December 15, 2005

A standard HTML structure for CSS

So I've generated quite a bit of HTML using CSS styles, and I decided it's time to standardise my document structure.

I noticed that quite a few big-name designers create something called a "container" division in their HTML. This is usually written as <div id="container"> in HTML.

Those designers do not put any content directly inside this container division, but instead they divide it up into subordinate divisions. Usually, those subordinate divisions are the "content" division and the "sidebar" division.

In human terms, I am talking about those web pages that are very popular today on blogs and news sites: the content area and the favorite links bar on the side. Technically, for some reason, CSS forces you to create an empty "container" and then the subordinate "contents" and "sidebar" areas inside it, when you want to create a page like this. Ok: I would have thought that the standard HTML element "body" would suffice as a "container", but no, it does not. At some point, I came to accept that.

I began making many pages in this manner. Using CSS for styling has a certain advantage: it allows you to easily tweak the style of your HTML without changing the HTML itself (if I sound like I've been rethawed from 1995, forgive me). But there's another advantage: you can use a single CSS file to style any number of pages. And now I get to my point: if you want that "any number" to be significant, you need to use the same structure on all your pages. So I thought: since everyone is building the same kind of page, with their big content containing container, perhaps there is some kind of standard, maybe a naming scheme, that I could use in my pages? Perhaps if I followed this standard, I could not just style many pages with one CSS file, but I, and all pagemakers, could easily swap CSS files and know that they would smoothly apply to all our pages.

I searched, and found a site that talked about it here.

I like the sound of that article, as it generalises the standard title-content-sidebar design, but it misses at least one feature that pops up very often, and that is that the "sidebar" area is not really navigation, but usually just a bunch of semi-related information. So I decided to call that a "periphery". It also misses the fact that CSS always forces you to wrap all your content (including your periphery) in that big dumb "container" division, even though the very site uses that very container.

And I hate that dumb name, "container". So I'm calling it "document", and here's the structure I'm settling on:

<body>
  <div id="document">
    <div id="header" />
    <div id="content" />
    <div id="periphery" />
    <div id="footer" />
  </div> <!-- ends "document" -->
<body>

There. Now, I'm making all my pages this way. The standard benefit is that I'll be able to build different CSS files, for fun, that will all apply to my pages. But I really started reflecting about this because of something else: I had built three other sites, and I wanted now to use the same CSS file on all of them. No can do. Why? Because their HTML followed a different structure. One was a photo album, so it naturally had divisions called "thumbnail" and "photo". So the real benefit of standardising at least my own HTML structure, is that now I can bring my branding to multiple sites, all from the same CSS file. I can keep "thumbnail" and "photo", as long as they are inside "content", which is inside "document". My wrapper stays familiar, and I only write specialised CSS files for thumbnails and photos on the album site. Same branding everywhere, and instant application of changes "worldwide". Good stuff. And if I'm writing this, it's because I think that you, or others who makes lots of HTML, will benefit from going through this same kind of reflection. Make sure you read that link to Malarkey before getting down to business.

December 12, 2005

Biological conclusions

Read through the following list of observations and decide for yourself.

A pregnant woman:

  • grows a big pot belly,
  • likes eating alot,
  • snores, burps and farts more and louder than before,
  • gets lazy about cleaning the house and washing the dishes,
  • has an increased interest in sex (preferring odd positions), and
  • doesn't have periods.

What biological conclusions can we draw from these elementary facts?

A pregnant woman is a woman turning into a man!

November 30, 2005

Sticki-pote : a kind of friend with benefits, from France.

Pants: breathes heavily as if from exertion.

November 23, 2005

Why I like hip-hop

Got soul like those afro picks, with the black fist,

And leave the crowd drippin like John the Baptist.

October 31, 2005

Okay, so...

Zug the Dinosaur, (or Megasaurus), featured in the Dinosaur Discovery Kit from First Byte.

Rocket Robin Hood, featuring the frivolous consumer Friar Tuck, made in Toronto.

October 30, 2005

When I got to office

"When I got to office, I changed the laws that had made the methods I used to get to office illegal."

I think this would be a good starting sentence for a novel. Why? Because it suggests that we are going to nurture a certain character, a strong and pragmatic one, a perhaps immoral one, but an honest one. Yes--that's what makes the sentence good: it is immoral, but honest. And that's an interesting conflict. Right away, that sets up a story.

If anyone wants to write the novel, consider this sentence as released under the GNU Free Documentation License, or an Apache documentation license if that exists (so that you can make money off it).

I promise that I will buy, and I will encourage my friends to buy, a copy of any book that begins with this sentence.

October 13, 2005

You were like "Hey! Hey you, yeah--the girl working here--this shit is crazy!"

Girl working in store: "No, that's... let me see that... it's M.I.A. Missing in Act..."

You: "NO! This shit is CRAZY!!!"

GWIS: "I don't understand. It says right here it's M.I.A. Here, let me scan..."

Y: "Yo. I got the bombs to mek you blaw. This shit's craze like my crew."

GWIS: "Cr... Craze?... Cra-- Z?"

CZ: "Yo, this szit's Cray like Z. Supercompute that, bitch. Tha's da Z thang."

GWIZ: "Wha... HMZ... I work at ... I work for Z. I'm Craze. This shit's Craze!"

CZ: "Word, word. And I'm gonna and I'm gonna and I'm gonna be .... Hiiigh-ayyy"

Bluetooth pacemaker

I had never used any radio or broadcast technology before, nevermind Bluetooth, but when I got the new Philips KEKX00-g.alpha stroke-monitor notification enabler, I couldn't tune in fast enough. Let me give you some background.

Now, most of you with pacemaker notification systems are probably used to getting immediate updates about your condition or coming risks, but do you have it plotted in Microsoft Powerpoint-XML format and beamed directly to your surgeon's PalmPilot?

Got your attention?

Before, when I had strokes, my pacemaker monitor notification system would produce a crumpled dot-matrix printout of the past five minutes of vessel condition and pulse activity. I had to make sure I had enough ink in the tanks and that the paper was correctly spooled on the feeding pins, or else all activity was potentially irretrievable. I then needed to hurry to find stamps to send the package (after filling in a 3-page form) to my hospital. Starting to sound familiar?

Now, I can get a multimedia playback of high-risk pulse activity (based on risk rating I define) before any stroke occurs, and Bluetooth handles the transmission from my pacemaker to my cellphone, from where it beams up straight to the med. team.

The KEKX00-g comes in an onyx-black clamshell with smoked glass supporting ridges. If you opt for the .alpha ("dot alpha") model, you'll get a FireWire connector and tilted charger port. I keep my port holster linked up to my BlackBerry in the glovebox: it's a dream come true while podcasting.

The doctors thus know about my attack before it happens, and my oncoming stroke is announced by a vibration on my handset even before it's even thought of putting in an appearance. If I'm in company, I just excuse myself and head out to a spot where my violent reaction won't disturb anyone, and where the med. team locates me within seconds by GPS. It's a no-brainer.

So basically there's no match for the dot-matrix readout anymore. Even if you don't have vessel trouble, I recommend you get out there and download one of these puppies straight away. You can synchronise it with your Mac or Windows desktop for constant updates and record-keeping that goes back years... forget those five-minute printouts.

There have been only a few cases of interference from football broadcasts that use Bluetooth to vibrate the phone during goals. Just try not to watch these matches during moments when you are susceptible to strokes.

September 26, 2005

Clean-Ass High Tech

Technology is fucking awesome.

I just got one them new phones with an integrated camera inside of it.

I'm taking a crap.

And suddenly, as I'm wiping, I feel a small turd slide off on my buttcheek.

I'm wiping, I'm wiping. But I'm not sure if I've got it, you know? I mean, I can't see what's going on down there.

And then I realize shit in a box, I've got me a handlheld broadcast quality camera in my pocket.

I lower my cellphone into the bowl, click snap, and, presto, I've got a geographic map of my white ass right in front of my face. There's the little fucker -- hiding right on my left cheek (or is that left on my right cheek -- haw haw).

Whatever. Another quick swipe, and it's gone.

Five years ago, I would've had to squash that bugger in my drawers. Now, I can beam up the image of my clean ass to my whole family over the internet, and even GPS localize my wiping patterns. What will those turds think of next?

September 05, 2005

July 12, 2005

The Interpretation of Allegory

One of the benefits of reading several books at a time--even if you don't pay a great deal of attention to any of them--is that you automatically get ideas by synthesis.

I've been reading Freud's Interpretation of Dreams at the same time as a course textbook called Classical and Christian Ideas in English Renaissance Poetry. This last book sounds like crap, but it's actually pretty good, once you get through the title. It's about how medaeval people thought classical Greek and Roman ideas that had been written down way before Christ actually proved Christ's teachings 100% right.

It's also a bit of an survey about how this potpourri of classical and Christian ideas got used in poetry, with lots of examples. It's interesting, because it's a really good overview about how medævieal people thought.

So I've just been reading the chapter on "Allegory", and at the same time, I'm reading about how Freud lays down some ground rules for how the dream-work converts dream-thoughts into dream-content. Here's what those three terms mean. The dream-thoughts are the things that you're really thinking about when you're dreaming. The dream-content is the things that you actually dream. The dream-work is the mechanism that converts dream-thoughts into dream-contents. The result of this is that you never actually see the "real" dream-thoughts unless you look hard for them, sometimes with the help of Freud. What you actually see in your dreams is just dream-content, and dream-content is always very strange, because it converts dream-thoughts. Freud says that dream-thoughts are often things you don't want to know about. In your waking life, you repress them; in your sleeping life, you also repress them by converting them into unrecognisable images. And that's why dreams are always so weird: they try hard to be unrecognisable.

Anyway, at the part I was reading, Freud is laying down rules that describe, generally, how dream-thoughts get converted to dream-content. Like he'll say that if you have a thought X, then the dream-work will perform these certain operations to turn it into dream Y. The interesting thing is that, although the dream-content can turn out to be almost anything in the end, the operations performed by the dream-work are always the same.

A bit like XSLT, right?

Or a bit like a computer processor, see?

Anyways, so what I was thinking was, has anybody tried to apply, or at least discover, the rules that convert human narratives into allegory? Could this not reveal the same kind of rules as Freud has discovered for dreams? Let me just note a couple of Freud's conversion rules:

  1. dreams-thoughts get compressed
  2. dream-thoughts get displaced onto related thoughts
  3. if dream-thoughts and their related thought are both ready subjects for the dream, then the compression can happen through displacement
  4. when thoughts are displaced onto other thoughts, the dream-work considers which replacement thoughts will be the easiest to represent, and it rejects things that are hard to represent

That's the basics.

So could you uncover this same kind of stuff for allegory? Or at least for common allegory? Could you list the rules that operate when we transform a concept into an allegory? Because, when we do so, perhaps our minds always choose the representation of least resistance. Perhaps, given a subject, and given the context in which we are living, we will always create the same allegorical figure for it? I wonder.

I understand that there's a danger in over-analysing a mental process which happens to be conscious. As opposed to dreams, we usually reflect, and call upon all our mental faculties, when we are creating allegory. Nevertheless, there may be subconscious elements in it that it may be possible to uncover.

I wonder if anyone has looked into this. Probably somebody with a penchant for literature would have done it. Worth finding out.

July 08, 2005

Testing Absence

Welcome to the fourth edition of "High-Tech Programming", in which we discuss some of the fleeting-edge concepts and problems of modern-world technological computer development. In this issue, I would like to take a time-out in order to step back and reflect on one of the nastiest sources of error in programming today, namely, the test for absence.

The test for abcense is the situation, occuring at least once in every program, object, module, function, method, variable and parameter, of making the computer do something depending on if something else exists or not.

There are numerous complexities to the concept of "absence", whence the problem. Testing if a value equals another value is generally easy, but testing whether a value exists is mind-boggling, and most languages are specifically designed to make it as incomprehensible as possible.

Say I want to test if my social security number is greater than π, for example. It's easy. I just go:

if mySocialSecurityNumber > π

and I'm done. That works for credit card numbers, phone numbers, PIN numbers, recipes, you name it. But I start to have problems when I want to test if my social security number exists. What do I do? This:

if mySocialSecurityNumber = 0

?

That'll work in QuickBASIC. Sometimes. But in C it will reset your stupid number to 0 and tell you everything's fine. That's because... who cares what it's because. No language even bothers to follow any sort of standard for this sort of thing. Testing absence, something upon which probably trillions of dollars of transactions and millions of medical records depend on every second, is a completely random operation. To know how to do it right, you have to:

  • know what language you're using,
  • know how that language represents data structures internally,
  • know how the language's declaration mechanism works internally, and, by extension,
  • know how that language represents memory access; you also have to know:
  • what operators are available for each data type in each language,
  • if and how those operators can be defined, redefined or overridden,
  • the behaviour of the operator once it's been overridden, and
  • @&$#@% Perl!
  • You also need to know the distinction between:
  • whether a value has been declared,
  • whether a value has been defined,
  • whether a value is empty, or
  • whether a value is null.

I think this is a lot keep in mind for a totally elementary operation. And it's not just a question of intellectual effort: sure, if you spent enough time thinking, you could order in your head which type of test is necessary when, depending on the combination of the above factors, but in doing so, I think you're entering into a process over multiple layers of abstraction of the computer language. Really, when a language provides you with an equals sign, it should be capable of working on one level.

This is not a joke. A language like C can be very handy if you're willing to keep track of on which level of abstraction your code is performing each operation, but when we claim to be moving towards more normalised, readable and maintable code, a language can easily make a clear distinction between processes at the level of memory, and at the level of, say, representing a bank customer. In other words, "Smith, Joe", has nothing to do with RX0DX.

July 05, 2005

Psshhtt!

aaaaaaaaaaaahhh.

I haven't had any, but the Perrier is 0.80 €. In cans.

June 30, 2005

A conscious effort to slow down and consider the behaviour of my fellow commuters can impress me by the regularity of our anthropological characteristics.

There are two trains that arrive, from opposite directions, on my "work" platform. This is the platform where we get off, so that we can go to work. This introductory detail is already anthropologically notable, but I am focusing on a slightly different one.

There is a relatively narrow staircase at either end of the platform. It's not really narrow; it's wide enough for three people to scale abreast comfortably, but it becomes relatively narrow when a train attempts to empty its contents into its well. When my train comes, a crowd forms at the head of the staircase as people wait for their turn to descend.

The people, since they encounter this situation every day, expect to meet a crowd at the head of the staircase. They thus make an effort to be among the first there, to avoid waiting.

The difficulty grows when both trains arrive at about the same time. This is when the behaviour of people becomes exciting. Races begin. If one has made the unfortunate error of boarding the middle of the train, the part farthest from either staircase, one must put on extra speed to attain the exit before one's fellow passengers.

This morning, my train arrived alone, and the staircase was empty at that moment. I started to walk towards it, straining to overcome my urge to hurry, as I strain every day. I strain in order to avoid overstraining myself, you see. I believe that a daily morning burst of speed, for no other reason than to beat my fellow commuters off the platform, is probably not physically healthy. A sustained walk is healthy; this stressed dash is unhealthy.

As I was thus walking with inner torture and outward calm towards the staircase, I heard the other train arrive behind me.

"This is it," I might have thought. Indeed it was. As soon as my fellow commuters, those who were already approaching the platform from my train, heard the second train, they picked up speed. I heard heels chopping the asphalt behind me, beside me, passing me. I watched the crowd start to run to beat the second crowd that was about to form behind them.

This is the hardest moment not to make a break for it. It is hard to let them catch up to you, pass you, clog up the exit behind you. But I think it is better for you. I won't go into the standard arguments about how much those precious extra seconds matter towards getting to your office--everyone knows they don't. But it's hard to resist the herd. Nevertheless, this small, hard thing is probably very much worth it. It's probably as much worth it as drinking soy milk, or doing yoga finger exercises that you saw in a lifestyle magazine.

Incidentally, there was that other time when I decided to wait out the entire crowd before descending the stairs. Two trains had arrived at once, and a jam formed. I decided, instead of waiting inside the crowd, shuffling an inch a second towards the stairs, why not just wait in the sun on the platform for them all to dissipate. I even thought I could read my book for the couple of minutes it would take. Unfortunately, before the last folks even had their chance to enter the stairwell, the next train arrived! I hadn't known that the trains came so often. Apparently, at certain times in the morning, that stairwell is never clear. So what could I do--I walked, very, very briskly, heart thumping competitively, to beat the newcomers.

June 23, 2005

Wait, I just have to update my documentation infrastructure.

It won't take long. It's just a little change that will make the documentation structure smoother.

I'm almost done. It's just that, after, I need to document the changes I made. I need to document the documentation infrastructure.

In order to do that, I just need to update the structure for the documentation of the documentation infrastructure.

I have a good infrastructure in place that lets me manage the structure for the documentation of the documentation infrastructure.

I just need to make a small change to the infrastructure for the documentation of the documentation infrastructure.

It won't take long. It's just that I need to document the changes to the infrastructure for the documentation of the documentation infrastructure.

I have a good infrastructure in place to manage the stucture of changes to the infrastructure for the documentation of the documentation infrastructure.

When that's done, all further changes to the documetation of the infrastructure of the documentation of the documentation infrastructure will be streamlined.

And then will we ever be efficient! At documentation.

June 22, 2005

Vibrant, Trembling, Shaky and Stirring

For the record, I'm finding Freud's theories about the means of representation in dreams to be somewhat shaky.

Let me frame what I'm talking about. In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud lists and describes the kinds of methods dreams use when they are representing ideas. He claims that, when they describe ideas, dreams do not have the same tools at hand as, say, language does. For example, dreams don't have the word "or": they cannot easily present two ideas as alternatives of one another.

I'm okay with this part.

So, in the case of "or"--that is, when a dream has to represent an alternative--it will resort to simply juxtaposing the two alternatives. Tea and coffee are shown beside one another, or one after the other. But in language, it can be made clear that it's tea "or" coffee, not both; in the dream, the meaning remains ambiguous.

I'm still okay with this part.

So some of the meaning in dreams comes out ambiguous. Not all the time: it happens that dreams are very good at representing other concepts. To give an example of something that dreams find easy to represent, they find "because" easy: it's just a small dream followed by a big dream. The small, peripheral dream is the cause; the big, main dream is the consequence.

But perhaps you might start to note where I feel this theory is weak. The problem is that it is up to the dream interpreter to correctly judge what all the elements of the dream mean. And it seems to me that there may easily be confusion between what a dream meant by a certain method of representation.

Let me compare for example how a dream represents two different structures. I've just described how it represents a "because". And I've said that Freud said that dreams, faced with an "or", give up and juxtapose the tea and coffee.

So: how does the interpreter know, really, if the tea and coffee were a juxtaposition, or if they were a small dream followed by a big dream? Could the meaning be, instead, "coffee because tea"?

Let's not forget nebeneinander/nacheinander: there's a difference between a juxtaposition in space (one object beside another), and a juxtaposition in time (one object after another). Perhaps (I forget), Freud claims that dreams can use this distinction to distinguish between these two structures. That's fine. But it's not enough.

My problem is that there are a whole slew of ideas and structures that dreams need to represent. I'm not against the theory that dreams have a system to map evey type of structure to a type of dream, like language. That's a thrilling idea, because it means we could try to learn the language of dreams. However, the handful of mappings that Freud names seem already to overlap each other to the extent that it would seem impossible to untangle their meanings.

What I would really like to do is make a chart of all the structures in dreams mapped to structures of ideas. And I'd like to see if Freud's propositions are solid.

I imagine, however, that this has already been done by someone. Moreover, with the respect Freud seems to get nowadays, it's probably been used to label him asa a total psycho.

I just can't help noticing that he's the only one who seems to have made a western-scientific attempt at explaining why a dream does P, and not Q.

June 15, 2005

Same Joke Twice

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with my... I suppose cousin-in-law, Tiago. He's one of the rare cousins that I can talk to in English, and--call me discriminating--I find it a bit of a relief. With most of my wife's family, I've had to learn a new language to communicate, and although I can speak well now, I don't think I'll ever get up to the level of comfort I have in English.

Anyway, I like Tiago cause he's an intelligent guy. Nice guy. Since I can talk English to him, I take advantage of that fact to utilise my smashing sense of humour to its full extent, unlike what I can do when I have to speak French.

But upon reflecting on our recent conversation, I realise I may have betrayed a psycho-social lapse. You see, before this recent, short conversation, I had also had a similar conversation with him about 10 months previous, and I realised that it had centered upon the same topic. One thing that I immediately remarked this time around is that when he answered one of my questions, the answer sounded, although technical, to be relatively familiar.

We were actually talking about his internship in sales at a retail store. Both times I had to ask him precisely where he was working. I forgive myself this because we had only talked twice in a year, so naturally the details were hazy in my mind. At some point, I jokingly asked him if, when a client asks for a product, Tiago tries to sneak in a couple of other products. I thought this was a funny thing to ask; I said to try to get a laugh. My cousin-in-law then logically disagreed that, actually, no, it is much more profitable for the store if he only proposes the necessary products, because then the client is more likely to enter into a longer-term, more profitable, relationship.

This is the somewhat technical description that should have been unfamiliar to me, but which sounded vaguely like I had heard it before. As I remembered that conversation this morning I realised, with some perturbation, that what must have prompted the familiarity of this description to my mind was the fact that I made the same joke both times I talked to Tiago.

Do I come across as a total fool? Hopefully he forgot, as I had, the first time I had posed the question. Yet still, if I could remember it now, there is a chance that he could as well. And if we are judged by the brilliance of our conversation, then, in his eyes, I am quite damned.

Next time I really need to think of something new to say.

Shaming Fetish

I have this overpowering fetish for genitals. I can't even come unless there's some kind of genitals involved, and this applies to intercourse and auto-erotica. I'm so ashamed to talk about it!

Luckily, my partner is GGG, so I am relatively satisfied in my sex life. If I say "relatively", it's not a knock against my partner--who I must boast is often titillated by my inventions--but because of the guilt I feel for constantly imposing my disgusting fantasy upon us, time after time. I can count on my genitals the number of times I've allowed us to engage in sex without satisfying my perversity.

As is, I've done it every which way. Genital-manual contact, genital-oral, even genital-to-genital! I just can't help it. I sometimes try to ease off a bit, to gradually try other forms of sex, but nothing gets me off. We'll (or I'll) do something else for a couple of minutes, but then I just go crazy. My brain just starts buzzing and my body is screaming for some kind of involvement of balls, clit, glans, labia minora, you name any sick genital area, I'm wanting it!

Don't even get me started on the time I thought I could go cold turkey. Straight vanilla sex with just us, no genital messing around... that certainly didn't last.

So, even though I've come to terms with my fetish, I still wonder if it's reasonable to impose it on my partner (and on my own body, for that matter) systematically? Is this healthy, or is there some way I can learn to come without revelling in my craving? Can our relationship survive such an imbalance?

GF

June 10, 2005

Fun Without Writing

You too can have fun without writing. Here's how.

Ways to Have Fun... Without Writing

  1. You can scrub your hair or skin.
  2. You can count how many years flow like water from a faucet.
  3. Become partners or switch pants.
  4. Hold these.
  5. You can pray and lie in your prayers.
  6. Belch and record it and play it back over and over: see how long you can take it.
  7. Write to a Senator about watermarks.
  8. Oh shit, that's writing.

Many couples decide not to write for fear of getting a sexually transmitted disease from each other.

This is absurd. Writing has nothing to do with STDs. But it can, on the other hand, make you depressed or manic. It can frustrate you or enrage you, distracting you from the basic needs of life while tantalising you with unrealised rewards. It is like that Greek thing.

So you shouldn't write. Try not to for long periods of time. Or try writing just one letter, so that you don't get over-stimulated. Some writers have stopped gradually by burning every second novel. You can try writing your paragraphs in a constrained style, like for example making a rule that you have to include at least one technical writing sentence in every such structure. Technical writing is so boring that Holy Shit you're going to grind to a halt pretty fast, faster than lint rolling over a maple-syrup smothered pancake.

Also, you could try writing the word "such" after every declarative phrase. You could do math. You could write a blog.

June 03, 2005

The KLF Yeah?

Guy, your new first track is awesome! I love this! I'm gonna give it a new, hardcore name so we can refer to it in conversation: E.f.B.P.H.G.(W-w): Escape from Beat Prison Hardcore Gang (Wicka-wak)!

May 18, 2005

Announcing

A revolution is on its way deep in the heart of the www.supertitle.org website.

Life as you know it is about to take a turn. A turn for the future.

Things are going to change. If you don't keep your wits about you, it won't be easy to keep up.

Visit http://www.supertitle.org for details. Don't delay, now!

Soon!

May 03, 2005

Legalese Translation of the European Constitution

I've been looking at different translations of the text proposing a constitution for the European Union, and I've noticed a discrepency.

I first noticed this small difference between the English and French versions. Compare:

Article II-63

Right to the integrity of the person

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity.

Article II-63

Droit à l'intégrité de la personne

1. Toute personne a droit à son intégrité physique et mentale.

I've emphasised the key terms respect and integrity (if they exist).

It seems to me that, in French, you get the right to physical integrity, while in English, you get the right to the respect for your physical integrity. I wonder why the difference? Is this kind of stuff going to pose problems if we adopt the Treaty?

Then I asked Arnold what it said in the Dutch:

Artikel II-63

Het recht op menselijke integriteit

1. Eenieder heeft recht op lichamelijke en geestelijke integriteit.

As I somewhat expected, it made English the odd-one-out. The Dutch version, like the French, protects integrity, not respect for integrity. So what happens when cases involving a person's physical or mental integrity go to European court? Which text gets applied? I would immediately object that the case's "home country" defines the language of the constitution used to make the ruling, because the point of the European court is that it is neutral to the home country. In that sense, though, we have a conflict of linguistic precedence: which constitution is the real one?

Then I checked the Polish:

Artykuł II-63

Prawo do integralnosci człowieka

1. Kaźdy ma prawo do poszanowania swej integralnosci fizycznej i psychicznej.

I'm surprised. Again, I've emphasised the terms repect and integrity. The Polish version follows the English version. Among four languages now, we have a two-two tie. This precludes us from deciding that, in the case of a conflict in an article among the different versions of the constitution, the most-frequent version wins. Yes, the EU may be at 25 nations now, but there are three candidates and petitioners, so we may conceivably have an even number of states at any time. Anyway, is a modal average a legal way to decide court cases?

Okay, perhaps I can make my way through a few more languages. All languages share morphemes and cognates, so I'm going to look at the same phrase in all the constitution texts, eliminate those words I recognise, and see if there are enough morphemes left over to signify "respect", or not.

How about Spanish:

1. Toda persona tiene derecho a su integridad física y psíquica.

The word "respect" does not appear here. Literally, it seems to say "Every person has right to his/her integrity, physical and mental." So it's the "integrity" case.

Italian:

1. Ogni persona ha diritto alla propria integrità fisica e psichica.

Again, the "respect" is missing. Are all the Romance languages in agreement?

Here's the Portuguese:

1. Todas as pessoas têm direito ao respeito pela sua integridade física e mental.

Nope. There goes the Romance theory. Maybe it goes by time zone???

Let's try the German:

(1) Jeder Mensch hat das Recht auf körperliche und geistige Unversehrtheit.

I recognise a few words, and there don't seem to be enough left to fit the term "respect for". The time zone theory is holding.

A bit more fun now. Czech:

1. Každý má právo na to, aby byla respektována jeho fyzická a duševní nedotknutelnost.

Not surprising. It matches the Polish. It's the "respect" case.

Let's go nuts. Hungarian:

(1) Mindenkinek joga van a testi és szellemi sérthetetlenséghez.

Unless the word "sérthetetlenséghez" contains both the notions "respect for" and "integrity", I think this is the "integrity" case. Time zone theory out the window.

(In any case, the time-zone theory, while tongue-in-cheek, is erroneous, because it connects languages to nations. This is faulty logic because there are multiple languages in each nation, and there are multiple nations for a given language. The assumption of a 1:1 correspondance would not be truly "European".)

Finnish:

1. Jokaisella on oikeus ruumiilliseen ja henkiseen koskemattomuuteen.

I'm guessing that the word "koskemattomuuteen" is the key. Does it mean "integrity" or "respect for integrity"?

Swedish:

1. Var och en har rätt till fysisk och mental integritet.

"Integrity" case.

Lithuanian:

1. Kiekvienas asmuo turi teise i fizine ir psichine nelieciamybe.

Not sure if "turi teise" contains "respect". Anyone?

Greek:

I can't find an HTML version of the Greek that I can easily paste here. But it seems to have a word that could mean "respect for".

Estonian:

1. Igaühel on õigus kehalisele ja vaimsele puutumatusele.

The Uralic languages all have that mysterious long word at the end. Unless the Urals had a short suffix that meant "respect for", however, I think the Hungarian, Finnish and Estonian are all in the "integrity" category.

Clearly, this shows that, at least in Article II-63, the text of the proposed European Constitution is not in agreement in all languages. What's more, there are definitely two "branches" of the text. And Poland follows the Napoleonic Code, right? So it's not as if they should have preferred English legal definitions. Weird.

Indeed, this could get weird. I have a few personal comments.

  1. First, this is a linguistic, not a legal, exercise. Since I am not a lawyer, perhaps I am misunderstanding the definition of the term "respect" in legal English, and perhaps this term means precisely what it means when it does not appear in French, or Dutch. One could easily interpret the phrase "right to respect for integrity" as being equal to "right to integrity".
  2. Secondly, I have only examined one article. I only made the initial comparison because I was curious as to how French translates "his or her". It was a stupid question, but in looking for the answer, I found this more interesting difference. That means that, if I found a discrepency in the first article I looked at, there's a chance that there might be other discrepencies in other articles. (Although, with respect to my first point, there may be no discrepency at all.)
  3. Thirdly, I really hope this text gets voted in. I'm for the Yes side; I think the European Union is the greatest thing I've ever known humanity to create. And I certainly would be shaken if some self-interested No partisan accidentaly found this page and used it to prove the unsuitability of the proposed text. Maybe I shouldn't have posted this until 2006?

May 01, 2005

Chocolatey-Colored Moo-Cow

Zoë the choco-mochey colored moo-cow was a pathological pedophile. It hung around nurseries and amusement parks hoping to goad some straggling yungins into its clutches, although it never had the nerve to put its plans in action.

In the daytime, Zoë worked as a departemental HR manager in a bank. Its co-workers never guessed its deviant phantasies, as is likely the case with most pedophiles. The bovine likely did not stand out in the frustration of its depravity either, as child-molesting, while one of the most disturbing and unnerving crimes most people can imagine, is thankfully somewhat difficult to bring about.

Dorothy, the P.I. that eventually reined in the coffee-colored cow, had a pretty inappropriate relationship with God. While we encourage intimacy with the Lord, Dorothy took things much too far. She referred to Him as "Sugar."

It was fortunate she was the most solid investigator in the state.

April 29, 2005

I've been reading lately about Christ for some reason, and this reading has been mostly fictional. Ie. Christ has been a character in several stories I've read. So, it's not like what I've been reading is doctrine.

And I've realised that I have formed an opinion about Christ that colours my perception of what I'm reading, and that that opinion has no basis in fact. You'll say: it is natural that reading fiction has influenced your fictional opinion of Christ. But I have the feeling that my opinion of Christ originates from something I have read before this fiction that I have read recently. Because my opinion conflicts with the character of Christ in the fiction.

The opinion I have formed is that Christ was naïve. Perhaps this does not conflict with doctrine, when examined closely. I wouldn't know: I don't know doctrine. But I do feel that this opinion conflicts with the church that arose upon Christ's message. What I mean is that Christ's message is inappropriate to this world, and only a naïve person could accept that following his proposal would actually work.

A lot of my memories are suddenly coming together. I remember that Yourcenar puts this same opinion in Emperor Hadrian's mouth. The reason why Christ's plan would not work is that, although it is based on the-- the-- astonishing power of humility and compromise (I should just say "love" I guess), it does not take into account those people who take advantage of the humility of others. Ie. Christ's plan works as long as everyone agrees to love each other, but all it takes is one mean guy to take advantage of the loving-people, and the whole thing fails.

To put it in one sentence, the opinion I have somehow lately formed on Christ, from reading I suppose heathen works on Christ, is that his proposal will never succeed. And thus the opinion I'm forming of fiction that portrays Christ as a triumphant character whose plan only needs time to succeed is that this fiction is itself naïve.

Whether or not you agree and whether or not my incumbent opinion is valid, I would still like to know where it came from. I believe that a series of ideas has led me to juxtapose the idea of the "leader" with the idea of "Christ", and I have been led to judge the latter infavourably with respect to the ideal characteristics of the former.

April 17, 2005

Science is the most ponderous means of gathering human knowledge; it is not surprising, then, that it has not caught up, in extent, to the other domains.

Given this fact, science is not unjustified in its disapproval of the more eager modes of learning, as its disagreement often resides--if not on correctness--on a very sound prudence.

Because of this prudence, science can be both astonishingly naive and dull in comparison to its homologues, as well as possessing the power to cut their legs out from under them with an untouchable finality.

No wonder it is both hated and revered.

April 13, 2005

Why are Harry Potter's Spells in Latin?

I have noticed that spells in the Harry Potter books are cast in Latin. For me, this contradicts the fictional universe of the series.

One of the interesting things in Harry Potter is the amount of Celtic influence behind the sorcerer culture. At times, this influence makes sense simply because the setting is England, a country that accentuates its Celtic heritage. At other times, though, the pre-Roman elements are specifically associated not just to England, but to sorcery. In general, things that have been imagined with a Celtic point of view are those things that don't exist in real life: sorcerer's tools, fashion, and magic symbols. I find it strange, then, that the verbal incantations come from a culture that is in almost every way the opposite of the Celtic: Latin.

The logic, of course, is somewhat excusable. First of all, these are children's books, and whether magic words are spoken in Latin, Welsh, or Chinese probably goes beyond the level of education that the target reader has had the opportunity to attain. However, I don't think it's appropriate to treat children's literature as throwaway literature, and I'm sure Ms. Rowling and all children's authors would agree. Writing for children is just as demanding as writing for adults, and often perhaps adds a certain responsibility for not leading innocent readers into delusion. Now we should examine whether this responsibility towards children goes as far as to include a total historical exactitude with respect to ancient languages. I don't claim that it does.

The second excuse for misusing ancient languages--if, that is, I can show that they are being in fact misused--is that it cannot be proven with certainty that one ancient language is more appropriate than another in describing an element of a fictional world. And I agree, that since Harry Potter is a work of the imagination, there is no certain response to which language should be used for the spells. It should, after all, be an entirely invented language, shouldn't it? If you were going to write a book about fictional magicians, in what language would you make their spells?

In fact, Rowling's spells are invented. They only sound Latin, but they are not real Latin. Nevertheless, they are recognisable Latin, probably because they heavily use Latin morphemes. And any reader that speaks a language that has borrowed from Latin will at least subconsciously recognise the similarity between the incantations and Latin-sounding words in their own language.

So Ms. Rowling did not entirely invent her incantation, but allowed herself to be inspired by Latin. Perhaps she was following the "hocus-pocus" tradition, and she is certainly justified in doing so. But all her Latin sounds very out-of-place and Churchlike among her Celtic/Gaelic/Breton magicians. And here is where my criticism lies. I get the feeling that Rowling chose Latin because it "sounds old", but I think Gaelic would have been much more appropriate-sounding to the setting.

Will young Potter fans then confuse sorcery with the Roman Church? Will they subconsciously attribute witcherious powers when they later read of Caesar Augustus? Will they come to imagine Roman togas as dark, hooded capes?

I'm not saying they will, but I find the Latin incantations are an imperfection in an otherwise very imaginatively complete series of novels. I would have preferred to hear a more Druidic influence on the language of sorcery. This certainly would have fit in with Rowling's universe, where everything else feels Celtic.

What I'm saying is, when Rowling equates magic with pseudo-Celticism, she errs in casting Latin spells. The Romans conquered the Celts, and the imperial incantations sound much too august in a world that for me should be a maze of twisted dark trees.

Overall, it's a testament to Rowling's talent that I'm nitpicking on an element that takes up less than 0.001% of her text. It's just an oversight that could have otherwise set up a nice Celtic-Roman opposition in the engaging series.

And this makes me wonder with what else we subconsciously associate Latin?

April 12, 2005

Subject Day is now over. Merchants may take advantage to mark down prices on gifts and memorabilia. You should not feel compelled to stop titling things today, but neither should you expect the same reassuring ceremonious quality from titling that you received from the same acts yesterday.

April 11, 2005

Subject Day

I designate today, and all April 11ths to follow today, "Subject Day". Subject Day is the day dedicated to writing subjects or titles in emails, blog posts, comments, notes to self, photo albums, individual photos, and all things which have a little space for you to write a title.

Join me in celebrating Subject Day by titling all your things that visibly invite titling!

* Please be respectful of the property of others on this day. Subject Day wishes to promote peace and unity and in no way endorses corrupt use of Subject Day for derogatory or hurtful purposes.

April 08, 2005

Something different... in French...

  • in French
  • different
  • newspaper
  • right-wing
  • left-wing
  • in Canada
  • as a Canadian
  • in Polish...
  • -->Lastname!

And I had just been typing "Lastname"!

(Sorry--I've been lately reading Freud.)

April 04, 2005

He wrote a plan for a novel, about a culture whose writing system was not left-to-right nor right-to-left, nor top-to-bottom for that matter, but which was read from outside in, hopping from one side of the sentence to the other. Alternating. Like a spiral, but discontinuous. Like the words were points of a straight line intersecting with a spiral.

The word "sentence" disturbed him, and he tried to generalise it to a word that conveyed less of the linearity of known language.

It would upset computer parsers, he thought, as the binary parameter "direction" would be insufficient to encompass the scanning sequence inherent in this language.

Then he rejected "words" and "letters" and instead concentrated on defining a more fundamental symbol for the idea, before realising that he was incapable of distancing the already-existing fact of ideograms. This depressed him somewhat, as he had spent a good deal of effort on this portion of the plan, it having made him hungry, so thoughts of making a sandwich (with mustard) now distracted him from returning to his other ideas.

He wanted at least to think of a name for his hero before he went off to the kitchen.

But the word "hero" disturbed him. Why should he need a hero? Could he not just have a bunch of people experiencing different things from different points of view? Surely one could write a novel without deliberately centralising all the motivation on one character. What was a character but a construction of mustard, after all?

That's right: he had heard that before. A character was just a construction of text. So why shouldn't this construction, which was qualitatively no different from any other part of the text in a novel, always take on such tyrannical status? He would not put characters in his book, but just constructions of text. He imagined text as a river, in that it moved in one direction past your eye; but he did not see any reason to attribute to it any qualities beyond that of a river. It need not have internal borders that defined characters, dialogue, chapters, and ending, nor any elements we might traditionally see in a novel. It need not have internal references or names. Nothing stopped his text from naming things that it had not defined, using one name to reference multiple entities, nor using multiple names for the same entity. And then a thought struck him.

What if his book followed the spiralinear structure of his language? He could write it alternating words from the beginning to the ending, until they met in the middle. Or, he could start from the middle, that way avoiding the question of whether the right or left side would dominate as a starting point. Neither would dominate. Text could flow circularly from the center. He could even draw pictures out of this text, creating entities not from temporal structure, but from spatial structure, visible momentarily, experienced at a single point in time, like paintings, yet with access to a sequential experience, like music. Yes, yes that is what he would do. His book might even need a new type of binding to maintain all these ideas together, but that would only show the world how uncontainable his genius.

He had stopped writing on his plan for some minutes now, since this was all becoming so hard to express in written form. He drew a couple of spirals though.

Then he went down to make his sandwich. Apparently Seinfeld was on.

March 24, 2005

The Upcoming Showdown Between Open Source and Commercial Software

There is an event on the horizon that is going to prove the first major acceptance test for open source software, and the open source movement has brought it on of its own accord.

Open source has thrown down the gauntlet through its most visible general-use product: Firefox. Firefox's release was so fruitfully timed that it gained unprecendented recognition for an open application, and this recognition went beyond normal rules when it resulted in an ad campaign paid for by volunteers.

One could claim that this ad campaign was a historical first. Sure, non-profit agencies have made ads before, and volutneers have been previously willing to pay to spread a message to the public, but the Firefox campaign is different because its main intention is to publicise an alternative to an existing commercial product. I would argue that there was no social purpose to telling people about Firefox, and thus paying to do this was ultimately a waste. Others might argue that Firefox carries a great social purpose: the protection of innocent people from computer viruses and spyware. The protection of people's data. But this would be hyperbole. Other commercial products were and continue to be solely concentrated on protecting people from Internet Explorer's bugs. The real motivation behind the Firefox campaign was to spread the open source philosophy.

But when I say "social purpose", I don't know what I'm really talking about. Social purpose is not my point; web browsers should not be associated with the term "social purpose". My point is that Firefox must now get ready for a battle.

That battle will be with Internet Explorer 7.

Firefox has brought on the coming release of IE7 itself. IE was quite comfortably sitting there at version six without any development, without any challengers, until the well-timed Firefox strike. It was when people started becoming aware of the challenger that Mr Gates announced his intentions to release a much better browser, better than anything Firefox can be.

Now, I don't know what Internet Explorer 7 is going to look like, but if Microsoft just puts in 80% of its standard research and energy into the product, it will be a very innovative browser. And before I lose all my linux readership, whom this is aimed at, in fact, let me declare that there will probably be a lot of things in IE7 that are going to suck. Let me declare that IE7 will probably approach the unusable, as its predecessors have done. But despite its unusability, its interfering features, its irritation of our daily routine, it will be the most innovative browser existing at the time of its release. I will go so far as to say that Firefox will take up to a year to catch up with some of the features in IE7.

May I re-summarise? There will be certain features in IE7 that suck, and Firefox will spend a year trying to implement them.

And I said at the beginning: I believe that this event will announce the first major test for open source; in fact I believe that this fight will break the open source movement. Because a lot of people downloaded Firefox. And the upcoming competition between Firefox and IE7 is going to show that a product driven by a company with lots of money, which can spend that money on customer research, cannot be paced by an open source product. Firefox does what it does extremely well, but it is founded on imitation. IE7 works Ok... and is often broken, but it is founded on innovation.

Again, some will argue that Firefox has many features that IE does not, and I must reply that Firefox imitated the Opera browser for all of them. There is nothing in Firefox that Opera does not do better. And Opera is a commercial browser.

Commercially-driven products are always based on innovation. Even when they must sacrifice some elgance and security, they are forced to impress the user with something new, something visibly new at every turn. Open source products take the innovation in commercial products, and concentrate on fixing their bugs. Since open source does not get paid, it thumbs its nose at impressing users with new features. You won't see a feature like SmartTags in open source until it has gone through years of trial and refinement in the world of the commercial.

And for all those people to whom Firefox is the first foray into open source, the upcoming release of IE is going to prove this once and for all: open source might be secure, but it's old and ugly compared to what Microsoft can do.

I am a Microsoft and open source user. I prefer open source for its stability, its compatibility, its frequent improvement. But I like the "revolution" in Microsoft, even if I hate the new colours and have no idea why a paper clip is interupting my video chat with my grandma.

Open source can never survive on its own. Without its idol and competitor, open source would itself remain in idle, and we'd be stuck typing commands to a black mouth.

March 23, 2005

Content Specification? for the Inverse Relationship Between Responsibility and Ideas

To avoid responsibility, I take refuge behind ideas. It seems to me, that although I am using these two terms in two different contexts, there is nevertheless an inverse relationship between the productivity of ideas and the effort of responsibility.

When you do not want to take responsibility for something, you have many creative ideas to enlarge the scope of what you have to do into someone else's responsibility. Notice that I am now using the term "you", because I believe that this happens often in large companies that talk and talk and talk but never produce any actual work.

When I have to make a difficult decision, I am very capable of thinking of more and more improvements to my work until it becomes so big that I can't possibly take responsibility for it. And I tell ya - these are fantastic improvements, fantastic in many senses of the term.

I really belong in some huge company.

March 11, 2005

Our Daily Breadth

I read an article about David Johnson, the president of The University of Waterloo, in which he stressed the importance of giving students a "broad education".

When he went into detail, he explained that students needed to realise the importance of the maths and sciences. It is math and science, then, that constituted the missing "breadth" in education for Mr. Johnson.

In my mathematics faculty, "breadth" in education always meant taking arts courses. Isn't Arts the very definition of a liberal education? Isn't Arts what we usually mean when we say "breadth"?

Interesting that Johnson, the head of a university ploughing through the future on the basis of math and science programs, considers that math and science are still missing from the common curriculum.

I suppose I got a skewed view in mathematics. We had an inbalance to one side, so naturally we regarded the other side as "the breadth". And I suppose numerically, it may not be surprising, as the arts faculty is still the biggest at Waterloo. (Although probably not bigger than math, engineering and science put together.)

Still, I found it strange that this man of education would use the same term in the opposite sense that I had always thought of it. I would have thought we need a bit more arts in life.

March 10, 2005

Mikes

Douche-bag emceees will be like Yikes

When I roll into their momz shower in my Benz.

They'll be like fuck this, I'm watchin Friends,

Frenzy ensues on the wannabe like Mikes. [sample: "Better eat your Wheaties"]

March 09, 2005

Content Specification for Sell to Unborn

[ introduce the man ]

  [ guess how much you've heard about this man ]

  [ give his age; describe his background ]

[ introduce his idea ]

[ describe his idea ]

  [ contrast pre-cursory ideas ]

  [ narrate what he was involved in before having his idea ]

  [ narrate the situation that prompted his idea ]

[ transcribe his praise and predictions for his idea ]

[ analyse the potential impact of his idea ]

[ narrate the stories of two to three individuals that bought his idea ]

[ list investors who have jumped on board with the idea ]

[ list imitators that are already proposing modified, improved, or pared-down versions of the idea ]

[ quote his opinion about his idea in the face of these competing ideas ]

[ predict how much you will soon know about this man ]

March 02, 2005

They like the snow here, but they're not prepared for it. It's funny how it upsets their routine. At about 9.30 AM today, as I was about to walk through a courtyard on my way to work, I found my way barred an account of a bit of snow.

It's really just the tiniest amount of snow.

This courtyard contains a little park: a little playground with a couple of benches and some lawn. Today, there was a sign on it that said "Closed for reasons of public safety." There was a dusting of white powder on the passage. The gates at both ends were locked.

As I arrived near the gate, there happened to be a maintenance truck pulling up and some city caretakers were emerging from it. I didn't want to walk all the way around the block, so I asked one man if they were going to open the gates now. He replied no.

"Too bad," I said, and walked all the way around the block.

But it was really just the lightest dusting of snow. As I was walking around the block, I passed a guy with a bucket of salt and a shovel spreading the grains out over a section of the sidewalk. At the rate he was going, it would probably take a year to finish the neighbourhood.

I've never seen anybody salting a road or sidewalk in Canada. Unless, in the pre-dawn surrealism, on a dreamscape drive to some airport, it has been the three mountainous silhouettes of snow-ploughs that have usually come and gone before you have gotten out of bed.

It is the difference in the infrastructure that is astounding. Canada is ready for huge piles of snow. Here, a couple of centimeters can really cripple cities.

I really mean cripple. This morning was funny, but the stories can be sad. A few years ago a tiny bit of dandruff flies around, and, honestly, people almost starved. All traffic stopped on the highways, and they had to wait in the cold for nine, ten hours to get back from shopping.

I feel Canadian today, since I like those occasional slips on the ice, when just for a moment your body is no longer walking, but falling forward. But it's amazing that everybody's late for work because of it.

Oh, but that's not the ice--it's the strike. That's another story.

February 27, 2005

Your mom defines my cock as

a multi-purpose and indefatigable tool of immeasurable circumference and mythic length, used in such circumstances as the obstruction of speech, inhalation or excretion. It is capable of repetitive pistoning prefacing the eruption of fluid of magmic temperatures. No civilisation has developed the necessary history it would require to migrate from one of its ends to the other, provoking various legends of Golden Ages available at the opposite terminal. Although it is autonomous and can move about independently, it is--upon insistent demand--often sheathed in my scabbard

Matris and Matres 333.

February 21, 2005

Lets Off Steam

Open source programming and the Wikipedia: these are like virtual communism. They let people work for no other reward than pride in their own efforts, but they nevertheless wouldn't survive if most of these people didn't have regular, competitive, capitalist jobs.

So it's like virtual communism: it creates products that don't even exist (software and the Wikipedia are just rearrangements of a finite number of bytes), but it lets people construct something as a self-correcting, hierachiphobic community.

February 09, 2005

At 12:55 We're Lookin at Some Freshly-Made Pasta

I find it interesting to note the difference in attitude to food that arises between my friends in Canada and my acquaintences in France. I have learned, since I moved to France, about the appreciation of food. This appreciation involves variety, and it involves comparison between different flavours.

Recently, I was quite humbled. Although I say that I have learned "about" the appreciation of food here, I can't say that I've actually learned "how" to do it. My colleagues, for example, recently startled me by comparing the flavours of different salt. I mean, it's salt. It tastes salty. Oh no.

I like searching for flavour. I like sounding a dish for its intricacies. Often food that is well-made, well-presented, appropriately-heated gives you a greater variety of pleasure than pizza pockets.

But I don't want to be simplistic. I actually miss pizza pockets... well, no; actually I miss Jamaican patties. There's nothing like those in France. If there's a food that Canada does well, it's Jamaican patties.

But the value of Canadian food is always so straightforward. This is good because it's spicy. Or this is good because it's crunchy. Canadian marketing can mislead us, by claiming some food is sophisticated just because it's "spicy AND crunchy". Well.

In France the attitude is simply deeper. Often, sophisticated food can differ from simple food in its simplicity. Something can be good because it has one flavour, but it's a flavour you really haven't tried before. There's much more intensity in making subtle distinctions, in hunting in every nook and cranny of flavour that exists.

So I was just reading a story by a Canadian friend of a friend, a wonderfully evocative writer, cynical as hell but in a way that makes you believe in something. Everything she imagines is both familiar and exotic. And mainly, when you read her, you get this awed sense of how much she actually knows to pretend so flippantly that she knows nothing at all.

So that's the vibe you're in while reading her stuff. But then you get to the food, and it flops (momentarily); it's just a bunch of fancy terms. Pass the food part, and we're in awe again.

I was disappointed, but I realise it's characteristic. And I can't offer constructive criticism either. I've had a friend use wine in a poem before, and I tried to explain that something didn't add up in the labels. But I failed to explain what really didn't add up, because, as I said, I don't really know "how" to do this, only that "it's done". In France, only a minority are wine connaisseurs, but even the non-connaisseurs know that drinking is accompanied by tasting, weighing, and comparing. And that's something that's not instinctive in Canada.

So if I really had to offer advice on how to taste food, or how to write about food, I'd have to say: it's not a matter of labels. Good food does is not a dish that you can name; it's a matter of tasting it, watching it, experiencing how it asks to be brought from the plate to your mouth. Where does it hit your palate? How long does it remain hot? To which parts are you eyes attracted first? ... And, can you tell what kind of salt it was salted with?

This is a big topic, and I'm unable to summarise it all. I can't even get my head around it; I just know it's out there. And all that said, I still miss the microwaved Jamaican patties.

The Three Levels of Dynamic Web-Publishing

  1. The "MySQL" Level

    This is where you store pre-made pages in a database, or just on the server in flat files. The pages are created when you enter text in a form window and click "Publish". They then get merged into a template.

    Your server thus publishes each page once. This "server" is not necessarily the web server. Once stored, the web server gives the same file to everybody that comes looking for it.

  2. The "PHP" Level

    This is where your templates are written in PHP, so they pull in information whenever somebody visits your page. The actual pages that people see don't exist, but once they download to the browser, they're made of the same HTML as those at Level 1.

    Your web server published each page, each time somebody requests it. Only the template and the "items" remain untouched.

  3. The "JavaScript" Level

    This is where your templates are filled in by the web browser. Your pages contain bits of script that load dynamic images, check the time and date, ask for the user's name, things like that. The templates, with the script inside, are stored statically on the web server.

    Your web server doesn't do much: the user's web browser runs the javascript that pulls in all the dynamic content. The javascript might call your web server for help, but it doesn't have to. Your user's computer does all the work.

Levels 1. and 3. potentially put the least load on your web server. In level 1., all the pages are pre-processed; in level 3., your user's computer does the processing. That said, level 2. can be the most flexible, because you can pull in dynamic content every time every user sees a page, and you can also access resources that you installed yourself. So in level 2. for example, you can install a special font on your web server, and you can work it so that all your pages are viewed in that special font. In level 3., you have to rely on the fonts that the user has installed on their machine.

February 08, 2005

Democratos of Gnosos

Damn, I need to upgrade to an internet that doesn't have information overload.

For On Computers Article

[ list functions computers perform {stereo, collection organiser, publisher, photo distributor, TV, video editor, word processor, web browser, gaming machine, remote-communicator, wallpaper, doorstop} ] [ ask if the computer does any of these functions better than its "dedicated counterpart" ] [ note that although some functions are completely separate {stereo + photo distributor}, there is neverless a useful chain between probably any two functions {photo distributor -- collection organiser -- stereo} ]

February 07, 2005

Content of Five Deviant Stories

The nominees are: 1. King Philip 2. Trent's Threesome 3. The Girl Who Could Suck Her Cunt 4. The Coveted Repulsive 5. Fuck in the Firewall Room