e martë Maj 02, 2006

Acquiring my own 21st Century Work of Art

Well last week was my birthday and I decided I really wanted something tangible this time. I absolutely could not live without a new video iPod. We discussed earlier the differences between 20th Century art (a urinal) and 21st Century art (an iPod) here.

I guess I have to confess that I haven't yet downloaded an episode of "Desparate Housewives" or "Lost" from iTunes in order to test out the video quality of my iPod. Maybe later. I have been loading up on my favorite music. As a traveling consultant I am surprised at how noise polluted our environment is. I fly every week, walk around the streets of New York and take subways. In each of those environments the noise from the jets, the traffic or the trains can overwhelm the music from the iPod. Even with noise pollution music has the ability to produce a strong emotional response within me. As Shakespeare said,
"Now, divine air! now is his soul ravish'd!
Is it not strange that sheep's guts should hale souls out of men's bodies?
("Much Ado About Nothing," Act 2)

Music isn't the only reason to have an iPod though. You can improve your mind through books on iPod and even college lectures. I have loaded up an overview of philosophy entitled "The Consequences of Ideas" by one of my favorite lecturers. I have also seen some courses packaged at Barnes & Noble called "The Portable Professor" that I have had my eye on for some time. Also, podcasting is the latest rage on the web and many sites offer mp3 downloads that can be stored on the iPod and reviewed later on those long flights.

For an approach to the video iPod that I had not even considered I commend to you Greg Papadopoulos' thoughts on the topic. (While mentioning one of my favorite brainiacs/MIT grads, check out his thoughts on the real meaning of Moore's law here.)

Got to go, I think some Dan Folgelberg is coming up the iPod rotation.

e diel Pri 30, 2006

Back from Blause

Well, I am back. Blause, as we discovered earlier, is a neologism for 'blog pause.' In a sports analogy, I had some contract issues to work out with Sun and free agency seemed the best option for both of us.

We got all that straightened out and now I am working with a large customer in Manhattan and having a great time. New York city is just a cultural Mecca. (Note to the city tourist board, pick a night like Tuesday or Wednesday and get the museums to stay open late. If it closes at 6pm, I can't make it because I have to work.) Even if I can't enjoy the art museums, I can enjoy the theater. So far, since January I have seen 'Rent', 'The Producers' and 'Wicked.' Next week I am taking my lovely wife to see 'Jersey Boys' and at the end of May I am going to 'Lestat.' (I am not sure how you make a musical about vampires but I am going to give it a try.)

You really should see 'Wicked' if at all possible. It is the back story to the 'Wizard of Oz' and it is hilarious. 'The Producers' is also hilarious but I would bet that it was a little better with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.

e diel Mar 13, 2005


Last Friday I got this rockin' new Treo 650. I have suffered with an antique Nokia for years but no more. I am beginning to exploit the features of the new phone. I revived my Outlook Calendar/Contacts/Memos/ToDo list which had languished since my last Palm died and I switched laptops. It checks email (which I have not yet set up), surfs the web (which I am struggling with), supports a Bluetooth headset (which is currently more hassel than its worth), and sends and receives short messages. It also has a built in camera phone. You may say to yourself, 'Who the heck needs a camera phone?' but I would argue that it does have at least one practical purpose.

I arrived at DFW Airport Monday morning at 5:30am to catch an early flight. I immediately snapped the picture on the right in order to remember exactly where my car was parked. I took the picture because last August I forgot where I parked my car between the 3 American Airlines terminals at the DFW airport. After an hour of fruitless searching for my misplaced car, traveling back and forth between terminals, I called American Reservations. Do you know it is very difficult to find out where a flight left from last Monday? My flight home was delayed Thursday night and I arrived in Dallas after 11pm tired and cranky. But we did arrive at terminal A very near my car and I had no doubts about where I left it at the crack of doom (ur, uh, dawn) on Monday morning.

So my typical travel routine is to have a page sent to my phone concerning my departure gate 2 hours before each flight. Since I use American Airlines primarily, I go to http://www.aa.com and the 2nd button in the left column is titled "Travel Information." That opens another menu where the 2nd entry is 'Flight Status Notification' which expands to 'View/Delete' or 'Create.' You can get a voice mail or a page and even my old Nokia supported text pages. Then when I finally find a parking spot in the multilevel garage, I take a picture of the nearest marker so that I know what level I parked on.

Give Blood

Last week I got a call that supplies of my blood type were low and would I please come in. Well, absolutely. While at the blood center yesterday I saw a chart that indicated that only 7% of Anglos have my blood type, A-. Whether your type is relatively rare (O-, B+ or - and AB+ or -) or fairly common (0+ or A+), please go down and give your pint. According to the Red Cross 40,000 units of blood are needed every day in the United States but only 5% of healthy Americans donate.

e premte Mar 04, 2005

Blog traffic, CATS and dogs

So my main man Mr. Bill, is trying to get his hit count up by mentioning popular terms. I am doing my part by suggesting that you check out his blog. I am always amazed at his brilliant approach and creativity. Anyone who actually posts the image on the right as his employee photo must be creative. I wonder who is finding my blog but he deliberately sets out to drive traffic to his with crude references like Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson and free internet porn. So in the spirit of the arms race, I went the the Google Zeitgeist to see how I could continue to beat his hit count. I wondered why he didn't mention Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Carmen Electra, Halley Berry or Jessica Simpson :) He has mentioned Skype and Firefox in the technical categories but I have a discussion of iPod as art and mp3s. I even got in the Oscars by complaining and these are all hot searches now. But if you really want to drive traffic, you have to mention Texas Holdem Poker. I don't know why that drives the hit count up, but it just drives the referrers crazy :)

On another topic, if you really want to waste some time you have to check out the (C)anine (A)lgorithmic (T)ransfer (S)ystem which will classify your doggie personality. Mr. Bill asserts that he is a St. Bernard while I wound up as a Tatra Mountain Sheepdog which has the scientific name OWCZAREK PODHALANSKI. Are there really enough vowels among all those consonants :)?

e enjte Shk 24, 2005

The Fountain Redux

My last blog entry was about the greatest piece of art in the 20th Century. Imagine my surprise when I went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and saw one version of Duchamp's "The Fountain." I am out in San Francisco for Sun's Customer Engineering Conference. I hope that some of the technical aspects of the conference will merit comment later. However, before the technical conference a little artistic contemplation at the museum was very nice. I particularly enjoyed the "Robert Bechtle: A Retrospective" exhibit. Photorealism is a very interesting art form. Why would someone carefully recreate a scene that could be captured in a photograph as in the Bechtle image "58 Rambler" on the left?
However, on the issue of Duchamp's "The Fountain," when allowing industrial objects to be exhibited as art, the idea proliferates and objects multiply. Sherry Levine installed a billiard table with 3 balls on it. Robert Gober installed stacks of newspaper tied with twine in one corner of a gallery. Finally Sam Taylor-Wood hung a flat panel monitor with time lapse photography of a rabbit's corpse decomposing called "A Little Death." The questions raised will not be solved in a blog but they are interesting.

e shtunë Shk 19, 2005

20th Century Art?

I promise I am not making this up...500 British art critics voted Marcel Duchamps "Fountain" (pictured to the left if you were wondering) the most important piece of art produced in the 20th century. Leaving aside all the outrage over whether or not a urinal actually is a piece of art and other equally contentious discussions, lets just grant the premise. If so, what a bankrupt century. I guess when we look back to trench warfare, facism, the gulags, the killing fields, Ruwanda, etc. we can see that it was a very bleak century. Modernity died a just death and I hope post modernism is passe in the new millenium.
Daniel Henninger, in the an OpinionJournal piece, offers the view that in the age of the computer chip perhaps the defining art of the new millenium is an iPod. His argument is that in our frantic age it allows at least the contemplation of music. One wonders about the quality of music embedded on those millions of iPods but then thats another argument altogether. I will state that art in the new millenium is certainly looking better than art at the end of previous millenium.

e martë Shk 08, 2005

Diagnosis Evil

The New York Times has an interesting and hand wringing article about the challenges of dealing with certain individuals like serial killers in our criminal justice system. Here's the opening of the article to tease you:

"Predatory killers often do far more than commit murder. Some have lured their victims into homemade chambers for prolonged torture. Others have exotic tastes - for vivisection, sexual humiliation, burning. Many perform their grisly rituals as much for pleasure as for any other reason.

Among themselves, a few forensic scientists have taken to thinking of these people as not merely disturbed but evil. Evil in that their deliberate, habitual savagery defies any psychological explanation or attempt at treatment.

Most psychiatrists assiduously avoid the word evil, contending that its use would precipitate a dangerous slide from clinical to moral judgment that could put people on death row unnecessarily and obscure the understanding of violent criminals."

The problems for psychiatrists become more clear as the article discusses a depravity scale and a 22 level hierarchy of evil behavior. The article calls into question the cultural and philosophical assumption of the basic goodness of humans. Much of the 20th Century...the Holocaust, the Gulags, the Killing Fields, Segregation etc. argue against this assumption. One of the lessons of Nazi Germany was the ease with which ordinary men became brutal thugs and vicious killers. Hannah Arendt made popular the phrase the 'banality of evil' after observing the Eichmann trial.

e mërkurë Jan 26, 2005

Sign of the Times

I am currently working at a large installation that requires parking passes. The nice ladies who give out those passes have a wonderful sign which reads:

This Job is a Test.
It is ONLY a Test.
Had this been an Actual Job, You Would Have Received
Raises, Promotions, and Other Signs of Appreciation.

To which I can only say, 'Represent!'. If your job resembles this sign I can only commiserate ;)
With apologies to the FCC and their Emergency Alert Announcement.

e mërkurë Jan 12, 2005

People who find my blog

Out of curiousity I have been checking who finds my blog based on the referers. I note that Mr. Solaris 10 Zones aka John Clingan has also asked this question. Its gratifying to come up in a search like "Solaris 10 x86 FireEngine" or "solaris 10 tecra 9100." However, it is semi-hilarious to come up in a search like "Paul Rogers +Queen". The searcher wants to know when the former lead singer of Bad Company will be performing with the group Queen sans Freddie Mercury. Now I am not actually the former lead singer for Bad Company but I did like both groups. I am also not the former senator from Florida, nor the dean of the SMU law school, nor the peace professor at the University of Bradford nor the artist. With this many name space collisions I now understand how people with very common last names feel.

e mërkurë Jan 05, 2005

Engineers with too much time on their hands

In a fascinating article Forbes offers "Five Custom Gadgets you Can't Buy." The image on the right is a beer cooler constructed from a microprocessor cooling unit. There is also an iPod Battery mounted in an Altoids box, an Etch-a-Sketch with a computerized drawing unit, and a PC mounted in a Millenium Falcon model ala Star Wars. I just love the internet. Its amazing what you can extract from information overload.

e diel Jan 02, 2005

Christmas Present

One of my best Christmas presents was a ticket to the Bruyas Collection exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art. My son got tickets for the entire family. I had almost given up hope of seeing them enjoy cultural exhibits, having overlooked the bored expressions of my darling children when I dragged them to museums throughout their childhood. But now that they are twentysomethings, culture is cool. We now swap meaningful notes on current books and movies. As a matter of fact Jordan takes issue with my review of Closer and asked for the screenplay for Christmas.

We had a nice family lunch and then went to the museum for a few hours. The exhibit consisted primarily of 19th century French works by Courbet and Delacroix. And then my poor children both had to go to work. I wanted to say to them as they drove off, 'Welcome to my world.' There is however this promising exhibit for our next trip to the museum.

e shtunë Jan 01, 2005

On Blause Recently

Sorry I have had a busy Christmas season...according to the Double Tongued Word Wrester site, I've been 'on blause' or blog pause. I've got a bunch of controversial posts to do but I just haven't bandwidth to deal with the comments. However, one of my New Year's resolutions is to renew my commitment to blogging. I have a bunch of technical stuff to put up and am trying to decide the most appropriate format for it. Happy New Year to all.

e premte Dhj 10, 2004

Your Research Dollars at Work

First let me apologize for my silence for the past 2 weeks. Unfortunately my laptop has been in the shop and the first week in the shop did not fix the problem. To paraphrase the New Testament, 'Those that live by the laptop fail miserably while the laptop is in the shop.'

However, current events continue to fly by. Two research studies in the news recently caught my eye. First, as I type this with my laptop laying firmly in my lap, I come across the news headline "Laptop heat a threat to fertility"   Ooops! Good thing my wife and I have already had our darling children who are in college now. This has generated 265 articles across the world on Google News and a hilarious thread, most of which cannot be repeated here, on Slashdot.   I mean, dude, can I file an OSHA claim?

And then, a linguist at the University of Pittsburgh has done extensive research on the term 'Dude' to be published in the fall edition of American Speech. I mean it seems like a totally lame study, dude, but it has generated 211 news articles according to a search of Google News. Here are a few extracts from the CNN report:

"An admitted dude-user during his college years, Scott Kiesling said the four-letter word has many uses: in greetings ("What's up, dude?"); as an exclamation ("Whoa, Dude!"); commiseration ("Dude, I'm so sorry."); to one-up someone ("That's so lame, dude."); as well as agreement, surprise and disgust ("Dude.").

Kiesling says in the fall edition of American Speech that the word derives its power from something he calls cool solidarity -- an effortless kinship that's not too intimate.

Cool solidarity is especially important to young men who are under social pressure to be close with other young men, but not enough to be suspected as gay.

In other words: Close, dude, but not that close."

And these guys get paid for publishing this stuff? Where did I go wrong?

e premte Dhj 03, 2004

Closer or Relationships as Verbal WWF

Last night's cinematic outing was "Closer" a movie disguised as a verbal assault. (NB for our world wide audience, the initials WWF stand for the peculiarly American television entertainment form World Wrestling Federation which could never actually be glorified as a sport and which bears only a vague resemblance to GrecoRoman wrestling.)  You can tell that this movie was first a play by Patrick Marber.  The cinematography and scenery take a back seat to the verbal jousting on screen.   It is entirely unfair that I have used the picture of Julia Roberts for this notice but there were no available shots of all 4 actors together.   Jude Law, from 2003's "Cold Mountain" and 2004's eye candy piece "Alfie (Hated it)," Clive Owen, from one of my personal favorites "Croupier" and 2004's "King Arthur" (please forgive him), Natalie Portman, aka Queen/Senator Amidala in Star Wars or in another recommended rental "Garden State", and Julia form a relationship cube that morphs through several iterations.  I still can't decide how much I like this movie since there are several places where I think the plot takes an unrealistic turn and I thought to myself, 'No woman I know would do that or respond like that.'  However, the sample size of women I know might be too small or too provincial.  Perhaps the sample of American women transplanted to London would do these things.  There are several scenes that really are excellent interchanges and make the entire movie worth the effort.  The relationship consequences of the actions and exchanges could also be viewed as a modern morality play.  Naturally this is just one man's humble opinion and you are free to (verbally) disagree..."Let's get ready to rumble!" (in the comments)




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