Kitty: you are my Lucy

Photo foiled again!

1. Lay in hilarious pose on floor. Pretend to be asleep.
2. Continue laying in hilarious pose while stupid owner gets out his camera with Charlie-Brown-like naivete.
3. The moment before owner takes his picture, sit up and ruin hilarious pose. Owner falls on his back, metaphorically speaking, screaming AARRGH!

Lessig is to Roosevelt…

Someone on Writing and the Digital Life recently made the suggestion that the early conception of cyberspace was much like the early conception of the American West, and its settlement was not unlike the Gold Rush. Following that analogy, I said:

A key emergence, for me anyhow, of digital culture is the “creative
commons” movement. Perhaps the Manifest Destiny metaphor applies to the
digital world in this context as well. To whit: as the American West
was settled, divided, and deeded, people began to realize that despite
its size, the resources of North America were not limitless. Those who
enjoyed the open, wild spaces of ‘nature’ began to work to solidify
protections for that wild space. The national park system emerged.
Similarly, as the digital realm has been ‘settled’ and deeded, people
began to realize that a resource formerly taken for granted (the public
domain) was being eroded by the expanded copyright protections brought
into law as part of the digital age (see Lessig’s FREE CULTURE for a
careful delination of this history). In response, the GNU public
license and the creative commons movement each work to secure a space in
which the public can still enjoy the ‘natural wildness’ of the digital age.
I’m certainly romanticising the National Parks system, but the analogy
works for me.

I like this analogy a lot–it encapsulates, for me, the relationship between corporate use of digital spaces and the resultant legal tomfoolery regarding things like copyright. At the same time, I dislike this analogy because I dislike the idea of the public domain being in the position of the Parks system, which we have seen only survives as long as it’s actively protected. What would the digital analogue of exploratory drilling in Alaska be? The re-sale of public-domain copyrights to private corporations? Ugh.

Today’s inanity

So I recently ordered some printer cartridges from Dell, because I’m a sucker for printing, and they sent me a couple emails notifying me that my order had a) been received, b) been acknowledged, c) been processed, and most recently, d) shipped. Check out their email:


Hilariously, I seem to have had some remarkable influence on this process:

That’s the epitome of consumer culture right there, where the very act of ordering something online deserves not just thanks but congratulations.

Sonic Hypocracy

In Entertainment Weekly this week, there’s an interesting ad from MicroSoft:

Click for a large (82K) version of the image.
The ad touts all the nifty things you can do with your music, including:

I find it hilariously hypocritical that the company known for its draconian DRM strategies (Longhorn, anyone?) advocates, in the same breath, “mixing and Mashing.” They left out the first step: “Get permission.”

See also their web presence for this campaign.

Addendum: Now that the supreme court has ruled against innovation and in favor of big money, we should add “but don’t let anyone else listen to your mix.”

My new favorite thing

I finally took a look at the “stats” page for my web-hosting service. The coolest thing ever: the search queries page. So funny.


I’m particularly intrigued by the nonsequiters: “donkey ride” and “rember it for you wholesale quotations”. I feel bad for the person searching for “curragh building.” I imagine someone in a workshop with a wi-fi laptop, lathe in hand, staring at my blog and going “what the hell is this now”? The real question, does my ‘curragh-labs’ site give any insight into curragh building? Does the metaphor transfer back?

Back to work

Sorry for the absence. Our colleagues from colleagues from South Africa were visiting, so there was little time for blogging.

  • Catch-22, Keasby Nights

  • Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks
    At Jeff‘s recommendation.
  • Various, Soundtrack from The Big Lebowski

I expect you to die…

bond plays baccarat

On the way home from my birthday comics spree at Chicago Comics, the coolest comic store ever, we sat behind a Chinese man reading a Chinese-language book. Oddly, the title and some of the captions in the book were in English. The book: Gold Island Baccarat Strategies. The only place I imagine anyone playing baccarat is in a James Bond movie. The things you see on the train.

Wow! Money!

Apparently, I won the lottery:

The Award Department
Barnby Worldwide Business Information
9 Leapal Road,
Guildford, Surrey, GU1 4JX

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is to inform you that have been selected for a
cash prize of 2,600,000.00 (Two Million, Six Hundred Thousand GBP)
This is in line with our promotional lottery for our
products. We specialize in the sales of cd-roms that
enhance your business growth.

Continue reading Wow! Money!

What Bombed

For the last few days I’ve been participating in the 2005 CASTL conference. It’s been a pretty cool experience that helped me get insight into some of the ways people do the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (or SoTL, which most pronounce like SO-tul but one guy pronounced to rhyme with bottle). Of course, as a compositionist, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning was nothing new—we built our profession on it.

Craig Nelson, one of the featured speakers, presented several key points, but the big one was “sharing” your teaching knowledge with others. Again, not a new idea in Composition, but new for many of the audience. He led us to several models of SoTL research, starting with the “What Works” article. It seems like those kinds of articles might be best shared in updatable, searchable online resources like the Practical Muse. I doodled in my notes, though, that we also needed a “What Bombed” genre, in which we explain our ideas for teaching projects, assignments with an eye toward the challenges these bring.

I also composed a limerick, reproduced here for your amusement. NOTE: I’m using the less common but more-easily-rhymable pronounciation of SoTL (SAW-tull):

There once was a souce who did SoTL
who looked for a good teaching model.
  He said, with a wink,
  I really do think
the answer must lie in a bottle.

Summer break thoughts

Thoughts as I near the end of my one-week break between spring and summer terms:

Memory Machines

Dawn of War screenshot
I have a model of this tank, but it’s painted with Ork graffiti.

The first review of Dawn of War I read described the game as the “beer and pretzels” version of Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000. True tabletop gamers would not give in, it suggested, to the glitzy blood and diceless battles of this flashy new computer game. For me, however, the sense is rather nostalgia for the old game. A friend from the gaming days suggested that on his next visit to Chicago I should break out the old models for a rumble. Perhaps I finally understand those Deer Hunting games now—they don’t function as fun games, but as memory machines, trying to capture the essence of something else that’s fun. That’s what Dawn of War, a reasonably good but not great RTS game, does for me. It captures the look and feel of those tabletop models squirreled away in my closet.

Summer Tunes

First week of summer. For me, anyhow.

  1. Santana, Abraxas

  2. They Might Be Giants, Severe Tire Damage

  3. Counting Crows, Recovering the Satellites

The Unseen Hand

Month 2:

The Unseen Hand

There were lots of panels that could port to a larger story, as long as your character’s name is Mike. Here are a few, arranged in a vaguely amusing way.

I imagine the man with bandages as either a man in a hospital bed or a space mummy (the bandages + the weird sci-fi tube) from Mike’s subconscious. I like choice 2 better.