Dried Roses

Ice storm

Freezing rain, sleet, and snow last night and this morning made for treacherous conditions around Saint Louis. Half a million people were without power on a cold night. Below is the scene this afternoon out back of our house.


LinkDecember 1, 2006 in Garden

Sunday cat pix

Josie thinks she wants to be outside. But no sooner does she discover snow than she runs away from it.


LinkDecember 4, 2006 in Cats

Nebulous philosophy

Clusty, a meta-search-engine, has added “Clusty Clouds”. From a search term generate a list of tags combining that term with the terms most frequently conjoined with it in searches. Two examples:
Loading Clusty Cloud ...
Loading Clusty Cloud ...
In case you’re wondering, Spinoza Bear is a talking bear who offers comfort to children with chronic illnesses, in English, French, or Spanish. His singing voice is suspiciously reminiscent of Cat Stevens. I doubt that he reads them excerpts from the Ethics.
Hyper-Spinoza, which you will find in the search for “Fokke Akkerman”, includes electronic versions of Spinoza’s works and articles on Spinoza. The last datable entry I noticed was for a conference in November of this year.

LinkDecember 5, 2006 in Web/Tech

Wednesday garden pix

Heute back ich, morgen brau ich,
übermorgen hol ich der Königin ihr Kind;
ach, wie gut dass niemand weiß,
dass ich Rumpelstilzchen heiß!
Today I bake, tomorrow brew,
The next I'll have the young Queen's child.
Ha! glad am I that no one knew
That Rumpelstiltskin I am styled.


LinkDecember 13, 2006 in Garden

They have eyes but will not see

I haven’t been posting political items lately, but this item is too telling to pass up. It’s from a talk by Robert Fisk at the MIT Technology and Culture Forum last spring. Fisk is discussing the failings of American journalists.
My colleague Patrick Cockburn tells me that at one point of great violence in Baghdad he saw an American colleague crawling out on his balcony to use a satellite phone to talk to somebody. Afterwards he said — because there were a lot of bullets flying around — who were you talking to? And the reporter said, “I was ringing someone up from the Brookings Institution — we needed a quote about what was going on in Iraq.”
Ill Wind Dep’t: If you have a couple of spare jets, you can help the Air Force carry home the dead:
According to the request issued in late November, Air Mobility Command is looking for a firm that can provide crews and four aircraft able to carry two caskets each and their military escorts. The planes could make up to 110 flights a month.
Last month they would have needed at least 39 flights. With the money you make hauling caskets, you can buy some Patri-Art.
Source: “War, Geopolitics, and History”, WGBH (Boston) 9 April 2006, via Tiny Revolution; Global Security. Mr. Eagle above and the gun-totin’ Santa of Christmas 2004 have something in common—aside from the weaponry, that is. They’re both violating the Flag Rules & Regulations.

LinkDecember 16, 2006 in Current Affairs

The failure of technology to overcome human indolence

blinkbits blogmarks co.mments feedmelinks LinkaGoGo shadows
Social bookmarking is not new anymore, I suppose. Nowadays people have little lists of icons for all those sites that let you store bookmarks on line. I can spot a trend as well as anybody. On the right is a panel of icons for various sites. If you’re not familiar with bookmarking sites, click on one to see what it does. I use del.ici.ous, simpy, and scuttle myself. The net effect of all these sites, as far as I can tell, is ever-increasing lists of things to look at which in fact are never looked at. Pretty soon even the lists themselves are seldom looked at.
Virtual piles take up less space than real piles, but cognitively speaking the effects are similar.
The purveyors of Web 2.0 would have us get excited about fairly simple applications of PHP to the task of storing and tagging items. But in my experience none of these applications—bookmark sites, photo sites like Flickr, and so on—resolves the issue of recovering information once stored. Tags are supposed to be the answer, and they do help. But tags proliferate too, at a somewhat slower rate, one hopes, than links. As time goes by, they seem to need organizing. Del.icio.us lets you bundle tags, but then you need to devote some time not only to tagging but to bundling.
A familiar dialectic. In the “Letters” section of Times Literary Supplement recently a debate erupted concerning indexes. X says: digitized texts and search engines have rendered indexes obsolete. Y insists, in my view rightly, that indexes are more than just hard-wired string-searches. X says that in the future the functions of human indexers will be automated by ever-smarter search algorithms (the “Radiant Future” argument). In the face of this, Y retreats (who’s to say that the Radiant Future won’t happen until it doesn’t?) or harrumphs to the effect that computers will never—, whereupon X accuses Y of being a Luddite, and so on.
One novelty in all this is that human labor is converted into wealth without any tangible quid pro quo. Amazon’s recommendations are based on the decisions of their customers, including the rankings given to items already owned. The benefit to customers from the labor put into ranking their items is better recommendations From Amazon’s point of view they become more efficient consumers. Amazon accumulates a vast store of data concerning preferences and correlations among preferences. It can not only use that data to sell more stuff, but it can also sell aggregated collections to the corporations whose goods it markets. They get their billions, I get more stuff.
If you want to use the link sites list, view source for this entry to get the code for the list (search on ‘linkiconblock’ and copy the entire div with this class. Include in the style sheet for your page the following items, changing them as you see fit:
.linkiconblock {
width: 128px;
background-color: #ffffff;
margin-left: 1em;
border-top: 1px solid #a09c90;
border-left: 1px solid #9d9c90;
border-bottom: 2px solid #504c40;
border-right: 2px solid #504c40;
padding: 4px;
padding-bottom: 2px;
text-align: center;
text-indent: 0em;
font-size: 12pt;
.linkiconelement {
margin-left: .125em;
You will need to replace the URLs in the links with a link to your weblog entry. If you use TextSoap, here’s a cleaner that does part of the job. Save the file (it will have the extension “.ccleaner”, double-click to install it in TextSoap, add it if you like to your list of customer cleaners. Once you’ve used it, replace “@#$” with your URL. No doubt there are scripts that do all this automatically. But the linksites list adds quite a bit of overhead, and I don’t want to add it to every entry.

LinkDecember 23, 2006 in Web/Tech

Sunday cat pix, happy holidays edition!

Rolled-up rugs are for scratching and sitting.


LinkDecember 24, 2006 in Cats