Monday, March 31, 2008

Whipping Post

This is the "gay" version of Whipping Post. I hate to see anyone mocking the Allman Bros.'s authenticity, but the song begs for it - so to speak. Plus, it's kind of amazing to hear music that is both accomplished and entirely satirical.

But, in truth, I'm sure there is some reverence in Zappa repeatedly covering Duane Allman's song. As Zappa described it in 1983,

"It started about ten or twelve years ago when some guy in the audience at a concert in Helsinki, Finland, requested it. He just yelled out "Whipping Post" in broken English. I have it on tape. And I said, "Excuse me?" I could just barely make it out. We didn't know it, and I felt kind of bad that we couldn't just play it and blow the guy's socks off. So when Bobby Martin joined the band, and I found out that he knew how to sing that song, I said, "We are definitely going to be prepared for the next time somebody wants 'Whipping Post'--in fact we're going to play it before somebody even asks for it." Source

Operation Chaos, or how to steal the election

According to the Rude Pundit, this is an actual transcript from Rush Limbaugh's radio show. It's not so far fetched when you consider that Bush won by just a few hundred votes in 2000.

"There are many phases to Operation Chaos. We are simply here in phase one. Phase one consists of operatives changing party registration, voting in the Democrat primary in upcoming states, as happened in Ohio and Texas in record numbers, looks like it will happen in Pennsylvania in record numbers, in this case voting for Hillary or voting for Obama to continue the bloodletting in the Democrat Party all the way through their convention, for this chaos to continue. However, the second and third phases of Operation Chaos consist of exactly what you have heard happening in Texas. Our operatives actually are being named delegates to state party conventions. The third phase of Operation Chaos leads to some of these delegates actually being named delegates to the Democrat National Convention in Denver. So you Democrats and you members of the Drive-By Media, you who think that Operation Chaos is ineffective and isn't working, remember this. When we get to Denver and the Democrat National Convention, and you look around, and you're a delegate, the person next to you could be mine. The person sitting next to you in your delegation could be an Operation Chaos operative."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cold zoo

We did make it to the zoo yesterday. It was a little colder than we had hoped. The temperature never cracked 50. But we soldiered through it, even having our picnic lunch outside. All the indoor exhibits were very crowded. Some of the animals, like lions and penguins, were actually livelier than they are in the heat of the summer. It was a sight to see LB running from exhibit to exhibit in his new green crocs. Later BB went to a swim birthday party at the Y.

I'll be working in BB's classroom tomorrow on a creative project. I think I'll be helping with binding books that they've been putting together. I'm looking forward to it. I've also discovered that kids get special privileges when their parents volunteer for something. So BB got to lead the line the other day.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Headed to the zoo

We're headed to the zoo today, weather willing. It will be LB's first time. I can't wait to hear him say "nake," "nake." Or "brrd," "brrd." Or even "uck," "uck."

LB's vocabulary is exponential. He says at least 10 new words every day. Apparently, he saw the sand table at pre-school yesterday and his teacher swears he cried "oh my god!" in glee.

BB's feet are growing a size almost every month. He had a good week at school. He named five friends from school and exclaimed, "we've decided to have a play date." All six kids have decided to plan a collective play date. How cool.

On AO's urging we were at the mall at 8 p.m. last night, for some much needed shoe shopping. The whole place was humming with young teens engaging in courtship rituals. There were actually a few kids playing soccer in the corner of a sporting goods store. I don't think I've ever been at a mall after 8, at least not since I was a teenager. Wow. It's like discovering that people sleep in your car every night.

I'll post pictures from the zoo if all goes well.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hillary's new low

From Joe Conason at Salon.

"Hillary Clinton's campaign crossed a symbolic boundary this week when its operatives sent around clips from the notoriously Clinton-hating extreme-right press to denigrate Barack Obama and his advisors . . . by dispatching a pair of articles from the American Spectator and World Net Daily in an attack on Merrill "Tony" McPeak, the retired Air Force general and chief of staff who now serves as one of Obama's principal military advisors. Both stories sought to create the impression that McPeak is not only anti-Israel but anti-Semitic -- and thus taints Obama -- because of crude comments he made during a 2003 interview with the Portland Oregonian.

. . . clip . . .

"Whatever McPeak's offenses, the Clinton campaign went too far in responding. When it starts circulating material from the same ultra-right rags that have routinely accused the Clintons of felonies and treason, its behavior reeks of cynicism. Shall we all start reading World Net Daily for news and guidance? If so, we could learn the "real story behind the Clinton body count," how Hillary plans to "snatch wages" from uninsured workers, the latest developments in "Hollywood mogul" Peter Paul's fraud lawsuit against Bill Clinton, and hot new charges by both former impeachment counsel David Schippers and former White House employee Kathleen Willey that the Clintons burglarized their homes. That latter story appeared in World Net Daily a few weeks ago under the permanent slug "All the Ex-President's Scandals."

I didn't really care when I began reading recently in comments on the liberal blogs that many people thought (think?) the Clintons see themselves as more important than the democratic party. I suppose all politicians see themselves transcending party to one extent or another, but it just seems like Clinton's increasing disregard for the process by which we remain fellow travelers gets worse with each day. As a pretty loyal democrat I don't know how I'm going to be able to vote for her if she does win the nomination. Honestly, it makes me really sad.

Friday robot blogging

Another photograph I took recently. This is like the Beaker (from Sesame Street) of robot sculpture.


One of my favorite bands - ever.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Losing your freedoms, one at a time

Now it's breasts (with nipple rings) that could be terrorist weapons. And the $64,000 question: why are the rings safer once they've been removed?

"Hamlin said she told the woman that she was wearing nipple piercings. The female agent then called over her male colleagues, one of whom said she would have to remove the body piercings, Hamlin claimed.

Hamlin said she could not remove them and asked if she could instead display her pierced breasts in private to the female agent. But several other male officers told her she could not board her flight until the jewelry was removed, she said.

She was taken behind a curtain and managed to remove one bar-shaped nipple piercing but had trouble with the second, a ring.

"Still crying, she informed the TSA officer that she could not remove it without the help of pliers, and the officer gave a pair to her," said Hamlin's attorney, Gloria Allred, reading from a letter she sent Thursday to the director of the TSA's Office of Civil Rights and Liberties. Allred is a well-known Los Angeles lawyer who often represents high-profile claims.

Hamlin showed reporters at the news conference how she took off the second ring by applying pliers to the torso of a mannequin that had a peach-colored bra with the rings on it.

She said she heard male TSA agents snickering as she took out the ring. She was scanned again and was allowed to board even though she still was wearing a belly button ring." Link

Why is "security" so often run by thugs?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Taken away

Do you ever have one of those dreams from which you wake up and can't really tell whether it might have actually happened? I had such a dream last night. The cops came to my house, woke up and scared my children, and then took me away in handcuffs in front of all my neighbors. I was being driven downtown, with tears in my eyes, wondering how I'd ever take a shit in front of another person while in jail, when I woke up. But I still can't shake the feeling that something like this happened to me. I can still feel the painful bite of the cuffs and the hard back seat of the cop car.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Taking a piss

A collective pee break during the Milan-Sanremo race.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Gogol Bordello

High-energy dance music from an eclectic ensemble of gypsy punks.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Kills

Read about these two in the recent issue of BUST magazine. The song is "Fuck the People." It's dedicated to Florence Rey, whose involvement in a kind of Natural Born Killers scenario has made her something of a punk icon.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Moral turpitude

Sebastian Horley, British author of "Dandy in the Underworld," his account of a life dedicated to sex, drugs and finely tailored clothes, was denied entry to the U.S. on grounds of "moral turpitude." "I was dressed flamboyantly -- top hat, long velvet coat, gloves," Horsley said. "My one concession to American sensibilities was to remove my nail polish. I thought that would get me through." Link

Can the United States look any sillier or intolerant? Soon we'll all have to wear head scarves and grow beards.

Moral turpitude, I salute you.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mourning the post-racial moment

I'm sad that the primary race has gone racial, but I suppose it was inevitable. Every time I hear snippets of Rev. Wright's sermons, I think, "right on," "speak to power" . . . Clearly, my appreciation of him is not mainstream.

In Wright's own words: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

What is so wrong with these words? It's hypberbolic religious rhetoric, sure, but there is nothing here that isn't true. (Look, the court system is one way our system has always conspired against black people. The sentencing differences between crack (ghetto) and powder (suburban) cocaine were only recently changed. Something like 40 years for crack, but 40 months for the same amount of powder. Even the right wing supreme court just ruled that courts have become too bold in rigging white juries.) Obama has been my choice because he embodied the history of race in this country and converted it into a message that applies to all Americans. Now, thanks to the Clintons and the cable networks, Obama has become nothing but an angry black man. What I think? The moral outrage of white America over Wright's sermons is the true face of racism in this country. It's the same old paranoid double standard that reproduces racial inequity generation after generation.

And still, Obama rises above it. I agree with The Rude Pundit who wrote during Obama's speech, "This is the straightest talk this blogger has heard from a major presidential candidate in a very, very long time, maybe, truly, without hyperbole, in his lifetime."

Robot from heaven

Fine art photoshopping. Challenge: put a robot in a classic fine art painting. Here's my favorite.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Loving our machines, loving ourselves

A Washington Post article on the attachment of soldiers to their machines. "Bots on The Ground: In the Field of Battle (Or Even Above It), Robots Are a Soldier's Best Friend"

Money quote: "At the Yuma Test Grounds in Arizona, the autonomous robot, 5 feet long and modeled on a stick-insect, strutted out for a live-fire test and worked beautifully, he says. Every time it found a mine, blew it up and lost a limb, it picked itself up and readjusted to move forward on its remaining legs, continuing to clear a path through the minefield.

Finally it was down to one leg. Still, it pulled itself forward. Tilden was ecstatic. The machine was working splendidly.

The human in command of the exercise, however -- an Army colonel -- blew a fuse.

The colonel ordered the test stopped.

Why? asked Tilden. What's wrong?

The colonel just could not stand the pathos of watching the burned, scarred and crippled machine drag itself forward on its last leg.

This test, he charged, was inhumane."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March madness

Can I just say that I don't give a shit about the NCAA basketball tournament. Yeah, my university is in it, and yes I'd probably watch something if they made it to the final four, or the effing eight, the stupid sixteen, but geezus, you'd think all these idiots were divining the mysteries of christ.

Robot gone wild

This is BigDog, starring in what is the wildest video of a robot I've ever encountered. It's otherworldly and yet oh-so-real. BigDog is like a pack animal or a goat, but it also looks like two humans facing each other with a big load on their backs. The best moments are when a researcher kicks it and while it slips on ice. I felt a visceral outrage.

As someone says in the comments at Slashdot, "Is anyone else creeped out by how natural the movements of this robot are? Maybe it's the lack of a head and the ominous buzz-of-death, I don't know. As I recall, there's some theoretical curve for robots where the human acceptance of a robot dramatically drops at a sweet spot as reality is approached and doesn't rise until reality is achieved. This robot definitely falls in that zone for me."

Someone else points out that this phenomenon has been called the Uncanny Valley (a most excellent phrase): "as a robot is made more humanlike in its appearance and motion, the emotional response from a human being to the robot will become increasingly positive and empathic, until a point is reached beyond which the response quickly becomes that of strong repulsion. However, as the appearance and motion continue to become less distinguishable from a human being, the emotional response becomes positive once more and approaches human-to-human empathy levels." source: Wikipedia

Boston Dynamics is developing it for the Dept. of Defense - no surprise there. Can you imagine hauling your equipment through the mountains with such a machine, or being carried by/riding it?

I know that our design and use of robots says something about our humanity (or posthumanity, our future as humans), but it's not entirely clear yet what it's all saying.

What Do You Make?

Asked at the Maker Faire in Austin (2007). From puppets and lego mosaics to robots and space pods. BB would LOVE to go to one of these.

It's inspiring. Actually, we have a spare Mac Mini sitting around. Perhaps we can make one of these: A seeing, mobile robot with a Mac Mini for a brain.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Alice Coltrane

"Journey Into Satchidananda." I think helping to "save the algorithm" is the closest I can get to god, but this little gem makes me feel serene in my lack of knowledge.

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law"

Wikipedia describes Witchcraft as a Swedish doom metal band, but there's some debate about whether they really are doom metal or better described as stoner or psych metal. To me, this video and the sound of this song are hilariously retro. More like old metal. They've got the post-Summer of Love vibe down exactly, neo-pagan and vaguely threatening. Good god, it's Wishbone Ash! - or at least Wishbone Ash before they left merry England, grew old and turned to playing casinos. But seriously, Witchcraft has a deep, craft-like understanding of its antecedents. Note the retro Orange amps.

Monday, March 17, 2008


One of LB's new favorite words is "happy." Running through the house, he'll be saying "happy, happy, happy." Looking through his toys, again, you can hear him say, "happy, happy." This is only one of the best effects of his exploding vocabulary. He comprehends most simple questions, such as "want some milk" or "should we put on your coat." And he responds with the most banal yet otherworldly "yea" every time. The "yea" sounds so adult, it's surprising to look down and see an 18" ankle biter at your feet.

BB has been making things. He had a busy, satisfying spring break. There's now a tall tree in his room with a popsicle-stick tree fort built on it, with a stick swinging ladder hanging down. He's also been making paint, as though he were some kind of medieval mosaic painter. He's been using concoctions of liquid soap, glue, water, and food coloring. It satisfies the chemistry set urge (which aren't really sold anymore) and as a result he can also create paintings. The other evening he had us pose for our portraits. He also has a new collection of robot toys. The robots like to do something that can only be called jousting. One stands at the end of the coffee table, while the other is pushed at full speed toward it. The ensuing crash is a joy to both boys. The robots are already starting to fall apart, but they sleep in their own little bed BB has set up by his own. The need their own bed because BB discovered early on that sleeping with hard plastic and metal toys, even if they are anthropomorphic, isn't the same as his soft stuffed animals.

They play a game together called push. BB leans toward LB and says, "push, push." LB obliges with a hand to the face. BB falls over screaming. They do this over and over. It satisfies urges in them both. LB has vanquished BB and BB has gotten LB to do his bidding. Kind of like most relationships.

Here's to St. Patrick's Day

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Daft Hands

Sunday silliness. A pair of hands singing a Daft Punk song. It's interesting that the clips I post are viewed at most by thousands of people (as listed in YouTube), some only in the hundreds. This particular video has over 16 million views. Viral. There are now lots and lots of other hands (and even full bodies) "singing" countless other songs.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Entrance Band

Some serious psychedelia. I love this stuff, but probably the most interesting thing about them is their current bass player, Paz Lenchantin. They are signed with TeePee Records, a self-identified psychedelic label. Other TeePee bands: Bad Wizard, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Drunk Horse, Earthless, Immortal Lee County Killers, The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, The Warlocks, Witch.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Drive-by Truckers

More alt country. This appears to be some kind of encore, was filmed in Louisville, KY (not far from home) a few days ago. I was looking for their recent "You and Your Crystal Meth," which I've heard numerous times now on our local indie radio. There's no video of the sad meth song, perhaps because they haven't been performing it on the tour.

Shukar Collective

Here's some "Gypsy Blooz" for a drippy, grey day. The ending of the video is particularly weird.

Robot blogging

Another photograph from a recent robot exhibit, this one a vision of the multitasking machine. I like the archaisms in the image (from the 1930s?), especially the abstractions behind the figure. It's also flipping its own switch, a whimsical example of autonomy.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Communities of love

This clip by Clay Shirky discusses how social media can reveal the power of communities of love. He claims that the community that supports the programming language Pearl is analogous to the community that rebuilds a 1300 year old Shinto shrine every 100 years or so. Both are motivated by and bring people together to accomplish something through love. The scale of social media can now make this possible in larger and ever growing ways, through love. He claims that you can now predict the success of a given software platform and the like by the extent of how it is loved. This may be a rhetorical exaggeration, but it is linux ideology at its best.

Quoting the final lines: "We are good at love, we're humans. . . . With love alone, you can get together a birthday party. Add coordinating tools, and you can write an operating system. In the past, we would do little things for love, but big things, big things required money. Now we can do big things for love."

Note: I found this clip originally on Kevin Kelly's blog. He's the author of Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World, copies of which were set out at the recent robot exhibit we attended.

It's true, I depend on the love of a number of mac communities for my own growing facility with machines. I wouldn't know a console log from a sudo command if it weren't for love.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Soda Can Robug

BB and I put this together for my birthday. It's a little kit that mounts onto a soda can, with a small, battery-powered motor. Watch the little thing buzz around.

AO made fish with lemon, capers, garlic and parsley and asparagus with a homemade olive oil mayo. We had strawberry sundaes for dessert, with melted 60% cocao chocolate chips. The chocolate froze up quickly into a crust. All very delicious! LB picked at his dinner, but tucked into the ice cream with enthusiasm. Whatever it takes, I guess. Having my family close was the best birthday present. Even the errands BB and I did earlier in the evening felt like something special. He can be so astute and sensitive when the spirit moves him.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Space robot

This robot, named Dextre, is being built by the current space shuttle mission. It will eventually become a handyman for the outside of the space station, taking over routine or dangerous tasks from space walking astronauts. Of course, for all we know it could be the first step in a clone army. Link.

Robot exhibit

We took the kids to a robot exhibit in a nearby museum over the weekend. It was very well done, even though its primary audience is kids. It included as much about the cultural significance of robots as the technology required to build and animate them. I have to say, the type of toy robots on sale at the box stores, which we tried out at the exhibit, are super lame. Some of these I've shown in previous pictures. BB's entre into robots has come through C3PO and R2D2, but apparently some of the geekier types in his class are talking about building robots. BB has been crafting them out of lego type toys. Next he'll be wanting to know how to make them come alive.

I took a few photographs, which I'll be sharing over time. This is one of the creepier images I found.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Zero 7

"In the Waiting Line." I've put this song into multiple playlists. Interestingly, there's a video for this song featuring robots in an industrial labor kind of environment, which makes sense with its theme of malaise. But instead of giving you the robots, I give you a live version. They've also made a video to "End Theme" in which a woman wanders with increasing stress through a city encountering the words "panic," "anxiety," "fear," and "paranoia." Not quite what one expects from their downtempo vibe. I like the juxtaposition, like supplementing a daily dose of prozac with a little adderall. As I recall, something like Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" isn't exactly comforting. In any case, "Waiting Line" features these very lyrical lines: "Nothing is real / Wasting my time / In the waiting line."

10 big blogs

The Guardian just produced a list of 50 most influential blogs. I don't necessarily think this list is correct, but of the top ten five are in my bookmarks. As those who comment often say, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).

1. The Huffington Post ( high-minded, mostly boring left wing commentary.

2. Boing Boing ( all things cool, open source, and DIY.

3. Techcrunch ( too businessy and silicon valley for me.

4. Kottke ( haven't checked this one, but often see references to it.

5. Dooce ( a sort of crazy mom, calls a shit a shit.

6. Perezhilton ( whatever.

7. Talking Points Memo ( lefty journalism, with a recent obvious injection of cash.

8. Icanhascheezburger ( I have no idea.

9. Beppe Grillo ( comedy?

10. Gawker ( I like Wonkette better; why should I care about J Lo's ass?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Deee Lite

"Groove Is in the Heart." Deee lovely. (Look for Bootsy Collins in the video.)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Shuggie Otis

Shuggie Otis, "Strawberry Letter 23." A sweet, charming groove for this cold, sunny day. I cut the song down a bit. My favorite line: "rainbows and waterfalls run through my mind."

Spring is not here

The view from the back porch. We had what they call a snow event last night. We're desperate for spring, but instead we'll have the adventure of sledding in 20 degree weather today. We even spring our clocks forward tonight. When will it end?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday robot blogging

Sad, folk robot.

axiom funk

Bootsy Collins (Parliament/Funkadelic) doing a Hendrix classic. I passed this by a couple of months ago, but now I notice Buckethead in the video. Wow, it's a small freeking world.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I cry

LB is sleeping in his own room now (for at least part of the night) in a child's bed. (The crib is no more!) Our monitor went dead during the night, however, so I woke up to hear him screaming and crying in his room. It was definitely a traumatized, I've been calling for a long time, scream. AO brought him into bed with us to nurse and calm him down. "I cry," he said through his tears, "I cry."

Dreaming at the discotheque

"Remember Me," by Blueboy. A club hit from some (10?) years ago.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Virtuoso guitarist and composer Buckethead. He usually (always?) appears with a KFC bucket on his head and a white mask. I hadn't realized that I once spent time listening to him on Praxis's first album "Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis)," a CD that I bought on a whim in Berkeley sometime in the mid nineties. Praxis has always had a revolving door of amazing musicians, from former Parliament/Funkadelic members to John Zorn. This clip is a more recent appearance of Buckethead's project Giant Robot ("we are everywhere," say the robots). The song, however, Seven Laws of Woo, is from "Transmutation."

Whomever can beat McCain

Frankly, I don't care who wins the democratic nomination. What I'm thrilled by is the turnout. In both Ohio and Texas there were twice as many democrats as republicans voting in the primary. That's got to translate into something in the general election, especially since McCain is looking like Bob Dole these days, with more taint of corruption. It's now obvious that Clinton is able to change the direction of a campaign and I'd be willing to speculate that she might be better than Obama against McCain. The wish with Obama is to temper the divisiveness in this country, but the right wing has too much at stake (profits, data, the security industry) for the fighting to end. Indeed, Hillary's enemies are also my enemies.

It's been said already. My heart wants Obama but my brain says Clinton.

The Iconics

Covering Soundgarden's Spoonman in Seattle. Love the Zappa shirt on the guy playing spoons.

High water

All of my two and three year old pants seem too high off my shoes. For example, I have a pair of wide-wale cords that I swear once brushed the top of my shoes. Now, they seem to rest about an inch above my shoes. As everyone has reminded me, I've steadily gained weight over the last few years. Could I also have gained some height? I'm now buying pants that rest over my shoes, but, really, I don't think I bought my pants that high in the past. Do they shrink over time?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Water heater woes

More home improvement. We've known the water heater was going to go out any day now. The question is when. It was installed in 1985 and warranted for 12 years. It's 22 years old! The hot water has been inconsistent and fluctuating, so we finally decided to replace it now before we were left without hot water. Unlike the garbage disposal, I don't have the expertise to switch out a gas line, so we paid for an installation. Herewith is the (incomplete) chronology.

Friday, waiting for the installer. Finally get in touch with him midday, but he has us down for Monday, not Friday. Frustrating, but mistake could have been ours.

We can't do it Monday morning, so he squeezes us in the afternoon.

Call at noon on Monday, he says jobs going slowly, will call when free. Really starting to feel like he's not our best option.

Shows up Monday afternoon, immediately begins whining about our setup. Lots of room in furnace room, but he thinks pipes are all wrong. He kneads his forehead, saying sotto voce, "how am I going to do this?" I keep feeling like I'm supposed to offer something - help, money, I don't know. He says, "I can't do this today."

OK. He'll need to cut the pipe and so on; needs different tools or to borrow tools. Who knows.

Then he brings the new water heater into our basement. Says, "this won't fit." The new one is too tall. I say, I'm certain I checked the specs - hoping that I'm right. Much scrambling around. I find the spec sheet. He's wrong! We open the box and it turns out the new water heater box contains spacers top and bottom, so the actual heater will fit.

He can come back Friday.

We know Sears isn't trustworthy, but they have one of the most energy efficient of the old style heaters. Do we proceed? Maybe I can cancel the install and do it myself.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Wine country report

This clip is from "Awesome Show, Great Job," a satirical show that seems mostly to mock the rich world of bad video. Here's a down market news program, with John C. Reilly reporting.

Update: Sorry, the "brand" insists the YouTube isn't good enough. This should work.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Saturday robot sculpture

No I didn't forget about robots. Ray Davies from The Kinks is on Fresh Air tonight. BB has a new library book on the history and future of robots. This seems like a big, musical robot that has been torn out of its context. It happens to us all.

Writing a dissertation

My advice for those starting out is to write, write, write. Write while you’re still doing research, write right away, just start writing. I dithered around beginning my first chapter and then ended up dramatically rewriting it anyway. Probably half of my initial draft did not make it into the final version, so delaying writing to begin my initial draft didn’t help at all. The real payoff came with the second, rewritten version (and the third). Even now, I’m still tinkering with it as I move along. This may be the way I work: things only begin to gel with revision. But I’ve found that my best arguments emerge once I have big chunks of writing completed. Even when I didn’t know the final outcome of a chapter, these chunks of, say, close readings were essential to completing the final version. I also found that I pursued other research as questions came up - research that I really used - so getting into the thick of things right away works better for me.

The dissertation is like an ongoing mosaic. You keep adding pieces as you move along and recrafting them until you have these large sections called chapters. One begins with some idea of cohesion, but cohesion for me has occurred over time, as I’ve added more pieces to the whole. I think it’s fine if the finished product still looks like a series of pieces, as long as they make a whole at the end – like a mosaic. During the writing process, as well, it has helped to see things as discrete sections or even sections within sections. For example, I might start off the day thinking, OK, I’ve got to get through this “analysis” today, or tackle this part of a novel. So over the course of a week, I have a series of accomplishments that build one on the other. Of course, I’ll probably go back and change things, but it’s all part of the process.

My question now? How do you finish?


This guy took a photograph of himself every day for eight years. The result, at time-lapse speed: