Friday, November 01, 2002

Proof that the times keep on marchin' on: last night while taking our daughter trick-or-treating, my wife and I observed only one kid wearing that mask from Scream.

The best costume we saw (besides our own little girl's, of course) was a girl done up as a Japanese geisha. I couldn't tell how old she was -- I'm guessing ten or eleven -- but the makeup job was superb, as was the traditional kimono. (She had Reeboks on, though -- sometimes you have to make a concession to practicality.) I'm not sure about the message being sent in dressing up a pre-teen as a geisha, but the costume itself was very well-done.

So, were there any other good costumes observed last evening? (Accepting that not everyone here has offspring, but may have still observed interested costumes.)

What do you do when you are a former member of one of the most renowned comedy troupes in history? If you're John Cleese, you move on to various writing and acting endeavours, including taking over for Desmond Llewelyn as Q in the Bond films. If you're Terry Gilliam, you direct movies....really offbeat, strange movies. And if you're Michael Palin, you become a world traveler and film your exploits for the BBC and PBS. Check out his site; it's wonderful for the photography alone.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Happy Halloween. Now for something truly creepy.

From MeFi, here's the suicide note left by the guy that shot up the Nursing College in Arizona. The MeFi discussion is quite interesting, and I wanted to know if any of you had any thoughts. The discussion over there has hit upon mainly two things: 1) the nature of the guy, what drove him to do what he did, etc. and 2) the appropriateness of publishing this and giving him the attention (albeit in death) that some claim he desperately wanted. Feel free to expand on both.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Apropos of the discussion on music downloading and such here are the thoughts of comics author and artist Scott McCloud.

McCloud is a pioneer of web-based comics (as well as the author of the brilliant books Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics), and his views and theories on how the Web may release artists from their collective shackles (the RIAA, for instance) are fairly compelling -- although I don't agree with all of what he says (particularly the motivation behind file-sharers, as I noted in that discussion).

McCloud has proposed a system of "micropayments" for Web content. His focus is, of course, on comics -- that's what he does and it's the medium whose success he is clearly most concerned with -- but what he says could apply to online fiction, or online music, or online films, or whatever else we can conceive. Check out his comics essays on the subject -- they're the ones entitled "Coins of the Realm". And then, check out this response to McCloud's work.

Micropayments: can it work? or, having experienced the siren song of free content, are they doomed to failure?

A prominent author has advanced a new theory as to the identity of Jack the Ripper. Well, I guess that rules out Colonel Mustard in the parlor with a candlestick.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Everything I need to know, I learned from D&D (not really, but it is evocative, no?)

Actually D&D alignment really has helped me to understand my own ethics better.

(Take the D and D Online Alignment Test.)

The scales are: Lawful-Neutral-Chaotic and Good-Neutral-Evil. The first scale is alignment relative to law, order, etc. The second scale is relative to individuals and their well being.

I come out between Neutral Good and Chaotic Good. I flex on the law, mostly because I think the law, lots of times, is not good for people. It is a subjective judgment, again. And, obviously, with me, it's a lot more in concept than it is in actuality. Any true nonconformist should not complain too much when the law comes down on her. She has to be willing to take the consequences, though she can argue the justice of it.

But I'm very concerned about individual good. Spiritual life is the highest priority (for me, and it probably includes liberty/freedom), followed closely by physical human life (which includes subsistence living, and, last of all, the right to property and wealth.)

How about you? What's your D&D alignment? And what are your reflections on these issues?

(This post started as a comment on Collaboratory, and is double-posted on interact (because I'm looking for the responses of both audiences.)

Sunday, October 27, 2002

I'm certainly no fan of President Bush, but he occasionally gets it right -- such as his nominee to head the National Endowment for the Arts. It seems that this nominee is not a strict ideologue, but rather a competent and at times forceful voice for the arts.