at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)


I know I've mentioned Robyn Eckhardt's EatingAsia blog before, but today's posting on Rat-tail noodles is even more mouthwatering than the usual fare. It's the photographs that make the site so remarkable, and I swear I can almost smell the dishes. I'm working on being able to taste 'em too...

Posted by oook at 07:09 AM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2006

Jan Oberst rules, OK

His experiment in Flickr thumbnailing (http://flickr.trulyamazing.de/) is really a wonder. I'm leeching on his server's bandwidth to run these two, so it's with apologies that I link to my Flickr stuff and my images tagged 'nsfaces'. I certainly see things in both that I wouldn't otherwise have noticed.

Posted by oook at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

First grade class 1905, detail

First grade class 1905, detail, originally uploaded by oook.

I'm experimenting with blogging from Flickr, something I should have tried long ago. This one suggests the profound challenges faced by educators everywhere, and is just one of a vast number of images I'm trying to figure out what to do with. nsfaces.schtuff.com is my main silo, but I'm also beginning to build a collection of my own photographic past at oook.schtuff.com.

Posted by oook at 07:08 AM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2006

OK, parse this

While sorting through a box of family photographs, I was brought up short by this postcard:

The two stumbling gentlemen would seem to be King Edward VII and Czar Nicholas. The ladies might represent Brazil (if color is the relevant attribute) and Spain, but I know of no early 20th century diplomatic crisis that involved those four nations. Any ideas?

Posted by oook at 08:18 AM | Comments (2)

June 24, 2006

On the RFID account

I'm always on the lookout for linguistic niceties and abominations, and this summary is too wonderful not to pass along. I can't find a way to link directly to the 24 Jun entry at Beyond the Beyond, an RFID (etc.)-watch blog, so I'm reproducing the text here, with bits of emphasis added:

Web Semantics Watch VIII: RFID Jargon
Posted: 24 Jun 2006 04:44:44 -0600
Next-generation RFID tools expand the market

This InfoWorld article by James R. Borck is well worth a read for the techie contingent in RFID middle-management, but I find it chiefly remarkable for the startling beauty of its jargon. The RFID biz has plenty of rough patches ahead on its road to commercial ubitopia, but its geeks are shedding the initial hype and ballyhoo and generating a kind of poetry.

A few choice semantic nuggets from the article (and I grant Mr. Borck every credit here):

"newfound event stream"
"a flood of streaming data at high burst rates"
"an events management subengine winnows nuance from noise" (((Gosh-wow! This formulation isn't just Flarf poetry, it *describes the very nature* of Flarf poetry.)))
"minimize the barrage before it hits the corporate network"
"a consortium of standards bodies and supply-chain interests"
"abstracts the internal machinations of relational databases"
"Time-based and delta change criteria"
"post-mortem latency"
"details on location, state, causality, and time reference"
"applications can rake supercharged events across complex rule sets"
"Stream Processing Engine"
"latencies too great to withstand the real-time surge"
"in-memory pattern matching and native temporal services"
"inevitable glitches, collisions, and partial reads"
"application sophistication will rise"
"insight into tomorrow’s highly distributed, real-time networks"
"delivers excellent distributed fail-over"
"an excellent next-step advance into building smart readers"
"support for the range of legacy and modern devices"
"a variety of interrogator interfaces"
(((And last but not least, these gnomic words of wisdom)))
"If you’re planning to deploy RFID today, prepare to face device compatibility issues, buggy software and firmware, global numbering standards that still need to be ironed out, and security threats in need of redress."

Posted by oook at 07:38 AM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2006

June 07, 2006

links for 2006-06-07

Posted by oook at 03:17 AM

June 05, 2006

I promise this will be the last

...at least for a while, but I jes' can't resist this bit from the third Khmer example (another 0:20)

Posted by oook at 04:01 PM | Comments (1)

OK, this is just silly

...but it occurred to me that the second Khmer sample is not entirely unlike the Barry Sisters with pitch raised a minor third (only 0:14, so it's not really painful --it's from Ketzele Baroiges for anybody keeping score, also known as Dem Ganef's Yikhes).

Posted by oook at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

on the Khmer account

Liz Berg posts five charming bits of Cambodian pop on WFMU' Beware of the Blog

In Siem Reap, Cambodia, I terrorized a few teenage girls working in a music store with my silly questions about old film stars, what's on the radio, what's underground, rock music, hip-hop, dance music, rap, and traditional tunes. They giggled at me nonstop as I tried to ask if this CD was better than that one, and made them repeat an artist's name about 30 times so I could at least get a phonetic spelling down. I scored tons of great old film tunes, and took home a CD full of MP3s that the clerks recommended, so that I could really know what the Cambodian kids were into.
Two fragments (each about 0:20) to give you the idea.

Posted by oook at 07:33 AM | Comments (0)

links for 2006-06-05

Posted by oook at 03:18 AM

June 04, 2006

bumpersticker: Keep Your Laws Off My Ursprache

I mentioned BLDGBLOG a few days ago, pointing to a quotation from Mike Davis, and today's entry on BLDGBLOG quotes John McPhee (another of my read-everything-he-writes authors) and includes an aerial image of the monster copper mine at Bingham Canyon UT. There's a pointer to The Center for Land Use Interpretation, and their Land Use Database will eat a few hours of your day.

Co-incidentally, I happened (thanks to Beyond the Beyond) upon a provocative new piece in Edge by Jaron Lanier: DIGITAL MAOISM: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism. A few snippets, to tantalize:

...My point here is not to argue about the existence of Metaphysical entities, but just to emphasize how premature and dangerous it is to lower the expectations we hold for individual human intellects.

The beauty of the Internet is that it connects people. The value is in the other people. If we start to believe the Internet itself is an entity that has something to say, we're devaluing those people and making ourselves into idiots...

...it's easy to be loved as a blogger. All you have to do is play to the crowd. Or you can flame the crowd to get attention. Nothing is wrong with either of those activities. What I think of as real writing, however, writing meant to last, is something else. It involves articulating a perspective that is not just reactive to yesterday's moves in a conversation...

...It's safer to be the aggregator of the collective. You get to include all sorts of material without committing to anything. You can be superficially interesting without having to worry about the possibility of being wrong...

... The reason the collective can be valuable is precisely that its peaks of intelligence and stupidity are not the same as the ones usually displayed by individuals. Both kinds of intelligence are essential...

...The hive mind should be thought of as a tool. Empowering the collective does not empower individuals — just the reverse is true. There can be useful feedback loops set up between individuals and the hive mind, but the hive mind is too chaotic to be fed back into itself.

Quite a lot to chew on, and simultaneously I'm rereading Joan Didion's Slouching Toward Bethlehem and reliving my own mid-1960s perceptions of How Things Are, and listening to Lila Downs' La Cantina (see a video of La Cumbia del Mole, from her Web site... and there's this too). A heady brew on a rainy Sunday morning.

Posted by oook at 07:10 AM | Comments (1)

June 03, 2006

...and if you don't listen to anything else

you just gotta try this challenge from Sven Godtvisken, on Language Log.

Posted by oook at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)

If you don't read anything else today

...read this from Stephen Downes. It distills a lot of my raggedy thoughts on 'teaching' into a potent draught. Many memorable bits, but I wish I'd said this one:

I gave up arguing during my abortive PhD, when I realized that there was no point to argumentation. I have since then tried to live what I believe, and when people would ask, to explain why I believed it. This allowed me a certain detachment, because it didn't matter whether they agreed with me, what mattered is that my explanation was true and honest and forthright.

Posted by oook at 07:37 AM | Comments (1)


Christopher Lydon's ever-more-indispensable Open Source did a program on The Globalization of Hip-Hop that surely whets my taste for the genre. Try this excerpt [1:50] for piquancy...

I've never given much mental houseroom to Hip-Hop, and never listened carefully enough to get beyond the strutting and misogyny. Hmmm. Blues has plenty of strut and mis, and I've spent lotsa time on its variants. Time for a rethink...

The comment threads on Open Source often amplify the audio in useful ways. Consider this, from
Rushay Booysen, for its content and its expressive flavor:

mos def hip hop started from parties but it also had a serious undertone behind that partying lyrics was also messages lately hip hop has become more concerned bout the bling about what u have on ya wrist and if u see the effects of that on kids right here in south africa u would go this shit is massive. i was just tellin my friend if he noticed the amount of brothers round the way thats been gettin gold fronts who do we have to thank for that mr hip hop himself.its just crazy how the similiar sort of commercialism is influenced by american conglomorates all round the world it all evolves from economics man music has become more politicks then actuall musical art
(one of a number of comments)

Posted by oook at 07:08 AM | Comments (0)

links for 2006-06-03

  • today's word challenge: insert into conversations ad libidum
    (tags: metastuff)
Posted by oook at 03:18 AM

June 02, 2006

Gibsonian take on S/N

I have a lifelong habit of bing[e]ing on authors, reading everything if I've found some unique voice in something they've written, and then rereading the especially choice bits again and again. William Gibson has been one of those authors for more than 20 years, and this fragment from William Gibson's blog is pretty tantalizing and suggests that he's still at it:

Organized religion, he saw, back in the day, had been purely a signal-to-noise proposition, at once the medium and the message, a one-channel universe. For Europe, that channel was Christian, and broadcasting from Rome, but nothing could be broadcast faster than a man could travel on horseback. There was a hierarchy in place, and a highly organized methodology of top-down signal-dissemination, but the time lag enforced by tech-lack imposed a near-disastrous ratio, the noise of heresy constantly threatening to overwhelm the signal.

Posted by oook at 07:53 AM | Comments (0)