Updated: 11/11/02; 5:11:25 PM.
both2and: beyond binary
on the creativeTechnician, faithfulHeretic, artificialNature, futureHistory, & humanAnimal

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Moving Out
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If you've subscribed any of my RSS feeds, please be patient while I figure out how to get them going on the new site.

If you linger on this page for 45 seconds, you'll be whisked to the new site. I hope this isn't too aggravating, and thanks for bearing with me.
3:18:50 PM    please comment []

Saturday, November 9, 2002

Sacred Circles
I feel like the luckiest woman on the planet tonight. For the price of having to get up really early tomorrow (this) morning, I got to hang out with dozens of fabulous women from all sorts of spiritual traditions, attend a wonderful keynote event in the Cathedral, and sign up for two great workshops tomorrow plus a free lunch and dinner. How great is that???

The conference is touching me in tender places; I'm weeping again, in a good way. "All our sorrows are the same." I'm feeling inspired and nourished. We are talking about God and faith, and I am much less alone.

Plus, my friend G-, who I haven't spoken to in quite awhile, phoned just now and we had a great conversation. I feel my life has done nothing but improve since I decided to get off the escalator.
12:03:06 AM    please comment []

Friday, November 8, 2002

BLoD: When in doubt, reach for the Rubaiyat!
Courtesy of Sainteros:

In the dream the congregation is larger than usual, meeting in a huge church with a stone floor. The priest is absent, and I will have to lead the group in a rite they do not know well. There seem to be no prayer books, though there are many other irrelevant volumes scattered around. Things quickly descend into chaos. We cannot recall the words, people are frustrated, and the group becomes unruly. As we approach the eucharist, I determine simply to quote these lines of verse: "A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou."

Back in the day I put together a web page about the Rubaiyat, which still exists here. All inadequacies I lay firmly at the feet of "we were designing for Netscape 3, dammit!"
3:55:32 PM    please comment []

Stinky Ginko
It's that time of year again. Some genius planted lovely ginko trees all over Adams Morgan. They are very pretty. Their leaves turn a lovely golden yellow in the fall.

Now, you may not know that ~ unlike most trees ~ ginkoes come in sexes. Yes, they do. You have your male ginko trees and your female ginko trees. If you want baby ginkoes, you have to have both, or you have to fertilize by hand.

But ~ HELLO ~ we are in an urban environment, and we do not wish to have baby ginkoes sprouting all over everywhere. We want just the number of ginkoes we have, and if we want more, we'll do as God intended and go out and buy more.

So what did these botanical geniuses do? They bought all female ginkoes.

What's wrong with that, you ask, do I have something against girls???

No. I'm a girl myself, and I think girls are just swell.

What I have a problem with is girl ginkoes. Because they fruit. And then the fruit falls off the tree and lands on the sandwalk. Where unfortunate pedestrians step on it. Leaving a big gooshy slipperly spot which is a navigational hazard. And then the pedestrians carry the smushed fruit around on their shoes all day.

Did I mention that ginko fruit smells remarkably and penetratingly like putrefying shit?

Note to future urban planners: there is no point passing and enforcing lovely anti-poop laws for people with dogs if you then go and plant the entire neighborhood with female ginko trees.
3:05:29 PM    please comment []

Thursday, November 7, 2002

Lileks kicks Windows booty
I enjoyed this rant:

There are millions of happy customers who'd throw themselves in front of a bus rather than switch platforms. But as I've said before, the keyboard-map problem is fascinating to me and the techs because there is no reason it should be happening. In fact, it can't. I'm accessing a local program, not one on the network. There is nothing in the start-up procedure that overwrites old preference files. There is no reason that replacing the keyboard map should make the OS unable to find the parent program. This is where computers meet the realms of philosophy: if a thing is impossible, yet appears before you, then it obviously is not impossible. Yet it is not possible for it to be possible. All those philosophers who wondered if it was possible for God to create an object He could not move are missing the point. If God is running Windows, then He will just get an error message informing Him that the object does not exist.

And, being God, He will have known in advance He would get that message.

Just as I know every day I will get the error message.

Use Windows, and draw closer to God!

The cursing tends to even things out, though.

4:12:46 PM    please comment []

Since when does the NY Times run advertorials?
Okay, this annoyed me pretty badly.

For years now David Gelertner ~ computer scientist and Unabomber victim ~ has been flogging his idea that the "desktop" should go away in favor of an interface whose underpinnings are chronological.

I think that might work great for some people (like Gelertner, whose office is apparently a morass of towering piles of paper), but it definitely wouldn't be helpful as a primary interface for me. Would it be helpful as an option? Sure (6 Degrees, etc.).

But the validity of his (wretched and incorrect) idea is not what has me so irked. No, it's that the NY Times decided it was okay to have him author an article essentially hawking his own damned software. Where oh where was the editorial judgment on this one?

And as if THAT weren't enough, he goes into a long rationalization on why they decided to build their incredibly wonderful and innovative systems on top of Windows.

Windows is no tool for the future and doesn't claim to be. Technology's future can't possibly be based on treating computers as if they were hyped-up desks and file cabinets - passive pieces of ugly furniture. Computers are active machines, and information-management software had better treat them that way. But Windows can play a central role in giving the future a leg up. It can supply a stable, ubiquitous platform for the future to stand on.

We built our system on Microsoft Windows because Windows is a reliable, solid, reasonably priced, nearly universal platform - and for the software future, "universal" is nonnegotiable. We need to run the system on as many computers as possible and manage the maximum range of electronic documents.

Of course, another operating system, Linux, is also clamoring for attention. Linux and Windows are both children of the 70's: Linux grew out of Unix, invented by AT&T; Windows is based on the revolutionary work of Xerox research. In technology years, these loyal and devoted operating systems are each approximately 4,820 years old. (Technology years are like dog years, only shorter.)

Each is nonetheless still solid enough to be a good, steady platform for the next step in software. But Windows is the marketplace victor and has now won a decisive legal imprimatur. There is no technical reason for us to move to Linux; why should we switch? Why should our customers?

Some argue for Linux on economic and cultural grounds: Microsoft, people say, has driven up prices and suppressed innovation. But this is a ticklish argument at best: after all, over the decade of Microsoft's hegemony, computing power has grown cheaper and cheaper. Innovation has thrived. Our software is innovative; it has not been suppressed. On the contrary, more and more people get interested.

Operating systems are the moldy basements of computing. We used to live down there, but are now moving upstairs to healthier quarters. We rely on the courts and antitrust laws to keep Microsoft from abusing its enormous power. We need Microsoft itself to be the universal stepladder that lets us climb out of our hole and smell the roses.

I challenge you, O Faithful Readers to enumerate the errors of fact and judgment in the above paragraphs.

All I have to say is:
Credibility total: 0

[Update: Now Scripting News is pointing to Aaron Swartz pointing to Gelertner's article. The only significant difference between my article and Aaron Swartz's seems to be that he doesn't think Gelertner's ideas suck.]
12:47:16 PM    please comment []

Ask yourself how many of the weblogs you read regularly voiced attitudes different from your own about the outcome of the US elections Tuesday.

Several of the sites I visit that rarely comment on politics nevertheless had something to say about the elections. And in 98% of the cases, it was something I agreed with.

Birds of a feather flock together. And when they don't, they often flame the heck out of each other, which is most unpleasant.

Still, I'm trying to get out and about a bit more, because it's valuable to be exposed to well-written and intelligent ideas that you're inclined to disagree with. Now, if I could only find some. (Just kidding.)
8:38:15 AM    please comment []

Everything New is Old Again
What's up with the Retro Radio look, you ask?

I will refrain from boring you with the whole saga. Suffice it to say that right after I achieved happy happy joy joy with DSL my weblog went to hell (not that I think there was any connection between the two events). A radio.root update failed, making it impossible to update. The things I did to correct the problem compounded it instead. I lost all my custom templates.

I've had it with the Radio black box. You'll have to put up with this generic look until I get it together to build my own weblogging environment. I'll be using Filemaker, NetWireNews, and probably Fetch for FTP. I may change commenting systems (I had been using YACCS, although this current Userland template uses the Userland server system). In any case, I'll soon be in an environment where I'll be able to take the reins.

When that happens, all my pages will be moving to the both2and.com domain. That means any links you have to items or archive pages will be wrong. I'm really sorry about that. You'll be able to make them right by swapping "http://www.both2and.com/" for "http://radio.weblogs.com/01001595/". But all this is some days or weeks a way. I'll let you know.

Thanks for bearing with me. And sorry for the very uninteresting look. I'm now officially behind in EVERYTHING.
1:30:41 AM    please comment []

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

DSL Rocketh
What it goes to show is, you have to make a huge pest out of yourself. Nicely.

You have to be willing to spend hours on hold, crack jokes with the tech folk, and generally have The Patience of a Saint.

You must call every day at 11 pm and just sit there repeating the same stupid troubleshooting procedures even though YOU KNOW they won't work any better the umpeenth time than they did the umpteen-1st time.

Also, you mustn't speak too soon, and you must ask that the trouble ticket remain open for 24 hours lest everything go south overnight.

But may I say in the meantime: WOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOOO!!!
12:14:30 AM    please comment []

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Why are they happy?
Dave Rogers of Time's Shadow calls our attention to this NY Times article about irrationality and choice. Dr. Daniel Kahneman, psychologist who won the Nobel prize in economics for understanding that people fear loss much more than they value gain, is trying to establish a true measurement of quality of life.

We're attempting to measure it not by asking people, but by actually trying to measure the quality of their daily lives. For example, we are studying one day in the lives of 1,000 working women in Texas. We have people reconstruct the day in successive episodes, as recalled a day later, and we have a technique that recovers the emotions and the feelings. We know who they were with and what they were doing. They also tell us how satisfied they are with various aspects of their lives. We know a lot about these ladies.

Q. What are you finding out?
A. I'll give you a striking finding. Divorced women, compared to married women, are less satisfied with their lives, which is not surprising. But they're actually more cheerful, when you look at the average mood they're in in the course of the day. The other thing is the huge importance of friends. People are really happier with friends than they are with their families or their spouse or their child.

Q. Why would divorced women be more cheerful?
A. So far, I don't understand it, but that's what the data says.

I'm at a loss to see why this is mysterious. Here's the syllogism:

1. People are happier with their friends than with their families.
2. Divorced women spend more time in the company of friends than married women.
3. Divorced women are more cheerful.

They also describe themselves as less satisfied. This doesn't surprise me either. Satisfaction is a very different matter from mood emotions (such as happiness or unhappiness, cheerfulness or gloom). Satisfaction is the sensation of having perceived meets met adequately. If you've been enculturated your entire life to believe that having a successful marriage is important, then of course you're going to be dissatisfied if your marriage fails. But the demise of your marriage might nonetheless significantly improve the quality your life on a day to day basis (even if you have a hard time perceiving it cognitively).
9:39:02 PM    please comment []

I'm so depressed that my weblog has no children. I'm clearly doomed fated to go through life without progeny of any kind ~ even intellectual. (Well, I'm saving a fortune on college tuition, but I wouldn't have to put kiddie blogs through school, so that's only a partial consolation.)
5:11:34 PM    please comment []

In keeping with today's theme...

3:02:51 PM    please comment []

Some Words for the Day
Beware of partisan politics.

Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

Be careful of fixed enmities or alliances:

Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt, that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its Virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential, than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The Nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of Nations has been the victim.

Who said it?

George Washington, September 19, 1796
He was declining to run for re-election, and this was his Farewell Address.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who views it in the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations; I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

Now go vote.
1:10:33 AM    please comment []

DSL, as if
Okay, I was going to restrict myself to mere updates of the previous Doing DSL post. But there's only so much flashing of amber and green, of endless hours on hold listening to tasteful classical and jazz music, and interactions with tech support whose assumptions clearly range from "She's probably a bored housewife" to "Maybe she has actually done some wiring as she claims."

After the last call, which came to an unsatisfactory conclusion at 11:45 tonight, my restraint has been overwhelmed with peevitude.

I will, however, give a shout-out to my Earthlink tech man Gene in Harrisburg, PA who at least has a decent sense of humor and was sympathetic to my plight without being smarmy about it. Not that I feel somehow that this will lead to improved results or anything.

My line is apparently marvelously noiseless and swift, so if I do actually ever manage to hook up with the server, well, it should be all greased lightning after that. Perhaps I'll wake up tomorrow morning to a glorious steady green glow of connectivity. Hope springs eternal.

Yeah, right.
12:10:35 AM    please comment []

Monday, November 4, 2002

SPoD: Read this and weep
You know those easy-flowing tears I mentioned? Well, I dare you to read this and retain a dry eye.

[via Erehwon Notebook]
9:58:31 PM    please comment []

Why that Tennesse whiskey tastes so good...
Science meets art in the Jack Daniel's distillery.

In the Jack Daniel's experiments, the researchers distilled away all of the alcohol and other components that could evaporate away and separated the rest into two parts: one water soluble, the other not. They then spiked each into young, one-year-old Jack Daniel's and asked a panel of trained tasters their opinions of the taste.

If you like Old No. 7, you'll want to read this NY Times article.
8:44:43 PM    please comment []

Nature AND Nurture
Ignore the stupid title on this New York Times article.

Humans are born with temperaments arising from genetic variations in brain chemicals called neuromodulators, Dr. Quartz said. These differences may lead one baby to avoid novelty and another to seek it. But the experiences that result help construct the growing brain.

Humans are also born with a very large prefrontal cortex, a higher brain region involved in planning that taps into an ancient system for predicting what is rewarding and making decisions to maximize rewards and avoid punishments.

Neuroscientists are finding that this circuit, which fully matures in late adolescence, is an internal guidance system that fills each person's world with values, meaning and emotional tone, taking shape according to a person's culture.

In other words, culture contributes not just to the brain's contents but to its wiring as well, Dr. Quartz said.

8:34:48 PM    please comment []

Lacrimae rerum
For the last several days I've been feeling unusually sensitive and responsive to circumstances in the world. I've succumbed to tears a few times (not my usual behavior, I assure you).

I don't know exactly what's going on, but it's not bad. I think some of it has to do with being more available to feel touched by things, because of the difficult but valuable decisions I've made recently. Some of it is probably the odd combined sensation of stress and release from stress than I'm experiencing. And perhaps some of it has to do with the gradual disappearance from my bloodstream of the medication I'd been taking for over a year.

I served at the Healing Rite this past Sunday. It was a wonderful All Saint's service, replete with smells and bells and well-known scripture. There were more people than usual presenting themselves for the Rite, and it seemed to me that the Holy Spirit was especially available. I was, as always, deeply moved by the profession of faith demonstrated by those who come to the chapel. It's a difficult thing to ask for help, to acknowledge the limits of one's own abilities or control, and to entrust one's concerns to God. Of all the things I do in my life, none makes me feel as privileged and as grateful as does serving as a minister of healing.

[Update: This happens sometimes. I just received a telephone call from one of the people I prayed with Sunday, who wanted to thank me and tell me about the happy outcome of her medical tests. She sounded apologetic about "dumping all her worries on me." I assured her that she hadn't dumped anything on me, but rather that she had brought her fears and anxieties before the throne of grace. I thanked her for sharing her good news with me and added "Thanks be to God." I know very well how little this has to do with me, and without pushing her away, I wanted to shift the gratitude away from me and direct it where it belongs.]
8:20:41 PM    please comment []

Freud Revisited
One of the most creative thinkers of all time is getting another look in the light of recent neuroscience research:

The work of the past half-century in psychology and neuroscience has been to downplay the role of unconscious universal drives, focusing instead on rational processes in conscious life. Meanwhile, dreams were downgraded to a kind of mental static, random scraps of memory flickering through the sleeping brain. But researchers have found evidence that Freud's drives really do exist, and they have their roots in the limbic system, a primitive part of the brain that operates mostly below the horizon of consciousness. Now more commonly referred to as emotions, the modern suite of drives comprises five: rage, panic, separation distress, lust and a variation on libido sometimes called seeking. Freud presaged this finding in 1915, when he wrote that drives originate "from within the organism" in response to demands placed on the mind "in consequence of its connection with the body." Drives, in other words, are primitive brain circuits that control how we respond to our environment ~ foraging when we're hungry, running when we're scared and lusting for a mate.

In particular, the "seeking" drive is proving especially interesting:

Since the 1970s, neurologists have known that dreaming takes place during a particular form of sleep known as REM ~ rapid eye movement ~ which is associated with a primitive part of the brain known as the pons. Accordingly, they regarded dreaming as a low-level phenomenon of no great psychological interest. When Solms looked into it, though, it turned out that the key structure involved in dreaming was actually the ventral tegmental, the same structure that Panksepp had identified as the seat of the "seeking" emotion. Dreams, it seemed, originate with the libido ~ which is just what Freud had believed.

Read the whole Newsweek article.

[via MyAppleMenu]
1:53:05 PM    please comment []

Killer App for .Mac
I submitted this idea to Apple awhile back, but I'm getting impatient, so I thought I'd share it with you lovely people as well.

I think we can agree that, even if their version 1.0 software often leaves a bit to be desired, Apple ultimately does a great job with bundled basic consumer software (iTunes, iPhoto, even iCal). So what would get people to sign up in droves for the somewhat pricey .Mac service?

Really good weblogging software. (iBlog, anyone?)

Think about it: it's a natural. Everyone wants a blog. Everyone wants nice spiffy templates designed by some of the best in the business. Everyone wants to have an excuse to use all those megabytes of webserver space.

Apple currently provides pagemaking facilities for .Mac, but they could be so much better. How cool would it be to have all this stuff available in a nice intuitive weblog package right "out of the box," as it were? Integrated with iPhoto and iCal as a bonus, it could be a knockout.

So, those of you who subscribe to .Mac, won't you please go and add your $.02 in the suggestion area?
1:34:56 PM    please comment []

November 5th is around the corner
I agree with Steve about this:

I was talking to a friend the other day, and during the course of our conversation, he admitted to me that he doesn't vote. My reply to him was that my estimation of him immediately tumbled a substantial amount. This is a smart person in a lot of ways, but for some reason has decided to take himself out of the process. I just told him that in future discussions, his opinion of any political issues didn't matter to me, as they obviously didn't matter to him enough for him to express them.

Don't sit on the sidelines and complain. Participate, and then complain ~ at least your complaints will have some standing.
2:40:47 AM    please comment []

You Know You Want It
Okay, maybe you don't.

But I'm still cranking it out anyway: another Dennis chunk hits the web.
2:12:02 AM    please comment []

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