More copyright insanity:
Mike Batt, the man behind the Wombles and Vanessa Mae, has put a silent 60-second track on the album of his latest classical chart-topping protégés, the Planets. This has enraged representatives of the avant-garde, experimentalist composer John Cage, who died in 1992. The silence on his group's album clearly sounds uncannily like 4'33", the silence composed by Cage in his prime.
Well, for the longest time I'd been planning a big rewrite and redesign of marginalia.org. When I realized this morning that movable type had every feature I could possibly want (including mysql support) and that the only reason to do my own would be to prove to myself that I could, I decided it was time to make a change.
The move went well - I whipped up a quick perl script to export my old entries, spent some time titling and categorizing, fiddled with the stylesheets (woah, green), and voila, here we are. I hope you like, and now that there is a comment system available, you can let me know.
ANOTHER article with the word kyphotic. I swear I'd never seen it before yesterday. (Oh, and the article is worth reading, too.)
Conjunctions looks like a great literary magazine - I'm certainly willing to try any magazine that has new stuff by David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Lethem. They even have a DFW work online that I hadn't read before. (If you do click that link, kyphotic means humpbacked. Update: redditive means conveying a reply.)
I love this recipe for Hot Cocoa (from, who else, Alton Brown), but I would recommend putting the powdered milk (and the sugar, if it's not powdered) through a blender first. Do not, under any circumstances, do this to the cocoa, as it just compacts the cocoa and it will form angry, resentful lumps in your otherwise smooth Hot Cocoa.
And don't forget the pinch of cayenne pepper!
The Fantastic in Art and Fiction. Very cool.
Martin Amis argues for the novel, with a sidetrack through religion:
The 20th century, with its scores of millions of supernumerary dead, has been called the age of ideology. And the age of ideology, clearly, was a mere hiatus in the age of religion, which shows no sign of expiry. Since it is no longer permissible to disparage any single faith or creed, let us start disparaging all of them. To be clear: an ideology is a belief system with an inadequate basis in reality; a religion is a belief system with no basis in reality whatever. Religious belief is without reason and without dignity, and its record is near-universally dreadful. It is straightforward - and never mind, for now, about plagues and famines: if God existed, and if He cared for humankind, He would never have given us religion.
Atheism, it turns out, is not quite rational either. The sketchiest acquaintance with cosmology will tell you that the universe is not, or is not yet, decipherable by human beings. It will also tell you that the universe is far more bizarre, prodigious and chillingly grand than any doctrine, and that spiritual needs can be met by its contemplation. Belief is otiose; reality is sufficiently awesome as it stands. Indeed, our isolation in its cold immensity seems to demand a humanistic counterweight - an assertion of mortal pride. A contemporary manifestation of this need can be seen in our intensified reverence for the planet (James Lovelock's Gaia and other benign animisms). A strategy with a rather longer history centres on an intensified reverence for art - or, in Matthew Arnold's formula, for "the best which has been thought and said".