A Butterfly for Brian

And so when my attention is drawn or pointed often I yawn. The Monarch butterflies dancing about the tops of the Jerusalem artichokes out the back window hold more interest for me. But I have a glance, think neat, and move on. I don’t really think about it. Maybe I should. Maybe there’s something there, about connnectedness.

I want to meet Brian Moffatt someday… just shake his hand, look him in the face and grin complicitously. Golby too. Ray. I’ve had that pleasure with some of the blogging crowd. Almost makes me want to quit quitting drinking if only to have a beer with them. We’ve had our ups and downs here, together — writing and not writing, railing and raving, shouting truths to the deaf, illuminating a path for the blind. And yes, we’ve had the occasional yawn. I respect these men among others, and rather than call out a litany of writers around the world whom I also respect, I’ll trust that you know who you are, most of you, and there are others I’d call out who won’t be reading here anyway.

Oregon’s Cascade mountains — from Mount Hood to Mount Jefferson — are exploding with bright orange butterflies that pulse in massive swarms through forests and meadows.

Thick clouds of them are slowing cars on Santiam Pass and swirling like snowflakes on the road to Timberline Lodge, in some locales splattering windshields, in others producing near-whiteout, or orange-out, conditions.

The boom of California tortoiseshell butterflies is not rare, but it is mysterious. Many are probably offspring of a monster swarm that started in California in early summer and later swept into Oregon, said an expert who tracks them.

The tortoiseshells appeared around Santiam Pass about 10 days ago, said Joe Harwood of the Oregon Department of Transportation. They’re not implicated in any accidents, but Harwood advises drivers to have plenty of windshield wiper fluid.

Think of the butterflys, floating on the breeze, a chaotic jumble of diffuse airborne intent, ignorant perhaps, and certainly not unhappy. Think of the bloggers and their intentionality, and their off hand inter-referential allusive community. It’s better for a butterfly to collide with his neighbor than with the windshield of a random oncoming car.

Sometimes when I try to be funny I’m not, and sometimes of course I make a fool of myself without really trying, but in Toronto there’s a community online and a web industry that includes the likes of Miss Chickie and Brian Moffatt, Jon Husband and Elliot Noss, and dozens – yes hundreds and hundreds of creative people drifting like monarchs on their way to Mexico, enjoying the breezes of a summer day, and bound for a goal we needn’t comprehend.

I’m sorry I caught you when you were feeling fragile, Brian.

* * *

No butterflies were harmed in the making of this post.

Pimping the Party Cove

Ben Paynter’s feature this week in Kansas City’s Pitch spotlights a jaded yet curiously repressed swinging soft-core set partying in a polluted cove on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The language sometimes is a little rough. Ben describes a day and a night of dissipated debauchery, licentiousness that leaves you less excited than depressed.

The way I read it Ben has a good head on his shoulders and pretty much keeps his pants on, but when I read something like this I’d rather he was covering the suburban little league beat.

After his divorce in 1998, Hinrichs began staging hot-body competitions at the Cove. In 2024, he added the Web site. He says profits have allowed him to buy a home near the lake that he will soon use as a base of operations. He’s now known to Party Cove regulars as Mr. Happy, in part for wearing a G-string with a smiley face on the bulge and in part for his tolerance. He has since outgrown the suit, but he claims that he can still drink 80 beers a day.

The Tussle

David Clark, et al. (the ubiquitous Al, a guy who really gets around, a true multidisciplinarian) wrote a paper called “Tussle in Cyberspace: Defining Tomorrow’s Internet”.

One of the tussles that define the current Internet is the tussle of economics. The providers of the Internet are not in the business of giving service away. For most, it is a business, run to make a profit. This means they are competitors, and look at the user, and each other, as a customer and a source of revenue. Providers tussle as they compete, and consumers tussle with providers to get the service they want at a low price.

How can we, as engineers, shape the economic tussle? In fact, we have great power to shape this tussle, but first we have to understand the rules that define it. A standard business saying is that the drivers of investment are fear and greed. Greed is easy to understand—it drove hundreds of billions of dollars worth of investment in telecommunications over the last decade, much of which now [2002] sits at risk of bankruptcy. But fear is more subtle. The vector of fear is competition, which results when the consumer has choice. The tussle among providers and consumers in a competitive landscape is the most basic attribute of a marketplace. Most economists of a “western” bent would argue that competition is good: it drives innovation, disciplines the market, insures efficiency, and removes the need for intervention and regulation of a market. To make competition viable, the consumer in a market must have the ability to choose. So our principle that one should design choice into mechanism is the building block of competition.

A year later, Clark followed up with a paper that altered our understanding of end-to-end design principles. In it, he said:

Perhaps the most radical idea from this analysis is that the simple, end-to-end transparency model should be replaced with the more complex idea of controlled transparency. This implies active elements in the network, which in turn implies a tussle over who controls these devices. It also implies that we need to specify what impact these devices have on the semantics on which the applications depend on.

Subtle stuff.

Best Waxing in Toronto

Roza’s Esthetics (Bloor West Village)
“It’s cheap, quick and less painful than anywhere else I’ve ever been.”

Beauty tip courtesy of Miss Chickie, personally stalked by yours truly after seeing the chickadvisor preview flash “Hotlist” animation at Allied.

I wonder what BMO thinks

BlogHer France….

On the occasion of the publication of photos from BlogHer France I am feeling all literate and shit. The images of these young bloggy-bloggers blogging has inspired me to poetry. Lacking the verbal facility to whip up a good poem for you today… it’s one of those days when I can’t remember people’s names… have you experienced that? I got up this morning and thought to call a colleague and let her know I was running a little late. You know. The one I meet with on Wednesday mornings. What’s her name. Just look her up in the directory and give her a ring. What’s her name… can’t call, don’t remember her name. Really. There’s an entire gingko tree just outside the bedroom window and I can’t remember this woman’s name. I wonder if after dark, while we’re sleeping, the gingko insinuates tiny tendrils through the window screen, across the floor, beneath the pillow and into my ears, then draws out the naturally occurring flavone glycosides from my gray matter leaving me in some kind of Chekhovian syntactic and phonological knowledge bind… unable to remember the name of the horse much less the name of the woman of which the name of the horse might remind me… a classic anterior cingulate-prefrontal cortical bind as it were.

Diane, her name is Diane…

I read about gingkos in Hiroshima that survived the blast when all around them was blackened wreckage.

But really, if I can’t remember people’s names, how can I write a poyme? I’ll have to pull one from the cellars, a modest vintage from the wet sunny slopes, the crider soil formations of Kentucky, formed in a mantle of loess with an underlying limestone residuum — a screw-top bottling, modestly priced, suitable as accompaniment to the best that vegan cuisine can offer…

Presented then, in honor of all who attended BlogHer France, women who don’t need the advice but may be expected to understand and appreciate the sentiment:

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. 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.
Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Free Beer

These lists of “best freeware utilities” are too interesting to lose track of. A lot of guys would bookmark them on del.icio.us or in their browser. Not me. I’ll use my web log instead. (This is some kind of old school thing, like before the artists, the pomos, and the squirrels took over the tech)…

46 best ever freeware utilities

good enough to make the list freeware utilities numbers 47 through 95

Thursday on the River

Less than a week ago, real time, but somewhere back in the neanderlithic in blog time, my friend Bruce at the River wrote another great piece. Nominally he was writing about Dershowitz’ folly, his ability to adopt inhuman principles promoting the Nazification of just about everything and everyone just about everywhere, including ironically enough those two bold national champions of freedom and justice, the United States of America and Israel.

But he was writing about something deeper than that, because it’s not really Alan’s fault… well, it IS his fault and the war crimes tribunal will imprison his nasty celebrity professor ass for a million years because he does stand for torture and pre-emption, but you see it’s not his fault because his mind has been marinated in the briny depths of American media just like the rest of us. We don’t know up from down. We can’t tell if we’re on a great Starship boldly going where no man has gone before, or on a Wagon Train, boldly going west to claim our manifest destiny.

With inspired links such as this and this, Bruce argues forcefully that for most Americans, the war on terror is a TV show. Bruce says,

… the world situation is like a bad movie that we are fascinated with but don’t care about. Lives are either blown away cinematically or vaporized when you turn off the TV. For the most part, all these cathode ray and celluloid lives become our playthings, objects, hence no feeling for them one way or another. Luckily, the fine writer, director and actor can break through these limitations, but that’s the rare exception, hardly consequential and no one serious gives it credit…

This isn’t about “us” and “them.” As Bruce says, “the system” is in power, de-humanizing everyone from the leadership (witness the bizarre caricatures, the host of flying monkeys, populating the executive branch of the US government) to the proletariat, soccer moms who have learned to seat their kids in front of a video taped entertainment while they put a meal together, or zombie dads who mark the passage of time by the shift in sports entertainments projected on the forty-two inch flat screens of their home entertainment centers.

I think there is important stuff being written out here in the blogs, and Bruce is writing some of it. I resisted a close reading and response to his “What do I think” until now, because honestly, we turn these blogular interactions too much into intellectual tennis warm-ups, volleys and serves, pacing a “conversation” until it runs down because we are distracted from it by the next great enthusiasm.

We are here building a common perspective, sharpening our tools for self expression, encountering the same bullshit that has troubled others for decades, muddling through and not losing sight of a path beside the moral swamp that Dershowitz wades through. This is no wagon train, this is no star ship. This is not even a cattle drive, and you are neither Gil Favor nor Rowdy Yates.

Hard to accept, I know…