September 2007 Archives

September 30, 2007

Lazy-Ass Nation

Lazy-Ass Nation: Entertainment & Culture: vanityfair.com

The greater part of human history has gone something like this: see animal, chase animal, kill animal, skin animal, cook animal, eat animal. But all that chasing and killing and cooking means a lot of brutish work, and somewhere along the way we fell in love with the dream of the effort-free existence. Now iRobots vacuum our carpets and wash the kitchen floor; battery-operated, self-heating jackets from North Face and Maplin keep us warm; and our cars park themselves, if we're fortunate enough to own a Lexus LS 460.

You could say that you notice a trend in my recent posting. You could also notice that apparently I'm not the only one noticing this.

sunny side up


sunny side up, originally uploaded by sting*.

Namaste! This is Sparta!

Gym Jones - Power, Speed, Endurance, Suffering and Salvation

Think your individuality is what makes you special, and that individuality determines how far you can go? Gym Jones--the gym apparently responsible for the meatfest in the movie 300--says otherwise, snowflake:


If you weren't given the gift you can't get the gift so the best you can do – if your goal is important – is work as hard as you possibly can, pay attention every hour of every day and then maybe, maybe if you've done enough and been smart enough you'll emerge from the muck of mediocrity to shine a bit brighter than you shone before. Then, upon reflection you might decide your goal is a bit more important so you'll start paying attention every minute of every hour of every day. You'll find people who are better than you and you'll take an empty cup when you meet them. Their example will destroy or inspire you and if it's the latter you may stay and learn. You might imitate, doing as they do because you've already accepted that you do not know best – if you did you'd be leading the group they were trying to join. Perhaps being exposed to their superior ability will drive you to work harder than you thought possible, or necessary. Maybe you'll overcome your self-imposed (or worse, society-imposed) limitations and shine even more brightly. Wow, you're getting it: positive reinforcement for hard work and suffering. So maybe you give your goal even more significance and you begin cutting away the ideas and the expectations and the people who you believe prevent you from achieving it. Now you become a real selfish prick, and you begin paying attention every second of every minute of every hour of every day, and you sustain your awareness for weeks and months at a time. You no longer think yourself a unique snowflake, you're a steel-edged blade shaped like a snowflake and you're spinning at warp speed. You're the biggest fish in the pond. You're a badass. Now you have options.

Interestingly, this physical fitness philosophy is surprisingly similar to aspects of Hindu principle. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, as India has its own version of Gym Jones, depending on your focus.

What would happen if everyone stopped focusing on differences, targeting instead the unattainable?

September 29, 2007

An Example in a Dream

This morning I had a dream that is a parable of my current life decisions.

It was set in a basement restaurant somewhere; I sat at a small table just like the dozen other customers present at the time. The owner of the establishment was walking to each table chatting, observing and doing the owner thing, but he also was explaining to the patrons how to do something with the food at their table. It was almost as if it was a cooking class of some sort, just one where we all worked on different things.

Though I don't remember leaving the restaurant, I distinctly felt as if this tutelage was not a singular instance but, rather, a recurring theme. It was a class--one that spanned the course of a couple days. A few people joined mid-way and a couple others left without finishing. But the atmosphere stayed the same, and we slowly were learning.

At one point, we were asked to do something. I feel as if it were some type of group project or test, a proof of our understanding. We strained under the pressure of the task. No one knew how were were going to accomplish it, and our despair started to show. The owner, in his casual, passive way, questioned our planning and strategy. Sure the project was big, but aren't big things composed of small parts? See here: that decorative peeling you learned with the garnish she perfected, covered with the drizzle that the couple over there have been working on all this time... Aha!

The lights came on in our heads and we completed our project successfully. It was a beautifully ornate thing; our instructor beamed with satisfaction, and we celebrated our accomplishment, pushing our little tables together into a makeshift dinner spread.

At this point, the owner disappeared; I felt as if he was, for our purposes, gone. As we waited for the celebratory food, my classmates talked about how he must have been a genius to teach us to make something so fantastic.

"He didn't give us a genius idea," the guy sitting across from me countered. "He just helped us see the genius ideas we each already had."

I agreed. I agreed with all my heart, and I knew that he understood the potential of humanity in a way similar to mine. Yet as he said it, our colleagues turned away from their success and looked back at themselves. Limited by their own self-perception and self-doubt, we could literally watch as they visibly sank from the elevated level they experienced back to the confused, despairing, leaderless creatures they were before the class.

I turned my head away; I think I wanted to cry, but I could not. I just knew I couldn't bear to look at them anymore, nor would I look at them and forget the new horizon I had just realized. The guy across from me noticed my actions and said something, but I was drifting out of slumber at this point and cannot remember what he said.

The dream encapsulated my feelings these days. In many ways, my move from a more default method of working and living to an independent (and, in my opinion, more traditional) style is the equivalent of me turning my head away in the dream. I refuse to accept the reality; I believe with all my heart only in the potential. If the only way to push toward that new horizon is to turn my back, even on those who have greater potential than I possess, so be it.

I do not live to be; I am here to live (writing that, I realize it sounds better when translated into just about every other language I can think of). I hope that today, and every day, I might be able to inspire one or two as the instructor did in my dream.

September 25, 2007

Iranian President Tests Limits of Free Speech in NYC

Ahmadinejad, at Columbia, Parries and Puzzles - New York Times


He said that there were no homosexuals in Iran — not one — and that the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews should not be treated as fact, but theory, and therefore open to debate and more research.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, aired those and other bewildering thoughts in a two-hour verbal contest at Columbia University yesterday, providing some ammunition to people who said there was no point in inviting him to speak. Yet his appearance also offered evidence of why he is widely admired in the developing world for his defiance toward Western, especially American, power.

Morning Musume Diary: Full of Love and Sunshine!

... and now for something else totally out of nowhere! I think all the studying is frying the circuits in my brain. Anyway, how can you not smile listening to these girls chatter. Reminds me of the youth group back in Daegu.

Enjoy the sheer superficiality of it all!

September 24, 2007

Everyday Conclusions: Curb Your Enthusiasm for the Ladies

If you look to much, you're lecherous. If you don't look enough, you don't appreciate, and no matter what, your appetite will never be satisfied.

Taking the tidbits I've gathered from the last fourteen months of study, I thought it prudent to make everyday conclusions I could apply practically and explain elegantly to enchanted dinner guests. For today's topic, I thought I'd cover something near and dear to my heart: Watching the girls in their summer dresses.

Now you see what happens when you give a simple person an education.

Is it acceptable for a man--particularly a married, committed man--to observe the beauty of the female form? In this question we specifically disassociate this activity with the pursuit of or fraternization with the object of attention; that's a much more involved topic that deserves a separate conversation. Instead, here we ponder only the benefit or detriment that is a result of this time-honored non-contact pastime.

Let's make an assumption right off the bat; men enjoy looking at feminine beauty. This assumption is important for a couple reasons. It tells us that:

  • men do not enjoy looking at feminine hideousness, and, therefore
  • men look because they find something beautiful.

Of course, this leads us to ask, "What is the appeal of the appealing woman?" I postulate that there are two subtypes of this appeal: the aesthetic and the practical.

In speaking of a woman's aesthetic appeal, it is important to note that this, under the scrutinizing eye, often wilts, falls apart, or slinks away, as love and photons are also known to do. We simply must enjoy it for what it is. In the same way that I gasp at a big, beautiful sky or radiate with energy on a warm autumn evening, I am compelled to contemplate a woman by a specific emotional appeal. I think this emotion could be the same that people often ascribe to the creation of La Gioconda: It is one which inspires and enchants--yes, enchantment is a perfect word to encapsulate this aesthetic appeal. The female beauty enchants me, the crisp autumn night invigorates me, and a grand, majestic sky humbles me.

Should man be humbled, invigorated, and enchanted? For the first two, I say yes, undoubtedly. There is a need for man to recognize his infinite smallness in relation to all space and matter, as well as a need for strength, courage, and diligence in order to persevere in the realization of this insignificance. The first two definitely have value in being.

Enchantment, however, is not so certain. That which is enchanting is charming; it is pleasant. Its nature attracts and delights us. As a result, here is as far as our universal definition can go. Many people actively seek pleasure as their sole reward in life and would deem this appeal as completely appropriate. Others would clearly separate earthly pleasures from those of a higher spiritual personal consciousness and may be divided as to the categorization of this pleasure. A hardy few eschew all pleasure, attraction and desire in the hope of attaining an enlightenment that is not distorted by limited human perception. For these, human enchantment would be a setback.

In short, the aesthetic appeal of a woman can be regarded as acceptable based on your preexisting life philosophy. If you do not have a life philosophy, you probably should be thinking about that instead of watching the view anyway, shouldn't you?

Now on to the second appeal, the one of a more practical nature. Instead of setting you to soar on a zephyr of euphoria, it leaves you firmly rooted to the ground, interested much more in action than concept. This is the reaction that many people are quick to describe as carnal, common, vulgar and base.

Coincidentally, it is also necessary and vital to human existence. If men did not succumb to this practical appeal, it would be hard to imagine the mating process, and subsequent reproduction process, going very far. Just to clarify, we're not talking about romance here--which is possibly an invented concept that men don't really relate to anyway. This is an acceptance of an intrinsic tendency to perpetuate life (a fatal flaw in some philosophies), a taxonomic duty to procreate and, at is most trivial essence, the fulfillment of sexual release.

So why such a negative connotation? Because an excessive catering to these whims has been justifiably equated to a lack of control. See above; there are things of a higher priority than sowing oats. There are those who place this at a higher value than is the social norm. As a result, most who find this attraction to be inappropriate do so because of this perceived licentiousness. In reality, the key to most sexual morality codes is not in right or wrong, but rather selective application.

An idea that can apply to both aesthetic and practical attraction, but more can be more acutely utilized as a guide here, is the effect our observations may have on those being observed. A wife may complain of a husband's lustful eye but, in reality, very much appreciates that habit when it is directed towards her. Conversely, she may enjoy her husband's practical attraction but find that those of his best mate leave her somewhat uncomfortable. There are similar delineations with regard to age, environment, and other factors that can give insight into whether we're infringing on someone else's pursuit of happiness.

Is there a switch that allows a man to turn this attraction on or off? Can man determine when it is prudent to activate it? And when it all boils down, what will become of that practical attraction? If you are keeping true to our scenario, maintaining this pastime as non-contact, It would seem that in almost every scenario this would result in only repression and frustration. In this case, I don't believe these feelings are of any value to the common man.

Perhaps, then, it would be best if the individual man calculated for himself a control which would provide restraint and an exercise in control without binding these natural attractions so tight that they force themselves improperly through the seams or over the brim of our cool composure. Keeping in mind the fruits of his actions, he should seed to create a pleasant interaction for all.

Ladies, have you thought of any formal approach to interaction with men?

September 23, 2007

Gaffer Tape Art in Tokyo’s Train Stations

PingMag - Gaffer Tape Art in Tokyo's Train Stations

"Many people create something because they long for attention from others, but Mr. Sato is different... He just wanted to offer more safety and better accessibility for the passengers. I really do respect that," Hikaru Yamashita says.

September 20, 2007

Languages Racing to Extinction

Languages Racing to Extinction in 5 Global "Hotspots"

More than half of the world's 7,000 languages are expected to die out by the end of the century, often taking with them irreplaceable knowledge about the natural world, Harrison said.

"Most of what we know about species and ecosystems is not written down anywhere, it's only in people's heads," he said.

"We are seeing in front of our eyes the erosion of the human knowledge base."

September 17, 2007

His majesty the Everest


His majesty the Everest, originally uploaded by Ingiro.

I'm beginning my intensive course today... 8:30am to 6:30pm monday through friday, in addition to my normal evening courses. If I'm not around, now you know why.

September 15, 2007

Is the Web Creating a Crueler Generation?

Ypulse: Media for the Next Generation

This generation of teens has grown up on reality television, a genre that often thrives on conflict and humiliation ("American Idol" auditions, "America's Funniest Home Videos"). I think our culture as a whole has gotten much crueler -- the endless tabloid coverage, gossip blogs and celeb weeklies that pick apart stars, show close-ups of their cellulite and revel in their screw ups, has a trickle down affect on the young people that consume this entertainment. At the same time, we have managed to redefine what it means to be famous. You can endure a scandal or public humiliation and somehow come out on top, just like Paris Hilton, Miss Teen South Carolina...and who knows, maybe even Britney. Teens mirror this culture on a micro-level -- there's drama and mini-scandals happening online all the time. Compromising photos get posted and sent around leaving a permanent online record of teen exploits. Unfortunately, these teens don't have an army of publicists and media handlers to help them overcome the humiliation and transform it into fame and fortune. They are getting thicker skins though, and, I think, a growing sense of satisfaction in watching the celebrity trainwreck.

September 10, 2007

Facebook ends your relationships

How Facebook Ended My Marriage

Within minutes an email arrived from a friend in San Francisco asking if I was doing ok and a friend in France posted the news on his Twitter feed (photo above), which has nearly 800 readers. Colleagues discussed the situation without me knowing about it.

Suddenly I found myself explaining to people spanning nine timezones that we are, in fact, still getting married. Don’t always believe what Facebook tells you.

Legendary party Misshapes was held for the last time

Legendary party Misshapes was held for the last time on... (kottke.org)

Never went to the thing, but man did I have fun with the pictures. It really was where I went to think "fashion edge" before our trip to Korea.

Actually, the real reason I even discovered the photos in the first place was because some site, long forgotten, linked to a series of the pics where a few people started going overboard with drunk guy jenga. Now that I think of it, was that from Kottke as well?

Internet People!

Internet People! -The Meth Minute 39 | Channel Frederator

Gotta say this couldn't be done much better. A lot of things I didn't even see the first time around too. How many appearances do you recognize? RumorsDaily has the list if you want to check.

September 7, 2007

How Designers use Moleskines

A peek inside Moleskine notebooks by artists, designers, architects, etc. - (37signals)

I bought a moleskine notebook in hopes that it would help me with getting out some ideas trapped within. Largely, I consider it a failure because the one I purchased is graph-lined. I already have a graph-lined, leather-bound notebook which I've already become more accustomed to, and I think my problem is that the lines define me (perhaps an unlined version would have been a better option).

The Real World

Who wants to live in The Real World? - (37signals)

The Real World must be a truly depressing place to live. It’s apparently a realm where new ideas, unfamiliar approaches, and foreign concepts always lose. I’m told that the only thing that works in The Real World is what its inhabitants already know and already do. No matter how flawed or inefficient that way may be.

September 6, 2007

MT4 cripples me and leaves me helpless

Yesterday a piece I wrote about the new Movable Type 4 was posted on eHub. It was a story I asked for, but ultimately, I was unable to be as effective on the story as I'd like--mainly for very technical, mac-related reasons.

One of the things that really won me over when I was wrestling with switching in Korea was the relative ease with which you could create a development environment and test your sites and web applications locally on a Mac machine. I say relative because it did require some delving into concepts that I had been avoiding like the plague.

Now that I've got the new MacBook, I really was hoping to avoid the hassle of setting up the development environment all over again. I was actually considering working with Ruby on Rails just so that I could develop in Locomotive, but instead I found the answer to my dreams, MAMP.

Usually your typical web dev setup consists of Linux, Apache, mysql, and PHP (or Perl). A short acronym is LAMP; MAMP simply refers to using the Macintosh platform (which runs on linux). A neat little app that allowed me to develop and test in such an easy way was all my dreams come true.

In the next day or so I installed about eight different content management systems, blogging platforms, wikis and other goodies. It worked without a hitch. With the added fun of working with Coda, life was a bowl of pitted cherries.

Enter MT4. This blog runs on MT3, so I was eager to give the new version a test drive. It's seemed natural that I just write about it as I go. I downloaded the beta and went to install. Installation is a lot easier in this iteration, though not as nice as some of the other systems I'd just installed. Dropping the static files into MAMP's htdocs folder and the cgi files into the cgi-bin, I opened a browser and worked through the install.

Progress halted at a request for the DBI module. Hmm. Oh wait; My good buddy showed me a little magic called CPAN... That should do the trick!

Well it would if I could actually MAKE the stupid module once installed. I can't, for the life of me, seem to get this module installed. It would seem a couple other people have had similar issues:

http://forum.mamp.info/viewtopic.php?t=1204&highlight=dbi
http://forum.mamp.info/viewtopic.php?t=1131&highlight=dbi

And that this may be an OS X issue:

http://www.cpanforum.com/posts/859
http://www.thescripts.com/forum/thread676055.html

But I can't seem to find a definite, consistent answer to correcting.

I'm tempted to just go the old way and install mysql, but thinking about that made me wonder where the location of MAMP's mysql is--would I lose the databases from my other web apps if I did that--and if Movable Type is looking in the correct location for the DBI module.

Unfortunately I'm not finding very many answers. And, of course, knowledgeable voices in this regard are in short supply. So, my return to blogging with regularity has been attacked again. I ended up installing MT4 and testing it from my webhost just to get the eHub piece out of the way.

Since I want to upgrade this site and do some design diddling as well, this problem has been taking up huge portions of my day. I'll try to give posts some equal time. I'll also update this post for future generations if I ever do find an explainable solution.

September 4, 2007

Seattle to Boston on your morning break

LiveLeak.com - I-90 from Seattle to Boston

A drive across I-90, from Seattle to Boston, in about fifteen minutes. Pretty cool.

September 1, 2007

The three-finger salute

A Nice Gesture サ Serbian Salute by Marija Serifovic

The three-finger salute is a Serbian salute with the thumb, index, and middle fingers open. The origin of this gesture is said to be the orthodox way of crossing yourself, with three fingers instead of the entire hand (referring to the Christian Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). That is not unlikely but the actual othodox crossing is done with three fingers together, not spread. The spreaded Serbian salute could however be seen as an exaggerated version of the hand used in crossing. It is as if the Serbs, in this gesture, stress their difference from people that cross themselves with the thumb touching the fingers in opposition (catholic Croats?).

The Serbian salute is made, for example, by fans and players to celebrate sport victories. Members of other ethnic groups, especially Bosniaks and Croats, are said to find it provocative. So, it is effectively a symbol of national and/or ethnic identity.

Wow; here I thought it was just a lazy peace sign. An interesting article on how this simple hand gesture is almost as offensive as a middle finger to some people groups--and the larger more philosophical topic of when a group identity can become detrimental.