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A letter to The Maroon-News:

Stop Attacks Against Puppets (SAAP) is a recently formed organization dedicated to understanding why children attack puppets during puppet shows in increasing numbers, informing the public about this social problem, and finding ways to prevent future attacks on puppets and puppeteers (this is not a hoax).

Today's world is dominated by TV, video games, and the internet. It's been harder for traditional entertainment like puppetry to maintain its place in society, but puppets refuse to climb back into their boxes and be forgotten. They will not be stopped by unruly children because puppets are part of the world's ancient history, and at the same time, they are also part of the world's modern imagination. Graphic, real video footage of puppet attacks caught on tape is available to selected media outlets. Learn
more at:


You know what's a fun word? Sarcophagus. Sarcophagus sarcophagus sarcophagus. Sarcophagus, sarcophagus. Whee!
April-Lyn seems to like Claude Levi-Strauss, but I feel the need to criticize.

Structuralism isn't really my thing. It's really interesting to see how CLS is putting the myths together, but I wonder how accurate his final conclusions will be. He starts off with the assumption that all the Indians of Amazonia (and I believe in later books he extends his synthesis to North America as well) are part of a single unified system of thought. He grabs myths as he needs them, with little regard to what tribe or region they're from.

He also rejects (explicitly, at one point) the idea of historical particularism -- the idea that unique historical and situational circumstances, rather than a logical system, account for certain aspects of the world. Which is odd, as structuralism is based on an analogy with language, and any language is full of expressions and idioms and usages that, rather than being part of a coherent system, are the result of particular circumstances.

The other thing that gets to me is that he seems to be working almost entirely from the corpus of myths. He doesn't look into how those myths relate to the rest of the societies that tell them. It seems to me that you need to know what the role of the myth is in the society -- how it's used, where it's placed with relation to other myths, what group within the society owns it (many times societies will have myths that belong only to the men, for example, or to a certain lineage) -- if you hope to understand it.

It would be like trying to derive the Christian worldview from reading only the Bible. The differences between Christians on how to interpret different themes and passages can be pretty wide. And there's a great deal of non-Biblical tradition and influences from other religions that shapes the worldview and influences how the stories are used, even when it doesn't explicitly appear in them. For example, if you read the Bible with no outside knowledge of Christianity, you would not come away from it with the idea of Hell, which is central to mainstream Christian thought.


Snow Miser is letting us down...


And after complaining about how schizophrenic my blog is, I'm doing three news posts in a row.

It's surprising how different two reports on the same incident can be. The Washington Post says that when John Walker Lindh appeared in court, he said "Yes, I understand." The AP, however, lists his quote as "Yes I do, thank you." The Post says that his father, Frank Lindh, said "John loves America. We love America. He did not take up arms against America." The AP renders it "John loves America. John did not do anything against America."


Lawyers See Fat Payoffs In Junk Food Lawsuits
A troll linked to this article on the Brunching board. I don't know much about Fox News, but based on this article I'm inclined to wonder if they've ever heard of journalistic integrity. They're basically making up a hypothetical scenario, then implying that those evil liberal lawyers are just rotten enough to do something like this. Is there that little real news to report on?


Israelis Kill Four Palestinians
I've officially given up hope for peace in Israel/Palestine. At least, within my lifetime. There are too many people on both sides who want war more than anything else, and too many who can't think of any solutions except more war. The only way we could possibly end the conflict is to kill every single Palestinian or every single Israeli (because even the peaceful ones would become targets of violence if their more deserving brethren were gone). Unfortunately, we have to keep going through the motions of seeking peace, in order to keep that conflict from snowballing into a world war. Why couldn't God have led Moses to someplace like northern Greenland that nobody else wants?
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Geesh. I have the most schizophrenic blog in the universe. My last five posts have been wockerjabby-style poetic prose, a throwaway comment, something really bizarre, commentary on the news, and "here's what happened to me today." Eh. Who needs continuity?
Today was one of those days that I wish I had the digital camera with me.

Normally, I'm not much for photography. I prefer to draw. I like to really get my hands into the work, to see it take shape rather than just finding it and recording it, to go back over a part that didn't come out right and work it until it does, to stand back and try to get a sense of how it all fits together and then dive back in to the detail of it. Even with photographs, I'm compulsive about PhotoShopping them. Even if all it needs is to be cropped and have its resolution set to 72, I want to play with the brightness and contrast, and the color balance, and the noise and sharpening filters, to see if I can work it into something more. Photographs are in some ways too real. You get this big slop of data, anything that falls into your frame of view whether it's relevant to the statement you're trying to make or not. Tree branches, people walking by, shadows, all creep into a concept that doesn't necessarily fit into a rectangle. Then you have to look at that glob of data and try to sort out the concept that it contains. Look for a line and a form and a color in crooked branches and jagged snowbanks and speckled stone. But drawing works the other way. You start from the concept, the idea, and create the data that you need to outline it, and only that data (unless you're making a metastatement about data confusion). It's deductive, rather than inductive. Maybe that's why I tend toward minimalistic art -- get the basics down, and keep the form clean and readable. Maybe that's why newspaper websites bother me so much -- so busy with ads and links to special features and related information.

But today was a camera day. At heart it's a practical issue. For drawing you need a controlled environment. When the wind is whipping snow into my face, it's hard to set up a place to draw outside. I could work inside and look out the window, or just work from memory, but that restricts my viewpoint. Both in the sense that I can only look at what's accessible to a window, and in the sense that I can only look -- I can't feel and smell and hear. And it's that full experience of a wet, blinding snow squall trying to erase everything, and finally giving way to worn out, threadbare clouds backlit by the sinking sun, that I wanted to record and make sense of. It's not something I can sit inside and try to recreate. It's something I have to be out experiencing, snapping souvenirs of it that try to capture enough of the essence of what I see that they can trigger the memory of the experience.

The snow didn't accumulate enough to give us a clean slate. I walked across the quad and saw that the paths were smooth and pristine with the new snow, because they're plowed smooth. But on the lawns, the snow had failed to cover the footprints made by people too impatient or too exuberant to walk where everyone else always walks. You could still see their steps, but the masses who kept their feet dry on the plowed paths never made a mark.


I've gotten two hits from people searching for "wolyniak." I should say Wolyniak more, so that I become the web's number one source for Moon-Pie info.


I want to be able to secrete salt from my eyes like a sea turtle.

You see, when most people think of animal abilities that they want, they stop with the obvious things like flying and retractable claws. But what about tunnelling like a mole? What about turning your digestive tract inside out like a starfish? What about spontaneously changing genders like certain species of frog?

I would think the sea turtle thing would come in handy. For example, last night I was eating a free leftover Lynah Rink soft pretzel. It was making me really thirsty, because it was so salty and I had nothing to drink. But if I could secrete that extra salt through my eyes, I wouldn't be so thirsty.


Press Gets Twisted Up In Pretzel Logic
You know, I thought maybe September 11 had jolted the media out of their focus on stupid news. But 4 months later, they've sunk in even lower. Where's Gary Condit when you need him?


I'm not too concerned anymore that I won't be able to attend any of the events at this weekend's "Real World" program. It appears the function of the weekend is to network with alumni. They've got a wide range of people available for networking, including about 60 who hold stereotypical Colgate-grad corporate jobs, two elementary school teachers, and one guy who does graphics for magazines and newspapers. So out of all the folks they found, only one holds a job of interest to me, and I'm not actually qualified to pursue that interest, so networking with him would be useless.
Oh, and if I see one more editorial cartoon using a pretzel to symbolize some issue that Bush is "choking on" (be it Enron, the war, Tom Daschle, etc.), I'm going to ... do something.
Well, now at least we know why Congress never officially declared war on Afghanistan. If we were officially at war, then al-Qaida and Taliban members we captured would be prisoners of war. And if they were prisoners of war, we would have to give them some scrap of human rights under the Geneva Convention. And if there's one thing President Bush hates, it's an international treaty. As long as we're not at war, we can treat our prisoners of not-war (which he calls "unlawful combatants," since it's unlawful to fight someone unless they're at war with you -- convenient, no?) however we like, and if anyone complains we can just say "hey, they're the evil bad guys, they don't deserve better."

So now we've dumped the ABM treaty, refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol and the land mines treaty, and we're doing our best to get out of our obligations to the UN. Look for the Feds to revive the time-honored tradition of kicking Native Americans off their reservations sometime later this year.


Proof of what an internet geek I am:
There's a construction crew out in front of the Chapel trimming the trees. They have some signs up to warn you about it. My first thought when I saw one of the signs was "hey, that looks like one of those stupid "under construction" .gifs."


So, I'm bored enough that I'm doing some of these wacky code deals.

Blogger Code:
B3 d-- t k s+ u-- f i- o+ x+ e- l- c-

Geek Code:
GSS d- s+++:-- a-- C++ U? P U? E? W++ N? o? K? w+ O? M+ V? PS+ PE- Y PGP- t-- 5? X R !tv b+++ DI D-- G-- e>++++ h- r++(---) z?

And even though it's completely irrelevant to me as a Lutheran-turned-Unitarian, I've got time to kill, so I'll do up a Magick Code:
MO S>+++ G-- Q--- 666? y W++ C+ N+ PJC+ D0>1
Someone found this site searching for Joe Converse. I suppose I should be happy that I'm only #7, but it really disturbs me that result #6 is titled "Lovers."
Here I am, wasting a few hours so that it can hurry up and be time to go back to Colgate. I keep thinking about how I need to learn to live in the moment more, especially since I have a limited number of them left before I graduate, but I don't precisely know how to do that. And it's especially hard when the moment is so boring.

I'm giving the Zoroastrians a rest, even though it is a pretty cool religion. So now I'm just looking at blogs in the "recently updated" list. Not because I care about these people's lives. I'm barely reading anything. I'm just looking at the layouts. And I really want an explanation of why so many blogs are in Portuguese.

I watched some pretty terrible TV today. Granted, I think just about everything on TV besides the Simpsons is terrible. But today I saw the crappiest of the crap. We just saw a commercial for the "Perfect Pancake," which is essentially two frying pans hinged together opposite the handles. And there was a game show called "The Chamber," where they put a person in this chamber and make them answer questions while they're spun upside down, blasted with air, and either heated to 150 degrees, or sprayed with water and frozen to -20 degrees.

Well, I've wasted about an hour since I started typing this. In another two hours I can justify checking the Brunching board again. Maybe I should go eat something...


Maybe once I get back to Colgate on Monday I'll have something worthwhile to say. Until then, I'm just going to keep reading Zoroastrian end-time prophecy.


As Amanda's internet access is broken, she has asked me to communicate the following:

The existence of disco is unfortunate.

That is all.
Time passes much more slowly when you're laying in bed as opposed to sleeping.


After watching Fox News, I finally understand why we have a war on terror: Because "terror" is written in a different font (Courier, as opposed to the undisclosed sans-serif font used for "war on").


Thoughts from reading the military surplus catalog:

- My dad just said "oh, this isn't the one I usually order from." *usually*?

- Ooh, authentic Swiss jerry can. I could put all kinds of gas in that.

- Ok, they're selling Swedish military bedpans, and the photo shows it being used as a candy dish.

- Apparently Greece makes the best bullets.

- Ok, Mr. Dundee, you can stop saying "You call that a knoife?"

- This vest says "for hunting or tactical missions."

- I suppose I actually would have a use for this pocket watch on a kerabiner, as keeping a wristwatch in my pocket gets me so many weird looks. They're 1 for 5370 here.

- Long underwear. Used.

- "Swedes discover blue isn't a good concealment color ... I nab their surplus!"

- My dad seems to think I really want to buy this surplus pepper spray.

- Darn it. They're not selling Night Vision goggles.

- Ha ha. They're making fun of Czechoslovakia for thinking it would get involved in Desert Storm.

- Ok, I can guarantee that this "as seen on TV" vacuum sealing machine is not military surplus.

- Whoa, a Sasquatch suit for swamp hunting. Coooool.

- My mom seems really shocked that I'm familiar with the concept behind tracer bullets.
This is the third best thing I've ever seen, after the site about the Star Wars/Princess Bride parallels and the Elizabethan Jerry Springer that the folks on the Brunching board did.


We were discussing the fact that Zeke always spikes up his hair. I put my hand on my forehead, with my fingers sticking up, and said "this should be the international symbol for 'Zeke'." Eric made an "L" on his forehead (á la the "loser" symbol) and said "this is the symbol for Leah. Leah lookad at him, and said "L for Leah!" Then she proceeded to make a backwards L on her forehead.


People in this house have issues with turning things off when they're not using them. All the lights in every room in this house are always on. So is the TV. But what gets me the most is the music.

Leah has her alarm set to the radio. And when it goes off, she just leaves it on (hooray for idioms). Zeke always has his stereo turned up all the way, because he lives in what is essentially a little closet, and his stereo is on the opposite side of the room. He'll pop in three Dave Matthews CDs, then come down to the computer and turn up his Cake mp3s loud enough that they mask the Dave Matthews while he uses the computer. And he always puts in a full selection of music before he goes to bed.
So, I lied about posting more on Friday night. I've been spending most of my time catching up on emails and the Brunching board. And for no good reason today I started reading about Zoroastrianism when I should have been either doing something productive or getting sleep so that I can do something productive tomorrow.

On that note, good night.


So, our cable modem seems to be working again.

*crosses fingers*
*knocks on wood*
*recites Vedic verses of blessing to the modem*
*sacrifices hecatombs to Cablecles, mighty god of internet access*

More exciting information coming tonight, when I have more time to reacquaint myself with the joy of the internet.