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1st January 2013

2:47pm: Hi ho, metrics!
What? You thought I died? No such luck.

Cut 'cuz this could get spammy and be all unentertaining and stuffCollapse )
Current Mood: accomplished

15th June 2012

6:25pm: Memeage

There I was, avoiding other work, when what to my wondering eyes does appear but... a meme! ...And it's one I feel like indulging in.

YMMV.  Hence the cut.

Sevens!Collapse )

Current Mood: busy

2nd January 2012

10:14am: Ye olde metrics post
It being a new year, here is the wrap-up of my old year. Cut for those two people who still might be looking in on this LJ and who might find this unbearably tedious.Collapse )
Current Mood: awake

20th November 2011

3:55pm: Stuff from my head

I read writers' blogs (duh) and have come across a couple lately which talk about depression. I've been reading about depression and studies show that people who are depressed tend to be more realistic about the world and their power to change it than are people who are not depressed. There's the old saw about artists being mad -- but that's been disproved. Studies show that people in the arts are no more likely to have mental illness than are people in the rest of the population. However, the arts do draw a disproportionate number of people from groups who are prone to situational depression due to social stress -- including gays, rebels, and loners. I have to wonder if the absolute numbers of depressed persons (both clinical and sub-clinical) in the arts is therefore greater, proportionally, than it is in the general population.

Most art gurus talk about 'creating from the heart', which I interpret as 'tell it the way you see it'. So today, all this is rolling around in my head and I had to wonder: are the best artists (painters, writers, singers, etc.) those persons who are prone to depression, because they are used to seeing things without the veil of optimism? Does this carry over even to those works created during periods when the artist is not depressed, because he/she has trained his/herself to maintain that viewpoint? Or perhaps I should scale back and say only that depression is not a negative factor for such people. The extra realism in their perceptions may offset any lack of energy caused by depression, making for a better quality finished product.

If perception is clearer for a depressed person, does this make their artwork more clear for the consumer (listener, reader, viewer...)? How would someone design a study to test such a hypothesis? How, for instance, does one quantify 'happiness'? How does one objectively measure something so intrinsically subjective? For that matter, how does one quantitatively measure something like 'clarity in presentation' in a piece of artwork?

It would seem that depression is not, in itself, a strictly negative thing, given its widespread appearance in the population. It is clear that a realistic assessment of oneself and one's environment is a pro-survival trait. Also, very creative people tend to have more sexual partners, and therefore tend to have more children -- that's definitely a pro-survival trait. Do depression and creativity have a positive correlation? Or are they both expressions of something deeper in the psyche?

It is Sunday afternoon and I am letting my mind wander. Is amusing.

Current Mood: contemplative

19th November 2011

3:15pm: Change
Re-read Heinlein's TUNNEL IN THE SKY over the last couple of days, for various reasons. The book is dated, of course -- among other things, it is casual about smoking, spanking, and domestic violence.

I'm old enough to remember a society where these attitudes were the norm. I'm a bit boggled to realize that at least one entire generation has grown up since then.

Gah. Geezerhood. It cometh.
Current Mood: discontent

13th November 2011

8:19pm: Once Upon A Time
Okay, so I'm doing way too much idiot box. Sue me.

This week's episode is based on a combination of Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin, and ... ow. I have to wonder if the producers know the origins of the latter, which is a fairly transparent anti-Semitic fable. As a kid, I always felt I was missing something in the story -- it didn't feel 'balanced' to me. I didn't have the historical background to understand the coding in the piece, ie. the presence of usury and the demand for a newborn, but combine that with 'traditional' Jewish trades (never mind usury was one of the few trades legally open to them) and the myth about leavening bread with the blood of Christian babies and it's a slap in the face.

If the producers know about this, then they sidestep it by having Emma and 'Gold' make a deal to negate Ella's deal, although they leave much of the original noisomeness in place to stink up the story. If they don't know about it, then the episode still smells rancid. At least to this viewer.

I have to wonder if Ella's deal will get reactivated at some later date, just when it would be most inconvenient for all 'good' parties involved. More, what the hell does all of this have to do with Snow White, James, and the wicked Queen's beef with SW? All roads lead to Rome... and all subplots lead to the climax. Or else.
Current Mood: discontent
6:32pm: Twilight
I saw the first film last night. Not my cup of tea, but I think I see what the fuss is about. It's all about love at first sight, to the point of addiction... and it caters, no, panders to the teen-age female in this.

Big market for that, obviously. It's been done before, but usually it's used as a vehicle for conflict, in the "I'm not falling for HIM/HER!" sort of way. This time, all of that was on the guy, who is very much the secondary character, and he clearly wasn't 'strong' enough to fight that addiction off. All other conflict in the story came from external, even irrelevant sources.

Very much a wish-fulfillment fantasy. Reminds me of a lot of fan-fic that way. I wonder if pop-lit is heading in that direction...?

******

Was out walking after sundown tonight, and the sky was still bright in the west. I was heading back home when I saw the sky reflected in a row of windows of the rowhouse complex at the end of my street. None of the houses had other lights on, and the color of the reflections matched the sky behind the houses so perfectly that for a moment, it was like I was looking at a movie set, all facade and nothing behind it.

Shallowness is perception. Perception lies. And therein, too, the movie Twilight has something to say.
Current Mood: thoughtful

24th October 2011

7:43pm: Weird stuff from my head
I look at things and think about them, and sometimes, I surprise myself with what I'm thinking. Such as: why do moths land on windows? Moths do the camouflage thing; what is it about a window that makes their little insectoid minds go: Hey! Great hiding place, dude!

Lots of Halloween (Hallowe'en?) decorations out. Looking at a window full of bedsheets and Jack o' Lanterns had me going, "Ghosts and ghouls!" Then I thought about it, and revised it to, "Ghosts and gourds."

When did gourds become scary?

On the not-so-weird front: When a company sends you an invoice and tells you that you can send the cheque in the enclosed post-paid envelope, there really should be an enclosed post-paid envelope. Just sayin'.

On a related note: Finance stuff should arrive in sealed envelopes. ALWAYS. Yes, a complaint has been aired.

Been playing guerrilla warfare with a head cold. Got a flu shot. Got a crown. Am actually feeling halfway human (but only halfway. Not sure what --or where-- the other half is at.)

Attacking the ending of the bloody novel-that-wants-to-be-infinite with a whip and chair. It's winning. (I think the head cold is in cahoots with it.)

Might do a linky post later. Might use the time to nap, else.

Cheers!
Current Mood: dorky

5th September 2011

11:29pm:

Japanese Manhole Covers!

This is so cool.

H/T to Harry Connelly @ Twenty Palaces.

Current Mood: enthralled

12th July 2011

8:06pm: We've had rain the last couple of nights, and the peony bush two doors down is rather flattened because of it. But it is also circled with a halo of pink, from petals hammered off the blossoms above.

What an image. What sort of story would it belong in?
Current Mood: enthralled

10th June 2011

9:51pm: Non-gluten cooking!
I gotta try this sometime... (may need to hunt down a cheap food processor, tho'.)

Middle Eastern Blood Orange Cake
Current Mood: hungry

1st June 2011

6:11pm: Great big pile of awesome!

(In French, with subtitles.)

Batman Deliverance

Current Mood: geeky

26th May 2011

9:35pm: Random Observation #284987
...Do gophers think lawnmowers are just REALLY inefficient grass-eaters?
Current Mood: giddy

6th April 2011

2:28pm: Things that make you go, "Hmm..."
I went out for milk this morning. There was a fire truck and a fire investigator van at the bottom of the block, which made me wonder, because the condo I'd heard trucks responding to -- and I went out on my deck to check this -- was at the top of the block. It was maybe fifteen or twenty minutes later, though, so I thought, "Maybe they're stopping to talk there, because it isn't halfway up the hill, which is where that condo is."

Then I saw the burned-out SUV at the curb. O-kaaaaaaay...

The trucks -- including the SUV -- were gone when I got back with my milk, half an hour later. The SUV wasn't driving anywhere, so they must have brought in a flatbed tow truck to get it. Nothing left but the wet on the street, with random unidentifiable black bits here and there. And some white down feathers, oddly enough. Or maybe I just noticed the white of the feathers because of the black of everything else.

The townhouse next to where the SUV was parked is for sale. The SUV had looked like its back was full of boxes before the fire. I wonder...
Current Mood: curious

29th March 2011

12:27am: Out
I was out and about, doing errands today. The gophers were out, too.

I think all the snow confused their little rodent brains.
Current Mood: tired

26th March 2011

4:12am: Geist, by Philippa Ballantine
I'm writing a book review. No, I haven't finished the book yet. Yes, I hope I end up enjoying it. No, I don't expect to.

So why the heck am I writing this thing now?Collapse )
Current Mood: disappointed

21st March 2011

1:49pm: About that New Year's resolution...
I wanted to clean or throw out something in every room of my place. As expected, I am hopelessly behind on this, to the point where one might wonder whether I'm doing the resolution at all. BUT!!! I'm going to declare it still in place, because it's working as a sorta kinda motivation to do stuff.

Because I have done stuff because of it, such that I actually notice the difference. Take my office: the bookshelves no longer have two rows of boxes in front of them, three boxes high. They have 3/4 of a row, one box high, in front of them now. And there are empty spots on the rug in other places of the room!

One thing that I did notice about all this: I've been collecting all the notebooks I have into one place, and the stack is about two feet high... and still growing. Um. I think I'll declare a moratorium on buying new notebooks. Just for a little while, though -- like the next three to five years....
Current Mood: working

1st March 2011

10:35pm: THIS!
Jeff Vandermeer on style. OH! Yesyesyesyesyes!


www.jeffvandermeer.com/2011/02/27/style-is-story-is-style/

h/t to Jay Lake and his Link Salad.
Current Mood: ecstatic
10:23pm: Malice and slander and lies, oh my!
Just sayin'.

(PS: I want a mood called 'doleful'. Srsly.)
Current Mood: annoyed

27th February 2011

9:53pm: The Habit of Digging
I was watching a show recently, wherein one of the jokes was a rant based on the phrase 'Bob's your uncle', as in "Who has an uncle Bob?" Not a very funny bit, because I can raise my hand at that question, and render the whole skit meaningless.

I was thinking about this on Saturday, when I was going through my research links. I do genealogy. It feeds my love of research, of digging through databases and references, winkling out the bits and pieces that are actually relevant to the question at hand. Anyway, some of the links led me on to new databases (Yay! New databases!) among which was the vital records site for the state of Washington.

I'm a bit iffy on state vital records sites; the one for Michigan keeps leading off to pay sites or sign-up sites, which makes it way too much trouble to bother with. Where it is good, it has great gaping holes, most of which seem to cover the families I'm looking at. Kansas is so hit-or-miss with its records it's almost useless for the period I'm interested in. But the one for North Dakota was clear and easy to use, and it gave me a bunch of death records for various family members, which made me happy (because I got good data, not because of the deaths.)

So, I started poking at the Washington one, hoping for North Dakota...

It didn't start well. I couldn't find anything. Then I figured out the input system, and I started getting results... including all three marriage certificates for my uncle Robert. (Well, I guess I don't have an uncle Bob, since I didn't call him that. But other people did, so.) I now know the maiden names of my aunts Phyllis and Laverl! And Laverl was from Arkansas? I don't think I ever knew that. I also didn't know she and Robert married twice. Or is that something I forgot?

Found my parents' marriage certifcate, too. My father had crappy handwriting. Why is it men have crappier penmanship than women? This is so universal, I started noticing it in junior high. The only exceptions seem to be lefties, but my sample is only two big, and both were geologists of the era where they had to hand letter land surveys, so.

My mother's signature wasn't her usual flowing swash, either. I like to think she was giggling while she wrote her name on that momentous piece of paper. It would be like her.

Found my uncle Stephen's marriage certificate, and his and my father's parents' marriage certificate, too. And the certificate of marriage for my grandmother's brother. But not her sister, nor her son Michael, brother to Stephen and my father. What gives?

Found the usual smattering of death records. Found no relevant birth records, but that's probably a matter of privacy legislation and time limits, as well as the number of people who weren't actually born in Washington.

New databases. New databases!

I should go through the rest of my links. I haven't looked at Idaho yet. I have looked at Indiana -- it's at least as good as Kansas (which isn't saying much, no.) Minnesota is GREAT! --But most of the family moved on from Minnesota; they didn't even spend a whole generation there. Except the Ployharts seem to have landed there, so maybe, just *maybe*...
Current Mood: working

12th February 2011

5:56pm: Beauty vs. the Uncanny Valley
I ran into yet another 'Polar Express: Uncanny valley! Ick!' article recently, and I want to say: WTF you talkin' 'bout, Willis?

I rather like PE. It strikes me as the next step up from the old Rankin & Bass stop-motion holiday animations of the '60's and '70's, with its slightly wooden characters and 'safe' fantasy stories (no one gets hurt. No one gets even bruised, no matter what they fell off of/had fall on them). Little details like the shine on the bells or the stitching on a pocket... lovely. And the train ghost? YES.

I have much more negative reactions to other forms of character rendition. The Skyhawks, for instance -- tall, skinny, rather ant-like (or maybe mantis-like) in their movements... like the series concept, but the renderings make me itchy. Ditto for 2D artists like Infantino or Ditko, or (gasp! Horrors!) Kirby, all of whom make me wonder if they pose their panels with mannequins first. I'll take Liefeld over any of the above, and considering Liefeld obviously 'made it big' before he actually learned to draw...?

I have to wonder if the so-called 'uncanny valley' is related in some way to the innate sense of beauty that people possess. There are traits to beauty that can be scientifically measured: 'healthy' is beautiful, for instance, as is 'symmetrical'. 'Freckled' is not beautiful, for a lot of people, because it comes too close to 'blotchy skin', which is code for 'unhealthy'. However, it's clear that 'freckled' is beautiful for some people, as are other traits like 'pouty lips', 'brown eyes', etc.

Do I like PE because my particular graph for the uncanny valley is shifted such that the renderings of those characters do not hit the 'danger zone' of the uncanny, where Infantino, Ditko, etc. do? Is the perception of beauty by others similarly affected? There's another trait for humans: we like the unusual, the exotic, the surprising... so long as it isn't TOO unusual, exotic, or surprising. Perhaps that means that beauty is measured by how much a person or a rendering approaches the danger line without crossing over it.

I'm sure this is applicable to other artistic pursuits. Will think more on it.
Current Mood: contemplative

7th February 2011

5:13pm: Spells Death of Perfect Women

From the Otsego County Herald and Times, 23 Jan 1920:

SPELLS DEATH OF PERFECT WOMEN

Famous South Sea Belles Are Now a Drunken, Degraded Race.

LIVE IN AN ALLURING EDEN

Remnant of Marquesan Race is Beyond Redemption -- French Can Only Allow Natives to Die Off as Speedily as Possible.


Washington--"There can be no doubt that today this drunken, disease-ridden remnant of the Marquesan race is beyond redemption and all the French colonial administration can do is to pursue its present policy of nominal supervision and let the natives die off as speedily as possible."

Such is the pathetic epitaph, written by John W. Church, in a communication to the National Geographic society, of a people whose women were pronounced the 'most beautiful in the south seas, whose dances were the most joyous, whose tattooing was a fine art and whose island home was an alluring Eden before the white man came.

"To describe the dainty, graceful Marquesanne as she unquestionably was, will, I fear, lay me open to the charge of exaggeration," writes Mr. Church.

...

***

The article goes on to wax fulsome on the pulchritude of the 'Marquesanne', the skill of the men in carving coconut shells (an occupation taken up between intervals of warfare), the singular delight both sexes took in their toilet, especially when it involved massage with coco oil, and then on to meal prep, marriage rites...

Oh my God-damn freaking Gawd.

Some history: The Marquesas were first sighted by white men in the 1600's. By about 1900, smallpox and other introduced diseases had nearly wiped the original population out. Estimated at 100,000 Before White Men, the population was around 2,000 in 1900. It has since increased to around 8,600.

I'm going to unabashedly project on Mr. Church; I figure this is meet, seeing as he unabashedly projects on the Marquesans (particularly their women). I have to assume that he felt he was being reasonable and logical and regrettably practical, because any other attitude strikes me as even more poisonous than I already find his words, and I'd rather give him the benefit of *some* doubt. I find his attitude to be very Darwinian, in a 'The strong survive' and/or 'Devil take the hindmost' sort of way. With a surname of Church, I have to wonder if he would consider that as insulting and narrow-minded of me as I find his opinion to be the same of him.

Ninety-one years have passed since the publication of this article. While one can still find people expounding variants of this attitude (*cough*conservatives*cough*) it is much rarer -- and less acceptable -- to see them express them in a readily available public forum such as a newspaper. The Internet... yeah, okay. Lots of crazies. But the formal media...?

Um. Yeah. Faux News. Um...

Original article at: http://66.129.39.201:8080/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1922/1920-01-23%20Fri.pdf
 


Current Mood: cynical

4th February 2011

10:28am: Snrk.
F/Rashmi @ MREV: "Magneto Brand(tm) Destruction: If you can't see the explosion from space, it isn't over yet."
Current Mood: giggly
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