30 April 2006
History of Computing, Part II
- A DEC 10 running TOPS 20;
- PDP 11/70 and VAX 750, both running some flavor of UNIX;
- Some big Honeywell thing running MULTICS; and
- Symbolics Lisp Machine
That also leaves off the abortive attempt to learn FORTRAN back in the days of punch cards and batch jobs, on some kind of big honking IBM machine. Sorry for the omissions.
Finding links that refer to the above is left as an exercise to the reader.
29 April 2006
Today, five years by the day of the week since I bought my T22, I bought a Mac Book Pro with a 15.4" display, 2.16 GHz chip, 100 GB at 7200 RPM disk, etc. I couldn't justify a 17" display or the physical size of a 17" display for a laptop. Hell, 15.4" seems too big! So, I've just spent the past couple of hours transfering mail profiles, browser settings, etc. Everything seems cool, so far. Mack has been running Mac OS X for several years on a 12" iBook, so I have experienced help around.
I was an early adopter. I believe the S/N of my original Macintosh toaster (128K memory) was number 648. It was something in the 600s, anyway. Before that, it was a TRS 80 machine (16K, tape dump for BASIC programs). After that, I had a NeXT machine at work during grad school, then some kind of Sun Solaris box and an NT box during my first teaching gig at Memphis. My first Laptop was an IBM 760 that I ran Red Hat Linux on, eventually -- because one of Red Hat's upgrades was as arrogant a piece of take-over-your-machine shit as any Microsoft product -- replacing it with Windows 98. The 760 got replaced by the T22 and Windows 2000.
I'll download boot camp, and install Windows XP at work on Monday. I can't get completely out of the Microsoft Universe at this point, and there are Windows applications I've been running that aren't available in Intel form for the Mac yet, too (Photoshop Elements and Microsoft's Office suite come to mind), so I'll be doing the dual boot nonsense for the next year or so.
Immedate response: Impressive, very impressive. It's one fast mofo of a computer.
I have to learn my way around, but so far it is sweet.
27 April 2006
"THE WIVES OF BIG BROTHER" or "How to Be Politically Active" by Francis Vincent Zappa Jr II
Click on the image for the full-sized scan. Click here for the entire Flickr photostream (at Mudshark's Flickr site) compleat with enclosures (including Mr. Zappa's letter to President Reagan regarding censorship, which features this near-perfect line: "Mr. President, if you are not serious about getting government off our backs, could you at least do something about getting it out of our nostrils?"), the mailing envelope, etc.
Link via this post at Boing-Boing.
26 April 2006
I Thought Cats Were Carnivorous
I am so disappointed.
23 April 2006
My point is that the shame that the extremists are exploiting is pointless, without reason, and capable of being overcome; it's a classic case where the oppressors can only win if the oppressed let them win.Seconded, strongly.
Here is my suggested tactic, to be carried out as frequently as possible by as many as possible: Go to your local drugstore where the condoms are locked away, press the little red call button, and then ask for "condoms, please" as loudly as possible. Trust me: the prudes and sex-control queens tend to give up the shame tactic really fast when it's pointed back at them, and those who need to feel better about the situation will feel much, much better. [Emphasis in the original.]
Is the fraction of people who'll defer having sex so substantially larger than the fraction who will go ahead and screw anyway without barrier protection worth the increment in sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregancies that comes from not using rubbers? No, of course not.
Being a sexual human being isn't a shameful condition, although, like I was trying to note below, it's not necessarily easy to talk about, which makes it easier for those so inclined to try to frame it like it's shameful.
It's not. Have fun, but be careful. Like the man said, "Condoms, please." Loudly.
Squicky Icky Sex
Sex isn't squicky, well at least not most of the time. But it is sometimes squicky to talk, or to write, about. At least in mixed company (for some definition of "mixed").
It's just so hard-wired, so innate, so autonomous, that talking about it as if it's rational, reflective, or something we decided we would add to our repertoire misses the point. It's like talking about digestion: biological, not cultural. (As a commenter noted, that's what makes the "lifestyle" in "alternative lifestyle" so ultimately infuriating.)
Not that we don't bring rational decisions and reflective decisions to having sex, but those aren't along the lines of "man who likes other men" compared to "man who likes women," etc. Those are along the lines of "now?" or "later?" or "never?".
Clearly some people find the sexual practices (even the most vanilla ones) of individuals of the other persuasion squicky. That may be a gift from nature. That doesn't mean one ought to respond to such squickiness with verbal or emotional abuse or with physical violence.
Still, sex is not squicky. It's still fun, at least for this one!
22 April 2006
The Alternative Universe
[...] My boss made a comment today at lunch that really got to me. Someone asked me if I wanted some barbecue sauce and I said no thanks. Then my boss, the department head, said, "Well I guess there isn't a good sauce for people of an alternative lifestyle." The comment just blew me away. [...]There used to be a radio ad that ran on WFNX in Boston for the Boston Phoenix's personal ads. (The Phoenix is the weekly "alternative" paper: Tabloid layout, leftist sensibility. I'm sure Orlando has one, but I don't know the name.)
"Are you living an alternative lifestyle? Would you like to be?", is how the ad started out. It just helped me put the phrase "alternative lifestyle" into what I think its proper place is: A catch phrase more appropriate for advertising than for meaningful discussion.
Anyway, I don't like hearing those kinds of comments, but it's not easy for most of us to empower ourselves in the short run to come back with snappy, "Don't people of an alternative lifestyle have the same rights to sauces as everyone else?" or "Equal sauces not special sauces" or...
Or, "What the fuck are you talking about? If you've got something to say about my supposed 'alternative lifestyle' then get it off your fucking chest and stop it with the innuendo and looking down your nose from some kind of straight person's privileged domain. C'mon. Out with it. You got a problem with it, with me, then let's hear it."
Yeah yeah. Easier imagined than done, much easier, because of habits and manners and sensitivity to everyone else at the table, because of the supervisor-supervisee power relationship, and because there's no equal protection for LGBT people under federal or Florida law. (Actually, since the employer probably has some kind of non-discrimination against LGB people policy, it might be appropriate at some point to request a meeting with an HR person and the boss to review the policies.)
But law or policy or not, this much remains true: There is absolutely nothing wrong with being gay. Nothing. Not a thing. Absolutely nothing.
It is not a sin. It is not a crime. It is simply a difference from the overwhelming majority that fate/the universe/the Creator has thrown into the mix for all of us to deal with. And it offers all of us, gay or straight, a chance to find out about our own character, whether it's some fraction of straight people indulging what might actually be some form of innate disgust and acting like an asshole about gay people -- or even inflicting bodily harm -- or some fraction of gay people dealing responsibly with the challenges that being what might be as little as 2% of the population and different in the one area that squicks almost everyone (even as we all do it) -- sex -- brings.
Remember, though, you don't have to be out to speak out. And just because someone's giving you a paycheck, they don't get to tell you what your politics should be, or that you shouldn't practice yours in the workplace when they practice theirs, both subtly and overtly, day in and day out. Gay or not, all of us, to the degree that we assert them, retain each and every one of our human rights. One sure way to lose them is to fail to assert them.
Of course asserting them in that kind of environment entails risk. What reward -- and if you ask me, living in a world where people's rights are respected is vastly more rewarding than one where assholes get to walk all over everyone else -- doesn't?
20 April 2006
Personal to J.H., R.S, B.dB. aka Cloverbottom
I have this memory of Johnny Hollywood -- I'm not sure, I think it might've been Johnny and Rock and babes? -- dancing in the aisles, doing the swim, doing the frug, at a The Hots show (I think) at Vanderbilt. It's permanently etched in my brain. I was thinking of that image yesterday before I saw what John had written, so go figure. If that says anything about the organization of the Universe, it probably has more to do with randomness than anything else.
Nostalgia for the Phrank's years creeps up every now and then. It was a time, a good time, a real time. I wish I had photos to prove it. (Holler that like Mr. Belew in "Indiscipline.")
Yes, I know the release pre-dates Bryan's joining the band. El was fun, but Bryan meshed with Cloverbottom, was Cloverbottom, the way Johnny and Rock were. So, when I think Cloverbottom, I think Johnny, Rock, and Bryan.
Update I: Links added. Thanks, Bryan (see comments).
Update II: Dude wants $90.99 + $2.00 S&H for a cassette copy? Folks, I got original vinyl here. Send offers!
19 April 2006
See Her Pictures
No, I won't show you her images. You have to go there and see them yourself.
Second Looks at "Brokeback Mountain"
We watched the movie on DVD last night, and it was even more powerful, for me at least, than on first seeing. The overwhelming sadness of the story comes across not just as the sadness of the tragic relationship depicted, but also of the sadness of many of our lives as gay men from more rural areas, since we can't have the loves we want in the places we know as home. Well, the sadness that some of us once felt, invoked by the story until it is felt again as if it were happening now.
Most superior works of art, however, have more than one element, and Brokeback is such a work. The story of these two loser ranch hands is also a film about adultery, poverty, the miseries of family life (it was important to have women in this story, Proulx said), dreams one never realizes, wasted lives, the attempt to conform, friendship, and isolation. While the love between Ennis and Jack starts out as an idyll—as bucolic as Theocritus—it does not remain that way for long. The “urban critics,” Proulx writes, dubbed this movie a tale of two gay cowboys. No. It is a story of destructive rural homophobia. Although there are many places in Wyoming where gay men did and do live together in harmony with the community, it should not be forgotten that a year after this story was published Matthew Shepard was tied to a buck fence outside the most enlightened town in the state, Laramie, home of the University of Wyoming.
It is that theme that drives the movie and provides the contrast with the pastoral love. The editing and the score follow a single pattern throughout, alternating the magnificence of the mountain scenery (guitar and orchestra) with the squalor of the men’s domestic life (the whine of country-western songs), the homophobia that requires the repeated escapes, followed by inevitable return. The whole movie is structured on this schism between the ideal and the real. Ennis lies in the street, being punched and kicked by the driver he has attacked. Cut to the breathtaking ridge on which Jack and Ennis are riding to their rendezvous.
Indeed, everything about the relationship between Ennis and Jack is both idealized and utterly true to life. Passion is very much here—a passion that will make the sex obsession many gay men settle for seem so much less. But what’s unsettling is the context. What’s threatening to some about the movie is the way it blurs friendship and Eros. Jack and Ennis are both best friends and lovers, fishing buddies who bring home no fish. Nothing is so touching as the way Jack prefaces his remarks to Ennis with the word “friend” (or the Bob Dylan lyrics Willie Nelson sings over the credits in “He Was a Friend of Mine”). This most masculine, most American, of themes (“Come back to the raft, Huck honey”) is at the movie’s core.
I had re-read the short story after seeing the movie, too. As affecting as the text is, I have to admit that the entire cinematic experience -- not just the words of the characters, but the images, the glances, the sounds, the music -- works in amplifying, in bringing to the surface, what is in the story only, in parts, in suggestions and gestures (even if the short story is more explicit in that one first-encounter scene).
Today, Christopher Orr at the New Republic online (registration required) had this article (link via this Ross Douthot post at The American Scene) about the story and movie, about how they tell a story of masculinity struggling to exist in an era unwelcoming of such. The comments are interesting and thoughtful, tying "Brokeback Mountain" to "Lonesome Dove" and more.
No, the real difference between Call and McCrae and Ennis and Jack isn't about the appearance of homosexuality but the disappearance of homosociability. The former lived in the late 1800s, a time when there were still wide open spaces to conquer, wildernesses where men could be men and could be with men--sexually, platonically, who was to say? In a border hamlet like Lonesome Dove, let alone in the wilds of Montana, no one could complain if two men lived together, given that all the marriageable women had been left behind in Kansas City or San Antonio. Indeed, the life that Call and McCrae shared--two bachelors running a ranch together--is exactly the one Jack dreams of, and pleads with Ennis to undertake. But the modern world denies such a possibility. Land is no longer free to anyone with the nerve to take it, and "civilized" expectations--marriage, children, work--pertain everywhere. Even on Brokeback Mountain, Ennis and Jake must negotiate the conflicting rules of the Forest Service and the rancher who hired them.Maybe the story and movie do communicate something on that high cultural level, but I think they both work best as stories about individuals, certainly individuals reflecting the culture of the place/time, but individuals with their own immediate heartaches and sweet memories, than they do as big signs about trends in the modern world. At least, those are the aspects that spoke to this one.
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, 1943
In January of 1943, ghetto fighters opened fire on German troops as they tried to round up more people for deportation. The Nazis were forced to retreat and the Jewish fighters gained the confidence to go ahead with a bigger revolt. Then, on this day, April 19, 1943, the first day of Passover, hundreds of German soldiers entered the ghetto in rows of tanks, planning to destroy the ghetto in three days. But resistance fighters fought back with the guns and grenades they had been storing. Fighting went on for days; when they ran out of grenades the Jews fought with kitchen knives, chair legs—whatever they could get their hands on. They hid in their trenches and tunnels and in the sewers. They held out for almost a month, but on May 16 the revolt ended. Nazis burned down buildings, shot many of the remaining Jews, and sent the rest of them to concentration camps.
On the forty-fifth anniversary of the uprising, a survivor named Irena Klepfisz said, "What we grieve for is not the loss of a grand vision, but rather the loss of common things, events and gestures. ... Ordinariness is the most precious thing we struggle for, what the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto fought for. Not noble causes or abstract theories. But the right to go on living with a sense of purpose and a sense of self-worth—an ordinary life."
17 April 2006
Photous Dorkius Maximus
Want more dorkiness? There's this photo of my senior prom date and me.
I don't know what I'd've done if they had Gay Proms back then. A (gay) friend/roommate and I tried to go to a gay dance at Vanderbilt when I was in the 11th grade, but we never found it or it didn't happen or something. So we ended up at some gay bar in Nashville (don't remember the name -- Your Father's Moustache? -- but it had a stylized sign as you went in that said "Watch Your Coat and Hat"), downtown on 2nd Avenue. They were hosting the Miss Gay Tennessee pagent. My friend was into that kind of thing, and even knew some of the entrants. (He was from Louisville; they were from Louisville.)
Myself, I didn't go back to a gay bar for about fifteen years.
14 April 2006
"Moved to Atlanta"
Lee: Good luck in all your other pursuits. You're a great guy, and your blog will be missed.
13 April 2006
Harold Ford, Jr., Interview
11 April 2006
Phred Phelps Photo
My favorite photo of the Rev here.
Go to Wikipedia. Type in your birth date (but not year). List three events that happened on your birthday. List two important births and one interesting death. Post this in your journal.21 November
- 164 BC - Judas Maccabaeus, son of Mattathias of the Hasmonean family, restores the Temple in Jerusalem. Events commemorated each year by the festival of Hanukkah. Let's hear it for Judas Maccabaeus!
- 1783 - In Paris, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent, Marquis d'Arlandes, make the first untethered hot air balloon flight. Let's hear it unteathered flight!
- 1877 - Thomas Edison announces his invention of the phonograph, a machine that can record sound. Let's hear it for Edison!
- 1694 - Voltaire, French philosopher (d. 1778) . Voltaire is the guy who said, "Although I disagree with everything you say, I will defend unto the death your right to say it." Let's hear it for Voltiare! (Actually, that line is only attributed to him, but besides being a pretty good attitude, it's also a pretty good summary of his attitude.)
- 1965 - Björk, Icelandic singer, songwriter, and actress. Let's hear it for Björk!
- 1695 - Henry Purcell, English composer. Let's hear it for Purcell!
My birthday is never on Thanksgiving (USA). JFK was assassinated on 22 November, the day after my birthday. I know several other people who share this birthday.
The Skeptical Party
"War is the real enemy" strikes me as one of the stupidest bumper-stickers ever. I have nearly zero tolerance for the Daily Kos clowns or for those who are reflexively anti-Bush or anti-Republican. Or anti-American.
And similarly, I have near zero tolerance for lying Republicans, like the Oklahoma state rep who got a press release published in my partner's hometown paper in which the rep claimed that Oklahoma Democrats are just like Hillary Clinton. Maybe they are in some ways, but the use of that reflexive "Hillary: Bad" shtick strikes me as creepy. Not surprising, since many Republicans strike me as creepy. Like they're waiting and hoping for Armaggedon. Ugh.
I'm against pulling out of Iraq any time soon. I'd rather win -- have a stable secure Iraq -- than suffer the ignominy of another post-Vietnam era. Not that there won't be plenty of that anyway because of the criminal incompetence of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, but we ought to minimize it rather than wallow in it. If that means having US forces help Iraqi forces kill remnant Baathists and yahoo Islamacists, so be it. Better for all in the long run.
John Kerry? A wet turd. But, hey, I voted for a wet turd! I'm a life-long Democrat! Like Toby Keith!! Okay, I voted for George H. W. Bush, but not Bush 43. I was living in Massachusetts at the time, and I was firmly convinced that Dukakis wasn't any more ready for prime time than Jimmy Carter had been. This caused some of my Massachusetts friends to consider disowning me.
I voted for Carter twice, but now I think Reagan was, in fact, the better choice and one of the three great presidents of the 20th century, the others being T. R. and FDR. Winning the Cold War, starting with missle deployments planned by Carter come to think of it, was not something to be sniffed at or excused away. I think Clinton was a good president, but wish he (1) would've kept his dick in his pants, and (2) wouldn't have lied about it when he got busted. Lying sucks: just look at Bush today. I also voted once for a Republican who was running against Ted Kennedy, because this was right after Kennedy had run against Carter for the Democratic nomination when Carter was already President.
The day I voted for Walter Mondale, another wet turd, for President was the day I felt I fulfilled any obligations to the Democratic Party.
Yeah yeah, I'm gay. In some folks' minds that gives me instand liberal cred, but should it?
I am firmly committed to individual and human rights, to rectifying historical wrongs (but without creating new ones in the process -- I'm talking about racism, sexism, and homophobia here), and to liberty and justice for all. Without an "under God," but willing to defend the rights of believers until they start trying to walk all over me.
So I'm skeptical that I belong to the liberal/progressive community these days. I'm certain I don't belong to the Republican/Christianist/keep-everyone-scared group, but I am really uncomfortable with most of today's left.
I guess that leaves me in the Skeptical Party. Like a friend advises, I'll probably "hold my nose and vote the straight Democratic ticket," but that doesn't mean I'll like it one bit.
10 April 2006
Fear and Loathing on the Road to War
It is difficult for me to admit that such cynicism exists, in my or in others' imaginations, much less in the President of the United States of America. But Sullivan's correspondent makes a good argument. And even if you don't buy the argument, there is much in the note that is worthy of consideration.
09 April 2006
Snakes II: Just Tryin' to Get Some
While looking over today's yard work, we noticed this black pile, kind of moving, even writhing. Sure enough, there were a couple of snakes trying to get it on. The third snake, clearly the smaller of the two males, was nearby watching and waiting. They all froze when we got close enough. I snapped some crappy phone cam pics, then, since they were being nice and still while Mack was standing there keeping them cautious, I went back in and got my real camera.
Also, there's a brief movie I took with my camera here. (From the SATs: Picture with phone cam : Picture with real camera :: Movie with camera : Movie with camcorder -- i.e., movie with camera is crap, but it's better than nothing.)
Mack saw the snakes again later in the back yard. Said it was kind of like dogs: all hooked up with one dragging the other around. The odd man out was still observing, waiting, circling. I don't know enough about snake reproduction to know where the eggs go, when the little snakes come around, or what critters feed on the little snakes. Maybe there are more snakes in our future.
08 April 2006
What I've Been Reading
Mack saw two black snakes later in the afternoon in the back yard: a larger one and a smaller one. I suppose one of them could've been the one I saw.
Yeah, my phone takes crappy photos.
There is a huge rock near a gravel pit on Hwy.25 in rural Iowa. For generations, kids have painted slogans, names, and obscenities on this rock, changing its character many times. A few months back, the rock received its latest paint job, and since then it has been left completely undisturbed. It's quite an impressive sight. Be sure to scroll down and check out the multiple photos (all angles) of the rock. I thought the flag was draped over the rock, but it's not. It's actually painted on the rock too.
That last photo is of the artist, Ray "Bubba" Sorenson, II.
Like the rock says, "Thank you veterans." And thanks to Fredna for forwarding these to me.
A little research: The guy's been doing this for several years. Here's his site. And here's a Google search on Ray "Bubba" Sorenson with quite a few write ups and links.
(Copyright comment: The copyright on these images belongs to the person who made them, not to me. I don't intend to infringe on the copyright owner's rights at all, so if anyone with a stake in that ownership has any problems with my posting these, just let me know. Thanks.)
07 April 2006
OneThat's an instance of a poem where the number of syllables per line is specified by Fibonacci's sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, ...; i.e., the first two lines each have one syllable, and each subsequent line has as many syllables as the sum of the number of syllables on the two lines it follows. That's a fib. (If you're a stickler that the first two items in the Fibonacci sequence are zero and one, then consider the initial line of the poem above to be blank.)
Math plus poetry yields the Fib.
The fib above is from this post by Gregory K. (Sounds like a character in a Kafka novel.) Here's another post on the same topic, recently linked to by Slashdot. The comments to both posts include numerous fibs. Here's a fun one:
KirkFibonacci's sequence is intimately related to the Golden Ratio. Whether there will be a role for the Golden Ratio in Fibonacci Poetry has, as far as I know, not been commented on yet, except for the passing reference to spirals in Gregory K.'s fib above.
Has a bad
Talks like this all the freaking time
Fibonacci, himself, brought Arabic numerals to Europe. He's buried in the Cathederal at Pisa. I have a picture of his tomb somewhere, and I will try to remember to post it.
p.s. Fittingly, April is both National Poetry Month and Math Awareness Month. It's two, two, two months in one!
06 April 2006
Long Live the Weird!
04 April 2006
I'm Easily Entertained
Maufacturer's web site here.
The sizing is for the extra large. It's a wonder I didn't fall in.
02 April 2006
Interview with the Buddha
Timeliness? It's still yesterday yesterday.
Nuevo Americanos, Si! Trabajadores de Huésped , No!!
If we need to find a way to accelerate the process by which foreign nationals -- including currently illegal immigrants -- become permanent residents and American citizens, then let's do it. But let's not repeat the mistakes many European countries have made with guest worker programs and disconnected immigrants. Having physical immigrant communities that are legally disconnected from the social and political processes of the nation isn't a good thing in my book.