16 February 2003

I love Sundays. I used to hate them when I was in my teens and 20s -- everything was closed, and after reading the colour cartoon sections in the plump Sunday papers they were SOOOO boring, and they signified the weekend was over and school or the work week was ready to begin again. (Though fortunately I've only ever had one job I really hated -- and then, only because I was employed to be there 20 hours a week but there were only five hours of work to do. I realised then that it was [at least for me] much better to be very busy than try to fill in dead hours looking like you were being busy).

Now, I love that nothing-to-do feeling. Sundays are for lazing with papers, drinking way too much coffee, meeting a good friend for brunch, listening to the Sunday business and current events shows on the radio, tootling around the house. Fiddling with the PC, reading stuff on the net, adding to the weblog. Reading a good book, lighting a fire for the cats to stretch out in front of, calling home, calling friends. Cooking something that takes a bit of time and smells up the house nicely.

I especially like the challenge of pantry shelves when you've been away for 10 days and haven't done any shopping. Man, what to make? You find this and that (an onion, some garlic, a can of tomatoes). Here's a single sweet potato. Dried pinto beans, and dried chilis. Some chicken stock in the freezer, and what's this way in the back? Oh yeah, the corn tortillas I brought back aeons ago from California. Which reminds me, on a shelf somewhere I have a little can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, also lugged from California, for just such a moment as this. Voila -- add some seasoning and spices -- tortilla soup! Boy, was it nice. Tasted even better because I didn't plan it, but scrounged it. Scrounging is the best ingredient.

So, had my tortilla soup on the sofa before the fire (with a French bottle of beer -- take THAT, you proposers of trade sanctions!). Two small calico cats extended full-length before it like long heat-sponges. A couple of Sunday papers, and a box of Red Hat Linux before me, waiting for my first tentative pokings-around in its seven -- SEVEN!! -- CDs and four -- FOUR!! --manuals. I can't wait. Installing it will be a project for another Sunday. Or two.

9:36:05 PM  #   your two cents []

Unspeakable Conversations. If you read one thing today, read this fabulous, sharp, funny, challenging, eye-opening essay in the New York Times Magazine.

The peculiar drama of my life has placed me in a world that by and large thinks it would be better if people like me did not exist. My fight has been for accommodation, the world to me and me to the world.

5:33:09 PM  #   your two cents []

NYTimes: Antiwar Marches Reveal Gulf Between Leaders and People:

Significantly, the biggest demonstrations on Saturday were reported from those European nations whose governments sided with the United States against France and Germany in an open letter two weeks ago.

In Spain, the authorities reported a total of more than a million people marching in Madrid and Barcelona, with hundreds of thousands more protesting in other cities. So dense were the crowds in Madrid that they blocked their own route-marches. In Italy, the police said 600,000 people poured into Rome, and in London 750,000....

In London, as elsewhere, those numbers alone raised the question of whose voice expressed the true will of the people...

..."a disastrous campaign in Iraq would cost the prime minister dearly," said Matthew d'Ancona in the conservative Sunday Telegraph. "He would be seen to have pursued a personal crusade with calamitous consequences. His credibility would be forever tainted, his wings broken."

4:56:05 PM  #   your two cents []

An interesting piece in the Sunday Times [free but reg required] today on Ireland's top 100 albums of the decade, going by sales since 1992:


1 White Ladder, David Gray, 1998

2 The Best of 1980-1990, U2, 1998

3 1, Beatles, 2000

4 A Womanís Heart, Various, 1992

5 Talk on Corners, The Corrs, 1997

6 Gold ó The Greatest Hits, Abba, 1992

7 All That You Canít Leave Behind, U2, 2000

8 (Whatís the Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis, 1995

9 Play, Moby, 1999

10 The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem, 2000

The article notes the total absence of Irish boy bands Boyzone and Westlife (O thank god) but also the Cranberries, Sinead O'Connor and Enya -- the latter has sold 60m albums worldwide but apparently doesn't appeal to Irish tastes. Top of the list is Welshman David Gray, whose career was relaunched by the Irish, who bought his album White Ladder in massive numbers when it went on limited release here. Sez the article: "The Irish Top 10 is heavily skewed towards male solo artists and rock bands. Absent are the likes of Madonna, Britney Spears and the Spice Girls who all enjoyed huge success worldwide in the last 10 years."

12:29:58 PM  #   your two cents []
White House Scales Back Cyberspace Plan. The White House on Friday scaled back plans for a more active government role in protecting cyberspace from attacks from terrorists and criminals.  [New York Times: Technology]
12:19:38 PM  #   your two cents []
Many Americans seem unaware of this angle -- that Blair's unquestioning support for the US is not widely supported by the British people and could indeed threaten his own continued existence as PM. My sense is that the British feel there's been a lack of public and parliamentary debate: The great unheard finally speak out. It was the march that changed apathy into action for a cause which could crush a Prime Minister, reports Mary Riddell. Also see this: Blair puts his job on the line: Impassioned PM states the moral case for ousting Saddam. And for another perspective, a letter in the Guardian from an Iraqi doctor in London.
12:13:03 PM  #   your two cents []
Robert Benchley. "Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment." [Quotes of the Day]
12:12:03 PM  #   your two cents []
Orange agents. During a week of war fever, the news media gave rein to hysteria -- and, critics say, let color-coded terror alerts serve the White House agenda. [Salon.com]
12:11:13 PM  #   your two cents []
Everyone seems to be writing on this topic -- a big piece last week as well in the San Jose Mercury, and elsewhere: Ubiquitous Yet Little Used, the Diskette Hangs On.
12:10:18 PM  #   your two cents []
Conferees in Congress Bar Using a Pentagon Project on Americans. House leaders agreed with Senate fears about the threat to privacy in a program known as Total Information Awareness. [New York Times: Technology] ... Now, the concern for Europeans must be that the proposed data retention schemes proposed by many European governments, including Ireland's, will generate data that could be used by the US for TIA.
12:08:16 PM  #   your two cents []
A Cash Infusion for Digital Archives. Congress has set aside $100 million to carry out a plan for collecting and preserving digital information, including images, CD's, Web pages and electronic journals. [New York Times: Technology]
12:06:32 PM  #   your two cents []

Big blog news from Boing Boing Blog and SJ Merc columnist Dan Gillmor, whose story this is. Google buys Blogger:

Google, which runs the Web's premier search site, has purchased Pyra Labs, a San Francisco company that created some of the earliest technology for writing weblogs, the increasingly popular personal and opinion journals.

"I couldn't be more excited about this," said Evan Williams, founder of Pyra, a company that has had its share of struggles. He wouldn't discuss terms of the deal, which he said was signed on Thursday, when we spoke Saturday. But he did say it gives Pyra the "resources to build on the vision I've been working on for years." Link

12:05:43 PM  #   your two cents []
Spam Catchers Block Latest Crypto-Gram [Slashdot] ... Well, my copy got through SpamNet! And I didn't even have it on my whitelist. I highly recommend Bruce Schneier's CryptoGram, even if you think you aren't all that interested in stuff like cryptography -- Schneier's always interesting and his essays often show how computing security is part of much larger national and international debates.
12:04:21 PM  #   your two cents []