Monthly Archives: May 2008

Tradition And a Strange Visitor

Since I do this pretty much every time, I’ll sustain the tradition by posting these pictures of Beatrice, before and after her latest grooming.

Bea Before  Bea After
 Wild Turkey

No, that last one isn’t Bea; it’s one of the local wild turkeys. We’re delighted by these creatures. The first time we saw some (from a distance), Pippa thought they looked like miniature bison — they have that massive, archaic look. It’s cool that they meander through Princeton like regal feathered buffalo.

Dreams (I’ll Never See)

My sweetie is back home, to my delighted relief, and a few minutes ago she began telling me about one of her dreams from last night. She’s an active dreamer and an accomplished dream-rememberer — in marked contrast to me, who forgets his (mostly boring) dreams as soon as he wakes. All of that resonated with the latest XKCD comic.

By Miles, Not By Habit

I realized that after I finished showering and brushing my teeth this morning, I was standing around to no evident purpose. As it turns out, I was waiting for Margaret to ask me to hand her one of the Burt’s Bees products that she uses every morning. Alas, she was in Evanston while I was waiting to hand her an exfoliant in Princeton.
Fortunately, she’s returning this afternoon, so tomorrow morning I’ll be helpfully on the spot, rather than absent-mindedly out of touch.

Whatever Happened To The Scrapbook?

Mac OS users — remember the Scrapbook? It was a Desk Accessory that provided rapid access to various sorts of copy-and-paste-able data (formatted and un-formatted text, bitmaps, sounds, anything you could capture with a “copy” command). If you looked around in the shareware repositories, you could find utilities that let you make distinct searchable Scrapbook volumes, so that you could invoke a clip art scrapbook if you were looking for ornaments and decorations, a text scrapbook if you were looking for favorite quotations, and so on.
Something such as that would be very useful, again; I miss it.

Translation, Mutation

According to Alex Hayes, “Thinking was literally distributed across the caves of Lascaux, for example. Was it distributed without translation or mutation? Of course not, but it was distributed nonetheless” (link courtesy of Stephen Downes).
Just out of curiosity, in what sense does the knowledge that the paintings entail exist in a state sufficiently distinct from the paintings, and sufficiently clearly delimited, that it makes sense to submit that the paintings constitute a translation or mutation of the (untranslated, un-mutated) knowledge? I’m not arguing that there’s no such thing as knowledge or any comparably overblown claim — but I’m wondering what stake we have in reserving a sphere of “knowledge” that’s not inflected by its representations. If we grant (as I insist) that action is a mode of meaning and interpretation, do our enacted interpretive gestures also “mutate” knowledge? If so, what do we know about un-mutated, pure knowledge — and how can we know it apart from the mutagenic effects of words, actions, and other interpretive representations? (And how does the verb “know” work in the previous sentence?)


Not much to say about Emily Gould’s column in the NY Times last week, except to emphasize that she opts not to blame the internet for her attention-seeking self-revelatory habits. What I thought I read there — which apparently I didn’t, evidently confusing Gould with another online columnist — was a reminder that the internet isn’t evil or benign in itself, but offers an array of unfamiliar opportunities for goodness or malignity. Our lack of orientation to these dimensions amplifies the likelihood that we commit some foolish, hurtful gesture, injuring ourselves or others; it also increases the chance that our better inclinations may carry through unimpeded by stultifying conventions and inhibitions.
The catch is that (again, because we don’t already know the terrain we traverse here) we can’t know well enough in advance whether we’re participating in a great liberation or a dreadful blunder.

Random Synchronicity

This morning, as I was walking from Small World to church, I was listening to shuffled selections from my iTunes library of about 16,000 selections. Among those songs and instrumentals, I know of exactly two that include the couplet,

If you want to go to heaven when you D – I – E
You got to put on your collar and your T – I – E

the North Mississippi All-Stars’ “KC Jones,” and Charley Jordan’s “Keep It Clean” (the classic precursor of R. Crumb’s updated version, “Get A Load Of This”). These two came up consecutively between Witherspoon Street and Trinity Church.
This is the sort of thing that makes some people think that iTunes has a built-in non-random function, but I’m not sure how you’d program an application to match songs that have idiosyncratic soteriological claims.

Au Revoir And Appreciation

My sweetie leaves in a few minutes to spend a week (with her henchpeople Laura and Si) working on boxing up, giving away, and otherwise preparing the Evanston homestead for our summer departure. I’ll miss her a lot, and will appreciate intensely her efforts on our behalf.