March 2, 2008
Kosovo / Geopolitics Meanderings
Wandering around the internet during a discussion with Yvette and Moses...
- BBC World News: 'Early Independence' for Kosovo
- A Short History of Kosovo
- Stratfor, geopolitical news source recommended by a friend
January 16, 2008
January 7, 2008
Big Ass Words
I recently spent an afternoon with a friend in a warm, cozy coffeeshop while snow poured endless white on everything visible through the windows to our right. Sunk deep into the black couch, we chortled at grant applications and academic writing in general. We started listing big, pretentious words we had encountered or used. Or thought we ought to use. Or specifically avoid using.
Then, bringing a smile to my face on so many levels, Nikki pulled out a simple, elegant, precious-looking black notebook, drawing aside the elastic strap holding it shut, clicked a pen in her hand and scribbled a few of the words. Then turned only her head and looked at me with seriousness and mischief. "Oh! Reification!" Concentrated scribbling.
"Problematization—I like to problematize things."
"Yeah, yeah, or mention people: Kant, Deleuze, Foucault, Eco."
We went on like this for a long time. It was a blast, and cathartic in a roundabout way.
In any case, this was one of the most memorable games I have played—a little gem of memory made—and it was fun sharing our various little niches of academic specialty. Here are our results; feel free to throw down these trump words the next time you're under pressure to impress. I'll be tossing some into an upcoming grant application, definitely.
November 3, 2007
So I'm geeking out with Ruby on Rails lately. It's a dream come true. Working on my ongoing PHP projects just about breaks my heart, and I almost want to go to clients and convince them to start projects over because really, I'll probably have them done faster that way anyway.
And then last night I was staring at my project-mainly-for-the-sake-of-getting-my-hands-dirty-in RoR, that I'd been smashing my fists on the keyboard with for about a week... and suddenly it clicked. I got it. Suddenly I saw how some of the pieces fit together... and I (just as a tentative am-I-really-seeing-what-I-think-I'm-seeing test you understand) started a new rails app and in just a few minutes had that new test app up to almost exactly the same point as the one I'd been struggling so hard with!
So here they are, then 10-12 (depending on how you look at it) steps of how I basically plan to start every forseeable rails app I work on in the near future. Two assumptions here, (1) I pretty much always want to use database sessions as opposed to flat file sessions, and (2) almost every single web app on the face of the interwebs requires a login and password. So, mostly general concise instructions for those with some rails knowledge; commands in the terminal are preceded by [term]:
- [term] rails my_app
- create database
- add password to database.yml
- uncomment db sessions in environment.rb
- [term] rake db:sessions:create
- [term] script/plugin source HTTP://svn.techno-weenie.net/projects/plugins
- [term] script/plugin install acts_as_authenticated
- [term] script/generate authenticated user account
- generate models
- edit table creation migrations
- [term] rake db:migrate
- generate scaffolds
August 27, 2007
OS X Native Ardour coming soon
While I've been using Ardour for years and am happy to "roll my own," I know lots of people for whom this news makes adoption or even testing of this amazing software a real possibility. Huge kudos to Paul and the rest of the Ardour team!
August 18, 2007
OK, we all know and love (and sometimes hate) the world wide web for its tendency to turn us into curious trailblazing seekers riding a never-ending stream of mostly trivial knowledge. Wikipedia is of course even more notorious for inciting such tendencies than other parts of the web. I just thought I'd share a recent cloud of Wikipedia pages I visited. LOL... so fun, so weird, so unfocused.
- The Hague
- International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
- Slobodan Milosevic
- Piet Mondrian
- Music genre
- Principes de classement des documents musicaux
- Classical music
- Sonata Arctica
April 8, 2007
Out of the ashes
April 7, 2007
Falling Hospital Gowns
I just awoke from what is genuinely the most surreal dream I have ever had. As such things are, it's very difficult to describe, but it at least involved the following elements:
- Driving around Tulsa, Okalahoma, near a hospital, being redirected due to construction.
- "Terrorists" (who all looked vaguely like Saddam Hussein) throwing large breakable thin-glass jugs, like some melding of gallon apple cider jugs and a giant test tubes.
- Always at the same time that a "terrorist" lobs one of these things into the street, I seem to be aware that other unseen "Army guys" thwart the "attack" by tossing a similar breakable glass container at the other one as it flies through the air, neutralizing it.
- I am never quite sure if there are actually two men, or two glass objects—the "terrorists" and "Army guys" seem to be one in the same, attacking and thwarting their own attacks.
- The glass jugs contain something the consistency of sand and the color of chili powder. This red-brown sand spills into the streets and gutters when the glass breaks.
- Additionally, there are old women, knobbly-kneed, wild-eyed, wild-smiling, and wild-white-haired, wearing loose white hospital gowns with black polka dots. There are many of them, all copies of each other. They seem to be the Tom Bombadils of my dream—ultimately a cause for good, but strangely distant from the struggle.
- The old women, walk in slow motion along sidewalks and up walls.
- Multiple times in the dream, the direction know as "down" changes. This seems to be initiated or controlled by the old women. At the very least, the phenomenon is related to them somehow.
In the last scene of the dream, I dive out of my car to comico-heroically catch one of the hurled glass "bombs." I come nowhere close, and red-brown sand spills like all the other times and the "terrorist" pops out of site like a whack-a-mole target.
Then I see an old woman in her polka-dotted hospital gown walking in slow motion down the sidewalk, and then "down" is no longer under her (and my) feet, but behind her. We both start "falling"—her wild smile intact as she falls backwards as I fall forwards toward her.
She turns to face "down" as she's falling and "goes after" a terrorist who is now walking M.C. Escher-style up the side of a building holding a knife. She falls on him and suddenly "down" effects him too. They start falling together. I fall on different (copy of the) old lady who begins to fall (wild-eyed smile and wild hair and polka dots unscathed.
Now, I see another old lady walking up the side of the building toward me-in-mid-air. Behind her is a terrorist with a knife. He pulls back his knife hand to stab her in the back. Just then, she pulls a bullet time gentle turn-around (still smiling) and hugs the terrorist. Time return to normal, and they both begin to fall.
The last thing that happens is that I now a folling old lady, and I decide that I have served my purpose in the world and am (joyfully) going to fall to my death. So I might as well have fun with it. (I have thought this in waking life... you know, if your parachute doesn't work, you might as well enjoy your final minutes.) So I start surfing through the air, trying to control my flight direction, and then I smack the ground next to a parking garage and die.
Oh, but wait—my not-actually-being-dead-ness must have clued in my dreaming mind that, well, I was dreaming. So I'm falling again, and surfing the jet stream. This time however it's like instead of falling along the side of a hospital cum parking garage, I'm falling along a wall of the Grand Canyon... But when I hit the ground it's the street next to the hospital parking ramp again. And I'm not dead. Which is something I think, as I'm lying there feeling my teeth loose in my mouth in my fractured skull.
At that point I begin to wake up... and find that down (the real one this time) is the opposite direction to what I thought it was. I fell onto my stomach/left side, but I'm actually laying on my back/right side. This makes me laugh. Solange proceeds to drowsily ask me what's up...
April 2, 2007
Thank you to open minds
EMI and Apple announced today that EMI tracks will be available in a DRM-free premium format from online music services, starting with the iTunes store. As Charlie Sorrel says,
EMI will sell a lot more digital music now and piracy will not increase. Hear! Hear!
Thank you to one record label out there who has the courage to believe its consumers are not all hoodlums.
February 11, 2007
You've never seen tacks so sharp
Ok, I'm in the midst of PhD prelim exams and don't have time to be blogging, but damn... I mean seriously folks -- every time (repeating for emphasis: EVERY TIME) I encounter this man's writing, I am inspired and reminded just how sharp a good scholarly writer can be...
Richard Taruskin (faculty page, wikipedia entry) will never disappoint an attentive reader. He may rile you up; he may punch a sudden visceral laugh from your gut. You may find in him the razor sharp wit you wish you had on a topic dear to your heart, and you may think he deserves to be stabbed with something equally sharp for what he says. But if you can retain a little bit of objectivity in those moments, you will realize just how powerfully he has galvanized you out of your torpor.
He is one of very few Western musicologists who can read Russian and has specialized in Russian music. As a composer, lover of Russian music from all periods, and one who is fascinated with many elements of Russian history (music and other), that's the main context in which I've encountered Taruskin in the past. But in the past few days I've been reading about John Adams's opera The Death of Klinghoffer. A few months after 9/11, Taruskin wrote an article in the New York Times Arts section, commenting on the cancellation of a performance of choruses from the opera by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
You can get a small taste of the context from the wikipedia entry on the opera, but you shouldn't stop there. If you want some thought-provoking reading, you should actually read Taruskin's article. If you don't subscribe to the NY Times online service, it will cost you $5, but for my fiver it's well worth it. You should also be sure to read the interview with Adams that our esteemed scholar quotes. He does not change the meaning of Adams's words, but those words do belong in a context which Taruskin does not mention.
Well, *MY* thoughts have been provoked... hope yours have too... no easy answers on this one... and that's as it should be, as it truly is...