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Friday, July 22, 2005

Blogging in Dili 

Boy, Thomas Freidman is right -- the technological innovations that have been rocketing into the Third World truly are breathtaking. Who would have thought two years ago that it would be possible to blog in Dili, East Timor? Yet, here I am, pounding away on a keyboard in the Xanana Gusmao Reading Room in the capital of Timor Loro Sa'e.

I know I said I wouldn't be able to blog from here, but hey -- I was doubting Thomas! (Get it?) Anyway, it's pretty expensive to be online, so I'll keep this short. We got in after 20 hours of flights. I'm feeling well, now that I've had some coffee and real sleep (I can never sleep on the plane). I've fallen in love with Crispy Crackers. The people here are awesome. Rock over London, Rock on Chicago.

Well, that's it for now. I don't think the Globalization Miracle™ has reached Ainaro yet, so I really, really won't be able to blog from there. But I'll try to hit this again before we head back home in early August. Be sure to leave lots of comments that I won't be able to read for two weeks, and check back for more updates if I get around to them.


Ha! That's funny.

Today I'm listening to: The music blasting from the market next door at 4:00 AM.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

War, Peace, and Timor Loro Sa'e 

Well, we're off. Diane and John Peck and I leave for East Timor on Tuesday morning way early. We've got almost 24 hours worth of plane-riding, but I'm actually looking forward to it, because we're going on Korea air, so there's sure to be some people on board who play Go (or as they call it, Baduk). I got me a magnetic set and I'm ready to rock.

Since this is my last SynCast for a while -- and since I've been watching anti-war propaganda lately -- I thought I'd make this week's SynCast all about war and peace. It's a bit longer than usual, but we've got some good stuff. Enjoy!

Pic swiped from Seamless Images. You can get it on a t-shirt.

Speaking of War

Naomi Klein wrote an interesting piece recently about Aristide and Haiti.
A few weeks ago I visited Aristide in Pretoria, South Africa, where he lives in forced exile. I asked him what was really behind his dramatic falling-out with Washington. He offered an explanation rarely heard in discussions of Haitian politics -- actually, he offered three: "privatization, privatization and privatization." The dispute dates back to a series of meetings in early 1994, a pivotal moment in Haiti's history that Aristide has rarely discussed.
Read the whole thing. It's important.


Remember those games where you had to arrange the pipes so the water could go from one side of the screen to the other? Well imagine it with musical stones. Good stuff! via MoFi.

Today I'm listening to: The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Sweet Pot o' Ireland 

A special shake o' the shamrock to our Irish listeners (if we have any), for today's SynCast features Songs of the Emerald Isle, a heartwarming collection of authentic Irish ballads. Enjoy!

Other Stuff

If you're like me, you got sick of hearing about NASA's comet collision on 4 July. But did you hear about the Moscow astrologist who's suing NASA for screwing up her predictions?
"It is obvious that elements of the comet's orbit, and correspondingly the ephemeris, will change after the explosion, which interferes with my astrology work and distorts my horoscope," Izvestia daily quoted astrologist Marina Bai as saying in legal documents submitted before Monday's collision.
I can't decide who's crazier.

Thanks to Diane for this page of corporate sponsor-ruined record album covers. WARNING: It's a huge page with lots of pix. Even on broadband, it's a lengthy load. I think "A Love Supreme" is my fave. (And can you find mine?)

Check out the incandescent proposal.
About 100 people gathered to watch Todd Grannis perform the flaming stunt on Monday, which involved wearing a cape soaked in gasoline.
Someone on MonkeyFilter won the "best caption ever" award with: "Cupid stunt". I thought mine was good, but I must admit that is quite nice.

Asia Times Online has a good point -- if we're so paranoid about China buying our oil comany, why don't we just nationalize Unocal?

And finally -- Aljazeera has an interesting article quoting an MSNBC translator saying that the group claiming responsibility for this week's terrorist attack in London misquoted the Qura'n -- which is, in his words, "not something Al Qaeda would do."


Waste some time with Planarity. Via MoFi. I finished level 4 before I lost interest.

Today I'm listening to: Beavis & Butt-Head!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

On the Nature of Writing 

Yesterday I finished one of the final chapters of my novel. As many of you know, I've been working on this damned thing for almost five years now, and I keep insisting that this summer is the summer I'll finally finish the first draft. (Well, I've got three chapters left; five sections in each chapter -- I've been doing one section per day or so, while also learning how to speak lian Tetum -- I might be able to finish before we leave for Timor on the 19th, but I doubt it.)

So as always when I'm ensconced in this sort of prolonged literary mode, I've had ebbs and flows in my productivity. Yesterday was a total flow -- I turned out four pages in a mad rush (at Taco Bell, no less). And I began to think (as always) about why this happens, how I can hone in on those good days and make them more frequent.

And I suddenly realized that I've always seen (and lived) writing as a form of production, when in fact it often is not.

The section I wrote yesterday was a series of events -- and a series of conversations. And all I did was tell those events and discussions to someone. No one really considers a conversation to be production (and rightly so, I think) -- so while the act of writing words on a page is obviously producing something, it seems wrong to conceptualize it as an actual act of production.

For me, this is liberatory -- the more writing is a chore, the less willing I am to do it. And in some ways there seems to be a trend toward seeing everything as production; wasn't there something published recently whereby some governmental entity tried to classify the making of hamburgers as a form of production? Tom Tomorrow once wrote about a bill in the California legislature that would have assigned cartoonists as commercial manufacturers (for tax purposes). I suppose in some philosophical ways, I'm loath to see writing as an act of production.

And yet it's always been thus with me. I've always viewed my work in terms of output -- how many chapters have I done? How many stories can I claim? How many copies have been printed? Is it thick enough? (I remember once bragging to my dad about the huge book I had just read -- his reply has always stuck with me: "I look forward to the day when you tell me all about the great book you read and never once mention how many pages it has.")

I suppose this conception is one reason when I haven't posted much lately -- in the swarm of other productions I've got going (new album coming soon, really, I promise), this outlet takes a back burner. That, and the video games.

I'm curious to know what other bloggers (and anyone who writes on a regular basis, really) thinks..

30 Days

I've been pretty intrigued by the new show 30 Days, created by that Super Size Me guy, Morgan Spurlock. The first episode (where he and his ladyfriend Alex lived on near-minimum wage for a month) was the kind of authentic, real-life TV we haven't seen since TV Nation (Awful Truth wasn't nearly as good). And while the other episodes so far have been much closer to the non-real "reality TV" format (Christian guy living with a bunch of Muslims; orthodox heterosexual living in SF's Castro neighborhood), they have some good info, and it's a fundamentally sound concept.

My main beef at this point (aside from the fact that he's a moron for not using Run-DMC as the theme song) is that the shows seem to be developing a sadly pedestrian pattern: Closed-minded Ugly American moves in with "other" community; has life-changing experiences while constantly talking about how uncomfortable they are; everyone learns from each other; professes same to camera. I just hope they move into some more uncommon waters before long.

The thing I like best about the show is that it features calm, rational people having (mostly) intelligent discussions about the personal dimensions on major issues (Islamic identity; Christianity's take on homosexuality; etc). It's rare that we have a show where people just talk about stuff -- even the "news" shows have become unholy wars of vitriol. So even when the sides are so acutely drawn and I can more or less predict what everyone's going to say, it's nice to see folks just talking. (I was pretty impressed with the lesbian pastor at the church in SF.)

Okay, I need to eat something. Ate amanya!


Dangit! They stole my idea! (Actually, someone on Newgrounds did it before me.) Anyway, be sure to check out the "Wreck My Car" section at least -- it's superb (and the others are varying shades of decent).

Today I'm listening to: All Natural!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

What a Wonderful Show 

Today's SynCast is pure magic. I put a lot of time into it, so I hope you're all satisfied. I expect to get hundreds of fan emails. Like I get every week.

A word of advice to all the teachers out there -- don't get students to help you with your insurance fraud. Do that stuff yourself.

Big ups to Garrett, who had some blogging bollocks recently. Woe unto the first amendment.

Man, I'm tired. I gotta get some rest. Damn you, Flash, and your addictive productivity capabilities! Gnite, y'all.


Check out Tom Cruise Kills Oprah. Funny stuff, via MoFi.

Today I'm listening to: LL Cool J! (Back when he was cool.)