Making Pig sit still is nearly impossible so I just stuck the camera in his face (sans flash, of course) and struck cute gold.
In the course of trying to catch up on a couple weeks of reading (which, by the way, is due in large part to the slim number of people that have some insane hope that I'll turn this pile of crap around into something interesting again. Thanks for your faith in whatever it is that you think that I'm doing here. It may be completely bogus but it still makes me feel all blushy and like I have better virtual friends than I really deserve) I found this fascinating article on a Microsoft research project that would be pretty amazing if it wasn't a research project and such a cumbersome configuration of machines and accessories.
The albatross cam that Bell walks around with seems a little ridiculous and intrusive to people surrounding him. Would you want every part of every conversation taped? How then do you separate the intent of a conversation when it is automagically taped and archived? This is one good reason that a project like this would be difficult to legitimize for someone that wasn't a researcher or wasn't involved in a project that actually necessitated something that obsessively preserved every interaction. Jesus, imagine what LiveJournal would like with the ability to preserve each and every interaction.
The ubiquitous availability of every single thing you've done is a little bit scary as is the idea of preserving all of it on media that is connected (read the whole backup and distribution schema in the story and think of all the little holes) for easy access. I'm trying to avoid using the obvious argument that you are trusting MSFT with all of your data in a literal sense but that has got to be a consideration given the historical porousness of their platforms. The article uses the analogy of Nixon's recorded conversations in the Watergate scandal to ponder this and that seems like a pretty reasonable summary of why ideas like this start jabbing at my paranoia buttons.
I like the idea of memory as a private process which allows us to make stupid mistakes that may evolve over time into better ideas or the rejection of bad ideas without public scrutiny. Just think of the impact of social networking stuff on how people interact with one another. Find an application that tracks listening and viewing habits of people and you will find, seconds later, people laboring to falsify that data as the visualization of their data, presumably made public, makes them self conscious. That said, I do really enjoy the idea of looking at a 1000 foot view of the data you've looked at over a given day or week. Would it be useful? Probably not but it would make you a lot more apt to remember that thing you read before lunch on Tuesday and the path of thinking that brought you there.
The health applications seem like a more sane way to implement the idea. Missed details seem more relevant and less scary when presented this way and protected legally by things like HIPAA.
I have to work for the entire weekend and then all of next week. I'm mourning the weekend that isn't happening and one work day a week, at least for a few hours, when I don't feel totally burned out and disconnected. Romero's zombies make more sense to me these days as I too keep dragging myself around for reasons I don't understand in order to do things that don't make a damn bit of difference.
I really ought to read more book reviews. They're one of the few forms of journalism that I actually find engaging even when they pay a little too much attention to press releases than the meat of what they aim to evaluate reviews are often more entertaining and seemingly free critics up to do absolutely insane things like pay close critical attention to the artifacts of pop culture. One of the nicest parts about reviews is the language they typically use (and I'm talking about newspaper and glossy magazine reviews here and not the stuff in peer-reviewed academic journals where fear of taking academically incorrect positions can blunt what would otherwise be insightful) which is simplified and avoids couching itself too deeply in theory jargon because, hey, we're all stupid products of media saturation and shouldn't be smothered with shop talk, right? I'm not even sure where the sarcasm is going there but nonetheless I'm much more likely to read a review that dumbs it down a little than something encapsulated in the assumption of shared fields of study. It makes me feel like I can stray into areas and topics that I'm not already on a first name basis with.
What is even more rewarding is the occasional serious consideration of a topic often relegated to the trash can of popular culture that I'm familiar and a little infatuated with. Using horror movies as the jumping off point for making points is something I am all too familiar with. That is probably why I enjoyed this article in Reason so much. It takes a topic that I'm completely geeky about (zombie movies in case you don't know me or have never visited here before) and they are also the mythological milieu that I most often use when trying to analogize group dynamics (yes, stupid, I know) and speculate about how human social structure holds up under human nature run amok. Believe it or not, this is pretty frequently because I'm not a big believer in the essential goodness of people.
The celluloid zombie outbreak just seems like a logical albeit unrealistic extrapolation of that cynicism. George Romero is the big gun when it comes to this sort of social criticism and often the least subtle. You would have to be an idiot not to notice the themes that all of his movies club you over the head with. Only his zombie movies really work in this sense because the backdrop is the most interesting. Bruiser (one of his most clumsy attempts at social criticism) sounds interesting in concept but it makes for a godawful train wreck of a movie that shambles aimlessly yet pointless but yields only shrugs and disappointment. I think this has to do the lack of realism shown in the portrayal of human characters (protagonists?) in the other movies while the Dead movies are all about human relationships, social structure and hierarchy, and how we might really interact with our peers if the world was really fucked.
The living dead are just the messengers in these movies which makes them frightening, pitiable, and really scary in concept even when they're played comically. Walking corpses are just the delivery mechanism of the sickness, hatred, and isolation that was always there but inhibited by social pressure. Duh. The small cast of characters and the claustrophobic environments they are necessarily confined to brings their interactions and failures into much sharper focus. I, being the obsessive idiot preoccupied with trashy stuff instead of vitamin-rich tedium, tend to overuse scenarios and stretch the interpretations possible in these scenarios out like taffy. It's good to know that I'm not alone in this. I'm going to order a copy of Pretend We’re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture because although I might not be entirely sold on socialist criticism anymore than I am on libertarian ideas being dragged into areas where they probably don't belong (read: pretty much anywhere other than a small room in a student union filled with trust fund babies) the use of the horror movie as a basis for criticism of other aspects of life is always a potential wellspring of enthusiasm. Yes, I get excited about the things you chuckle absently about and I'm okay with that.
I do WordPress upgrades the moment they come out. Well, first I do a backup of my entire home directory on the server but I'm not hesitant about doing the upgrades as they are usually unremarkable and solve at least one little problem that I've had with the software. Generally, WP upgrades are a good thing although not typically the sort of upgrade that most people would even notice. The newest version solved almost every problem that I had with previous versions of WP and Akismet and since I bitch loudly a whole lot more than I ever compliment it's probably worth mentioning the improvements that I especially dig and the funny part is that they all concern how comments are handled:
1) Akismet now has a paged interface for comments marked as spam. This isn't a huge issue for most people but I tend to get about 50-100 pieces of spam comments for each new post. This probably isn't helped by how infrequently I post anything these days. I look like a perfect target for the 'bots. Akismet removed a lot of the labor from this managing comment spam but the interface was always maddening. Before the newest version, the management interface in the WP control center simply gave up on displaying comments marked as spam after the first 40 or so. It was easy enough to simply press the 'delete all' button but after hearing back from a few people who left comments that were mysteriously and invisibly banished to the phantom zone to languish with Zod for eternity I started to distrust the interface. Instead, I despammed all of the comments and manually marked them for deletion again. That process negates most of the benefits the plugin even offered. I filed a bug about it a long time ago and had been doing things the roundabout and difficult way. This is now fixed by a paged interface that will span as many pages as I need to figure out which comments are spam and which others are simply constructed by idiots. I feel like the janitorial work shrunk tremendously in a single upgrade. That alone is worth the price of entry.
2) Comments now have their own section in the WP admin interface which is also a blessing in terms of minimizing the number of clicks necessary to bless and curse the various types of comments waiting for moderation. I like the organization of the new way and am really happy that comment functions (other than from the shortcut via the WP dashboard that I always forgot about) are no longer buried below another heading.
3) Pages seem to be rendering faster. I'm not sure who really deserves the credit here but I'm torn between either giving credit to the awesome WP devs or my incredibly crappy hosting company for actually putting new accounts on a new server and allowing the rest of us a couple of cycles for page rendering. That said, next fall I will be moving the fuck out of here and hopefully into some dedicated digs. I run a bunch too many domains and projects out of this single account and despite the fact that I have enough bandwidth to cover pretty much anything I am pretty tired of the sluggishness. Many months but I hope one day that WP will run even faster without dozens of Movable Type installs gumming up the works for the rest of us.