Tuesday, 30 November 2004
It's a boy!
I had to laugh when I discovered the phrase "pregnant chad
". This isn't just a hanging chad, but an expectant chad. A chad who's carried a foetal vote in its womb for 4 years, chosen a party line, received gifts from various incumbents, been harangued by a variety of partisan peeps, and all that stuff.
I simply cannot believe
that correct vote counting in America is (occasionally
) based on whether a chad is hanging, fallen, pregnant, or indeed successfully chadded.
In fact, I can believe even less
that the fate of a very big country in the grand scheme is based on such a thing as a chad, because where i'm from, Chad is the name often given to a F.L.K.
either at birth by his parents, or in the schoolyard by his peers.
More on unbelievably dodgy election antics here
Saturday, 27 November 2004
Sam I am not.
I have a friend called Sam. Once she said to me "But, I don't want the only redeeming feature about me to be that i'm funny!! What else is there???"
On the spot, and in desperation to be supportive and yet, not lie through my teeth
, I failed to come up with anything apart from good at throwing things (for a girl), snappy dresser, pretty smile... Her funniness just continues to shine through so brightly, almost like a solar flare burning straight through your SOUL, that I certainly can't see anything else. And I don't know about you, but if my friends aren't funny, they may as well piss off.
Perhaps it's just me that giggles in front of the screen reading this, but if you're interested, she keeps a tour diary for her band's website.
How i ended up in Hawaii
, by Sam Lohs.
Thursday, 25 November 2004
Happy Thanksgiving, America!
I guess there's a few interesting things to give thanks for this year. If I had to make a list, here are some of the things i'd put on it:
- I am healthy, in fact, enjoying a "Cleanse" at the moment
- I have many twinkly lucky stars
- I'm going home for Christmas this year, and am squirmy with excitement about seeing everyone back there for the first time in nearly 2 years
- I look forward to coming to work
- I have enough money
- Canadians are nice
- My brain isn't dusty
- I get to look into distant friend's lives every day by looking at their photos. The impact of this should not be underestimated
- I don't live in a country at war
And finally, i'm very thankful i'm not a turkey. Many, many turkeys perished in the pursuit of giving thanks. Millions probably. That's many gobbles silenced, people.
Tuesday, 23 November 2004
Sleepless in Slovenia.
Spent a couple of nights in Seattle catching up with long-lost, election-weary friends there. Enjoyed a few discussions about Florida, counting votes, the "democratic system" and the democratic future. As i've mentioned before, I like that town. I lived there for a few months earlier this year, and became quite fond of its quirks and people.
I was also lucky enough to attend a show called "Tanz mit Laibach", a show at Neumo's on Pike, or Pine... (I always get those two mixed up)... part of the State Of The Art: The New Slovene Avant Garde Festival
that happened to be happening in Seattle this weekend. Laibach
are a Slovenian heavy industrial band, who formed in the 80s, and now operate out of Ljubljana, in Slovenia. The group attracted controversy early in their career with their first show being banned before it was performed in the town where they were from, Trbovlje, because the piece was all about how contradictory political power was at the time. I know so little about the situation, I should probably stop there. However, my companion at the show is currently ensconsed in a Masters in International Studies, specialising in that region of eastern Europe. I was sorry that I couldn't read the notes she was taking as we watched from the balcony overlooking the stage.
And may I just say that the audience at this particular show was almost
as interesting as the politics of the region and how sorry I was that I didn't take my damn camera. The choicest cut that I witnessed with my own eyes was a gentleman in a patent leather officer's cap reaching above the seething crowd to take a shot of the band in full flight. Let's just say that black, red, leather and corsets were the outfit du jour.
I found myself laughing out loud at the style of the anthemic numbers that Laibach performed. I was confused about whether their approach was intended to be ironic, or satirical, or both, or neither... it was infused with what I thought were obvious clichés, like ladies looking sexy, inscrutable and dour playing drums in militaristic fashion aside the frontman, who sang throaty german lyrics to pretty hard core industrial rock, accompanied by projected images of male gymnasts and words like Totalitariansme and crosses and things. I hope its intention was to be slightly tongue-in-cheek. We weren't sure.
So, that was fun.
Friday, 19 November 2004
It's a little bit funny.
My sister is looking after my boys. She has popped a few portraits online for me.
Jetson is all black, and Chilli is black and white. Jets has 4 legs, Chills has 3, and his tail doesn't work too well. Or at all actually. You can kind of poke it, or step on it by (fake) accident. They both have HEARTS OF GOLD.
Fromage has discovered sets, and created the boys. a celebration.
Tuesday, 16 November 2004
That old weekend thing.
I had a divine weekend. I was a bit tired and shitty at the end of last week, and was looking forward to a rest.
I usually try to sleep in for as long as I possibly can on weekends. It isn't that I don't like mornings - I do - but rather that I sleep so well and it's getting a little more chilly sans quilt in the morning that it's just much nicer to spend time in warm-cocoon-style slumber.
My laundry pile had a mind of its own, so on Saturday morning, after reading Harper's over coffee and yummy breakfast, I did about 47 loads of washing. This always makes me feel better, and I love little more than having my entire wardrobe clean and raedy to have a gorgeouso combination plucked from its depths. Or, shallows, as the case may be.
We have a house guest with us at the moment. Andy is not my brother, and has come for a visit from Nova Scotia (where 75% of the other roomies are from). He loves glorious food, and had heard of Rob Feenie before coming to Vancouver. It was his proposition that some or all of the kids go to Lumière for a special, extravagant dinner. It's one of the fanciest restaurants in town.
I thought to myself that the ladies in the movies always bathe before a special occasion like this, so I put on some nice Indian-droney-chanty music, and ran myself a long, hot bath with extra Radox.
I have a love/hate relationship with baths. Often, I will emerge feeling slightly blanched, a little bit red, and mostly a bit fainty. This night was no different. I put on some candles, and popped my little clock on the loo so I could keep an eye on the cooking time. As I waited for the bath to fill, I found myself contemplating how it might feel to actually contemplate suicide. Baths always seem so poetic in this Fatal-Attractionesque regard. What is it about bathrooms/hot water/razors/steam/mirrors that leads one to associate the scene with dramatic death? I digress.
Eventually, the bath was ready. (It takes ages because the bath is a nice deep claw one, and i'm upstairs with shite water pressure.) I popped one foot in and thought to myself, "I can take that", and in went the rest of me.
I closed my eyes, cleared my mind on and off, and took 4 sets of 5 minutes in which to focus on relaxing. That seemed to work. I was pretty relaxed. So relaxed in fact that when I stood up I was overcome by the now-familiar dizziness I sometime feel before I am about to faint. I sat down on the rim of the tub and tried to breathe and relax. I realised I had fainted when I found myself crumpled up on the floor. I noticed a broken glass in the sink which I didn't hear smashing, so I knew I must have been out for a moment.
It took me about 10 mintues to collect myself. There's really not much I can do after fainting. I just have to sit very still and relax.
I toyed with the idea of going to bed, but I knew that the Lumière plan was coming up fast. So, I pulled myself slowly together, drying the tips of my wet hair, popping on some nice clothes and a bit of lippy.
Accompanied by Shannon and Andy, I ventured out gingerly into the Vancouver night, bundled up, and feeling fragile, but safe.
Then we went to Lumière, and everything about it was Fucking Sensational. The food was exquisite, the accompanying 'flight of wines' were all sublime, and provided uncannily perfect foils to the gorgeous seafood that came to our table. The service was lovely, personal, polite, well-timed and informed. A lovely, special experience.
After dinner, we went to a pub to see a band, but after having a glass of water, I realised how exhausted I was feeling (after the high of such loveliness) and left the other two to party on down. I slept very well that night.
Sunday was fun too. Rested, I awoke to an offer of a day trip to Whistler, about 2 hours away. So, we did that.
I think I just wanted to write about fainting. I'm fine now, it's happened before, and even though it's pretty unsettling, now that I know when it's coming, it isn't so bad.
Saturday, 13 November 2004
Loaves and fishes?
George Bush said tonight that he thought it was possible that a "truly free" Palestinian state could evolve within the four years of his second term as US president.
Is that what unmittigated gall is?
Tuesday, 9 November 2004
Last night, Cal and I saw 2 movies: The Incredibles and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.
The first was hilarious, entertaining, and well worth a visit. The second was gorgeous, opulent, thought-provoking and a total manga freakout. The thing I liked almost the best about it was this:
What the body creates could simply be an expression of DNA, not the body itself.
I like that when you have an idea fermenting in your head that your mind changes it's filter on the world around you. This quote is a lovely expression of how collaborative metadata construction might work, where the system is the body, and tags (or their relationships) are the DNA.
I hark back to the old days, when my brother and I used to stand around in our kitchen talking and eating too much toast together. I was at Uni, so my head was constantly exploding with new and interesting tidbits from my areas of study which vaguely included anthropology, philosophy, biology and classics.
was already a rising biological star at the time, and surprisingly well-rounded in a (frustrating) number of disciplines (circa 1991-2), we were perfect candidates for indulging in joint theoretical wanderings.
It was over too much toast that I discussed one of my pet ideas... that there is less and less of a need for human biological evolution these days. This is me speaking as an employed, educated white woman mind you, who has access to various things humans have made so we don't die all the time, like spectacles, guns, aspirin, bandaids, umbrellas... (I don't have a gun. Never have, never will.)
In the place of biological evolution comes its cultural equivalent. The concept that it is now more difficult to survive in a cultural context than out on the savanna with the king of the jungle. There are many, many cultural 'tricks' we employ to stay alive. Some are far more mundane than others, but the point is, if we didn't do these things (like joining a rowing team, or sending our kids to school, or voting for an idiot), we may well end up weighing 600 pounds and dying
in our couches (even though this sorry death
in itself is still a reflection of culture). Am I skipping around too much? Oh well. I like thinking in broad strokes... you know, macro, big-picture and all that.
So, what about this thing called folksonomy
(or ethnoclassification, as peterme prefers
)? It's a relatively new term coined to describe what's beginning to happen online when you assign metadata to objects. Basically, the premise is that - unlike a taxonomy - folksonomy is user-defined (and quick to create and ad-hoc), so not necessarily transportable (to another individual), and often far from generic. Actually, it's very often highly creator-centric (or emic
), and therefore hard to interpret if you aren't the person who's defined it. This idea returns to the mundane that I mentioned a while ago
. For example, there might be a lady who has added her own metadata to, say, her *cough* photo collection - perhaps not even grokking*
what she's doing - but that's ok, except that she ends up with a big ol' pile of stuff that's unusable, even for her. She might have a big bunch of photos, each tagged with something different, so there is no uniformity to her classification system, even within her own context.
Let's just say that two people used the same tag. There's a networked connection. Imagine if you could make a map of all the connections between how people classify their data in a folksy way?
Now, i'm going to take another big jump with no explanation:
The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree... As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.
- Charles Darwin
There's this thing called phylogeny. Phylogeny is the evolutionary history of a taxonomic group... It could be seen as a general representation of biological "replicators" like a species or a specific gene. Phylogeny allows you to infer shared history. And I quote - because it's easier than rephrasing right at this moment - "Together with cosmology, phylogenetic inference has a unique position in science in that one does not try to draw general conclusions, but produce a statement of a particular and unique event history."
So, imagine a tag is a little bit like a gene. Wouldn't it be cool if you could see how a tag moved in an evolutionary, and networked data space, and how it tried connections/relations, some of which took off, and some of which devolved? I think so! The classic "Tree of Life" map of this (in biological terms) is a big ol' map of all the species we know about and what their precedents and antecedents are. But, I don't think the tree model will suffice for representing user-generated metadata, mainly because (in photo tags at least) the things you choose to add can be determined by what your friends do, and as your own network evolves and shifts, so does the way it adds metadata collectively. It's not so much about a tag surviving and being propogated, but more about relationships that surround any one tag. The more relationships that come into and out of any one tag, the more 'useful'/'focussed'/'popular'/'embiggened' it will be. So, maybe rather than a strictly hierarchical tree-like model to represent that sort of space, a net (something that can illustrate for reticulation and cross-pollination in information) would be a more suitable. Or, perhaps even an umbrella.
Where's Andy and toast when I need them?
* to grok: To understand profoundly through intuition or empathy. (I thought this was a made-up word, until more than one Canadian used it.)
Thursday, 4 November 2004
The actual vox pop?
Tags / protest
See also: politics
(This is a snip from one of the tags pages on Flickr
. We recently added a cool little related tags browser, that finds photos tagged with the same 2 words - in this example, photos tagged with protest and bush.) (And, while i'm here, who the hell ever said that winning 51% to 49% is a landslide victory?)
Wednesday, 3 November 2004
Now most people would be aware that Kerry conceded to Bush this morning. Bush won the majority of popular votes in the US, and also gained ground in both the House of Representatives, and the Senate.
Rather than ranting about how weird it feels that the person I thought was better for the job didn't get it, i'm choosing to quiet my individual voice. More than most of the other stuff i'm thinking, i'm confused about the dynamic between individual and group action. Here I was thinking that everyone can make a difference, particularly by going to the polls on US election day, and casting their (albeit mind-puzzlesque) ballot. Many people did. It was apparently one of the biggest voter turnouts since '68. Interesting historical comparison there...
So, you have these two massive groups, democrats and republicans, both full to the brim of riled-up, energetic, determined, disillusioned individuals.
Coming from Australia, where there's a) compulsory attendance
at the polling booth on voting day and more importantly b) a non-partisan body called the Australian Electoral Commission
, as an individual, I realise that i'm pleased to see voting as a thing that I should
do, not could
do. To all the people that voted in the US yesterday -- whichever way you went-- well done.
I just had the vision of a road train driving without brakes. Rats leaping from burning ships... I recall reading a wonderful, classical lyric poem
about a dude who was a bit too proud to beg. Funnily enough, as an individual, I decided that the best time to read this cover to cover was the day after my classics exam.
Let's see what happens next.