Marking time in July 2003
Adam Stubblefield, an intern with Microsoft Research, thought that our ability to tell ourselves unique stories about inkblots might be a secret key to a strong digital lock—the online password. [from research.microsoft.com via kottke.org].
Too much bamboo
Yes Jeremy, there is such a thing as too much bamboo.
Outside my study window, on the other side of the road, is a stand of bamboo. It grows intermixed with Bougainvillea and brings me pleasure as it waves in the breeze.
Yesterday, buffeted by a westerly, the bamboo brushed the power cables that run from pole to pole in the street. There were sparks and crackling noises, the lights dimmed, and my computer shut down. Power wires were falling in a cloud of sparks. Inside our house, smoke came from the electrical wiring and control box. In the street, dry leaves under the bamboo caught fire.
People rushed out of their houses, idiots walked too close to the live cables, people yelled. After eight hours services were back; police officers, fire fighters, power linesmen and TV cable guys had gone; it was time to check for damage inside the house. The hot water system wiring was fried and, worse, my computer was playing up. With <expletive deleted> deadlines next week.
Late last night, and most of today, I have spent testing and troubleshooting. Everthing’s working now, except for a PCI SCSI card and a flatbed scanner tranny adapter. <irony>I really enjoy sorting out SCSI problems. It’s as much fun as doing my Business Activity Statement and writing the cheque for Goods and Services Tax</irony>. Which reminds me…
Digital Gutenberg bibles II
I enjoy the messages I get from people who don’t know me, responding to things I write on this website—like one today from Suzanne Charlé, mentioning a story she wrote for the New York Times: Tiny treasures leave big void in looted Iraq:
While there is still confusion about just how many objects were stolen from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad during the recent war, there is no doubt that one of its major collections is gone. In London last week, at an annual meeting of experts in archaeology, history and ancient languages of Mesopotamia, the museum’s director, Dr. Nawala al-Mutawalli, said that 4,795 cylinder seals were missing. Col. Matthew Bogdanos of the Marines, leader of the American team investigating losses of antiquities in Iraq, confirmed the theft….
Pigments through the ages
See this colourful story at WebExhibits.org.
Jorn Barger is a collector, of a sort—though you wouldn’t know what sort, exactly, from gazing on his worldly possessions. A long-haired, thick-bearded former artificial-intelligence (AI) programmer in his forties, Barger lives in genteel poverty, sharing an apartment with roommates in Chicago’s scruffy West Rogers Park neighborhood. His bedroom once held a lot of books, but he had to sell them off some time ago; the principal fixtures remaining are a secondhand Macintosh with built-in television, a boom-box radio, and a bed. Barger spends his days in the bed, and there—sitting with the Mac’s keyboard in his lap and its monitor beside him—he collects: A color-coded map of the world’s language families. A discussion of the various titles Proust considered and discarded for Remembrance of Things Past. A National Enquirer article on “who’s doing yoga in Hollywood.” A BBC item on the evolution of cooperation among capuchin monkeys. Some photos of Fisher-Price Little People repainted as characters from Futurama. A FAIR analysis of recent mainstream news coverage of the IMF and the World Bank. An oddly evocative Webcam shot from the Jennicam Web site. A tribute to the Spanish-language children’s television show El Club de los Tigritos. A compilation of Noam Chomsky resources on the Web. A detailed list of textual correspondences between James Joyce’s Ulysses and Homer’s Odyssey. A phrase that Barger dreamed last night on the edge of waking.
That’s from Julian Dibbell’s Portrait of the blogger as a young man, which I mentioned a while ago in connection with James Joyce’s Dublin.
Revolutionary influence of the bicycle
The bicycle has been responsible for more movement in manners and morals than anything since Charles II. Chaperones, long narrow skirts, tight corsets have wilted, strong nerves, legs and language, knickers, knowledge of make and shape, equality of sex, good digestion and professional occupation have bloomed. In four words, the emancipation of women. — John Galsworthy (1867-1933), quoted on Ockhams Razor.
For a dose of nostalgia, spend US $4,999.95 on a penny-farthing bike, made in the Czech Republic. Then follow the useful riding instructions to be found on a Japanese website.
For a dose of the here and now, read about the wonderful way Brisbane’s roads accommodate one commuting cyclist. I’m proud to be a cyclist in this city.
This is yet another website that consists of an ordered collection of related objects. Burners from discarded gas appliances are collected here, and sorted into piles: from stoves [subdivided into stovetop, broiler, hot plate], from heaters [space, hanger, hot water], and from commercial kitchen equipment. Lined up for inspection, these burners invite us to enjoy and compare their physiognomies.
This collection of burners joins the toasters, saw handles, cartes-de-visite, timber samples, manhole covers, more toasters, printing presses, bread tags, quilts, more manhole covers, and clutch pencils already noted here. Am I some kind of ratbag, collecting collections like this? A harmless obsession, surely.