Saturday, January 29, 2005

Librarians Used To Be More Tolerant

Via the indispensible Hit & Run we learn the true, untold history of flying carpets!
Ben Sherira writes that the great library of Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy I, kept a large stock of flying carpets for its readers. They could borrow these carpets in exchange for their slippers, to glide back and forth, up and down, among the shelves of papyrus manuscripts.
That was one of the things that made the library of Alexandria so great; the ones I frequent won't even allow roller skates.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Editing, Redux

On a related note, now that the Lord of the Rings films seem to have had as much previously unseen footage inserted as they will stand, I can't be the only person who was sitting in the theater upon their original release thinking "You know, this is fantastic, but... it's just not long enough. It could really do with being longer, preferably by another couple of hours."

The Longer The Book, The More Effective As A Melee Weapon

Still no success turning this into a political blog. I don't think I want to narrow down my options: I'm waiting for the highest bidder. Once bought, though, I will stay bought. None of this Armstrong Williams nonsense.

In the absence of politics, violence. Am beginning what will be a very slow plough through William Vollmann's Rising Up and Rising Down, a seven volume, ten-billion-word treatise on that very subject. I'm not sure how this is going to grab me: I love Vollmann in principle, but his books seem to be getting longer and longer, and he seems to be insisting more and more that they be published in their entirety, without all that tedious trimming and snipping and miscellaneous stomach-stapling... because what's better than a five-hundred-page novel about whores? A nine-hundred-page novel about whores, that's what!

Still, there's nobody out there trying to do what he's doing. It just makes one grateful that David Foster Wallace listened to his editor and excised a rumored several hundred pages of material concerning dentistry from Infinite Jest. Because if there's one thing Infinite Jest really needed, it was to be longer. Lacking in girth there, David Foster. Not so much on the page count. Might want to think about beefing it up a bit. Have you considered double-spacing?

I Despise My Sanctimonious Roommates, Thursdays This Fall

In a corridor some levels above this subterranean pit of apathy, there is a message board. On the message board there are fliers, posters and such, all obscured by the largest and most obnoxious call for roommates I have ever seen; an A3-sized list of desirable qualities and unwanted attributes. The existing roommates have obviously put a lot of thought into this: they want someone who "does not approach spirituality with pre-existing religious dogma" and also someone who "generally adheres to the philosophy 'smoke, choke, croak'". We also learn about their own foibles: one, for instance, is a fan of the godawful band Big Country, and is a struggling agnostic. The other is not a vegetarian, but "eats like one".

One of them is apparently male, the other female. If they breed, I fear for the kids. On the other hand, it's good to have the deal-breakers out there in the open: I vowed long ago never to live with a guy who listed The Fifth Element as one of his favorite movies. However, the temptation to move in, surreptitiously film them around the clock, and sell the resulting footage to Fox may prove irresistible.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Comparable To A Bathtub

People in New York drink a lot, it is well known. But did you know that people drink more in some parts of New York than in others? And that the places with a younger population tend to drink more? Amazing - but true.

The definition of "drinking to excess" on display here is, of course, ludicrous. Two drinks a day is heavy? Four drinks at one sitting constitutes a binge? By that rationale, I have had binges within binges, nested several layers deep, with other binges piled high atop them. At lunchtime. It's possible that the weights and measures people have avowed "drink", as a unit, to be comparable to a bathtub, but otherwise it's all a bit worrying.

Lurking in the basement with a highball, reading a comic about cats with drinking problems: now there's an avocation. The Achewood cats are very good enablers and enablers, as a class, are undervalued.

The Worst Is Behind The Welsh

Despite the fact that the most depressing day of the year was supposed to be Monday, things don't seem to have brightened up much. I was feeling quite perky on Monday - if this is as bad as 2005 is going to get (thought I) then it's going to be one hell of a twelve-month. As with all the other so-called benefits science has brought the world, though, this was merely a cruel illusion.

The survey was conducted in Wales. This, I surmise, is what has skewed their data.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Belay that order, Syndicalists!

On second thoughts, no. This sounds awful.

Ultimately, the main factor keeping me out of the syndicalist tent ( held up with the femurs of the foremen!) is that there don't seem to be many syndicalist blogs that I could keep on and on linking to, thereby allowing me to feel like a real blogger without actually producing anything new myself. Although Google did try to tempt me with the offer of "sexy syndicalism singles", which was much appreciated.

Meanwhile, though, I am bereft of ideology. It could be coin-flipping time.

Aux barricades, Syndicalists!

Here's a thought: the least pointless weblogs are the ones that are actually about something, preferably the inside scoop on a mysterious, oft-sensationalized profession, published anonymously for fear of reprisal, and giving us valuable insight into the workings of a life that we might well be contemplating for ourselves. Like getting paid for sex.

However, I don't have any specialized knowledge that will be of interest to anyone. I was considering writing a faux-confessional weblog from the perspective of, say, a middle-school teacher. It would feature numerous stories about showing up to work drunk, fighting back murderous or kidnapperous impulses, and culminate in a shocking child-abuse revelation. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that idea gets any funnier for being put into practice.

So there's nothing else for it. This will have to be a political blog. You don't need to know anything about anything to write a political blog; all you have to do is obsessively link to lots of other people's political blogs. I think I am up to the challenge. The only problem I'm having is choosing a side. Maybe I'll become a Syndicalist.

Fifteen thousand visitors already!

Sorry I haven't been posting lately, everyone, but I've been really busy.

Well, perhaps it has only been half an hour, but what I'm trying to do here, you see, is set the tone for what this will inevitably devolve into by the end of the week. I'm also trying not to let expectations get out of hand, because I know how easily that can happen. My referral software (proprietary, may I add, and VERY EXPENSIVE) tells me that since its inception, this blog has already received over fifteen thousand visitors, and enough donations of cash and goodwill for me to buy my entire apartment building.

Should I retire while I'm ahead, or begin the slow, pitiful descent into alcoholism, infrequent and pointless updates, and "Friday catblogging"? Those who know me well can probably hazard a guess.

Harbinger (and Purger)

It is written that the apocalypse can't really get underway until every man, woman, and child in these United States has a weblog, regardless of whether they have anything to put there. Upon that day, the rivers will run red with blood, the sky will descend at a more rapid rate than usual, plagues of mosquitos will bedevil the earth but will mostly stay near the rivers, and the usual assortment of multi-headed heraldic beasts will scatter the citizenry before them like rice at a wedding, devouring the elderly and saving the virgins for fondue.

Well, here we are: one step closer. Just trying to do my bit.