Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ramblings on Connections

While surfing around on the internet this morning I landed on something I thought was interesting and was considering mentioning it on my blog or on Facebook when it occurred to me that perhaps the more interesting story was how I came to be reading the particular story in the first place. This in turn reminded me of one of my favorite series from the late 70 early 80; Connections, the BBC series hosted by James Burke and shown on PBS.   The series was fascinating because it took the unusual approach of showing history in cross section, like a cut-away diagram of a complex machine, and showed viewers all the interesting tidbits that preceded and ultimately led to an important historical event.


Of course, I'm not comparing my link discovery to an important historic event.  I mention the show because it exemplifies how the back-story and some seemingly innocuous events can all lead up to something unexpected.

My personal connection story went like this:  As I sat down this morning to do some work I stopped to put on some music.  I did not feel like listening to my own music collection so I  went to Last.FM and searched for 'Noise Jazz' (I'm really quite fond of experimental and avant-garde music ).



The search turned up a few Zappa links and one from a Swedish punk band called The (International) Noise Conspiracy (never had heard of them either).  I started listening to one of their songs 'Capitalism Stole My Virginity' and, though it was not what I looking for, I was curious enough about the band that I found and read their Wikipedia profile. 



In the article it mentions that the band has a strong 'Situationist' agenda.  I had no idea what a Situationist was so I followed the link and found the this: Situationist International, about a group of mostly European Marxist revolutionaries from the 60s.

It was at this point that the whole idea about connections struck me; I had gone looking for music and ended up reading about Marxist revolutionaries.  That's kind of cool.

I checked but there's no Firefox browser add-on that would allow me to collect and organize a surfing history.  I guess I've either discovered an interesting new opportunity or it's an idea that would only appeal to an information geek like myself. 
  

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Commitment to the Depiction of Life's Complexities

I read one particular blog on literary criticism.  I know nothing about the field but the authors write so well and elucidates how he breaks down and evaluates the subjective experience of a novel in such precise detail I find it fascinating.  While reading a post today about people and authors I've never heard of (Stephen Marche's semi-infamous 2008 diatribe against Alain Robbe-Grillet) I found some text that I thought articulated a simple yardstick with which to differentiate art from non-art:
What is missing from its mystery plot is a firm resolution of the mystery, and while this refusal to accede to the conventions of the genre might be frustrating to some readers, it also manifests a commitment to the depiction of life's complexities, which are not reducible to the neat resolutions of mystery stories. This commitment is not a characteristic of "high art." It is a characteristic of art.

It's not that I didn't already have a gut feeling about this but I could never have come up with that simple description: a commitment to the depiction of life's complexities.  I thought it was worth writing down.

Modest Mouse: King Rat

I love the style of this video.   I can't help but think about the Mark Richard's novel Fishboy (one of my favorites) while watching the first few minutes.   Movie buffs may find it interesting that Heath Ledger was the original director of this video but he died during its making so it was finished by others.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Who is responsible for the dead dog in Missouri?


Pete Guither over at DrugWarRant.com collected a bunch of interesting reactions to the Missouri SWAT raid where the family dog was shot (I stole his title). My favorite is Megan McArdle writing for The Atlantic; she summed her feelings thusly:
 Short of multiple homicide, I'm having trouble coming up with anything that justifies that kind of police action.  And you know, I doubt the police could either.  But they weren't busy trying to figure out if they were maximizing the welfare of their larger society. They were, in that most terrifying of phrases, just doing their jobs.

And in the end, that is our shame, not theirs.

The must win label is a loser

I don't read a lot of sports journalism but I read enough to be tired of one trope: the must win game.  Sports writers trot it out way too often.   In sports there certainly are 'must win' games but unless the season is on the line the game isn't 'must win'.  The notion behind the label is that by loosing the game the team will find themselves in a dire situation or they will have missed an awesome opportunity.  I see the appeal of the label, it's probably even sells some papers, but I'm tired of it.  How about 'Big game tonight!", "A Loss Could Tie up the Series", anything else than the tired old slogan: "Must Win Game"

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

114 Manager Alternatives

Updated the old list.

Abstractor,
Accountant,
Actor,
Adjudicator,
Adjuster,
Administrator,
Agent,
Announcer,
Appraiser,
Apprentice,
Arranger,
Assembler,
Attendant,
Auditor,
Babysitter,
Bagger,
Bidder,
Bodyguard,
Breeder,
Brewer,
Builder,
Bundler,
Captain,
Carrier,
Checker,
Chief,
Classifier,
Clerk,
Collector,
Comptroller,
Controller,
Coordinator,
Dealer,
Director,
Distributor,
Donkey,
Drainer,
Engineer,
Estimator,
Eviscerator,
Executioner,
Executive,
Expediter,
Factory,
Finisher,
Foreman,
Gatekeeper,
Gatherer,
General,
Generator,
Groom,
Guard,
Guardian
Guide,
Handler,
Helper,
Host,
Hostess,
Inducer,
Inspector,
Installer,
Jockey,
Judge,
Juggler,
Juror,
Keeper,
Laborer,
Librarian,
Lieutenant,
Manager,
Mechanic,
Mediator,
Modeler,
Moose,
Mule,
Observer,
Operator,
Overseer,
Ox,
Pilot,
Planner,
Polisher,
Porter,
Preparer,
Processor,
Proxy,
Purifier,
Receiver,
Referee,
Repairer,
Representative,
Salvager,
Scribe,
Secretary,
Sergeant,
Shepherd,
Sorter,
Stacker,
Stevedore,
Supervisor,
Tender,
Tester,
Train,
Truck,
Tug,
Umpire,
Undertaker,
Watcher,
Winder,
Womb,
Worker,
Wrangler,
Xenophobe,
Zookeeper
 
The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism