January 28, 2005

Latest CD

My new favorite CD is by a German band named “Mammut” with the great title Mouse Trick Track Music. They’re pretty obscure; the album came out in a limited edition in West Germany in 1971, and then was reissued on CD by a tiny Russian label a few years ago. They’re very much in the Can art-rock vein, although more rockin’. Samples here (I think it’s a bird on that first track, not a mouse, though).

January 21, 2005

Inauguration speech

A line from the beginning of Bush’s inaugural speech:

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

Yes, I know that words aren’t deeds, and that there are many current examples of our not following this maxim. But this president has done more to pursue democracy abroad than anyone since Truman.

One more thing. Can you imagine President Kerry saying something like this? A statement like that goes against every foreign policy impulse in his body (same with George H.W. Bush too, for that matter).

January 13, 2005

Bizarre connection

Danny Sugerman was a huge Doors nerd who hung around with them, answered their fan mail, and later managed the band after Jim Morrison died. He’s best known for writing a worshipful biography of Morrison, No One Here Gets Out Alive, which I (and many of my friends) read in high school. Anyway, he died the other day, and we learn in his obituary that he was married to… Fawn Hall! Oliver North’s devoted secretary/shredder. Too strange…

January 10, 2005

You know you’re a hopeless film nerd if…

You think this is funny.

January 8, 2005

CSS Wishlist

Two things I wish were in CSS:

  1. Ability to reverse letters. One of my many half-finished projects is a valid HTML and CSS Alice Through the Looking Glass. Unfortunately, there’s no good way to print the first verse of Jabberwocky in backwards text, as it is in published format. I posted to the CSS-developers list about this, but the reaction was basically “no browsers support it, so there’s no point in adding it”. Naturally, no browser coders these days would consider adding a feature that’s not in the W3 specs, so it looks like hardly anything new will ever be added now. (It’s becoming clear that HTML and CSS will remain stagnant until a new Netscape comes around and shakes everything up by breaking all the specs. That seems to be the only to encourage innovation, sadly.)
  2. I’d also like to be able to substitute text via CSS. On a whim, I added an alternate stylesheet to the pages of a website I’m working on that makes the text look like it was typewritten. It works pretty well, but there are a few characters, like “smart” quotes and em dashes, which really should be replaced by their ASCII equivalents in a “typewritten” document. It’d be great if there was some way to do sed-style substitution in CSS.

    I think there’s a hacky way I can do what I want:

    Heres a sample sentence.


    and then put
    span.apostrophe:before {content: "\2019"}

    in the standard stylesheet and
    span.apostrophe:before {content: "\'"}

    in the “typewriter” stylesheet.

    But the problem with that is that then you have to have CSS support to read the page, which is unacceptable. What’s needed is an :instead pseudo-class.

    I’m not holding my breath.

Excommunication of Heretics

This is charming. A new Poli Sci Ph. D., the ink fresh on her diploma, is fantasizing about crushing dissent and “excommunicating” people from her new field who don’t agree with her acceptable orthodxy.

She undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of her. Won’t it be nice when she’s not just dreaming of banishing the powerful from her exclusive club and actually grading papers and judging dissertations of talented students whom she may not agree with? It sure is encouraging that her gut instinct upon encountering disagreeable opinions is banishment. Certainly the attitude I like to see in higher ed, how about you?

January 7, 2005

I saw John Zorn…

…and Mike Patton at the Knitting Factory for New Year’s Eve, and you didn’t. Nyah.

The show alone would have made my NY trip worthwhile, although I had a pretty good time in any event. Zorn made lots of squeaky noises with his saxophone and Patton imitated it with his voice. It wasn’t as good as Cobra, but still a great way to welcome in the New Year. Being able to say I saw Zorn at the Knitting Factory is kinda like being able to say I saw Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club (a weird analogy, I know).