Powered by Blogger

Ethel the Blog
Observations (and occasional brash opining) on science, computers, books, music and other shiny things that catch my mind's eye. There's a home page with ostensibly more permanent stuff. This is intended to be more functional than decorative. I neither intend nor want to surf on the bleeding edge, keep it real, redefine journalism or attract nyphomaniacal groupies (well, maybe a wee bit of the latter). The occasional cheap laugh, raised eyebrow or provocation of interest are all I'll plead guilty to in the matter of intent. Bene qui latuit bene vixit.

The usual copyright stuff applies, but I probably won't get enraged until I find a clone site with absolutely no attribution (which, by the way, has happened twice with some of my other stuff). Finally, if anyone's offended by anything on this site then please do notify me immediately. I like to keep track of those times when I get something right.

Google!


How to blog?

METABLOGGING

Blog Madness
Blog Portal
linkwatcher
Monitor

BLOGS (YMMV)

abuddhas memes
alamut
apathy
arms and the man
baghdad burning
bifurcated rivets
big left outside
boing boing
booknotes
bovine inversus
bradlands
bushwacker
camworld
cheek
chess log
cogent provocateur
cool tools
counterspin
crooked timber
delong
digby
drat fink
drmike
d-squared
dumbmonkey
electrolite
eschaton
estimated prophet
ezrael
fat planet
flutterby!
follow me here
geegaw
genehack
ghost
glare
gmtplus9
hack the planet
harmful
hauser report
hell for halliburton
honeyguide
hotsy totsy club
juan cole
kestrel's nest
k marx the spot
kuro5hin
lake effect
lambda
large hearted boy
leftbanker
looka
looking glass
macleod
maxspeak
medley
memepool
metagrrrl
mike's
monkeyfist
more like this
mouse farts
my dog
norbizness
off the kuff
orcinus
pandagon
pedantry
peterme
philosoraptor
pith and vinegar
plastic
portage
q
quark soup
quiggin
randomwalks
rip post
rittenhouse
see the forest
shadow o' hegemon
sideshow
simcoe
south knox bubba
slacktivist
smudge
submerging markets
sylloge
synthetic zero
talking points
tbogg
twernt
unknownnews
vacuum
vanitysite
virulent memes
whiskey bar
windowseat tv
wood s lot

TECH

Librenix
use perl
rootprompt
slashdot
freshmeat
Ars Technica
32BitsOnline
UGeek
AnandTech
Linux Today
Tom's Hardware
DevShed


"When they say, 'Gee it's an information explosion!', no, it's not an explosion, it's a disgorgement of the bowels is what it is. Every idiotic thing that anybody could possibly write or say or think can get into the body politic now, where before things would have to have some merit to go through the publishing routine, now, ANYTHING." - Harlan Ellison



JOLLY OLD PALS
Old pals Rumsy and Saddam


Other stuff of mild interest to some:
unusual literature
scientific software blog
physical oceanography glossary
computer-related tutorials and texts

Tuesday, October 10, 2000

BOOKS
Some tasty snippets from the 10/8/00
New York Times Book Review. In a review of Cynthia Ozick's essay collection Quarrel and Quandary, University College of London English professor John Sutherland bemoans those bloody postmodernists with:
Cynthia Ozick is, for my money, the most accomplished and graceful literary stylist of our time. The compliment, alas, rings hollow. Nowadays ''belletrist'' is almost a term of insult. For most of my university colleagues, ''writer of fine prose'' rates with being a virtuoso of the kazoo or playing a great game of tiddlywinks. Who now cultivates or reveres the sharp-edged art of the epigram, the well-placed flourish, the daring trope, the Shandyan excursus, the smart simile, Ciceronian copiousness, Senecan taciturnity, cunning variation of pace, tone, tempo and rhetorical force -- that whole repertory of effects subsumed under the word ''prose''?
This is followed, unfortunately, by yet another tiresome paragraph whining about how Derrida, Foucault, et al. and their evil minions have taken over literature. Funny how I can always find more good and interesting fiction to read than I have time for despite the evil predations of those supposedly ubiquitous and predatory pomos.

In a less than enthusiastic review of Will Self's latest novel How the Dead Live, Tom Shone regales us with a list of those who might be offended:

Among those who may take umbrage at Self's new book are: cancer sufferers, relatives of cancer sufferers, Jews both self-hating and regular, addicts, members of Alcoholics Anonymous, English doctors, nurses, stockbrokers and just about anyone, for that matter, who lives in any London suburb or who has ever bought lace curtains. Anyone not covered by the above will simply have to sit tight and hope for better luck next time.
Then he tells us why he's offended:
If the aim is to suggest suave world-weariness, the effect is the exact opposite. Instead, we sense a schoolboy eagerness, tripping over itself in the rush to register disdain. Self has always given the impression of a man who intends to elope with his thesaurus at the first available opportunity; on the evidence of ''How the Dead Live,'' that opportunity has finally presented itself. We get pointless reiterations (''unbeatable gloating, unbelievable schadenfreude''); we get the word ''puling'' twice in eight pages, which, for a book that invokes Joyce, will not do; and we get wave after wave of viscous imagery (''congealed reality . . . blubbery blancmange of an evidence''). Throw this book at a wall and it will stick. After a while you simply grow bored, and end up inverting Self's images just for the hell of it; every time he compared the city to ''an encrustation upon a scab,'' or a person to a ''diseased yolk,'' I substituted instead ''wedding cake,'' or ''buttercup petal,'' and ended up with prose just an inch shy of that in a Harlequin romance. That's the problem with rococo disgust: take away the disgust and you turn into Barbara Cartland.
Jim Holt reviews Dennis Overbye's (author of the excellent history of the last half century of cosmology Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos) Einstein in Love: A Scientific Romance, in which Overbye revises the revisionists regarding Einstein's first wife supposedly being the real brains behind special and general relativity:
Now it would be pretty to think that both of these creative feats were somehow inspired by Einstein's passions, for Mileva in 1905, for Elsa a decade later. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Overbye makes clear, whatever ardor the young Einstein felt for his first wife had cooled by the time of their marriage. Mileva was four years his senior and was not aging well. She walked with a limp and was periodically troubled by goiters. Because of her Serbian origins, she was loathed by Einstein's mother, who was a bit of a dragon lady. Albert and Mileva's illegitimate daughter, little Lieserl, either died of scarlet fever or was given up for adoption; her fate continues to exercise other biographers' fancy, but Overbye sensibly declines to add to the speculation. Nor does he take seriously the claim that Mileva was the real brains; though she may have done some mathematical donkey-work for her husband, she was too distracted by the bearing and raising of his two boys to join him in his ''thought experiments.''
Then we have notorious Clinton fan Christopher Hitchens reviewing Anthony Summers' The Arrogance of Power, the controversial book about the perfidiousness of Tricky Dick:
Using a series of extremist and shady intermediaries, the Nixon campaign covertly assured the South Vietnamese generals that if they boycotted President Lyndon B. Johnson's dearly bought conference (which they ultimately did on the very eve of the election) they would get a more sympathetic administration. Irony is too feeble a word for what they actually got: a losing war, protracted for four years and concluded -- with much additional humiliation -- on the same terms that Johnson and Hubert Humphrey had been offering in 1968. Summers has spoken to all the surviving participants, including the dramatic go-between figure of Anna Chennault, who now regards even herself as one of those betrayed by this foul deal. Almost half the names on that wall in Washington are inscribed with a date after Nixon and Kissinger took office. We still cringe from counting the number of Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians. Nixon's illegal and surreptitious conduct not only prolonged an awful war but also corrupted and subverted a crucial presidential election: the combination must make it the most wicked action in American history.
The reactionaries who've drooled over Hitchens' Clinton-bashing might find this review a bit discomfiting, like for instance the paralogical gymnast on Amazon who - despite getting a stiffy about Hitchens raking Clinton over the coals in his recent book - whines that Hitchens is only pissed off because the focus of evil in the modern world has interfered with his "liberal agenda."
posted by Steven Baum 10/10/2000 12:36:17 AM | link

Monday, October 09, 2000

PYRL
Today's new entry in the "mind if we call you Bruce to avoid all the confusion?" section is
Pyrl, a preprocessor (written in Perl) for writing Perl programs with a more Pythonish syntax, i.e. it allows you to replace curly brackets and semicolons with indentation as a way to control flow and form blocks. The same author also gives us Cython, which does for C and C++ what Pyrl does for Perl. This reminds me of a package I ran across a while back that supplied a VAX/VMS shell for UNIX so you could use all the old VMS commands on your UNIX box. I downloaded and installed it only to discover that I'd forgotten most of the VMS commands I'd once used for several years.
posted by Steven Baum 10/9/2000 10:59:21 AM | link

LATINIZED PERL
Extremely damned clever chap
Damian Conway (who is, among other things, an exalted monger of things Perl and author of Object-Oriented Perl) presented a talk at OSCon2000 entitled Lingua::Romana::Perligata - Perl for the XXI-imus Century. The paper on which the talk was based is also available, with the abstract reading as follows:
This paper describes a Perl module -- Lingua::Romana::Perligata -- that makes it possible to write Perl programs in Latin. A plausible rationale for wanting to do such a thing is provided, along with a comprehensive overview of the syntax and semantics of Latinized Perl. The paper also explains the special source filtering and parsing techniques required to efficiently interpret a programming language in which the syntax is (largely) non-positional.
There's just something aesthetically pleasing about using Perl to mangle Latin that doesn't really need a "plausible rationale" to pique one's interest.
posted by Steven Baum 10/9/2000 10:11:13 AM | link

GRAND CHALLENGES
A forthcoming
National Academy Press report entitled Grand Challenges in the Environmental Sciences is available in its entirety online via their Open Book Interface (which uses MySQL as its underlying database). For those who wish to skip the plot and character development, the eight challenges identified in the report (from over 200 nominees) are:
  • Increase understanding of the Earth's major biogeochemical cycles, evaluate how they're being perturbed by human activities, and determine how they might better be stabilized.
  • Improving understanding of the factors affecting biological diversity and ecosystem structure and functioning, including the role of human activity.
  • Increase the ability to predict climate variations, from extreme events to decadal time scales; to understand how this variability may change in the future; and to assess realistically the resulting impacts.
  • To develop an improved understanding of and ability to predict changes in freshwater resources and the environment caused by floods, droughts, sedimentation and contamination.
  • To understand ecological and evolutionary aspects of infectious diseases; develop an understanding of the interactions among pathogens, hosts/receptors, and the environment; and thus make it possible to prevent changes in the infectivity and virulence of organisms that threaten plant, animal and human health at the population level.
  • To understand how human use of resources is shaped by institutions such as markets, governments, international treaties, and formal and informal sets of rules that are established to govern resource extraction, waste disposal, and other environmentally important activities.
  • To develop a systematic understanding of changes in land uses and land covers that are critical to ecosystem functioning and services and human welfare.
  • To develop a quantitative understanding of the global budgets and cycles of materials widely used by humanity and of how the life cycles of these materials (their history from the raw material stage through recycling and disposal) may be modified.
So what were the requirements to make the final cut? They were looking for ...
... major scientific tasks that are compelling for both intellectual and practical reasons, that offer potential for major breakthroughs on the basis of recent developments in science and technology, and that are feasible given current capabilities and a serious infusion of resources.
Your assignment for this week is to develop an extensive set of web pages with links to ongoing research in the listed areas. Half your grade will be based on those pages and the other half on your ability to ingest habanero peppers. Extra credit is available on a case by case basis (and if you don't know by now what I mean by "case" then you've already flunked).
posted by Steven Baum 10/9/2000 09:32:48 AM | link


Comments?
Archive

LISTS

Books
Software

uPORTALS

cider
crime lit
drive-in
fake lit
hurricanes
os
scripting
sherlock
texas music
top 100
weirdsounds
wodehouse

LEISURE

abebooks
alibris
amazon
bibliofind
bookfinder
hamilton
powells

all music guide
best used cds
cd bargains
second spin
raven's links

ampol
arts & letters
atlantic
art history
attrition
bibliomania
bitch
bizarre
bizarro
bloom country
bob 'n' ed
bob the angry flower
callahan
chile pepper
classical music
cnnsi
crackbaby
cult films
culture jamming
discover
disinformation
dismal scientist
electric sheep
espn
exquisite corpse
feed
fine cooking
fishbowl
fluble
fried society
fry and laurie
hotel fred
hotendotey
hypocrisy network
jerkcity
last cereal
leisure town
logos
london times
mappa mundi
miscmedia
mp3lit
mr. chuck show
mr. serpent
national geographic
new scientist
no depression
not bored
obscure store
onion
on-line books
parking lot is full
pearly gates
phrase and fable
probe
red meat
rough guides
salon
Simpleton
sluggy freelance
spacemoose
spike
straight dope
strenua inertia
suck
superosity
tawdry town
too much coffee man
toon inn
verbivore
vidal index
yes minister
you damn kid





Powered by Blogger