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27 April 2007

Blogkeeping and my life - Minneapolis, May Day and Graduation

I will be away from Monday and I am not taking my laptop this time. Shame, really, because all the motels have free wifi, but for a number of reasons, mostly tediously technical, I am not taking it.
My trip has two main purposes: first, Aimee is graduating from the U of M after many years of world-wide learning and creating. Second, I will attend the May Day Parade in Powderhorn Park, one of the high-holy days of "my" Minneapolis. I will miss the Deborama's WWW of May the 4th. Sorry about that. Don't leave me! I am not going away for good. And who knows, I may even get a blog in from there.

Bird news


I haven't been keeping you all up to date with the birds. At this precise moment we have eight of them. Five are budgies (I don' t think I updated the fact that another was lost - Mellow. I may not even have mentioned getting those two.) And I know I never posted about getting the "budgie from hell" (who is actually very sweet), Nelson. The budgies are (in the order of how long we have had them): Pearl, Huey, Holly, Muffin and Nelson. We still have the two cockatiels, Clemmie and Winnie. And just a week ago, we acquired a 9 year old Hahn's Macaw named Han. My DH heard about a young man who needed to rehome the parrot he had since the age of 13 due to his changed lifestyle (living in student housing, which was causing the bird stress) and he (DH) agreed to take him. That's him there getting his wing tickled.

25 April 2007

Deborama's WWW Number 20 - Cruel 2 B Kind

Cruel 2 B Kind is a new form of game that is spontaneous, active, public and thoroughly different. I suppose it's not for everyone, but I would definitely enjoy it. All one needs to play is a Benevolent Assassin's guide (available online), a text enabled mobile phone, and a game to be hooked into. You can play in teams as small as two, or even solo to begin with, but part of the creative aspect of the game is in the fact that the victims join the vanquishing team and keep on playing. Sign me up!

18 April 2007

Virginia Tech and Copycat Crimes

I thought I was the one who had discovered that there was a subgenre of novels concerning school-based mass murder. On one of my other blogs, Deborama's Book Reviews and Store, I reviewed Vernon God Little (DBC Pierre) and Hey Nostradamus (Douglas Coupland) simultaneously. But now I find out that Lionel Shriver, author of yet another of that genre, We Need To Talk About Kevin, was fully aware that she was writing in this subgenre, and now, of course, I think she feels a little guilty about the Virginia Tech shootings. This is from her comment piece in G2 of the Guardian. (The Guardian, by the way, has already got a dedicated Special Reports page on the shooting, in addition to yet another comment piece from Jon Ronson, which I found strangely moving (strangely because I usually don't think of Ronson as being deep and philosophical, just weird, but this article is really good.)

12 April 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday at the age of 84 from complications of a fall. And nothing to do with smoking, even though he referred to it as a form of sure but gradual suicide. Vonnegut is one of the heroes of my adolescence. Sirens of Titan, Cat's Cradle, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and especially Slaughterhouse Five were all cultural beacons that led me out of the haze of the 1950s into my teenage years and enlightenment.


Thanks to Alix and Julie for alerting me to this. The obituary was not even in the Guardian today although it is now on the "latest" website:
Vonnegut's writing career spanned more than half a century and saw him
produce 14 novels (many of which were bestsellers) as well as dozens of short
stories, essays and plays. He ranged from the conventional science fiction of
his 1963 novel, Cat's Cradle (which hangs around the discovery of "ice-nine", a
substance with the properties of water but which is solid at room temperature)
to the satirical Breakfast of Champions (1973) and the semi-autobiographical
Slaughterhouse-Five, the catalyst for which was his own experience as a soldier
with the US 106th Infantry Division and as a prisoner of war during world war
two.

11 April 2007

Deborama's WWW Number 19 - Call for a code of conduct

A few weeks ago I featured the excellent website "Creating Passionate Users", authored by Kathy Sierra. Only a few days later this appeared there, although in a different format, as Sierra announced that she was being forced off the blogosphere by an unbearable (and unbelievably intense) amount of anonymous comment abuse. We are talking death threats, violent sexual violence fanstasies, etc. none of which were even pretending to be relevant to specific posts or ideas from the blog. She has in fact returned to the blog, in a low-key way and still very much in the mode of coping with the aftermath. This post itself attracted 1165 comments, which are still preserved here. In response to this and other similar incidents, two prominent web-guys, one a prominent blogger and the other a founder of Wikipedia, issued a post titled Call for a Blogger's Code of Conduct. Unsurprisingly there has been an enormous buzz of controversy from the "call". The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland has one of the most thoughtful and balanced of the reactions.

09 April 2007

Britain's verdict on the Blair years


The Observer has commissioned a poll on Tony Blair's 10 years in power, asking questions such as do you think the UK is a happier place now than it was before New Labour came into government? The results are very negative, a "damning verdict" on Blair's policies and style of governing. Blair is reportedly seen as too fond of spin (and of George Bush). He has not improved people's feelings of safety and is not judged to have improved any public services, noticeably the NHS which is seen to have declined.

Deborama's slant on the Iran hostage / media controversy

  • While the 15 sailors and marines were in the custody of the Iranians, the British media reported all their staged press conferences at face-value.
  • As soon as they were released, the British media began speculating on whether they would or should be reprimanded for "cooperating" too much.
  • Simultaneously they began "approaching" (that is, swarming all over) their friends and families clamouring for stories and "reactions".
  • As soon as they had access to the released servicemen and woman, they began to pester them for their stories and "reactions", saying "if you don't tell us we won't be able to tell 'your side'" and "if you don't take the money your friends will."
  • Then, they began to assail the MoD demanding to be allowed to purchase the "hostages' stories".
  • No sooner was permission granted to the servicemen and woman to sell their stories than the media began to question the integrity of the MoD decision.
  • Also at the same time, the surviving relatives of the service men and women killed in Iraq during the "hostage crisis" were harrassed and manipulated into saying resentful things about the relative sufferings of the hostages and hostages' families vs. their own losses.
  • The controversy was further charged with irrational emotion by playing up this contrast in experience and manufacturing alternating sympathy and disdain for the freed hostages.
  • My conclusion? The British media is an evil nest of vipers. They are worse than the UK government and the Iranian government combined and I am sick to death of them.

    04 April 2007

    Deborama's WWW Number 18 - Cheddarvision.tv


    You may have read about it; now see it for yourself - cheddarvision.tv is a webcam focused on a grand cheddar cheese in a darkened cave just getting older. It's far more pure an experience than watching paint dry - for one thing, it's slower. There is also a myspace page for it, if you prefer. No, it's not that exciting either.

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