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Saturday, May 10, 2003

Malkovich Malkovich: [via Malkovich via Malkovich.] Malkovich's new Malkovich is Malkovich. Malkovich your own Malkovich.. See how it works, Malkovich?
[via MetaFilter]
Perhaps this will confuse you as much as it has confused me.  Then I will have done my job by posting it.  Nice, hm?
It's mine!! All mine!! Blair Hornstine has won an injunction against her school naming a co-valedictorian. Now the suit (discussed earlier in this thread) will proceed to a trial to decide damages. The judge bought the argument of Hornstine's very expensive lawyer that the school is discriminating against her because of her vague, Chronic-Fatigue-like illness. The judge may have sided with Ms. Hornstine, but her classmates and the public at large are not. One anonymous poster who claims to be a classmate says "I can assure you from years of experience that the only condition Blair suffers from is chronic inflammation of the ego. " A Philly Columnist feels sorry for her. Personally, I think the judge is off her nut, as it seems pretty apparent that Ms. Hornstine isn't a bit disabled.
[via MetaFilter]

Should blogs be removed from Google? Register UK: Google to fix blog noise problem, writes blog-hater Andrew Orlowski. And kpaul wonders, how are they going to define blog? The posters on Webmaster World think it's a good idea for Google to remove blogs from its main...

Billy Bob Thornton attacks music industry Do you remember Billy Bob Thornton's Private Radio album from a few years ago? No? That may be because, according...

Crap Jobs We've All Had Them, Haven't We? Plastic::Work::Ugly: 'Worst job assistant crack whore.' We miss you, Norm.

It Would Be Censorship Not To Silence You Plastic::Media::UK: Under British journalism regulations, TV news media must display "due impartiality" in reporting, a directive at odds with FOX's notorious slant. As a result, the news channel may be banned from Brit airwaves.

Finite monkeys can't produce Shakespeare Six monkeys at the Paignton Zoo were provided with a word-processor for a month, to see if they'd produce anything like Shakespeare. No dice. Monkeys != playwrights. Remember that Apple ][+ app? "So close, so very close."
The six monkeys - Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan - produced five pages of text which consisted mainly of the letter "s".

But towards the end of the experiment, their output slightly improved, with the letters A, J, L and M also appearing.

Link Discuss (via NTK)

Blogging Around Don't Miss: David Niewert on Bush's military record. "What we know about his record now should be considered a scandal,...

Bush on 9/11: 'It Was an Interesting Day' The Center for Cooperative Research traces President Bush's steps and statements on 9/11 in "It was an interesting day" (Bush, 1/5/02)...a great read.

Study: Altered virus kills brain tumors in mice Study: Altered virus kills brain tumors in mice
CNN - A cold virus genetically engineered to help it sneak into cancer cells can kill inoperable brain tumors in mice, U.S. scientists reported on Tuesday.
The effects were so stunning that the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are rushing to test the approach in people with brain tumors.

Where Six-Packs Still Ride Shotgun For many in Montana, the right to drink and drive is central to their way of life. The latest attempt to outlaw the practice is voted down. - LA Times
Spanish Court Bars Hundreds of Basque Nationalists From Running in Election - Fri May 9, 04:26 pm GMT
Germany Charges Another September 11 Suspect - Fri May 9, 03:38 pm GMT

Media Notes: Bush's Brain - Thu May 8, 06:24 pm GMT

This should probably make a short read...

Media May Mislead on Drug Study Stories - Fri May 9, 03:46 pm GMT
Tobacco company's ads claim cigarette tax hikes aid organized crime - Fri May 9, 04:33 pm GMT

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Borges resources From Abbasids to Zur Linde: A Borges Dictionary (pdf) ; Fantastic Zoology: a graphical interpretation of Borges' "Book of Imaginary Beings" (Edward Gorey would have been interesting); The Intruder: A Borges story in eight games. To refute him is to become contaminated with unreality
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Conspiracies! Those of you who know me know that I absolutely love conspiracy theories. A good conspiracy theory is a highly...

Cruel And All Too Usual Punishment Plastic::Work::Ideas: Montana prison officials tossed Mark Walker into a cell soiled with blood and human waste, leaving him there for days or weeks at a time with no running water. Sound cruel or unusual to you?

Postmodernism and The Human Comedy

Posted by The Happy Tutor A picture named Happy Tutor.jpg

Whether a man is a Christian, a man of Enlightened Reason, or a Postmodern is determined not by his avowals, nor his education, nor the titles of his books, but by his life. The life of writing is style. AKMA is a Hellenized Christian, every sentence embodying the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, as well as Christian Humility. And, from the Hellenic tradition he has taken Greek and Latin, gentle Socractic questioning,  fair-minded eloquence, and Horation moderation. When he writes like Derrida, de Man, Fish or Zeno, he will be a Postmodern. When he unites Classical Reason, Christian Faith, and Radicial Skepticism in a preaching style, he will be burned at the stake -- or burn like Artaud in his own madness, gesturing through the flames.

The silence, the writer's block, the long journey toward a contradictorily coherent life of the mind begins with this experience of the fall from reason, faith and moderation, into the madness of language(s). That is the curse of postmodernism. It is the wound that will not heal. The Pharmakon that cures but kills. Mellifluous, discursive, well-reasoned prose is a non-starter in the game that descends from Zeno and Diogenes to their postmodern heirs, unless, like de Man's, every sentence has a false bottom opening into a vertiginous fall. 

Swift and Kierkegaard are as close as we come to writers who combine Reason, Faith, and Skepticism, emerging riven but intact in every barb. You could add Nietzsche if you write off Christ and Socrates.

As an antidote to dogmatism and fanaticism, postmodern skepticism can return us to a neoclassical balance, the white style of Strunk and White. (The accused escapes untouched by impersonating the judge.) But the critique of the white style of hegemonic reason ("logocentrism"), and the provision of a ludic alternative, is perhaps the most salient contribution of postmodernism.  By rigor in deconstruction is meant not correspondence to fact or coherence of propositions, but "answerable style," the artful adumbration of what cannot be said, much less proven, but which holds together as a performance, in which the antic actor upstages the text.

Postmodern philosophy, when combined with egotism, vanity, and self-seeking, is the ideal education for the rhetor, the sophist, the marketer, the jackanapes, and the false shepherd. The only postmodern in the life of Christ was Judas -- "Christ is always already crucified -- so why not make a buck." AMKA is by contrast a moral exemplar. He speaks of his Spiritual Director -- not Rageboy. I acknowledge AKMA as my spiritual superior and learn from him, little by little how to be a better man. If he will call me a man of faith; I will say he is postmodern.  

Human rights, justice, what we should live or die for -- show me, not in the Gospels, but in Derrida or de Man where I might find the principals for which a moral hero would lay down his life, that would justify a Jesus embracing the cross. The postmodern is dicing at the foot of the cross for his robe, bucking for Sargent,  staging the scene on the balcony for Pontius Pilate, or passing the survey on a clipboard amidst the mob: "It is 5:1, Boss, Give them, Barabbas."

Simon Magus or Jesus? Which would make a better postmodern? To assimilate de Man to the thought-style of bourgeois liberalism, or Heidegger for that matter, shows how impregnable is the English-speaking mind, and that is a cause of hope.  Their heirs (AKMA and Weinbeger for example) betray their innocent understanding, passing on from these anti-humanist theorists, not the venom, but the inoculation -- may God be praised as he works his ends in strange ways. Had de Man and Heidegger known that their work would be preached in untroubled prose from the High Church Pulpit, and from the Rostrum of Marketing Conventions, they would have understood finally that there is a God, that He is Just, and that He has a sense of dark humor. 

Stalin's butchers used to say to poets under torture: "You will die and be forgotten." The fate of de Man and Heidegger is worse; they are taught with affection by Marketers and Priests to advance a Judeo-Christian Liberal-Bourgeois tradition they had meant to destroy. AKMA's prose is Victor's Justice -- the victory of all I love, and the living tomb or brig for the postmoderism he professes.  

(Meant to get a conversation going, if anyone is interested. I use AKMA as an example, because I have leaned so much from him in earlier conversations on these topics. To refute everything I have said about his style, all he need do is link to a prior post of his on Judas -- an interpretation  that continues to rankle and provoke. AKMA was responding in that piece to one of mine, leaving me not only thoroughly deconstructed, but much the wiser.)

Best Buy and MSFT ripping off the public with "free" MSN disks A Best Buy customer is launching a class-action suit against MSFT and Best Buy over a point-of-sale scam where you get a "free" MSN disk that's scanned along with your purchase, and thereafter, MSFT debits the card you used at Best Buy to charge you a monthly fee for MSN.
Some time afterwards he discovered that money was being debited from his bank account. It was going to MSN. Best Buy had passed Kim's debit card details to the Microsoft division and it had activated an account for him.

Kim says that he never asked for that account, never used the disk and certainly didn't want it. But he has been unable to get a full refund and has reached the end of his tether. He is also concerned that many others could have been caught in this trap

Link Discuss

24h of US air traffic From NASA, a stunning time-lapse video showing the air-traffic over the Continental US in a 24h period. 14MB Quicktime Link Discuss (Thanks, Richard, and everyone else who suggested this while I was on holidays!)

There has been some discussion about the question [of Race and Elementary Schooling]

Court dress in England - off with their wigs? The Lord Chancellor's Department in London issued a consultation paper Thursday soliciting views regarding the future of formal court dress - including wigs - in the English courts. According to an accompanying press release:The Lord Chancellor said: "I hope this consultation exercise will encourage as high a response rate from members of the public as from legal professionals.

Katrina Leung Indicted ABC reports that the FBI was told 12 years ago that Katrina Leung was secretly working for the Chinese. Now-retired...

Cool New Tools

For searching legal weblogs and linking cross-blog references. (Thanks, Kevin and Ernie, for pointing these out!)

Ashcroft Challenges Oregon's Euthanasia Law - Thu May 8, 04:07 pm GMT
US credit law renewal must shield privacy-Treasury - Thu May 8, 04:27 pm GMT
FBI Widens Terror Probes Of Mideast Groups in U.S. - Thu May 8, 03:22 pm GMT
Neoconservative Kabbalism Many members of the Bush administration have strong ties to philosopher Leo Strauss. Can this representation of his views be accurate? ... Strauss believed that he alone had recovered the true, hidden message contained in the "Great Tradition" of philosophy ... that there are no gods, that morality is ungrounded prejudice, and that society is not grounded in nature. (This Times profile doesn't make him sound as creepy, but is vague about his actual ideas.)
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Prospects for new media Pointers from IWantMedia: Rosy Future for Online Journalism. The future for Web journalism is brightening up, with several studies revealing an upswing in Internet usage and revenues for several media companies' online outlets. USA Today: Can TiVo survive cable's...

Martin Gore: Counterfeit2 The only concert I've ever walked out of was a Depeche Mode show. This was during the Music For The...

Dry Heaves This isn't going to mean much to a lot of you, but the latest edition of the Mulistate Bar Exam...

The Cross Some Can't Bear Plastic::Politics::Religion: A group of self-proclaimed atheists and agnostics are protesting a 90-year old cross that sits above the city in a public park.The opposition, meanwhile, feels it is a significant landmark.

Connecticut Court: Fetus is a Body Part The Connecticut Supreme Court Wednesday ruled that a fetus is a "body part- like teeth, skin and hair - that...

A Radioactive Mess Arab media are reporting widespread nuclear contamination near Baghdad after U.S. Marines broke seals on containers holding radioactive materials that were later looted.
[via AlterNet]

Race and the Internet - Wed May 7, 03:16 pm GMT
State Supreme Court to hear gay adoption case - Wed May 7, 04:32 pm GMT
Lawyer: Russian Army Plagued by Violence - Wed May 7, 03:20 pm GMT
Germans hold man who walked street with sister-in-law's severed head - Wed May 7, 01:33 pm GMT
Fla. Sen. Graham Launches White House Bid - Tue May 6, 09:44 pm GMT
Spain PM to Get Bush Thanks for Iraq War - Wed May 7, 09:48 am GMT
Cheney Says He'll Run With Bush in 2004 - Wed May 7, 03:50 pm GMT

Monday, May 05, 2003

Secret McCarthy hearing transcripts released online Fifty years after the fact, the US Government Printing Office Monday released transcripts of Senator Joseph McCarthy's secret hearings into Communist infiltration of American institutions. Review the Executive Sessions of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations.
This is the second article in a row because I think the McCarthy era is interesting, and forms an interesting analogy to the present... or possibilities of the present.
Ashcroft Muzzles His Prosecutors The Justice Department's Office of Legislative Affairs has, by order of the attorney general, instructed all members of the Justice Department to inform that office "ahead of time and as soon as possible" before they participate in any briefings on Capitol Hill or engage in "substantive conversations" with members of Congress or their staff on Capitol Hill.

Secret Joe McCarthy Hearing Transcripts Opened The Senate released transcripts today from closed-door meetings between Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and nearly 500 witnesses occurring fifty years...

Back online, the sex offender registry gets millions of visits - Mon May 5, 03:48 pm GMT
Potential Jurors Head To Court In Mike Peterson Trial - Mon May 5, 04:54 pm GMT
Report: European Tourists to Be Freed Soon - Mon May 5, 03:32 pm GMT
Supreme Court allows fraud charges against deceptive charity fund-raisers - Mon May 5, 03:19 pm GMT

Sunday, May 04, 2003

"Orwellian, Dude!" Elusive, legendary author Thomas Pynchon resurfaces to intoduce a new edition of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four with a critical eye on the present. And finds optimism in the appendix.
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Hemp for Victory! "Hemp for Victory!" A USDA educational film from 1942 extolling the patriotic virtues of growing the crop that, a half-century later, over 600,000 people would be arrested for possessing. (Gotta love the official "Producer of Marihuana" license.) How times have changed.
[via MetaFilter]

Can knowledge be captured?.

Thinking about capturing knowledge.

[Curiouser and curiouser!]

Matt - Does your well thought through and elegant  diagram suggest that knowledge can be "captured" by some system?

If so I prefer the BP approach where they reject some form of "capture" and see instead that knowledge is most deep and useful in tacit form embedded in a person. So instead of capturing knowledge, BP make it easy to find the person who has the know how.

For instance in my case as a novice blogger, Critt Jarvis has kindly given me the code to set up a category section and a blogroll. Now Richard Gayle is helping me automate the blogroll. This quite different fro  say a FAQ which would be the knowledge in "capture" form. For me the novice, being mentored by a person is 10 times better than reading about the technique.

[Robert Paterson's Radio Weblog]

Interest points Robert.  I would have to say that my opinion is not well-formed right now.  I guess I do believe that knowledge (at least some knowledge) can be captured.

Let me turn it around a second and ask this:  For BP to be able to "find" the person who knows something don't you have to know:

  • what it is they know
  • who they are

aren't these kinds of knowledge?  And doesn't making them available in a system mean capturing them first?

[Curiouser and curiouser!]

Good point Matt. They have a system that they call "Connect" Each employee has a template for their own personal website that has space for a lot of biographic and work information plus of course how to reach them. They support this with a search engine that enables you, the guy with a problem, to search for those who might help. In addition they support COP's. The COP's meet both online and in person. For major issues BP will fly in a tream that has done the new before to work directly for say a week with the guys who have the issue. So BP don't really "capture" knowledge, as I see it they set up knowledge transfer environments. Most importantly the acknowlegde that the most useful knowledge is tacit. I think that most KM systemes seek to capture Explicit Knowledge which is less effective

Closing Pandora's Box Plastic::Politics::War: Ah, the good ol' days of Mutually Assured Destruction...

Two Gothic Cathedrals A picture named St. Chapelle Stained Glass.jpgSt. Chapelle is a Gothic chapel built by Louis IX in 1248 to hold the trinkets he picked up on his first foreign trip (i.e. "Crusade"). Apparently, the Venetian merchants had a few baubles that he was interested in and which he brought back as mementos of his travels:

  • Christ's Crown of Thorns
  • two pieces of the true Cross
  • a nail from the Cross
  • the Roman soldier's lance that pierced Christ's side
  • several drops of Christ's blood
  • a plastic statue of the Eiffel Tower

Notre Dame Cathedral is right next door, but instead of five years to build, it took almost 200 years. Pope Alexander III laid the foundation in 1163.  Almost 700 years later when Napoleon chose Notre Dame as the place for his coronation the Cathedral was in shambles.   But even in its run down state it was still the place for an emperor to receive his crown.

A structure like Notre Dame envelopes you with awe from the moment you enter it with solemn reverence.  The three large circular stained glass windows in the clerestory are trance-inducing, especially when you view them from inside the Cathedral as vocalists harmonize celestial hymns. Actually some of the large windows are relatively new and were installed after WWII, but not because of damage from bombing in the war.

The problem came several centuries earlier when Louis XV decided he didn't like the stained glass and replaced two of the round windows with clear glass.  Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time, right?

Start reading at this post, and scroll down.  God, I miss hanging around in Paris.
Students Sued by Music Industry Agree to Pay RIAA

Pope urges Spain to honour Catholic roots - Sun May 4, 03:52 pm GMT
Schools boost American Indian legal studies - Sun May 4, 02:31 pm GMT
President Talks Economy, National Security - Fri May 2, 05:15 pm GMT
High Court Faces New Political Foray - Sat May 3, 03:07 am GMT