March 2000 Archives

Search for Dementia Praecox lead

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Search for Dementia Praecox lead to Death Certificates of Finns in Skagit County,
Washington, 1908-1947

ROOT, MATT -- Age 57, born in Finland. Died Aug. 4, 1923, Northern State
Hospital, Sedro-Woolley, Wash. Cause of death: cardio-renal disease; dementia
praecox. Had been in Fort Steilacoom; in Northern State Hospital since 1909.
Single. Laborer. Cremated.

I wonder if the grandest Dementia Praecox (nowadays schizophrenia) delusion
would be as strange as the thought that 80 years after your death
the entire world would be able to read your obituary, helpfully pointed to by
information robots.

Got so excited by all

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Got so excited by all the possibilities for Open Source tracker and Deskbar that I've thrown together a wishlist page. All hail php and mysql.

Very comprehensive article on cross-browser DHTML. Via mozillazine.

Wow, the latest build of

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Wow, the latest build of mozilla feels much faster. Bookmarks are still problematic though.

Daaaamn, the changes in BeOS

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Daaaamn, the changes in BeOS R5 look sweet. People downloading this (here) are going to be impressed.

If you only watch one

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If you only watch one cooking show, it should really be Good Eats.
Good Eats is what a cooking should be about - teaching basic rules about how to cook, not demonstrating impossible exacting recipies that most people will never even attempt. That Alton Brown is a witty and slightly wacky host doesn't hurt, either.
But don't take my word for it, thinks so too.

Only one Oscar comment: how

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Only one Oscar comment: how the hell did American Beauty win out over Being John Malkovich for best screenplay? Bah.

Why is it that stories

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Why is it that stories about Microsoft's antitrust case are in the financial section? Why the stock price graphs? Seems to me the story transcends just the financial aspect. But, you should never forget I'm one of those commiepinko Canadians, so I could be wrong.

I think that I'm obligated

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I think that I'm obligated to link to this because it mentions marginalia. Well, that and the fact that it's thought provoking and insightful. But mostly the marginalia thing. Via evhead.

Perl 6 to debut in

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Perl 6 to debut in August. Pretty damn quick for a complete rewrite in C++. Love this quote: "Perl is likely to remain a coal-face developers' tool rather than a mainstream applications development tool. " More about the rewrite here.

How we will make Canada

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How we will make Canada ours again.

I therefore feel comfortable saying that, on the basis of such a foundation, it is not possible to imagine that such a state of poverty -- of exclusion -- as 4,000 to 5,000 homeless a night in one city, is normal or part of the way things have to be.

To which someone might reply, "Things have changed, conditions have changed, technology, global markets, interdependency. We can no longer be held responsible for our past engagements." I won't go on. You know the line. In reply, I could, without trying to avoid our failures, nevertheless trace the LaFontaine-Baldwin trajectory event by event, over the past 152 years.

Let me deal, therefore, with this idea that something called progress or change can wipe out something called memory or the trajectory of a society. The underlying idea seems to be that, for the first time in 2,500 years of Western civilization, things have changed so drastically that the public good must automatically give way before technology and self-interest. This argument reminds me of what Robert Baldwin called the struggle of "the might of public opinion against fashion and corruption."

What the world needs now

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What the world needs now is a
my key. Just let the concept sink in for a moment. My key. This is MY keyboard and this is MY key on MY keyboard. This is MY bile on MY website. (Alternate line - I am Jack's overwhelming irritation.) (Via rc3.)

The revolution will be: painted,

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The revolution will be: painted, digitized, televised, a butterfly, advertised, netcast, linked with hypertext!, emailed, downloaded, online. The revolution will NOT be: televised, telephoned, in cyberspace, downloaded, wired.

Glad I could clear that up. (Aside: the only thing I don't like about google is that phrase searches like these don't really work.)

Very good article about napster

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Very good article about napster at salon today. What a novel idea: artists deserve to be paid! It would be a true shame if the real effect of mp3 is musicians seeing record companies as the lesser of two evils.

Satan ends scoring drought. If

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Satan ends scoring drought. If only the NHL had a player named Jesus; it'd be like South Park on ice.

Spent most of the day

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Spent most of the day in discussions about the future of the library in the face of technology. It's a topic that, on the one hand, has been beaten to death, but on the other hand hasn't really begun to be explored. The reason for this is that there has somehow arisen a general societal "understanding" that libraries aren't needed in the age of the internet,
while librarians have just woken up in the past couple years that the ground that was underneath them is crumbling and won't be there in a few years and are grappling with what role librarianship will play in their communities. This is a professional discussion that will continue for years and will, if fruitful, rewrite the rules of librarianship.

Why is this important? Because libraries help communities educate themselves, and if they continue to fulfill that function (as I believe they should), libraries will continue to be centres of communities, not just as a physical place, but as an idea place - a place that exists in that airy world of bits and thought. This isn't just idle thrown-off the-internet-changes-the-rules conjecture (not just) - a library's ability to select, purchase and catalogue content, regardless of the format of that content, is a vital community function. This is (rather conveniently) tied in with my note below about the continuing role government organizations will play in ensuring community benefit from the internet.

I still have to wrap my head around this. It's one of the Big Topics faced by the emergence of the internet as backdrop to all our lives. Further ponderous notes as events warrant. :-) Please email me with your thoughts!

The truth behind the BeOS:

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The truth behind the BeOS:

You see, you may think that what Be engineers are good at
is writing an operating system. This is an imprecise
statement. You may think that we are good at doing things
the "right" way. This, while arguably true, is also not
quite right. What Be engineers are best at is taking some
problem which is laughably easy to solve and making it
complicated enough to interest us. It's not enough, for
example, for us to be able to play a movie. We have to be
able to play 30 of them, in parallel, on eight CPUs,
while surfing the Web and playing Quake II. (You may have
heard this referred to in our marketing literature as
"sexy"... we engineers know that's just marketing speak
for "butt-ass complicated.") Who buys an eight-processor
machine and then watches 30 movies on it all at the same
time? Beats me. They told us they could sell it, so we
made it.

(The article this is taken from should be online here soon.)

Good summary of the various

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Good summary of the various nightmares facing designers choosing type styles across platforms. Via RRE.

Notes towards an actual point:

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Notes towards an actual point: Courtesy RRE, a thought provoking article about "Community Informatics" from a Canadian perspective. While the phrase Community Informatics comes across as jargon, it's a useful way to capture the ideas around such concepts as "digital divides" and "local digital communities". The article touches on how Canada is a world leader and model for public internet projects. There are many many aspects to this, but the key (for me) is that governments and governmental agencies still have a key role to play to ensure that the internet is not just an economic playground, but also a social and community space as well.

Archives work now - you

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Archives work now - you can click the white numbers on the left to get either the month or a particular day. I'm not sure yet how I'll set up the interface to specific blurbs, so it'll have to do for now.

Everybody seems to be slagging

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Everybody seems to be slagging mozilla these days. mozilla's ultimate released quality aside, it seems to me that mozilla is rather instructive in a challenge that faces all major open-sources projects: it isn't just source that's open, it's the entire development process. From the high profile and loud resignations to flaky preliminary builds, it's all there for the public to pick over. The unfortunate side effect can be that people make up their minds before trying the finished product. Beyond not being open in development, there is really nothing that can prevent these problems, beyond user education - as more people understand the nature of open source development, perhaps these problems will abate.

I think that the next big open source project that will face this problem will be eazel and its nautilus project for linux. It's highly visible, and easily comparable to closed source products. Throw in the presence of several high-profile ex-apple engineers, and it should get very interesting.

I just had to submit

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I just had to submit something using Net+. Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be using Opera with Be exclusively and this website will no longer look like, well yes, crap in BeOS. All hail Free Be!

It's always interesting to see

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It's always interesting to see your own city through someone else's eyes and words. Lovely.

marginalia's day just isn't complete

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marginalia's day just isn't complete with a Globe and Mail link. Today's link is an editorial about the Little Sisters supreme court case. And people say the G&M is a stuffy conservative paper:

A better solution would be to refine the Butler definition of pornography. Rather than condemning all depictions of violence against women (and men), the law could ask whether the violent act is real or merely theatrical. This would cover sadomasochistic literature where the erotic charge comes not so much from the small amount of pain inflicted, but very much from the props (whips, leather etc.) of what is, in essence, sexual theatre.

And check out the teaser line for the editorial: "Let's not flagellate ourselves: It's tough when the sex is rough." Not to mention that the html file itself is called EWHIP.

S&M - G&M: together at last!

(If you want to learn more about the Little Sister's case, check out their web site.)

I can't believe how much

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I can't believe how much time I spent hacking up the little dhtml
nonsense above. (IE4+ and mozilla only, if you can't see it.) A smart person
would probably have coded access to archives first. Oh, and one more thing - could the w3c DOM Specs be any more impenetrable? I can puzzle my way through other specs, but this one just blew the top of my head off.

In the "too bad it

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In the "too bad it didn't work out" department, we have this article in today's Globe and Mail, which has this little tidbit:

Canada's Daniel Richler would not be able to
produce the Salon TV series (they had loved
his Newsworld series Big Life and wanted him
to create a U.S. equivalent, but immigration
officials had stalled, and now they were
forced to find a new producer).

Would have been a great series, I'd wager - Big Life was one of
my favorite shows when it was still on the air. He asked great
questions in interviews too - Allen Ginsberg was visibly delighted
when Richter asked him what it was like to make love to William S. Burroughs.

Scarily enough, I believed for

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Scarily enough, I believed for a little bit that this article on Salon might actually be true:

In Kansas, meanwhile, the old-fashioned girl's name Dot is in the
midst of a popular resurgence (invariably followed, of course, by
the middle name Com). "There's no place like homepage!" were
reportedly the first words uttered by a 6-day-old Dot Com Baum
from Lawrence, whose mother read children's classics aloud to
the iNfant while Dot was still in the SEC-sanctioned quiet period
of the womb.

I keep on finding reasons

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I keep on finding reasons I really need a digital camera. The lastest is that I want to take pictures of the walls at Havana. Anyone who goes there can scrape a message into the drywall, which sometimes makes for interesting viewing, although people seem to think that if they have nothing to say they should put random initials inside a crudely drawn heart symbol. Bleah. However, I did read one of my favorite sayings there: "Sometimes the bull wins."

Dave is just too damn

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Dave is just too damn cool. Witness his lego project and his email signature:

%!Adobe-PS-1.0 ---- David Fischer ---- ----@---.---

Finished Motherless Brooklyn and I've

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Finished Motherless Brooklyn and I've moved on to Pilgrim, by Timothy Findley. Motherless Brooklyn was good, although there continues to be something about Lethem's writing that leaves me vaguely unsatisfied. There's always great ideas and fabulous writing in his books, but the plots never seem to be quite up to the level I expect. At least Motherless Brooklyn had an ending, which is more than I can say about Gun with occasional music. I still get pissed off about how that book ended.

Book covers are fascinating things - here are the covers for Pilgrim in three different countries:

US CoverCanadian CoverGerman Cover

You can do this with any book, and it's quite fascinating. The National Post had a great article covering this topic a few months back, but it's not archived that I can find. The article discussed A History of Reading (aside: wonderful, wonderful book) covers in various countries. Three countries again:

US CoverCanadian CoverUK Cover

Well, you get the point. If you find some good examples you can point me to, mail me.

Here's a job for you.

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Here's a job for you. Try and find information about The The anywhere on the web using a search engine. True madness this way lies.

You know what I hate?

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You know what I hate? When you spend an hour fixing a problem and it turns out you DID fix it, but you couldn't tell because you had made a mistake somewhere else. Programming sure is fun.

Nifty use of mozilla, courtesy

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Nifty use of mozilla, courtesy of mozillazine - Anthem, an alternate interface for sites. I personally think there's going to be a plethora of these apps in the near future as mozilla goes into general release. Note that is already taken.

Everything is better when you

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Everything is better when you listen to Apocalyptica. I can't wait for their new album. Plus, they're not nearly as scary as Mieskuoro Huutajat. (Perhaps you're not frightened by 30 shouting Finnish men. I am.)

On the plus side of

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On the plus side of Canadian televised comedic entertainment, new episodes of Twitch City start next week. Only 6 episodes again, though. It seems the CBC takes after the BBC model of "fewer eps, higher quality" when it comes to sitcoms. While I'd like more episodes, you can't argue against the quality it seems to bring. There are certainly some sitcoms I'd like to have half as many and twice the quality of.

Hahaha, George "the W" Bush

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Hahaha, George "the W" Bush fooled by a wiley Canadian comic. I love Rick Mercer, but I could do without his Talking to Americans bit. I don't see what the point is of travelling to a country just to point out their ignorance of Canadian politics and geography. Hohoho, it's funny because there aren't any dumb Canadians!

Started reading Motherless Brooklyn by

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Started reading Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem today, got hooked from the first two paragraphs:

Context is everything. Dress me up and see. I'm a carnival barker, an auctioneer, a downtown performance artist, a speaker in tonges, a senator drunk on filibuster. _I've got Tourette's._ My mouth won't quit, though mostly I whisper or subvocalize like I'm reading aloud, my Adam's apple bobbing, jaw muscle beating like a miniature heart under my cheek, the noise surpressed, the words escaping siliently, mere ghosts of themselves, husks empty of breath and tone. (If I were a Dick Tracy villain, I'd have to be Mumbles.) In this diminished form the words rush out of the cornucopia of my brain to course over the surface of the world, tickling reality like fingers on piano keys. Caressing, nudging. They're an invisible army on a peacekeeping mission, a peaceable horde. They mean no harm. They placate, interpret, massage. Everywhere they're smoothing down imperfections, putting hairs in place, putting ducks in a row, replacing divots. Counting and polishing the silver. Patting old ladies gently on the behind, eliciting a giggle. Only--here's the rub--when they find too much perfection, when the surface is already buffed smooth, the ducks already orderly, the old ladies complacent, then my little army rebels, breaks into the stores. Reality needs a prick here and there, the carpet needs a flaw. My words begin plucking at threads nervously, seeking purchase, a weak point, a vulnerable ear. That's when it comes, the urge to shout in church, the nursery, the crowded movie house. It's an itch at first. Inconsequential. But the itch is soon a torrent behind a straining dam. Noah's flood. That itch is my whole life. Here it comes now. Cover your ears. Build an ark.
"Eat me!" I scream.

Wow, internic finally worked.

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Wow, internic finally worked.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2000 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2000 is the previous archive.

April 2000 is the next archive.

This is, a weblog by Bill Stilwell. I take the occasional photo.


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