Start at the top of the page here. Look at the Ukiyo-e print and try to figure out what’s happening in it. Then scroll down.
I’ve seen some very facile explanations of old undocumented art—what’s going on in it, what it means. I’m not saying those explanations were wrong. I’m saying that very little art has ever been made that can’t instantly be transformed by changing its context. I once read about a guy who was looking at an exceptionally scary piece of Buddhist religious art which showed a huge and imaginatively detailed monster stomping a helpless little human figure. He asked his guide what the picture signified. His guide explained that it was a picture of what enlightenment looks like to the ego before it happens.
Is a good, evocative picture worth a thousand words? Sure it is. It’s just that when it’s by itself, you can’t be sure which thousand words they are.
Thank you, Alison Scott, for letting me know that the Guardian has put up an archive of Posy Simmonds’ Literary Life cartoons. I’m sure that different readers would come up with different lists of cartoons that speak to them. This is mine:
Your New Baby. My baby has disappeared.
Children’s picture books.
Stay as beautiful as you are.
We make it up on volume.
Spot the Turkey.
Where are the bookstores of yesteryear?
Readings and signings.
Second book syndrome.
Creating a buzz.
A tale of character assassination.
Name that author.
Love scenes at the keyboard.
On being a writer.
On being a writer.
On reading slush: One. Two. Three.
The author of an acclaimed book.
Why are we publishing this disgusting book?
This came from Lisa Spangen, of Digital Medievalist:
It was thoughtful of you two to link to my digitalmedievalist.com site in your thanks for my husband, Michael’s, help.
But looking at the referrals is rather interesting. Let’s face it, Medieval Celtic literature and early Celtic cultures and linguistics isn’t exactly the most popular subject, despite the recent increase in New Age and Neo Pagan enthusiasms for all things Celtic.
But almost every referral from your site is spending five to ten minutes looking around on my site, and an unusual number is spending much more than that. My average browser is from an .edu address, and spends about two minutes, though they tend to be repeat visitors.What kind of readers have you got?
Hello! Patrick and I are finally sharing that dialup Compuserve connection, courtesy of Michael Cohen, the helpful and highly sapient husband of Digital Medievalist. He determined that Patrick had left the firewall up on his iBook. This cleverly blocked the exact ports needed to share the connection.
Yaaaaaaay, Michael Cohen! Thank you thank you thank you!
So much for Patrick’s frustrated perception that some mystical force field-like agency was preventing this from happening: He was right. It was him. (Note to self: In future, switch on protective force field only after I get inside Fortress of Solitude.)
Credit is also belatedly due to Lenny Bailes, who asked right away in the comments thread whether we hadn’t left some firewall software running. Apparently on a Mac you don’t have to have special firewall software, just hit some checkbox somewhere in the whoozis. (I’m not unfriendly to computers, but Patrick loves them, so I leave them to him. This occasionally leaves me groping for the correct terminology.)
Meanwhile, it appears that Hosting Matters, which encompasses our website, is having some kind of difficulties entirely separate from our own. If I’d posted that joke about Bush Patrick doesn’t want me to post, I’d be feeling paranoid.
Next task: Reset all the controls and readjust the pilot’s seat and mirrors. What was Patrick doing? I swear. And what’s so hard to understand about a precipitating solution? I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t agitate it any more than he did.
Patrick here, at Making Light’s helm. Cripes, all the controls are in the wrong place, and what is this…substance? drying? fermenting? sprouting tiny flowers? I tell you, other people’s workspaces are always full of surprises. Anyway.
So the problem is, swapping the old cable modem for a new one didn’t fix the constant service interruptions, and in fact right now we’re getting no broadband service at all. The earliest a Time Warner Cable tech can come to our house is Wednesday, so it’s dialup until then.
Here’s the thing. (Tech neep coming; normal people, bail now.) We have two perfectly normal G3s running OS X Panther. We can get a nice solid dialup connection via the built-in modem on Patrick’s iBook. Allegedly, sharing that dialup connection to Teresa’s blue-and-white G3 via Ethernet is simplicity itself—click “Start” in the Internet sharing dialog and stand back, more or less.
Except that we can’t get it to work to save our lives. We’ve googled up several dozen web pages that rhapsodize over this procedure’s ease. We’ve tried every combination of Ethernet cables, hubs, routers, DHCP, DHCP With Manual Addressing, deleting the “ethernet” configuration and building a new one—everything, on both computers. God knows we have enough old hardware kicking around here. And we know the Ethernet cables and the connections on the computers themselves are good. But nada. The dialup connection works great on the iBook, and simply will not share out to Teresa’s blue-and-white G3.
I can’t help but think there’s something stunningly obvious that we’re missing. Like, everybody knows you have to dip the Ethernet cable in peanut butter. How could we have missed the peanut butter? Anyway, if you’re a OS X-savvy networking person who thinks it would be a better universe if Teresa could get online on her own computer, please drop me an email at email@example.com at your convenience. We could exchange email, AIM, or I could even phone. Advice and counsel needed, asap…
Spring has sprung, the grass is riz…
Take two good shallots, lemon juice enough to get it wet, dry citric acid enough to make it bright and sour, one packet of Good Seasons dry Italian salad dressing mix, a lot of freshly ground coarse pepper, some basil, some white pepper, rather less celery salt, and a couple of tablespoonsful of ground coriander, and chomp together in a food chopper. Add a quarter to a half cup of olive oil, about one and a half square inches of the thinly-pared zest of an orange or tangelo, and an entire bunch of fresh cilentro. Chomp again. Salt as seems good. Pack most of it away for later. Run the remainder in the machine with several good dollops of mayonnaise. Serve with shrimp. Actually, serve with anything.
If you don’t like cilentro, try a different herb. Watercress. salad burnet, dill, lovage, or fresh basil would be good bets.
My e-mail has been in dreadful shape, effectively unusable, for days. It looks like Patrick has fixed it. He also cleaned out the accumulated spam. He is my hero.
This day is definitely improving.
Oh god my head somebody please just shoot me now.
I believe that if God is as advertised, God’s ways and means and purposes cannot always be comprehensible to us.
I believe in the God of the Burgess Shale*, Who not only made creation stranger than we know, but stranger than we could ever imagine.
I believe it’s a sin to throw out awkward data.
I believe that the God who made (among other things) light, and space, and number, and time, and the spiral curve of Fibonacci numbers, must be acknowledged to understand more than I do about why there’s pain in the world.
I believe God put that itchy spot on our backs, just exactly where we can’t reach it, to encourage us be to nice to each other.
I believe God doesn’t play mean practical jokes on His children; for instance, the ones He makes gay.
I believe that God created my friend Rob, who is all that Christians are enjoined to be, but is also a perfect natural atheist; and I believe that God rejoices in His creation.
I believe that any Christians whose religious practices aren’t centered around sacrificing and burning animals ought not spend all their time trying to enforce obscure passages in the Pentateuch.
I believe that God will not deprive any of His children of their free moral agency, which among other things includes their freedom to screw up.
I believe that most of the people who go on about the misogyny of western religion have failed to look closely at the Doctors of the Church.
I believe that I am a member of the Body of Christ, and that He acts in this world through our embodiment of him.
I believe that if Christ himself were here right now, his chief interest wouldn’t be in the church hierarchy.
I believe that the Holy Spirit gets around, and is not solely embodied in the formal structures of religion. I nevertheless also believe that so many earnest believers trying so hard to do right and know right for more than 2,000 years must have done more than accumulate errors all that time, since otherwise it calls into question the whole enterprise of religion.
I believe that a religion that exists only to tell you how good you are, and which never requires you to do anything you don’t want to do, or refrain from anything you do want to do, is a species of moral cotton candy.
I believe that of all the blessings we’re given, one of the greatest is that we can occasionally make each other happy.
I believe that the cure for disliking organized religion is prolonged exposure to the disorganized sort.
I believe that religion isn’t complex; it’s simple. It’s putting it into practice that gets complex.
I believe that anyone who interprets the Bible on a sentence-by-sentence basis, as though it were a user’s manual, is willfully making himself or herself stupider than necessary. A sentence in the Song of Songs does not compile meaning in the same way as a sentence from the Acts of the Apostles.
I believe the book of Jonah was meant to be funny.
I now believe the saints are sneakier than my early years of study led me to think.
I believe that when you start thinking of any one part of creation as being somehow more real than any other part, you’ve made a wrong turn in your philosophy and will come to an undesirable conclusion.
I believe we’re bound to occasionally confuse God with His creation. The part of creation I most frequently confuse with God is the English language.
I love language passionately, and yet I believe human language is inadequate to fully express God and his teachings. I believe Jesus was the Word made Flesh, and that his life was one heck of a sentence, with a surprise twist on the verb in the last clause.
I believe in one God, the Father, the almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I believe in one lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. I believe in the one holy catholic and apostolic church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
*Patrick’s phrase and formulation. I believe that God wants us to keep track of who makes what: thus copyright.
It’s frustrating. The story I’m following with complete fascination is one I ought not mention.
It’s been discussed around the office, where everyone seems to have heard about it through a different friend of a friend. Of course this is Tor, where no one’s more than a step or two removed from the fanfic universe, so I can’t judge from that sample how far it’s spread via word of mouth.
So far I haven’t seen anyone else blogging it. I hope no one does. She talks about a lot of things she shouldn’t, as her employers would view it; and I want to be able to go on reading her entries.
Okay, one other observation. Why we should allow women in combat: who knew that tampons made such great field-expedient dressings for bullet wounds?
There’s been a huge flap in the blog world over Kos’s (of The Daily Kos) lack of sympathy for the four mercenaries who were recently killed, incinerated, and dismembered in Iraq. Partly this was because they were mercenary security personnel, and Kos, who grew up in El Salvador, has no reason to think well of contract mercenaries as a class. Partly it was because five members of the regular US ground forces in Iraq were killed the same day, but got no attention paid to them. Kos is former U.S. military. It would bother him.
What I wanted to say was that I heard the news about the four mercenaries getting torched from an old friend of mine who’s former career US military himself, and has experience in field operations in areas where mercenaries are also active. My friend, who normally laments each new report of casualties in Iraq, was not all that concerned about the well-being of a bunch of contract mercenaries in Iraq. “Maybe it was retaliation for something they did,” he said, “but maybe it was random, and they’d have done the same to any foreign military coming along that stretch of road just then.” He also observed that “Contract mercenaries are the guys you use to do the stuff the regular military refuses to do,” but that the regular military gets blamed for it.
Kos and my friend have a right to their opinions. Besides, they know a lot more about this than I do.
For a while now I’ve been feeling unaccountably shy about the fact that, purely for the amusement value of the thing, I put together a CafePress site for nielsenhayden.com. I mean, we’re running all those ads now. It seemed a bit much.
(Okay, it wasn’t purely for the amusement value. Patrick wanted a t-shirt that said “Just because you’re on their side, doesn’t mean they’re on your side.” But the way you do that on CafePress is by setting up a store of your own; and they make that so easy that once you’ve uploaded your one design, it seems like the merest trifle to do another one that says “I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist,” and next thing you know you’re putting encryptions on coffee mugs.)
However, it’s occurred to me that nearly everyone I’ve told about it has made useful and entertaining suggestions: it’s something to play with! That’s different. In particular, Lydy Nickerson has said, and rightly so, that I need to have a t-shirt or mug with a disemvowelled inscription. It’s coming up with the inscription that’s the problem.
Other Housekeeping: I’ve been getting a stunning amount of spam at my e-mail address, and so far we haven’t managed to come up with a set of filters that’ll keep all of it out of my in-box. Our successive filters stop most of it, but even the fraction that does get through is enough to swamp my mail queue some days. We’re working on this problem. In the meantime, if some urgent piece of mail from you has gone unheeded, please don’t hesitate to send it again. In a world in which I can get six and eight copies a day of the same piece of junk mail from some spammer, I’m not going to object to getting two copies of a letter from a friend.
You might want to go and have a look at Kathryn Cramer’s weblog. She’s on a roll. Kathryn’s been collecting and correlating information about the proliferation of private security forces—mercenaries—operating in Iraq. Most of these men are former military, many of them from elite fighting units—lot of British ex-SAS, so many South Africans that the South African government is cracking down on them, Chileans trained under Pinochet, all manner stuff. Go look. Things were strange enough in Iraq, but they’re getting stranger by the minute.