Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A trailer for a posting to come

It's not lost on me that I haven't posted for quite some time, but the thought I have is unclear. To put it shortly, reading The Gospel According to Jesus Christ has got me thinking a lot of guilt, penance and salvation. It started with a more careful understanding of how Passover, Christmas and Easter are three versions of the same tale.

Then I mixed in some thoughts of the play, the Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Guirgus, and Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, so any way, there's a lot of theology swirling in my head, and I hope to get something down with out sprawling all over the page.

Monday, May 23, 2005

There will be snacks!

Whitney, my super awesome lady-companion in crime treated us to the Andrew Bird show last night at Southpaw. In short the show was amazing and wonderful. I realize this says little about the music, so here is the longer take:

Bird’s songs are richly layered compositions of violin plucking, bowing, xylophone, whistling, percussion, guitar and vocal. But on stage he was accompanied by a percussionist. Bird plays the rest of the music himself by creating loops of live music. Often he’ll start by plucking out a simple rhythm on violin, then as the measure loop back, he’ll add texture, counterpoint, harmony, until the constructed loop is rich and complex. Then he sings, whistles and plays guitar over the loop, and stopping the loop to change the tempo, only to resume with more energy. It has some of Philip Glass’ repetition, but

Add to this a strong, confident stage presence, beautiful and engaging voice, making his show the kind of show I hope I find when I’m 50 or 60. It is intelligent, well constructed, surprising music that I think exhibits how much rock music has/can evolve.

I often think of the challenge for contemporary classical music, and especially new composition. Increasingly I think it’s becoming a chamber discipline with few practitioners and few patrons, trapped in sea of atonal compositions hard to distinguish from one another. Meanwhile popular music continues to fragment and change in exciting ways. Movies are frequently scored by popular musicians, who deftly capture the moods of a%2

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

What you should know about the filibuster debate

I've been quietly observing the showdown in the Senate, and felt a little spent during my spurt of filibuster entries, but this list of filibuster myths from Media Matters is too important not to spread:
    1. Democrats' filibuster of Bush nominees is "unprecedented"
    2. Bush's filibustered nominees have all been rated well-qualified by the ABA; blocking such highly rated nominees is unprecedented
    3. Democratic obstructionism has led to far more judicial vacancies during Republican administrations than Democratic administrations
    4. "Nuclear Option" is a Democratic term
    5. Democrats oppose Bush nominees because of their faith, race, ethnicity, gender, stance on abortion, stance on parental notification ...
    6. Public opinion polling shows clear opposition to judicial filibusters, support for "nuclear option"
    7. Filibustering judicial nominees is unconstitutional
    8. Clinton's appellate confirmation rate was far better than Bush's rate
    9. Sen. Byrd's alterations to filibuster rules set precedent for "nuclear option"
    10. Democrats have opposed "all" or "most" of Bush's judicial nominees
The article goes indepth against what I feel is the habit of perpetuating and glossing over mistruths that has been the bread and butter GOP politics lately (Iraq, Medicare, Social Security, War on Terror...)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A World View Based on a Few Questions

The What is Your World View? survey is popular on the Blogdex today. Here's how I fared:

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View? (corrected...hopefully)
created with QuizFarm.com

Fiction from Fact

It sounds political, but it's not... well not explicitly.

I started reading Jose Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. I first read Saramago's Blindness in the FoFBC, the quarterly book swap I participate in and loved it so I wanted to read more of his work, but hadn't really had time between school, love, and The Moor's Last Sigh.

What I particularly like about Saramago's style is how he uses... or expresses some statement of fact or logic which then drives the way the narrative unfolds. In Blindness, it was often some idea of human nature, which led to a simultaneously horrifying and inspiring story.

The Gospel is what it sounds like, a retelling of the Gospels set more as a historical novel. What comes out is an intriguing portrayal of what Joseph and Mary’s lives were like, with gender roles, with Roman occupation, with geographical background. A far cry from the nativity scenes and iconography we’ve grown accustom.

There are departures from the scriptures yes, but scripture departs from its context.The novel is powerful reminder that as much as people believe the Bible is God’s word, it was written by men, and translated by lesser men. It also reminds the reader that though there is familiarity with the Gospel story, there isn’t familiarity with the story’s setting, which can be powerful for anyone who begins to the study the bible not as scripture, but as literature. Therein lies the political.

Lastly, it occurred to me that as I and my friends succeed and flounder in this mortal coil, we are the age at which Jesus began his preaching. Let’s not forget the power a young thirtysomething can have on this world. Again, the political.

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Tasty Strips from the Bacon Tree

My friend Steve, Lomnes that is, has picked back up on the blog roll. On Thursday he posted some jokes that then led to a little jokography. Sunday he wrote about wireless connectivity with a gem of a factoid on the origin of bluetooth, and Monday was a great run down on rechargable batteries.

Steve and Judie are going to be in India, so I'm hoping they post some travel musing too. To quote another Steve, "Great stuff from a fine man."


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What you hear can't be repeated, or can it?

Yesterday I was in Union Square when this street person totally verbally assaults this yuppy on his mobile. It went from "He's in a syndicate" to "He's a sodomist" It got a little tense when he walked up the guy and was pointing at him. This is all to say that like all dense cities, you can find yourself hearing surreal stuff with no effort, and no reality TV.

Which leads into the site of the day: Overheard in New York, all the fun of eaves dropping with none of the stinky threatening downside.

Some great excerpts:
Guy: That's pretty ballsy.

Chick: Honey, I have testicles. The reason I don't wear skirts is not 'cause of my chicken legs, it's 'cause I don't want people to see my huge, hanging testicles.

Guy: ...well, all right.

--44th & 5th

Teen girl: What time does TRL tape?
Street vendor: What time do you watch it?
Teen girl: 4 o'clock.
Street vendor: What does the L stand for?

--Times Square

Teenage boy: I really need a girlfriend.
Teenage girl: Why?

Teenage boy: 'Cause they're all sweet and soft and crap.
Teenage girl: Go out with Marla. She's soft.
Teenage boy: No, that's not soft; that's obesity.

--N train

Thursday, May 12, 2005

As told by Norman Teigen: King Tut

There are stories my folks carry around that I don't think of until my folks lay one out. This is one from my dad. Hopefully this will encourage them to keep 'em coming.

Jason, I am sending you this story from the National Geographic

magazine re King Tut. Whenever I hear of King Tut I think of you.
You've probably heard this before, but about the time that you were
born [1976-79, sdt], there was a traveling exhibition in the U.S. regarding King Tut.

When you were born Judy and I wondered how the baby would be named.
Your loving cousin Sam suggested that you be named King Tut. King Tut

That Sam. What a guy.

Best wishes to Holly and my guy Cole.


Uncle Norm

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Terror Level: Bert

Today's stories about the evacuations at the Capitol and White House and of Tom Ridge's defense of the color alert system got my tiny gears turning.

As you might guess from the subject, the sidebar of this site, and your knowledge of me personally, I don't think much of the system. I don't expect to ever see blue or green which makes having them meaningless except to note we've never been that safe.

USA Today notes that more often than not, the White House wanted to elevate the warning... and for those with good memories, you'll remember that often happened at politically convenient times. But let's think about what it means to be stuck on yellow and orange.

It means that we're not any safer now that when the system went into place. Homeland security hasn't lowered it, Iraq didn't lower it, electing Bush in November didn't lower it. I think sadly this is true, Homeland Security has become a pork barrelled farce, especially comparing funding for Wyoming residents to NYC, Iraq was never really about imminent threat, and Bush's first successful campaign for president this last fall has only changed us to polarize us.

Another case in point, there was no elevation of risk when the plane in DC air space triggered the evacuation of the White House and Capitol. If a little Cessna (which could be shot down by one of the missle-loaded humvee's) can bypass the terror alert system, again, what's it's use?

We do know that it's created a huge unfunded mandate for state and local law enforcement especially when no one's running a surplus to pay for it. So why aren't we safer? Why don't we demand it? What's taking so long? If it's money, they why the big tax break. If it's workforce, why is unemployment so high. If it's the Bush Administration, why couldn't Kerry convince enough people otherwise? Why do we let this adminstration off the hook for so much?


The flowers amongst the thorns

This morning's news isn't so great with the Appeals Court ruling on Cheney's energy (cabal) taskforce, Rumsfeld feeling more secure to finish 8 years as Secretary of War, and of course, things aren't quieting down in Iraq.

But there were two little gems... The first is the possibility of the UN moving temporarily to downtown Brooklyn as they renovate. The second was a posting on BoingBoing for free PDF's of graph paper.

About the first, for those who have tried, the UN isn't real easy to get to. And after a gaming party with some of Nancy's friends, it seems that many live in similarly difficult to access parts of 212... which doesn't seem like should be true, but certainly is. However, being in downtown Brooklyn (blocks from my abode) plots them down in the crossroads of Brooklyn, convenient to Fort Green, Carroll Gardens, Flatbush, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace....well you get the picture... a lot of the borough.

I think this is good for UN staff as well as Brooklyn residents, and perhaps all of New York. For the UN Staff, it makes interacting with locals more engrained into their lives, in particular Brooklynites. Unlike the UN Plaza, Downtown Brooklyn is teaming with up and coming as well as down and out, as well as a fair amount of ghetto retail. Staffers may delight in easier access to good local food for the masses--- Borough Hall Greenmarket, Cake Man Raven, Jacque Torres, Grimaldi's to name some of my favorites.

On the other side of the coin, Brooklynites and NYC as a whole benenfits from closer access to the UN, hopefully making a visit there much easier. I haven't gone a tour yet in my 6.5 years here, I'm certainly due. There are grumblings about increased congestion to accomodate the conferences, but I think the positive externalities would easily outweigh that nuisance.... besides, I take public transportation. By the way, it was interesting to read how archaic much of the UN HQ is, I'm sure Nancy will confirm much of the report.

Finally, about graph paper, many of us at Wagner enjoy taking notes on graph paper, especially for any stats or econ work where you might need a graph or chart as part of your notes. This is a must have.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A Stormy Weekend

Today was Wagner's Convocation ceremony at Avery Fisher Hall. Gwen Ifil gave a nice and brief address before the parade of names.

Last weekend 7 of us (Andy Sarah Judie Steve Robert Whitney and I) went to Dennis MA on the Cape to unwind, fortunately that's not dependent on getting some un-wind (as in heavy breezes). We ended up staying a pretty major storm. Whitney and I drove out to Corporation Beach and saw enormous white caps crash towards the beach. It was truely impressive, though dissappointing in a frisbee playing sort of way. Winds were up to 40 mph, so you could really lean into the wind without falling over. I love the wind, I find it exciting and bracing, especially as you crest a hill and come into a full blast.

Later that night we went to the Lobster Pot in Provincetown for some fresh New England harvest. Besides the lobster, the chowder and bisque were particularly fine. Jude and Steve taught Whitney and I Some-R-Set, a great card game that's easier than bridge, but more difficult than Hearts. I totally want a deck now.

Whitney's family is in town, so we cooked dinner for them last night and have various activities planned until they leave on Thursday.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Orlando Theme Parks.... Bloom I Mean

Some people have a crutch they rely on Orlando Bloom has a sword. I was just reading the review of the film Kingdom of Heaven where Orlando Bloom plays a blacksmith turned hero/infidel... it sounds a lot like Pirates of the Carribean... and come to think of it he's weilded swords in Troy (as Paris) and of course Lord of the Rings.

Bloom carries a sword in 8 of 15 films, though this is skewed by LOTR trilogy and Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy (yes Mr. Barrat, there are two more sequels coming) and fights in one more: Black Hawk Down.

Please someone tell me if he's any better in more peaceful films.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Small reminders of Mac vs. Wintel differences

Today J.D. Biersdorfer, in answering questions about flash key compatibility between Macs and PC's (aka. Wintel boxes) notes: how Macs allows typographical characters in file names while in Windows you can't.
Using certain typographical characters in file names, however, is one thing you can do on a Mac but not on Windows. You can't name files with slashes, brackets, colons, semicolons, asterisks, periods, commas and a few other characters on the FAT32 system.
You may get error messages if you try to copy files with such characters in the names from your Mac to the U.S.B. drive - or if you do successfully copy them, the file names may be changed on the U.S.B. drive.
This is one of those small differences in computing environments that are hard to value as you don't really think about why, you just accept... like when PC file names were limited to 12 characters or whatever. Occasionally something comes along and magnifies the difference. Case in point, the whole Y2K frenzy precipitated because PC programmers used 2-digit coding for years while Macs compute the number of seconds from 1904.

These differences don't show up in the sticker price, but they do become ingrained in how we use computers. But Plato reminds us that it's good to get a different a new perspective of how things are and what's reasonable to expect.

A blogging identity according to use

Last night Andy and I were talking about blogs, bloggers and branding. His lament was that he could think of 9 blogs he might like to make, while maybe having time for one. How does one choose? What's the brand of me?

While 917press is a mish mash following my interests, observations and web browsings, truly partially digested... There are those who are much more thematic. Steve, who maintains two blogs, has also used blogs as a teaching aid. While The Shameless Antagonist is consistently political, The Poutine Diaries is more personal.

Seth Godin, (who keeps at least two marketing blogs) had this interesting entry on why people blog: ego. And this is good, because he interprets ego as a measure of respect of one's own opinion. What better way to brand yourself and your opinions than to regularly publish them at one (or two or nine) site(s).

You can take this idea further and consider how the number of media outlets is moving in two directions: Mass media is consolidating while independent media... particularly blogging is exploding.

I think this is what is saving us from completely falling under the spell of Big Brother. It's great that there are so many people who wish to assert themselves and put in their two cents, having a somewhat-free means of doing it (if they have a computer, internet access...). To complete the metaphor, it makes the world richer when certain gems are discovered and shared. It is truly public good in the economic sense, where there is no diminishment in my enjoyment as others take their enjoyment.


Today I'm totally loving the Postal Service!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A slow start for a paper thinking of a fast start on a bicycle

Joe first told me of this great design for a tricycle from Purdue. It starts as a tricycle when stopped or slow speeds, but as the rider pedals faster, the back wheels point together at the ground to mimic the balance of bicycle. You can see it here.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Of Finals and Bees, a hint to some

I've got a paper and project due Wednesday to complete year 3 of 4 of my masters program.

The paper is on debt financing, in particular addressing whether or not the criticism that apply to the federal exemtption of municipal bond interest income. The project is to respond to a NYC RFP to develop a lot in Flushing Queens using standard tools of real estate investment.

I'll be celebrating this weekend with some classmates on Cape Cod, then I'll be ready to reconnect with all those I loss touch with during this academic year.

Unrelatedly, Whitney has a fondness for bees and they a fondness for her. Two of her best friends have the same bee tattoo that she has on her ankle. So it was with great amusement that I read of this lady, courtesy of Drew Curtis' Fark. The poor lady to some, and lucky lady to others, is known to attract bees. Please ignore the lame sexism regarding the rigor and stress involved with bee incidents.
Indeed, Suzie Noonan is one of millions of American women known to attract bees in record numbers, perhaps due to their sweet body chemistry, scented body oils or floral colored clothing that fools bees into thinking that they are pollinating flowers. The experience can be quite traumatizing, as women are not built for the rigors and stress involved with bee incidents, and the return of summer can be quite unwelcome.