Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Items From Around

  • Via Kottke, here's the blog of Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings.
  • When I visited the Holocaust Memorial Center a few weeks ago, I was introduced to the anti-Nazi artwork of photomontagist John Heartfield and I found it very intriguing. Some discussions and examples of his work can be found here, here, here, and here.
  • Here's the problem with non-philosophers. Excerpt: 4) They constantly fail to understand how a point (e.g. an analogy or thought experiment) fits in to a particular argument, and instead insist on applying it more broadly -- and then objecting when this irrelevant application fails! It's so frustrating.
  • There's a professor in the Chicago City College system named Bruce Gans who has been a big proponent of the great books to his students, mostly working-class adults who have returned to finish college. Here's the online publication he edits. Excerpt: You are resting your eyes on something very special. On one level, it is perhaps the first scholarly journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences composed entirely by students in the history of the City Colleges of Chicago. The focus of Symposium is to publish annually student inquiry into the authors who collectively compose the canon, the Great Books. Although student newspapers and journals of poetry and fiction abound in community and four-year colleges, this journal may well be the only scholarly journal published by any community college in the country.

Speaking of Paperbacks Falling Apart...

...I've been spending a ton of time lately overhauling the junk room, now known as the book room (for fiction and Deweys 000-899; the 900s are in the living room and hallway), soon to be known as the "study" or the "office." I got four Wal-Mart book shelves that fit up along wall where less-efficient shelves had sat. I put a ton of stacks of papers, magazines, computer parts, jigsaw puzzles, comic books, etc., etc., etc. down in the basement room that was recently vacated by my downstairs tenant. This weekend I'm going to move The ♥G♥'s computer desk in there up against the window and she'll have a good workspace. (Note: I'm also strongly considering purchasing a laptop this week to take full advantage of our new high-speed, Wi-Fi-capable DSL connection. Woo-Hoo!)

The junk book room floor is actually cleared now, which it hasn't been in at least seven years! The books aren't in the order I want them yet, but that's another thing I'm going to work on this weekend (along with weeding for dupes, donations, and things that I think people would like to borrow or have).

One likely outcome of this is that as I go through stacks of newspaper articles, magazines, and other papers that I've been meaning to get to for some time, I will likely come across items of blogfodder that will cry out for on-line reflection. Can't wait!

Library Books

Here's a good post from Eric Zorn about difficulties associated with donations of books straight to public libraries. Specifically, he references comments by columnist Paul Varnell having to do with a recent act of arson in which a number of books having to do with gay and lesbian topics were burned at one of the branch libraries.

A lot of this sort of thing popped up when the libraries in New Orleans were flooded last year. Most books donated to public libraries end up in fundraising book sales, and that generally makes sense. When I was in high school, I was a clerk at the local public library, and the radio announcer for the city's major league baseball team lived a few blocks away. He would sometimes bring in some of his old, rare, well-taken-care-of baseball books. Those would get the attention of the head librarian, who would sometimes add them to a special collection of rare local material. But that was very much the exception -- mostly it was used paperbacks of V.C. Andrews and Danielle Steel, which, if circulated, a) would fall apart after a few readings, or b) had already fallen apart. There are specially bound books available for purchase by libraries that last much much longer, not to mention the fact that not every discarded book is needed at every library, not to mention the fact that there is usually detailed cataloging needed to integrate a book into a library's collection.

Well-meaning armchair librarians should no more assume that the local library needs their cast-offs than they should assume that they should donate their used 1998 station wagon to the local police department so they can paint it blue and stick some lights and a siren on top.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Kevin Smith Wants You to Help a Brother Out...

To wit: Wanna help us spread the word about Clerks II in true guerilla marketing fashion, and maybe win some cool shit in the process? The “Clerks II” Banner Contest tasks fearless participants with one of the easiest challenges you’ll ever be a part of: getting the “Clerks II” banner on as many websites, messageboards, MySpace pages, and blogs as possible. As you get the banner placed on various locations across the net, simply send the URL of the site/page/board in to us at bannercontest@viewaskew.com -- Well add that site to your running tally. The person who gets the banner placed in the most locations across the net (without repeats!) by midnight on the day of the films release (7/21/2006) will win one of THESE FABULOUS PRIZES!!!

(Fabulous prizes follow in list form.)

Clerks II - July 21, 2006

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Various items from out and about:

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Somebody Needs to Learn Their Thoushaltnots

I love this Stephen Colbert exchange with a republican congressman from Georgia regarding the Ten Commandments. When are these guys going to get clued in that if they do an interview with him, they will be made to look stupid in front of the whole country? Even if they don't realize this, our tax dollars are paying people to figure this out for them.

Now I don't mind at all the fact that Westmoreland hasn't introduced any legislation. (Why does everybody always want more legislation? Look, you might find something worthwhile in one out of a hundred telemarketing calls. Does that mean you complain because you aren't getting enough phone solicitation?) But I love how he zaps this guy with ignorance of what should (ostensibly) be critical knowledge pertaining to a bill that he co-sponsors. (I know, I know, House rezzes usually have dozens of co-sponsors.)

Here are my earlier comments on governmental sponsorship of such things. Here is a well-written page on the topic. And, if you want to watch an insightful, thought-provoking cinematic examination of the ten above-cited commandments, you might as well skip this (like I said last post, I like jello, but not that much jello), and go straight to this. It takes about 10 hours to get through, but it's quite worthwhile -- Trust me. Would I bear false witness against you? LBNL, the world's largest Ten Commandments.

Not Dead Yet...

...but I felt like it the other day. Wednesday and Thursday I was mega-busy at work, all day both days (and both were necktie, rather than T-shirt days). At about 3:00 Thursday, just when I had finished the last thing that I had to do, something hit me like a ton of brick shithouses (or whatever the saying is). I got home at about 6:45, told The ♥G♥ not to kiss me, fell T-shirtted-and-boxer-shortsed into bed, and knocked right out until about 9:30 P.M. I woke up and talked to her for a minute, and at some point (that night? The next day?) She took my temp and it was like 103.4° or something. Yikes. I went back to sleep, and I know I watched TV from about midnight until 2 AM, but don't ask me the details.

Something like this happens about once every couple of years or so, so I guess it's just par for the course. Most of the day Friday I couldn't decide if I was hot or cold, hungry or not hungry, tired or not tired (I'd turn on the TV, totally alert, thinking that I could at least catch up on some DVDs, and about three minutes later I'd be knocked out once again). All I had to eat Friday was one mug of chicken noodle soup and two bowls of black cherry jello. Here's one of the (many) wonderful things about The ♥G♥: She kept making sure to check to see if I needed anything, and I gave her minimal response. However, at one point when I woke up and asked her if she could make me some jello, she already had (my favorite flavor) and it was waiting in the fridge for me, almost done.

So, in between sleeping for a couple hours at a time all day and night Friday, I did get a chance to watch some quite insightful programs on DVD -- The Human Face, hosted by John Cleese and Elizabeth Hurley; and Seasons One and Two of First Person, the innovative cable interview show directed by Errol Morris. (Note to self: Watch FP1&2 again when not sick -- Imagine what it's like to have Errol Morris subjects serving as fever-induced deleriumfodder all day!) Hopefully I can comment further on both later. (More accurately, hopefully I'll get around to it...)

So today I feel kinda better (no fever), but my throat still hurts, and I've had to crash on short notice a couple of times... but I'm sick of sitting around. I cleaned up my room and did some laundry and stuff, and I moved some shelves and stuff around in the book room (although I had to take a little nap after) and later I might do a couple other things. Tomorrow likely holds much of the same.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Road Trip to Michigan

Oops! I forgot to blog before leaving for our jaunt up to Michigan. The ♥G♥ went to a conference for her work, and then she and I visited my family.

While we were there, I/she/we visited:

So, glad we went, but glad to be home.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Stuff I've Been Watching and Listening to Lately

Said stuff includes:

I Am an Anti-Christ... I Am an Anarkyste

A year ago today, I commented on topics related to D-Day. But now the topic of the day is the sixness of the date, month, and year. Things like this are just a little silly -- It's not even the same crowd that gets all worked up over The Da Vinci Code (or as I call it, "Tom Clancy Goes to the Museum") -- it's even more widespread than that! I think it'd be kind of cool to be born on a date like this, just so I could fake-backwards talk sometimes. (Not like I don't anyway.)

Btw, here's a list of people who have been thought to be the Anti-Christ, and the supporting rationales. Interestingly enough, Ronald Wilson Reagan (six letters, six letters, six letters) is said to have been a hexakosioihexekontahexaphobe himself. More on hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia here, here, and here.

Wow, must be true!

(What must be true? Ummm... Not sure.)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Weekend Update

Doing lots of chores around the house today. Here are a few things for my blogging break:
  • Polyglot Conspiracy asks if French is the new Spanish.
  • Philosophy Talk asks what the imagination is for. Excerpt: Philosophy is often an exercise in imagining. A characteristic sort of philosophical question is "how possibly" question. How possibly could a mind embued with rationality, intentionality, consciousness, will, and personhood be just a part of material nature? How possibly could free will subsist in a deterministic universe? How possibly could norms be determined by the facts alone? To answer such questions, philosophers try to construct in imagination more or less richly characterized alternative possible worlds. And then they try to convince you that the constructed possible world is really not so terribly distant from our own.
  • Speaking of imagination, have you ever wondered what it would have been like if Quentin Tarantino had written the New Testament?
  • One of the many reasons I like Wikipedia is because it has a lot of material organized around abstract topics I would not necessarily have concretized. For instance, I could click on this entry on Knowledge Representation all day! (But I can't because I want to finish more stuff around the house and yard.)