Monthly Archives: November 2011

Hello LA

LA traffic
Mon 11.14.11 – Stuck in traffic on the northbound 101 going to the combined HTML5 & Adobe Meetup where Stephanie Sullivan-Rewis, Elliott Sprehn, Neville Spiteri, and Greg Rewis spoke at on a variety of HTML5, CSS3, JS and image making subjects.
One of the reasons I rarely go to LA for geek meetups is that they usually start at 6:30 or 7pm, which means I have to sit in an 1 1/2 of traffic to get there. Compared to going to a live band, which usually starts at 10pm, which means I can get up to LA in 25-30 mins…

Tidbits from Sunday Blog Reading

Living Small on Battening Down the Hatches, while Charlotte has a freezer full of pork, I have a freezer full of lamb (from the OC Fair).
Wendell Berry’s Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front poem:

“Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.” – Wendel Berry, exerpt

Anina goes to the TechCrunch Beijing Disrupt and comes home to write Girls in TechCrunch
From a photographer living in Iraq, 5 Tips for Safely Photographing a Dangerous Event
Brian Fling has decided it is time to write Book #2:

“At the heart of all of these transitions is mobile. I’ve seen it have a transformative impact on some of the biggest and oldest companies on the planet. I’ve seen geniuses become dumbfounded. I’ve seen great intentions fail miserably.
I want to explore and share those stories. I do not talk want to talk about the virtues of native apps or HTML5 apps – or any other irrelevant discussion that revolves around the technology of today. Mobile is no more about the technology, as the printing press was about paper.
Instead this book will be as much a manifesto of 21st century experiences as it is a guide to using century old tools to solve the problems of today, even the ones we may not be able to define yet.”

@Jyri tweeted: “If I had an angel credo it’d be to invest in quirky solutions to big problems: e.g. Valkee treats depression with light http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8877185/A-bright-word-in-the-ear-for-those-with-winter-blues.html
Last but not least, Timo Arnall posts Three films on communication and networks. It is worth it to watch the videos/films.

Remains of the Summer

Deceased Dragonfly
Sat 11.12.11 – Deceased dragonfly found under the hood of my car today when I asked my brother to look at my car’s spark plugs. The spark plugs are good for another 20k miles, the dragonfly isn’t.
Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8.

In the Red of the Fields

Seal Beach sky just before sunset

Fri 11.11.11 – Remembrance or Veteran’s Day depending on where you live. A day set up to remember the WWI veterans, who are all gone, and the WWII vets are passing now.
Two of my great-grandfathers who served in the Great War, both returned to father daughters in February of 1920, one to still have relative good acclaim in the family and one who returned quite twisted and the echos still reverberate.
In Flanders Fields (1915)
In Fanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872-1918), Canadian Army Medical Corps

RSS, Atom, and Feeds – Let Us Know if You Change it

While tech pundits love love love to proclaim the DEATH of [insertwhateverissupposedlydeadthisweek], as a way to have something to write / talk about or as a way to drive traffic to their blog, the majority of the users on the web continue to ignore that [insert name of] is dead and continue to use it or they have never understood how to use and don’t as a result.
If you have a blog, your blogging software most likely provides a subscription feed, be it RSS or Atom, or you subscribe to a service like Feedburner which produces a feed of which you can then track the statistics on.
Depending on your blog and readers, folks may find your subscription feed(s) easily and use it or they are baffled by how to use it or are indifferent. Some bloggers have actively pushed an email or twitter subscription as an alternative to their RSS or Atom feeds.
I have now been blogging for 8.5 years here at BlackPhoebe.com and my logs show me that I have more folks accessing my feeds (RSS & Atom) than Google Analytics says I have regular returners who access the blog via a direct link. The grand majority of the folks who subscribe to one of the RSS or Atom feeds to this blog and don’t use the Feedburner one. Other bloggers may have a different experience, but I write from mine.
As a regular reader of blogs via their feeds*, it drives me nuts when a blog I like changes their feed URL with no warning. Much of the time it is when a blogger changes from one blogging CMS to another and in the stress of the move doesn’t think about how the change in feed URLs will affect their feed subscribers, or other times it is during a redesign or a big re-arrangement of files and blogging structure.
Regardless of how the feed URL gets changed, I would like to encourage all the bloggers using a CMS that generates a subscription feed to pre-think any architectural changes and warn your readers before it happens, as well as keeping the old feed open for at least 2 weeks after the move/redesign/cleaning/change with a last post on the feed that tells folks where to find the new feed URL.
Be kind to your faithful readers.
* I am a fan of Sage light RSS feedreader Add-on for Firefox.

Fantasy, Science Fiction, Imagination, Faith, and Modernity

There has been quite the internet blog-o-sphere to do revolving around Michael Weingrad’s essay “Why There Is No Jewish Narnia“, which led to D.G. Myers asserting that “Fantasy is a Genre of Christianity“, where upon E.D. Kain proposes that it is not Christianity but Anglophone culture that is the root of Fantasy literature in “Fantasy and the Anglosphere“.
In “Fantasy and the Anglosphere” Kain writes,

“When I published my fantasy piece in the Atlantic it was linked (reproduced?) by Richard Dawkins’ site and a number of the atheists in the commentariat had scathing things to say about fantasy literature. Apparently it is not enough that readers of fantasy do not, in fact, believe in their make-believe. Apparently the fact that dragons and sorcery are not based in science is enough to earn the scorn of some anti-religious types.
This reminds me of the reaction of many conservative Christian groups to various fantasy novels, from Harry Potter to The Golden Compass and the attempt by some conservative groups to ban these books in schools due to all that witchcraft and other devil-worshipping (you know, all those satanic rituals Harry Potter and Hermione engage in before the strange sexual acts begin.)
But many, many Christians and atheists and people of various other faiths enjoy fantasy. “

It struck my absurdity bone as darkly funny that folks are unable to enjoy fiction because it is not science.
*blink*blink*blink*
Hello.
And then being the internet it gets better, as Alyssa Rosenberg jumps in the fray with “Is Fantasy Inherently Christian?” and Adam Serwer joins in with “High Fantasy is a Subgene of Fantasy“, wherein Mr. Serwer brings in the fantasy traditions of many cultures worldwide.
What I find interesting is that none of the writers above, after name checking C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Chesterton, with one or two brief references to Arthurian legends of the high Middle Ages, discuss the Romantic and Victorian infatuation with all things that we would now label as Fantasy: elves, fairies, the sublime, the door between the worlds, other worlds, etc. Not just the folks in the British tradition, but also Wagner (The Ring Cycle), the Russian literature around Baba Yaga, the Welsh Mabinogion, the Celtic revival of Yeats, Wilde, et al, etc etc.
Or how about the writer that both Lewis and Tolkein gave much credit to, George MacDonald. While MacDonald was a poet, writer, and minister, many of his tales border between a mash up of older Scottish fairy tales with the early Modern Christian allegory tradition, wherein the fairy tales come out a bit stronger in his stories than any claims to a 19th Century version of Pilgrim’s Progress.
Wherever we want to trace the history and genealogy of contemporary Fantasy literature, it is far deeper and broader than Tolkein, Lewis, and Chesterton. The Bridge of Birds immediately leaps to mind.
Also to say that Judaism is only concerned with the here and now, and thus couldn’t produce a tradition of Fantasy is also only looking at the last 100 years or so of history. I would love a time machine to take me back to 1100 or 1200 AD to Cordoba or Granada to sit at the feet of a Jewish storyteller and hear of the tales being told in that moment in Andalucia. Maimonides may have had a few good fantastical stories to tell that weren’t all theological in nature.
We, a people who have lived through and beyond the age of the early Modern explorers, the empires where stories leaked back and forth between subject & subjector, as well as the Modernist love of all things industrial progress and the rational, dip into many strands of fantasy in our TV, books, films, and now internets, of which many of these strands may have root in the primary culture we live in right now or the stories may scamper up and down other trees and roots of places we have not yet seen nor heard of.
Many of the stories we now think of as Christian or Medieval are stories that have been radically reshaped or completely created anew in the last 200 years the Industrial Revolution, the Romantics, and the various Revivals of the late 19th century. How much of the current genre we call Fantasy is not necessarily the creative child of Christianity but really the rebellious teenager of rational Modernism?

BouncyCore!!! HappyCore!!!

Sunpig, aka Martin Sutherland, has been tweeting and blogging about the happy/bouncy/F*ckYeah that is Dananananaykroyd, a happycore band who just dis-banded from Glasgow, Scotland.
Martin described Dananananaykroyd as complex melodies turned up to F*ckYeah! Someone in the Noisey 101 video describes them as ‘happycore’. I say, imagine if the Refused decided that they were really happy and Cold War Kids amped it up about 400 more bounces per millisecond.
For my LA/SoCal music friends, check Dananananaykroyd out, even if we won’t see them live at Alex’s.