Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Win

A month ago, I posted this on Facebook — but there’s no obvious or convenient way to search your Facebook history, so after copious backward time-traveling, I recovered it and will post it here, easily searchable to me and the world:

At the end of the day, we live in a world with good food and people we can love and that’s in the ‘win’ column. And it’s a big enough win that no matter how horrible things get, even on a day when I can’t say that I really even believe that, I know it’s true.
      — John Darnielle in The Life Of The World To Come (the movie)

And now, back to writing the article about Darnielle.


Without Copyright

Without copyright, no one would design new fashions, since (after all) fashion designs can quite legally be reproduced, remixed, borrowed, altered, sampled, and abused as one wishes. This explains why there are no fashion designers any more.

Someone is saying, “Will the videos never cease?” Probably, but not today.

A Great Good Thing

This morning (Eastern Daylight Time) Margaret called my attention to a venture that our friend Linda McDonough is starting up: Just Right Academy, a school specially ordered for the needs of intense children. Simply reading the blog on the main page, or the “About Us” or FAQs, moves me deeply. Linda has been there and cares about helping kids (and their parents and — to be frank — the schools that don’t have the resources or wisdom to help these kids) so much that she’s staking a big piece of her life on making JRA fly.
Linda is one of the good ones, and we’re proud to know her. So when I got a glimpse of what she’s up to, I wanted to call everyone’s attention to her and to JRA. If any of you can do anything to help her out, it would be a first-order mitzvah — whether that’s legal help, in-kind donations, benefaction, publicity, or whatever. You know who you are.
She’s doing a brave thing, and she’s doing it out of love for kids. Isn’t that just about the greatest possible reason to do something? Bless you, Linda!

More Video

I’m low on energy, and such energy as I can muster has to go toward finishing the article on which I’m trying to work (between naps and distractions). We can talk about why I dropped off a shelf of comfort and good health into exhausted paralysis when Margaret left Scotland another time, but for now, since I don’t really have the resources to compose a jazzy, worthwhile blog on my own, I’ll point to another clip that’s floating around the Net these days. This one concerns the Bechdel Test (named after Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home and the long-running comic Dykes to Watch Out For, though the comic to which I linked above credits Liz Wallace, so maybe it should be called the Wallace-Bechdel Test).

As the presenter notes, this doesn’t even begin to address explicitly feminist issues; a movie could pass the test if two detectives’ girlfriends simply said, “Where’d this rain come from?” “I dunno, it was supposed to be sunny.” Further, since the overwhelming preponderance of Hollywood movies don’t pass even this minimalist test, a movie that takes women seriously enough to — you know — give them roles is more likely to be perceived and dismissed as a “chick flick” or as an angry feminist movie.
Did I mention that I’m pleased to be teaching Fun Home next year?
OK, off to gulp coffee and write.

Video Friday

I’m still resting up today, but I’ll point to two video clips that turned up in my browsing. First, courtesy of Michael Berube, this NSFWoP (Not Safe For Work or Parents) clip bemoaning the plight of the student who takes up work that touches on continental philosophy:

Then, Ryan North tweeted about his appearance in this clip about webcomics:

And the scintillating Hugh McGuire has a nice piece up at O’Reilly about Book Oven and the good folks at Simon Fraser University who put together a way to use WordPress as a book-preparation process manager.
Oh, and Duke Divinity’s “Leadership” webmag just ran a publicity notice on Stanley Hauerwas’s autobiography in which the author quotes Stanley as saying, “I seem to live assuming that my capacity for friendship is without limit . . . I have no reason to deny it is a tricky business to have so many friends, but it is a business that I believe lies at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.” I like the sound of that.

Breaking News From My Home Turf

For the first time in four hundred years, Scotland has families of beavers thriving in the wild.

As for me, I feel achey and tired, as though I were coming down with something. That, of course, cannot be true; so I’ll gather my [half] wit and bear down on writing soon.

I’m Looking At You, Router

Virgin Media swears that our connection is fine, that my landlord hasn’t forgotten to pay the bill, that as far as they can tell, everything is hunky-dory. That leaves the router, so I’ve been filling up browser tabs with support advice for D-Link ADSL2+ modem-routers.
In the meantime, Margaret and I are sitting at a cafe, I’m uploading a boatload of pictures, pointing to apposite PhD Comics pages, and enjoying the warm, (mostly) sunny Glasgow weather. I’m counting on getting the connection fixed this afternoon.


Off to a two-day retreat with the Doctrine Committee with the Scottish Episcopal Church. You might imagine something such as the scene from Woody Allen’s Bananas, when Esposito assumes power in San Marcos and begins explaining his vision of the new way of life in the small country: “From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now… 16 years old!”
But instead, we’ll just be talking over the details of our booklet on the Incarnation, and answering some questions sent us from the Bishops.

Facebook, Privacy, and Friends

I’m not quite as worried about Facebook and privacy as are many of the eminent digital celebrities who’ve been deleting their accounts. Yes, Facebook is using its success and its confusing privacy interface to bulldoze users into revealing more than they might otherwise choose, but I’m pretty cautious about what I reveal online. I think I’m content with the current status of my privacy settings.
On the other hand, even as people are howling about Facebook privacy issues, people keep asking me to friend them without giving me any reason to trust them with the information I’m keeping safe. That’s a trajectory for information-reaping and email-harvesting that has nothing to do with Facebook’s settings, and everything to do with the social conventions that have come to prevail in these interactions. I’ve set up Facebook to reveal most of my information mostly just to friends and family, but there’s no point in that restriction if I accept as friends every Sal, Dot, and Hermione who asks to be my friend, regardless of whether I know anything about them. As it is, I may be vulnerable to some subtle friend-of-friend inquisitions.
So one more time: I will not friend you if you ask and I don’t recognise your name as someone I do know and trust. If you’re a stranger to me and you still want to friend me, use the message box that Facebook offers you to explain why I should friend you. Even then I may not accept your request — nothing personal, but I don’t owe anyone that information, and I’m not manic about accumulating high numbers of friends. If all I know about you is that you’re friends with a large number of Episcopalians I know, or emergent-church people I know, or biblical scholars I know, or any other constituencies I know, and if you don’t give me a compelling reason to accept your friend invitation, I won’t do it.
Excuse me now; I’m going to delete a bunch of friend requests.

Paging the Doctor….

Night before last, I dreamt that I was at a party — a relatively calm, grown-up party — and hey, it was very cool, Dooce was there! And before you know it, Marlo (who had developed the capacity to walk upright) scooted into a gap between two structures, a passage so narrow that I couldn’t run after her to catch her lest she get lost. But Dooce came up and I was able to point to where you could see Marlo silhouetted, prancing around at the far end of the passage.
The dream ended then, while I was trying to figure out whether it was more wonderful to have met Dooce or more disappointing that I’m no longer as skinny as I once was.