I noticed that Christopher Smith, a person I don’t think I’ve ever met but with whom I share at least one name, has added me to his blogroll, under the grouping ‘Visionaries’, along with such digeratti as Messrs Locke, Weinberger, Searls and Winer, amongst a few others of Great Stature and Flattering, Indirect Illumination.
Now this I like.
*strains to say something heavy with profundity and vision, farts loudly from the effort, looks around to see if anyone noticed*

Ghost in the Machine

Is BurningBird back? Sorta, kinda, and this makes me happy all out of proportion to what I might have expected. There’s been a disconcerting Shelley-shaped hole in the neighbourhood of late. She asks “Just how real is all of this?” and I haven’t really got an answer for that. The first thing that pops into my mind (the first thing being what I usually go with, as you’re probably aware if you’ve been reading my crap for any length of time) : “f–k art, let’s dance!”
(I don’t know if Shelley is still working on ThreadNeedle, but if she is, here are some very cool blogthread visualization ideas that someone geekier and smarter than myself might like to investigate.
I’ve been thinking about and researching this a bit today after following David’s pointer to Jon.
Have a look at PeopleGarden and WebFan. I find WebFan in particular very intuitive.
The projects at the MIT Social Media Group site are also interesting.
And Warren Sack’s Conversation Map Interface for Very Large Scale Conversations is working again on the sample Usenet data, since the last time I checked. Amazing work. )

Opera comma soap dot

This is fascinating, and makes me wonder what would have happened if we’d gone forward with the tail-end-of-the-bubble dotcom dream myself and some of my Australian friends and co-conspirators had gotten to talking dollars with the venture capitalists about.
This paragraph especially rings a bell for me :

and i guess that’s one of the main issues here.. along with believing that pyra was a different kind of company, i also never truly believed that the hierarchy of the company existed for any reason other than for show. of course, we needed people to be in charge, and those responsibilities were well handled while i was there, for the most part anyway. but doesn’t a true leader consider the votes of the troops to be equal to that of his or her own vote?

Jack Saturn doesn’t really ask for his job back, in a seemingly bitter but apparently satirical letter to Ev referencing old problems at Pyra and the whole BloggerDrama.
Metafilter duly notes it, and some highly obnoxious turds take Jack to task, simply because they can, I guess.
Ev comments briefly, and replies at length on the thread.
Jack replies to that, at length.
There’s probably some side stuff that I haven’t noticed. Other players in the drama (which I do not claim to understand, entirely, but find fascinating) have remained silent thus far. Link me up if you know about it. I just love gossip : one of my many weaknesses. Sue me.
(By the way, I will finish the Mexico story soon. Not as amusing as the first part, perhaps, but possibly instructional.)

We’re on a Mexican, whoah-oh, radio

A few times during your life, you may have run up against situations that tell you what kind of person you really are, what your response to disaster might be, what your mettle is. Some people have these experiences and it breaks them. For others, it’s just an anecdote.
Greg and I had just gotten back from Isla Mujeres, off the Yucatan coast near Cancun. The sun was going down, and we were well lit up. We’d been on the island all afternoon, fixing up the light and sound systems, and as per the usual arrangement when we moonlighted, we’d been paid in food and booze. Given the quantity of beer we generally drank just to maintain our equilibrium and air of pleasant mañanaland befuddlement, it might have been cheaper for them to pay us cash, but this way it was off the books, and everyone was happy. We were looking forward to an evening at Dady Rock, on the strip, where we were customarily given open bar courtesy in return for helping out with sound mix and lighting there as well.
Greg and his Mexican girlfriend Bianca had a tumultuous relationship, to say the least. She was the very embodiment of the cliche of the fiery latina, and living with them as I did, I caught her wrath almost as often as Greg. She could be terrifying, and almost totally irrational when she lost her temper.
Bianca met us at the dock, and we wandered over to the main road into the Old City, intending, I think, to go find Greg’s dealer. I wandered over into the bushes to have a pee while Greg and Bianca waited at the roadside to flag down a taxi. Life was astonishingly good at that moment – drunk, living in Paradise, I rolled my head back as I peed to look up at the wisps of clouds that were painted a rich red by the sunset, and breathed deeply of the clean ocean air to clear my head.
Then I heard the yelling.
“Ah, sh-t,” thought I to myself, “they’re at it again.” I immediatedly started reworking my plans for the evening to be a solo flight. But as I wandered over (slowly, unkeen to put myself between the two combatants – I’d learned how ill-advised this could be before), I saw Greg on his back in some low bushes, and Bianca astride him, pummelling him, or at least attempting to. I stopped on the sidewalk about 10 metres up from them, and waited. No way I was getting involved once she started getting violent. I’d taken a heavy silver belt-buckle in the head last time I’d tried that.
A few seconds later, a police car pulled up, and the policia switched on their rollers. The cops got out, pulled Bianca off of Greg, and cuffed her. This wasn’t good. As I walked up to the police car, they were putting the screeching and struggling Bianca in the back seat cage, and Greg was telling them in Spanish that he was her husband and he needed to come along. He looked at me as he got in to the backseat and shrugged. In Spanish, I asked the shotgun cop where they were taking my friends, and their answer was incomprehensible. I asked if I could come with them, as I had very little money on me and no idea where they were going.
This was my first mistake.
They took us to the police station on the main street of Old Cancun. Bianca was beside herself, still cuffed, doing everything but foaming at the mouth. Greg had entered into negotiations for the requisite bribes, trying to negotiate his way down. Everything seemed under control, so I asked what seemed to be the guy in charge, behind the desk, if I could go and get a pack of cigarettes. He replied in the positive, and I wandered off, confident that all was well. I bought a pack of Montana lights, and a can of Dos Equis, and wandered back to the cop shop, getting impatient to get back to the Strip. This was my second mistake.
As I walked in the door, it became clear that something significant had happened. Two cops were restraining Greg, three restraining Bianca, who if anything had cranked it up a notch into complete non compos mentis wildness, and one cop was sitting on the bench, looking green.
“What the f–k?” I asked Greg.
“She kicked one of the cops in the nuts!” said he.
“Oh, sh-t.”
I offered some of the cops cigarettes, which they took. Then, after a couple minutes, the boss said something to the others, and they took the whole pack. And my wallet and passport, and my belt, and they led me back to a holding area. I was now, somehow, one of the detainees. f–k.
Bianca was still screaming, kicking, trying to bite anyone who came within range. Cuffed as she was, it took what appeared to be a great effort on the part of the two cops still restraining her to keep her in place. Greg had been put back in the holding area with me, and was now pleading for our release for any price, rather than just trying to negotiate the bribe down.
I was starting to sober up. And the cops had taken my smokes.
Some time later, Bianca was brought back from wherever she had been taken, and she looked bad. Blank eyes, slack mouth, bleach-blond mane hanging in front of her face. I don’t know what they had done to her, but Greg bristled, and I started to get a little scared. I’d heard stories about the cops here, and how they dealt with gringos who weren’t tourists. Greg had a temper of his own, and two black belts, and I could see things getting out of control very quickly.
The cops led us out to a patrol car, with a bigger, sturdier cage in the back, and refused to answer our questions about where we were being taken. The three of us were pushed roughly into the backseat, Bianca in the middle, and the doors slammed.
It was dark by now, but it was clear that we were being taken west, out of the city. In the couple of years I’d lived in Mexico, I had heard enough first-hand stories to know that it wasn’t just in the movies that the cops in Mexico take people out into the back of beyond and beat them, or worse. And Bianca having kicked one of the senior cops square in the nuts did not bode well for our future. I started to get really scared, and when Bianca came out of her fugue state and started screaming curses and kicking at the cage between us and the two cops in the front seat, I started to, well, dissociate. Greg kept asking them in Spanish where they were taking us, forcing a calm tone on top of the growing panic in his voice.
No answer from the front seat, and we were leaving the last of the lights of Old Cancun behind. Greg murmured to me “When they open the doors, you go left, I’ll go right. Run.”
I didn’t acknowledge what he’d said. Bianca did, and fell silent. The sheer terror and helplessness washed over me, and I was frozen. I wasn’t sure that if the cops did stop and open the doors in the middle of nowhere, that I’d be able to move, let alone run. Like I said, sheer terror.
A few minutes later, there were lights beside the highway again, and we pulled into the parking lot of the federal prison. It looked like we weren’t going to be dealt with extra-judicially after all. The overwhelming joy and relief I felt at the realization that I was going to be put in jail is a very vivid memory.
That happiness dissipated rather quickly. Mexican jails aren’t very pleasant. But I wasn’t there long, and that’s a tale for another day, perhaps.

The First AI Blog

This blog is written by a bot named HAL, a bot that has been infused exclusively with the collected lexical wisdom of the SA Goons. I like it, and I think it may well be the first-ever weblog written by a non-human.
But I think Shelley might have something when she talks about this weblogging thing getting a little over-ripe.

Vodka Odyssey

I made this for an SA Thread, but then realized that it didn’t have The Funny, and that it was also pretty technically deficient, mostly ’cause I’m about 5 beers into the evening.
So I’ll show it to you folks instead! Woo! I’m havin’ fun here!

Edit : After several more beers, I have posted it to the SA thread in question, which is already richly populated by dozens of remixes far superior. I am bracing myself for mockery most cutting.


This + This = This

“It is highly likely that the US launch attacks which start the war with Iraq within the next 75 days, and probably between August 15 and October 5.
It is not necessary to be a military strategist to figure this out. It won’t be based on a preparatory build up of US and allied troops, nor initiated because of any particular actions by the Iraqis which require a military response. There may a fabricated “story” the Bush administration uses to try to “sell” the war. But it’s pretty obvious what the real reason is.
The time range described above is optimal for influencing the November US Congressional elections. With Bush’s popularity plummeting as millions of Americans discover that their life savings and retirement funds have shriveled to a fraction of what they were, the Bush administration has but one trump card left to try to turn the tide– start the war with Iraq.”

Suit Up!

This strikes me as what text-entry will be like when we get those headgear-and-gauntlet cyberspace rigs that movies keep telling us we’re gonna have any time now.
Very freaking cool. And you can download it!
[via sylloge]
Edit : It took my like a minute to ‘type’ ‘Holy Bugsh-t’, but man I had fun doing it, and I can see how practice would bring your speed way up. Once again – freaking cool.

Wide Open

Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper – Wide Open

I’m feelin’ wide open every day
I’m feelin’ wide open every which a-way
Got something down inside of me
It just won’t let me be
Got something down inside of me
and it’s a-talkin’ to me..
Said John Calvin he’s long-dead
we gotta get that in our heads
we ain’t got nothin’ to fear
‘cept for runnin’ out, outta beer
Oh the time is now
the day has come
there are no rules
yeah only fun
you know what it is we gotta do
Don’t give up before you’ve tried
Don’t be afraid, yeah afraid to die
We ain’t got nothin’ to lose
Fear is our enemy
Takin’ the life outta you and me
Everybody’s in charge
we don’t need to wait
Robert, Tim and Ishmael
Man them dude’s great
Can’t let ’em have all the fun
Get up and go, wake up and run
I am a-live!
Said John Calvin is long-dead
we gotta get that in our heads
Get that jealousy outta here
We ain’t got nothin’ to fear…
I gotta go
We don’t need no more rules
Rules and regulations
We don’t need cops, cops and spies
and all that sensation
We need freedom
We need freedom
We need freedom in the USA
Reinvent the USA
Every which a-way.
I’m out in Pennsylvania county
on Highway 7-1-8
Middle of a cornfield
No, I’m not too late
There’s about thirteen
Thirteen ’67 Chevy Malibus
In a circle, in the cornfield
with their headlights on…
And I can feel it.
I can feel!
And everybody’s dancin in the headlights
Dancin’ in the headlights
And off in the distance you can hear ’em sing…
I’m feelin’ wide open
I’m feelin’ wide open
I’m feelin’ wide open
I’m goin’ wide open
[30 second sample]

The album’s out of print, you can download it here.

Taking a whizz

I thought I’d seen it all, here in my reeking little trash-heap slum of a neighbourhood.
I was, as people who employ such phrases usually are, wrong. Walking back from the subway station this afternoon along the main street, I saw a young mother squatting with her girl-child (who was perhaps 3 or 4 years old, and thus past the age where using her as a meat animal is a viable option† any more) in the middle of the sidewalk.
The little girl’s panties were around her ankles, and she was pissing. Like a little pink-clad racehorse.
Now, Koreans tend to be less prissy and self-conscious about the functions of elimination than us western folk (which is perhaps odd in light of all the other faux-christian pruderies they’ve saddled themselves with), and their earthiness is always refreshing to me, but it’s a little beyond the f–king pale to encourage your children to drop their drawers and let fly all over the goddamned sidewalk, isn’t it? Well, isn’t it?
† No, I’m not suggesting they cook and eat infants here — once in a while I just like to see if you’re paying attention out there…

Yeah, so? Yer still C-List!

The double whammy of my loose talk of attention-whoring below and my avowal over at Oliver’s that I am not nor have I ever been a hit-slut has got me to thinking, as I am wont to do after too much coffee.
For someone who swears not to care whether he’s the Hit King Of Bumfuzz Nebraska or not, I do check my referrers and webstats a fair bit, and am always tickled to see one of those spikes that indicates I’ve mortally annoyed yet another group of harmless citizens. Again. Other than comments, which I seek most assiduously, because I believe in this two-way sh-t with a passion (unless of course you want to criticize me, in which case go stick your head in a pig), it’s about the only way I can tell how the heck I’m doing at this non-zero-sum game.
But I wish someone would explain to me how this hits and visits and pageviews sh-t works. I still keep those two little icons ticking over at the bottom of the page because I’ve had ’em since I started on Blogger way back when, and I’m nothing if not a slave to continuity. We also got a webstats package set up on the server a few months ago, and that never ceases to confuse the hell out of me.
For example, here’s my numbers (gimme the numbers, Harry!) for Friday of this week, a pretty much average day for this month.
Sitemeter says : 260 visits/460 pageviews
Nedstat says : 340 pageviews
Webstats says : 10669 hits/484 visits/1135 pages
What the hell do these numbers actually mean? Why are they so wildly different? Am I a f–king superstar yet? Will I become rich and famous, to go along with fabulously handsome and extraordinarily well-hung? Will I start making $6K a month, like whatsisface?
Not bloody likely.
The only stats thing I ever pay attention to is the neat little monthly graph from the Sitemeter gizmo, anyway. But I am genuinely curious as to how on earth these different numbers can be reconciled, what they actually mean, and if they reflect in any way at all the actual number of people who visit this site and shake their heads in bemusement at my latest textual antics.
I sure as heck don’t know. Vanity is the cheese in the submarine sandwich of social intercourse. But if you understand this stuff, I’d sure love a quick tutorial…

Pure Genius

Somebody get this man some first-round venture funding!
Oh yeah, they don’t do that much anymore, do they? Nonetheless, this idea r0x0rs (that’d be hackeranian for ‘amuses and impresses me greatly, in no small part because of its counterculture philosophical underpinnings, my good man’. (Why start speaking 133t now, you ask? Because I have recently shaved off most of my beard, and now have a lone skateboarder-esque tuft on my chin. It’s shot through with grey, of course, but that’s just makes it r0x0r all the more, says I!))
[via the dogdoorofdeath, whose animated gif of the spread of code red also r0x0rs my b0x0rs]

We've Got Blog

I got my comp copy of ‘We’ve Got Blog: How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture’ in the mail today, and have had a quick look through it. It’s the first actual book I’ve ever held in my hands that talks about web sh-t, other than HTML textbooks and such.
It terrifies me, the physical presence of the damn thing. And seeing my comments at Metafilter in a serif font, in black on a white background? Disorienting to say the least.
The last thing in the book is a reprint of this conversation, initiated by dogmatic (who memorably described the thread as a ‘stumbling, chortling abortion of a discussion’), in which I played a fairly pivotal part, in tried-and-true wonderchicken style : seriously addressing the question posed, while simultaneously setting up a straight man to aid the inevitable descent into silliness and self-referential tomfoolery.
My take on the conversation is a little more philosophical, perhaps. As I mentioned in dogmatic’s comments : ‘it really did encapsulate in a single thread so many things that MeFi is, or was at that point : self-absorbed MetaTalking, self-referentiality, high-seriousness, utter silliness, a sense of community, an appearance from the admin (Matt), some cross-cultural banter courtesy of Miguel… and more. Taken as an artifact of sorts, removed from its context, I think it’s a fascinating little document.’
rodii, who has since departed from the MetaPlayground, perhaps forever, ably played my straight man. He was also one of the people who did not give permission for their comments in that thread to be used in the book. These people have now annoyed the piss out of me (well, a little), as the publishers decided to include the thread anyway, with the parts of the conversation contributed by those who opted not to play along simply excised.
The result of this is that I come off looking a bit goofy, I think, and even though that’s nothing new, I prefer when I look dumb to do it deliberately. But I’m enough of an attention-whore (and that’s in large part what this blogging thing often is, if we are to be honest — attention-whoring) not to care too much, pleased as I am to see my Meta-Antics captured in print.
The tenor and taste of the words change so completely, for me at least, when they are between hard covers, though.
I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of the book so far – I plan to dip into it in small measures. It is, however, spurring some thoughts of rebuilding and refocussing this wee site here into something different. What, I’m not quite sure. Certainly another monument to my towering ego (or salve for my deep feelings of inadequacy – Fork! Spoon!), of course (see also : whoring, attention-). That goes without saying.
It strikes me as amusing (and predictable, if you know me at all) that the first book I’ve read praising and proselytizing the weblog has led almost immediately to thoughts of getting the hell out of weblogging.