Sunday, April 25, 2010

House-bound Sunday

Decided today was the day to do filing, accounting, resume updating, filling out endless paperwork for some doctor, dentist, whatever, and staring at the bookcase thinking about what I want to re-read and what I might dump into the community book bin at Hannaford's. The thought of packing and hauling all this crap always gets me thinking about ways to reduce bulk. At least we weren't here long enough to accumulate anything other than what we came here with. We've also been moving a lot of things into those plastic drawers you can get at Target and WalMart; that way, we just shrink-wrap the drawer and move it as-is instead of taking the stuff out of whatever it's in, pack it in a bin, then do the reverse when we get to the next place.

I've also been working on "ripping" all our VHS tapes to digital files, which will eliminate one full (and very heavy) plastic moving bin. I'm using the latest incarnation of the Dazzle and the Pinnacle Studio software that came with it. It's brain-dead simple, but takes forever as the movie is digitized at real-time speed. I'm also using up stupid amounts of disk space doing it because all the compressed formats introduce all sorts of artifacts that drive me nuts, so I'm ripping VHS to DVD-quality MPEG-2 files. Wretched excess, I know, but I have lots of disk space. At least for now; completing this project will pretty much fill my 1.5TB Drobo. Guess I'll have to buy another Drobo and a couple 2TB drives. Anyone got about $700? I'm good for it. Really. I could upgrade the existing Drobo with larger drives, but some decisions forced on me when setting it up under XP means that I would pretty much need a second Drobo to bump it past 2TB anyway. And if one geek toy is cool, two of them is cool2! Right?

The next step is e-books, but I'm not going there until things shake out a bit more. Specifically, the proprietary formats need to go. Apple has a compelling device for serious reading with the iPad, and Amazon's decision to allow people to run the Kindle software without owning a Kindle is a huge step in some direction; it's just not clear what direction. I'll be sticking to dead, flat trees for another year or so. In my view, digital books will explode when the e-book equivalent of the MP3 file format steps onto the stage.

Because Comedy Central hacked the latest episode of South Park to death in a vain attempt to appease some loud-mouthed raghead, May 20th has been declared "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." I'm certain the general public will come up with far more insulting depictions of Mohammed than anything even the South Park crew came up with. And it will be fully deserved.

Another Friday, another seven banks flushed away. The commercial real estate bubble is starting to really kick in now. The FDIC has over 700 banks on its "problem" list and expects more banks to fail this year than last. It also expects this to drag on for several more years.

Lore Sjöberg takes on the question of whether video games can be art in his usual tongue-in-cheek way. In the process, he stumbles on something that is probably more than a little true:

...what’s generally considered True Art by academics and critics is a simple matter of the age of the creation....

0 to 25 years old: Almost nothing is true art. Certainly nothing common or popular. Art is created by a few geniuses denied popular acclaim by their own uncompromising vision.

25 to 100 years old: Not everything is art, but a lot is, even some of the popular stuff. At the time, people thought they were just enjoying something fun and entertaining, but actually they were in the presence of true brilliance.

100 to 2,000 years old: Any creative work made by anyone is worth investigation, preservation and in-depth academic criticism. Every painting, poem and rustic folk song is indicative of the ineffable zeitgeist of the cultural disposition. People were surrounded by art all the time and didn’t even realize it.

2,000 to 30,000 years old: Everything is art. Not just words and pictures, but pottery and baskets and huts. Even if they just wanted to make something to boil the tannins out of their acorns, these artists were actually participating in an age-old ritual where the creative soul and utilitarian necessity united into a singular expression of their culture’s unique viewpoint. And if they scratched a little picture into the rock that meant “stand here to watch the women bathe without them seeing you,” they were the Michelangelo of their time.

That last one would certainly explain the popularity of women with enormous breasts in ancient rock art....

A couple forgotten stories: People are still stranded due to the volcanic eruption, and the Euro-zone is in no less danger than it was two months ago. Just because the ADD news media types quit reporting on a story, doesn't mean the problem just went away at the wave of some magic wand.

I should get back to something more constructive than inconveniencing large numbers of electrons with my blathering.

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