Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Quotations: It's Weird to Think of New Media as Dirty Tech

"Admittedly, when an office-equipment firm can attempt to recruit sales staff with the picture of Che Guevara and the text We would have hired him, the temptation to withdraw is great. But fear of handling shit is a luxury a sewerman cannot necessarily afford."
--Hans Magnus Enzensberger, on why the Left needs to utilize New Media.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Comic Panel Wednesday: The Sound is Bakklassh

Ever wonder what sound a godblow dealt by Hercules' adamantine hammer makes when it hits Athena's Aegis, the battle armor of Typhon, last born of the Greek monsters?

Now you know.

Later Days.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Guess Why I Never Went Into Art. Go On, Guess.

Let's play guess the picture!

Is it....
a poorly drawn polar bear, clenching his teeth in a snowstorm?
a poorly drawn set of translucent beads on a string?
a poorly drawn version of the function y = |sin x|, reflected about the x axis?

No, it's not any of the above (well, except poorly drawn). It's the poorly drawn aerial view of an uncleared walking path on a snowy day. The thick black line represents the main walking path, made relatively easy to traverse by repeated walkings--but still not big enough for two people to walk side by side. The curves off to the side represent what happens whenever two people walking in opposite directions meet each other.

It's fascinating to watch. Generally, each person goes off the path to their right, and walks forward through untrod snow until they pass each other, then gradually return to the main path. What I find so interesting is that it's not one person standing to the side, so someone else can get by, like you'd do in a hallway--nobody gets to walk on the "good" portion. It's the equivalent of two people reaching for the last chocolate at the same time, and instead of one taking it, or sharing it, or starting a brawling smackdown over it, both decide to tactfully leave the box forever unfinished.

There's a certain level of basic politeness to it, but I think there's also a level of un-intimacy, and expediency. If you know the person in question, then such a situation is resolved by compromise based on your relationship with them. If you come across a colleague, you come face-to-face, and chat. If it's a superior, you move to the side and make way. But for a stranger, there's no real point in seeing who moves first, unless you're throwing around some deep-seated alpha male issues. Further, it's significant that both people are in transit; it's not like the chocolate scenario, because there's no immediate reward for "winning" the engagement. The fastest resolution is for both people to move off the trail and continue on their way.

Every now and then, someone, like my perennial favorite, Jean Jacques Rousseau, puts forward the idea that society is formed based on some tacit social contract. I don't agree with most articulations of this contract, because, like in Rousseau's case, they tend to take a specific society (18th century continental Europe) and universalize their theory based on that. That doesn't work. Even for my snow example: when I lived in the rural community of Wherever, many sidewalks wouldn't be clear until spring (usally in May). Thus, I deliberately walked slightly outside the "set" path, in order to enlarge it over a course of multiple weeks. Where I am now, in Blank, that action wouldn't make sense, since the city or the university cleans most of the side-walks on my path on a daily basis. So even within this very specialized case of snow walking, there's some diversity in behaviour. But once we recognize that diversity, we can still appreciate the shared commonalities.

Why have I thought so much about snow paths? Put it this way: I'm in my mid-twenties, I've never owned a car or taken a bus regularly, and I've lived through Canadian winters every year of my life. I HAVE SOME EXPERIENCE IN THIS AREA.

Later Days.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Quotations: Dream Time

"When we are asleep, it seems to me, we sleep surrounded by all the years. I have imagined, sleeping, that I heard the footsteps of the long dead; I have held conversations with them, and with the blank-faced people I was yet to meet, conversations that seemed of unbearable poignancy, though when I woke I could remember only a few words, and those not words that possessed, waking, any emotional significance to me. It is said that this is because content is divorced from emotion in sleep, as though the sleeping mind read two books at once, one of tears and lust and laughter, the other of words and phrases picked up from old newspapers, from grimy handbills blowing along the street and conversations overheard in barbershops and bars, and the banalities of radio. I think rather that we have forgotten on waking what the words have meant to us, or have not learned as yet what they will mean. But the worst thing is to wake and remember that we have been talking to the dead, having never thought to hear that voice again, having never any expectation of hearing it again before we ourselves are gone."
--Gene Wolfe's Peace.

A critic described Wolfe's Peace as Wolfe's most mainstream work. That's a bit like describing Romeo and Juliet as Shakespeare's best hip-hop performance.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Poop, or Get off the Pot

So it's Thursday night, 9:00, and I haven't eaten yet. That's because I've vowed not to leave campus until I've read 100 pages of The New Media Reader. Progress is slow. There's a lot of interesting connections and so forth, though, so I'm not too upset about this development. (There's an idea percolating, from the juxtaposition of an article on The Happenings in 60s New York with Alan Turing's comment that telepathy introduces chaos into the computer imitation test, on the element of randomness in New Media processes, which'll probably prove interesting when finished.) No, the problem at hand is the very, very long conversation going on behind me between three undergraduate males. They are having a long, poignant debate on whether the tallest of the three should take a risk and ask out a certain lady friend, thus putting their current relation in jeopardy, but with the potential of greater returns in the long run. They are currently discussing the importance of being earnest. Really.

Okay, this is not a discussion I do not feel sympathy for. I myself have been in the young man's position, and I have, at various times, chosen both sides of the choice before him. And I admire his friends for rallying around them. I even approve of their vocabulary, which, for male undergraduates, is remarkably short on crude sexual innuendo and cursing. But damn it, guys, I'm trying to work here, and when the focus is Douglas Engelbart's discussion on augmenting human intellect, I don't need to hear about your five-year life plan.

I have 8 pages left. 8. And all I can think of is going over to them, and delivering my opinion. At great length. Great, horrible length. The gruesome details of my personal history (because if I know theirs, shouldn't they know mine?), the rich and varied literary references on the subject, (from Pride and Prejudice to Plato's Symposium, with maybe some de Sade thrown in, because I'm feeling nasty), and the views of posthumanism on homeostasis. (Because really, if humans were self-correcting, then there wouldn't be any problem here.) At the very least, such a spiel would probably get them to stop talking long enough to hit me, and really, even that break would be a blessing.

...Apparently, I've become a bitter old man when it comes to the slings of Cupid's Arrows. The transformation into academia is almost complete.

8 pages. 8. pages. 8 p. a. g. e. s.

Later Days.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday Comics: Now THAT'S Crazy

Image taken from Thunderbolts 120, and features Norman Osborn going into full-blown loony. It's my favorite comic book soliloquy that doesn't involve hand puppets.

Later Days.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I blame Cupid. Lousy heathen bastard.

How did you spend your Valentine's Day? I spent mine with my single male friends from the English department. We got together, had a few drinks, and watched the X-Men cartoon show from the 90s. And I couldn't think of anyone I'd have rather spent it with.

Seriously, I couldn't think of anyone. And I tried, for, like, an hour. At least from the conclusion of the Dark Phoenix Trilogy to the Return of the Juggernaut. Clearly, I need to meet some new women.

Later Days.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Quotations: Second Season Improvement

"He's a tourist. He vacations in people's lives, takes pictures, puts them in a scrapbook, and moves on. All he's interested in are stories." --Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation, Season 2, episode 15.

You know, I really wasn't expecting to find the the complement to last week's quotation from the The Hours in the middle of NBC's Comedy Thursday line-up. Funny how things work out.

Later Days.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday Comics: The Return?

I used to do a regular comic book feature, but it kind of fizzled out. My average reader didn't care, it wasn't bringing in the comic book crowd, and, what honestly affected my decision the most, they took a damn long time to write. So from the "picture is worth a 1000 words" school of cliches, here's a new feature: Wednesday Panel. One Wednesday, one comic strip panel. Boom.

From Uncle Scrooge Comics #54.

I don't know who is more worthy of ridicule here: the nephews, for their notion of what makes "swinging" music lyrics, or Uncle Scrooge, for having Johann Strauss as his go-to guy for popular music.

If you enjoy the new panel feature, and want to see it return every week, then give absolutely no sign, make no comments, and send no emails. That way, I'll know you'll like it as much as I do.

Later Days.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


For the eagle-eyed among you, you may have noticed the preponderance of search terms ending in "" Technically, (with the exception of the humbug searches) those weren't actually search terms but blog addresses. Specifically, they were the address of blogs that people came from to get to my blog, via Blogger's random jump feature. I thought I'd check them out, because, well, I'm bored.

Interestingly, the majority all seem to have something to do with reading or writing books. Book Chic, Red Roses for Authors, Under a Blood Red Sky, and Spoonreader are all book review blogs; none of the books are really my type (for what it's worth, Spoonreader comes closest), but to each their own. Sidney William's Journal, Field|Work, and Iron Caisson are blogs operated by published authors that I'm not incredibly jealous of at all, and The Writer's Edge is a blog focused on issues important to writers and aspiring writers. And to finish things off, we have the non-book related blog **Katiez Furry Mewz! (New bloggie!)** is a blog about a woman and her cats. Written in LOLcat. Which is kind of disturbing, but at the same time, I can't look away.

Are there any implications we can find from this random assortment? Well, I guess that, from this sample at least, we see that people aren't switching from print to electronic; their blog activities are supplemental (or maybe complementary) to their offline pursuits. Which, a decade or so into the blogging phenomenon, is a little like a "and is water wet?" kind of a conclusion, but there you go.

Later Days.

Flipping The Clock II

Is time linear, or cyclical? Does it flow like the sands of an hour glass or like a gurgling stream? Is it subjective or objective? Panoptic or pandemic? Random adjective or similar adjective? All I know is, it's time for another installment of...

Flipping the Clock.

So you all know the drill here. My stat count is nearing its full status for the sixth time, so before I reset it all, I'm going to go through the search results, because it amuses me. And, for extra fun, here's a the location map of all visitors:

In case you're thinking that this doesn't add up to four hundred and fifty some locations, remember there is some repeat traffic and compression going on. Plus, you have to subtract the hundred or so times a day I come to check the site myself. Moving on, here's the search results. Analysis after.
humbug bistro, humboldt sask Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
humboldt saskatchewan humbug blog Denare Beach, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbug bistro' Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbug bistro Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbug bistro Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
humboldt sask blog Lanigan, Saskatchewan, Canada Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
"humbug bistro" humboldt Dublin, Ireland
humbugbistro Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
prawnto "File not found" Ormond Beach, Florida, United States
"patrick bartlett"national imagery and mapping agency Boston, Massachusetts, United States Nepean, Ontario, Canada Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
humboldt humbug bistro Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbug bistro humboldt blog Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
starburst anecdotes Houston, Texas, United States
humbug blog humboldt sk Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbug blog humboldt sask Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
saskatchewan blog humbug humboldt Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
humboldt saskatchewan humbug blog Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbugbistro Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbug blog humboldt sask Shellbrook, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbug bistro blog Brampton, Ontario, Canada
humboldt humbugbistro saskatchewan blog Kindersley, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbug humboldt saskatchewan Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbug bistro blog Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
"humbug bistro% Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbug bistro facebook Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
www.tvshow.farescape/com Medford, Oregon, United States
meaning red starbursts Boston, Massachusetts, United States

humbugbistro, humboldt Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
humbug bistro blog Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States Walton, Greater London, United Kingdom
humbug bistro humboldt United States
koran Bangkok, Krung Thep, Thailand
humbug bistro blog Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
chutzpah Elverum, Hedmark, Norway
aarseth cybertext rapidshare Berlin, Germany
taminator France
writers edge info.blogspot Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, United States
anathem Redmond, Washington, United States
south park cleveland steamer Canada
if on a winter's night a traveler implied reader Kingston Upon Hull, Kingston Upon Hul, United Kingdom Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada
sidney williams.blogspot La Crosse, Wisconsin,United States Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada Quezon City, Philippines Lima, Peru
literary theory applied in if on a winter Kochi, Kerala, India
cleveland steamers; train Taoyüan, T'ai-wan, Taiwan
terry pratchett social issues ???
bazakbal author San Francisco, California, United States
book review if on a winters night Santa Clara, California, United States
ludmilla, the perfect reader Leeds, United Kingdom
themes in on a winters night a traveler New York, United States
Tazio Bazakbal Alexandria, Virginia, United States
a room of one's own implied author New Haven, Connecticut, United States
narration in "if on a winter night a traveler" Thessaloníki, Thessaloniki, Greece
book review if night Columbia, South Carolina, United States
cleveland things to do Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
danielle Letchworth, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom
anal sex gross Fredericksburg, Virginia, United States
postpone to a later date Ljubljana, Bohinj, Slovenia
"compliant and promiscuous" Oxford, Mississippi, United States
reader response calvino if on a winter's night Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
terry pratchett on positivism Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
experimental movie Zagreb, Grad Zagreb, Croatia

That's a lot of searches. The lion's share, of course, goes to people looking for the humbug bistro blog. May November (and substantial parts of December) always be remembered for that time I leached off the fame of a much more popular site. Once you factor out those queries, the book reviews seem to be the most popular sections, which makes sense. After all, the book titles are search terms that are widely known enough to attract a large audience, yet distinct enough that this blog doesn't get drowned by all the others with similar topics. Italo Calvino's "If On a Winter's Night a Traveler" seems to top the list, so do take a look at it, if you haven't already. I'd do more book reviews, but they take for friggin' ever to write.

That's it for this round. See you in another 500. Or you know, next post.

Later Days.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

How to Change a Bike Tire

I'm going to try and get back to a regular posting schedule. Here's a little gem that, temporally, occurred about a week ago.
So your front tire is leaking air? No problem! Here's an easy, step-by-step guide to changing that tire and getting YOU back on the road.
Step 1. Deflate the tire.
Step 2. Since you don't have the proper tool for opening the tire valve, use a thumb tack.
Step 3. After your hand slips several times, and you prick yourself, you will now be bleeding. Find some kleenex to clean up the blood.
Step 4. Tug and pull at the tire earnestly for a few minutes, and curse at it because you can't seem to remove it.
Step 5. Use the quick-release system to detach the tire.
Step 6. Tug and pull at the tire earnestly for a few minutes, and curse at it because you can't seem to remove it.
Step 7. Detach the front brakes.
*NOTE: Steps 4 and 6 can be skipped if you're in a hurry.
Step 8. Pry the tire off so you can get at the inner tube.
Step 9. Since you don't have any tire levers, use butterknives to pry to tire off. This will also involve much cursing.
Step 10. Remove the inner tube.
Step 11. Stand back and look at the tire, the tube, and the wheel, and feel a sense of satisfaction.
Step 12. Feel sense of satisfaction fade when you realize you're missing something.
Step 13. Go to the bike shop the next day and buy a new inner tube.
Step 14. Buy the inner tube two sizes too big, because you can't read your own hand writing and that 2 really looks like a 4.
Step 15. Put the tube back around the wheel rim, and the tire around the tube. Re-inflate. (Note: Did I mention you need an air pump for this step? Well, you need an air pump for this step.)
Step 16. Experience extreme difficulties because your tube is too big. And because your tire was stretched out severely in Step 9 and now resembles Silly Putty.
Step 17. Get extremely agitated and wonder why you were never taught these things properly and blame a poor upbringing (Hi folks!) and ruminate on how this is everyone's fault but yours.
Step 18. Think dark thoughts and add up all this bike has cost you, in terms of finance and in terms of good mental health.
Step 19. Throw the whole damn thing away and buy a new bike.

Optional: Drink a shot of rum between each step. It can't make things any worse, and it might make them better.

Later Days.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Quotations: I wanted the quotation about never travelling too far from love, else you risk losing citizenship in the country of your birth...

...and then you get stuck in the airport, and have exchange all your money just to get something from the Cinnabun. Or something. Like I said, I couldn't find that quotation. But here's the next best thing from Michael Cunningham'sThe Hours:
"Richard cannot imagine a life more interesting or worthwhile than those being lived by his acquaintances and himself, and for that reason, one often feels exalted, expanded in his presence. He is not one of those egoists who miniaturizes others. He is the opposite kind of egotist, driven by grandiosity rather than greed, and if he insists on a version of you that is funnier, stranger,more eccentric and profound than you suspect yourself to be--capable of doing more good and more harm in the world than you've ever imagined--iot is all but impossible not believe, at least in his presence and for a while after you've left him, that he alone sees through to your essence, weighs your true qualities (not all of which are necessarily flattering--a certain clumsy, childish rudeness is part of his style), and appreciates you more fully than anyone else ever has. It is only after knowing him for some time that you begin to realize you are, to him, an essentially fictional character, one he has invested with nearly limitless capacities for tragedy and comedy not because that is your true nature, but because he, Richard, needs to live in a world peopled by extreme and commanding figures. Some have ended their relations with him rather than continue as figures in the epic poem he is always composing inside his head, the story of his life and passions; but others (Clarissa among them) enjoy the sense of hyperbole he brings to their lives, have even come to depend on it, the way they depend on coffee to wake them up in the morning and a drink or two to send them off at night."

Don't we all know a Dick like that?

Yeah, I ruined the mood there. I ruin things.

Later Days.