Rules on links I don’t understand

September 30, 2003 at 10:38 pm | In yulelogStories | 12 Comments

Dave Winer has posted an essay, The Rule of Links, where he states that linking is “one of the fundamental ideas of the Web.” I understand that, and I also understand his analogy to footnotes or endnotes, and that links are an incredible improvement over both. But I don’t understand why links shouldn’t open in a new window. Dave says that “links that open in new windows are non-web-like.” This makes no sense to me, although I’m ready to hear explanations from the “same-window” camp — maybe I’m missing something. But here’s why I don’t understand the new-window-is-a-no-no rule: a link that opens in a new window allows me to look at both sites simultaneously, and allows me to compare and contrast, or to read the link-site even as I glance at the source-site. Opening in new windows, for me, makes the link similar to footnotes — they are on the same page as the printed text of the book, meaning I can see text and footnotes simultaneously. This is wholly unlike endnotes, which are tucked away at the back of the book and which involve a lot of flipping around. I like footnotes, and I really dislike endnotes. Links that don’t open in a new window are, to my mind, exactly like endnotes: they don’t allow me to stream two or three things simultaneously, they force me to flip back and forth. Then there are sites that develop some kind of tic: Chris Locke for example added a talking fish a while ago. Since the arrival of the dratted fish, his site has become user-unfriendly for me: one, I can’t hear the fish, even though I have the plug-in, thank-you; two, I get an error message every time I go to his site telling me I don’t have the plug-in. Now, his links don’t open in new windows, and consequently I almost never click on them now, because if I do, I have to reload Chris’s site when I hit the back button, and when I do that, I get the error message all over again. If, however, his links opened in new windows, this wouldn’t be a problem. (Aside from the initial problem, which I’m apparently incapable of fixing, unless this is some stupid Freudian joke. But honestly, I have the plug-in.)

And whether my link opens in a new window or the same window, why is the one not web-like while the other is? Just because spiders spin their webs in two dimensions doesn’t mean we humans can’t spin them in 2 or 3 or 4 …windows. When did this no-new-windows rule get made, and who made it? Anyone?

Weather report

September 30, 2003 at 9:24 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Weather report

It’s official: according to today’s paper, Victoria and Nanaimo (both on Vancouver Island) “are at the top of the heap in the only weather category that counts — most comfortable climate” — they’re tied in first place. This from a new Environment Canada analysis “developed from 30 years of weather data for the country’s 100 largest cities.” The study looked at 72 weather categories, used data from as far back as 1840, and considered “more than 200 million weather observations originating from 7,000 different sites.” Victoria and Nanaimo have the best combination of 23 weather categories “conducive to ‘comfortable’ weather”: mild winters, plentiful sunshine, low humidity and little fog. “Victoria stands alone as having the least amount of snow.” Gander, Newfoundland has the most. In fact, Newfoundland cities (only locales in excess of pop.5,000 were included, otherwise Iqaluit, Nunavut would have won) have the “toughest” weather. Well, “Newfies”… what can one say? They have for so long been the butt of jokes, the “challenged” cousins of New Englanders, so to speak. Blame it on the weather, perhaps? More details on the Environment Canada website.

Culture, economy, legacies

September 29, 2003 at 9:47 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Culture, economy, legacies

I’ve mentioned before, in a comment I think, that my son is currently taking this First Nations Studies course through S.I.D.E.S.. It’s not an undemanding course; here’s something that came up today:

Exercise 3.4:
The following two passages show two different attitudes toward the natural world. The first describes a ritual of the Kwakwaka’wakw people. The second is a passage from the Bible. What do these examples suggest about differences in world view?

Example A

The First Salmon Ceremony is a ritual that every First Nations group on the Northwest Coast developed in some form. For a typical Kwakwaka’wakw fisherman, the following ritual was followed. The first nine fish were clubbed only once so that they were not quite dead. While he prayed, he threaded them onto a hoop which he wore home. He then placed the ring on a cedar bark mat and passed them over to his wife. With ritualized movements, she cut the fish with a slate knife and said her own prayer:

Thank you Swimmers, you Supernatural Ones,
that you have come to save our lives,
mine and my husband’s
that we may not die of hunger, you Long-Life-Maker.
Only protect us that nothing evil may befall us
you, Rich-Maker-Woman,
and this also, that we may meet again next year,
good, great Supernatural Ones. (Stewart 164)

Example B

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful,
and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have
dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air,
and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth!
(Genesis 1:28)

To make it real, the course text also asks the student to consider how these two visions of the natural world inflect a group’s economies: “The world view of any culture is intimately tied to its economy.”

A PS: a week ago I heard that Aube Breton, Andre Breton’s daughter, came to British Columbia to return a ceremonial headdress stolen from the ‘Namgis First Nation in 1921. It had found its way into her famous authoritarian surrealist father’s favoured fetishes collection. As reported on CBC Radio One on Sept. 22:

In 1921, the Canadian government confiscated a traditional headdress from the ‘Namgis First Nation who were refusing to abide by the potlach laws banning traditional Native ceremonies. The headdress was sold repeatedly before landing in the hands of poet and surrealist Andre Breton. Last night, his daughter Aube Breton-Ellouet, returned the headdress to the ‘Namgis people. Bill Cranmer is the Chief of the ‘Namgis First Nation. He spoke to us from Alert Bay, British Columbia.

Faites vos jeux, mesdames et messieurs

September 27, 2003 at 9:50 pm | In yulelogStories | 2 Comments

I have not paid much — any? — attention to California’s recall debacle. It seems so distant, even though California is part of the West Coast Ecotopia zone. California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, southern Alaska: it’s a natural grouping, like a sibling cohort. Terrain and vegetation are somehow similar, and it’s clear to anyone with half a brain that they come from the same geologic era. If you’re from coastal California, you’ll find coastal BC familiar in a way that the coastal Eastern seaboard just isn’t. (Of course it’s also a fact that people have caused California to change so much that many of us are not quite sure we still want it in the cohort. California has too many people, including many Canadian ex-pats; it has far too many cars; and it’s just too fast, too dry. Dry and fast? Ow. No good. We like some wet, thank you.) Back to the recall, which suddenly interests me, via Martin Knelman’s article in today’s Toronto Star, Will Arnold Kill Hollywood North? The Terminator, if elected, will likely terminate Canadian, specifically British Columbian, Hollywood branch operations: “…given his steely, coldly dismissive view of Canada, the mere possibility of Governor Arnold is enough to give chills to people in the film world whose security and hopes for lasting prosperity depend on the assumption that Hollywood studios will continue to make movies in Canada and help their northern neighbour live happily ever after.” Last year, Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines, was pulled from the Vancouver production roster and moved to L.A., due solely to Arnold’s influence. Even though it was cheaper by US$8mil. to make the movie here, Mr. Schwarzenegger sat the production team down, chipped in a pile of his own money, and convinced everyone involved that it was better to make the movie in California. It’s an Arnoldian vision, apparently: “… we helped create jobs, hundreds of new jobs, and that’s what I want to do as governor. I want to bring business back to this state.” The Film and Television Action Committee claims that “tax credits offered by the [Canadian] federal and provincial governments to lure Hollywood productions constituted an unfair trade practice that had cost the U.S. industry 25,000 jobs and $4.1 billion in lost revenue yearly [!sic] since 1998.” Canadians might now worry that Governor Arnold will provide California with the same kind of seductive tax credits. Which means that a very wealthy Republican governor could use tax money (that’d be your money, p’adner) to subsidize Hollywood, do battle agin the evil pot-smoking sodomites up north, and fight free trade under the table. Gotta love them Republicans, they’re full of surprises. Golly, it would make a great movie.

Mixed news

September 26, 2003 at 10:01 pm | In yulelogStories | 3 Comments

Edward Said died yesterday of leukemia; he was 67.

Amina Lawal will not be subjected to the barbaric sentence handed out earlier by a Nigerian Sharia court. She’s free to go home now.

In anutha zone

September 25, 2003 at 10:56 pm | In yulelogStories | 4 Comments

No time to blog long — the day was so good, time for a long hike with kids & dog around Thetis Lake, in cloggy-platformish sandals no less (ok, Dansko, but still). This gorgeous lake is unfathomably deep; some speculate that it actually connects to the sea (can’t find the source for this rumour, though). We got lost, hiked for two hours, nearly died of starvation, but were back on the highway finally, off to a nearby A&W. Then, return drive to the city in twilight, listening to The Doc Meets the Duke full blast. Oh what a beautiful day! Downtown looked sparkly, that magic twilight time just before 8. The heft of the car’s engine as I zoomed past “Antique Row” gave me a buzz. People spilled onto the sidewalk from packed auction houses. I felt like Robin, the long-lashed, tousled, black-haired pretty boy in the white turtleneck, who played a killer in an Avengers episode called The Bird Who Knew Too Much. He was very pretty, but a complete psychopath who killed for sport. Beats me why I felt Robin-ish, perhaps it was the killer-car-machine manifesting through my body. Speed is so deadly. “Perdido.” “Mood Indigo.” I’m letting my hair grow out, the windows were open, the wind was messing me up. Wonderful. “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”

And around midnight, I’m driving to the airport to pick up my Mister who’s been flying around on bizness. I’ll roll down the windows and listen to the Doctor sing the Duke’s “Do Nothin’ ‘Til You Hear From Me,” yes I will.

Pataphysics tastes like…?

September 24, 2003 at 5:47 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Pataphysics tastes like…?

On tonight’s menu, straight from the kitchen of the Absurd‘s answer to Julia Child, the inimitable Mere Ubu presents dinner:

CAPTAIN MACNURE: Well, Mistress Ubu, what succulent dishes have you prepared for us today?
MA UBU: Here’s the menu.
PA UBU: That’s right up my street.
MA UBU: Polish broth, spare ribs of Polish bison, veal, chicken and hound pie, parsons’ noses from the royal Polish turkeys, charlotte russe…
PA UBU: That’s enough, I should think. Is there any more?
MA UBU: Ice-pudding, salad, fruit, cheese, boiled beef, Jerusalem fartichoke, cauliflower a la pschitt.
PA UBU: Hey, do you think I’m an oriental potentate, shelling out all that money?
MA UBU: Pay no attention to him. He’s off his rocker.
PA UBU: You wait. I shall sharpen my teeth on your shanks.
MA UBU: Just eat up and shut up, Old Ubu! Here, try the Polish broth.
PA UBU: Urghh, what muck!
CAPTAIN MACNURE: You’re right. It hasn’t quite come off.


PA UBU: Well, captain, how did you enjoy your dinner?
CAPTAIN MACNURE: Very much, Sir, except for the pschitt.
PA UBU: Oh, I didn’t think the pschitt was too bad.
MA UBU: A little of what you fancy, they say.

In the end, though, even Mere Ubu’s cooking can’t keep Pere Ubu from running into setbacks:

MA UBU: What! You say nothing, Pa Ubu! Surely you haven’t forgotten the Word?
PA UBU: Psch . . . aw, Ma Ubu! I don’t want to say that word any longer, it got me into too much trouble.
MA UBU: What do you mean — trouble? The throne of Poland, the great bonnet, the umbrella . . .
PA UBU: I don’t care for the umbrella any longer, Ma Ubu, it’s too hard to handle. I shall just use my science of physics to stop it raining!

…Paving the way of great pataphysical plans in merdre since 1896, Ubu Rex, Ubu Cuckolded, Ubu Enchained, by Alfred Jarry.

Vision or eyesight

September 24, 2003 at 9:40 am | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Vision or eyesight

An interview with Pat Wyman, a reading specialist, in a recent newsletter about kids and computers. More computers in the classroom are supposed to “solve” major educational problems, but Wyman suggests that there’s a biologically qualitative difference between eyesight and vision, which technology doesn’t (can’t?) address. I’m thinking of this also in relation to Martin Brokenleg and the comments I wrote in presence or numbness 2 days ago. Vision needs a full body sense, not just the disembodied eyeballs virtually attached to technology. Some of Wyman’s points:

1. Learn the difference between “eyesight” and “vision”. Eyesight is the ability to “see” that most children are born with. Vision is the ability to organize, interpret and understand what is seen. Vision is developed and LEARNED like walking and talking. Your children need both good “eyesight” and good “vision” in order to be excellent readers.

2. Don’t assume that 20/20 eyesight means that your children see the printed page or computer screen the same way you do. 20/20 is a distance sight indicator and simply means that your children can see a certain size letter from 20 feet away. It is not at all related to reading at near point. Have each of your children read aloud to you often to insure that what they see on the printed page and computer screen is the same thing you are seeing.

Good vision means that your children use both eyes as a team to track smoothly from line to line, see at far and near, copy from a book to paper, keep letters in proper order and much more. Some children with perfect eyesight still tell me they see letters moving around or jumping. Still others suffer because they reverse the order of the letters that they see. Any weak link in the visual process can affect reading, especially if the visual system is under stress due to excessive computer, TV or hand-held computer use.

Presence or numbness

September 22, 2003 at 11:33 pm | In yulelogStories | 3 Comments

Interesting article in yesterday’s Iocal paper, Hope voiced for native children. Since the link will decay soon, I’ll quote:

British Columbia’s aboriginal leaders are facing a historic opportunity to heal their youth in traditional ways and help the next generation stand on its own, a Native American studies expert told child-care advocates in Brentwood Bay Saturday. (…)
(…) On Saturday [Martin Brokenleg, a professor of sociology and Native American studies in Sioux Falls, ND] addressed about 100 child and youth advocates at a two-day conference called Collecting Wisdom…. (…)
After the fall of apartheid in South Africa, Brokenleg worked closely with Nelson Mandela’s government, using his Circle of Courage teachings to transform the child welfare system there.
The philosophy is based on the fundamental needs of children: to have a sense of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.
Research supports the loving, caring and respectful aboriginal way of treating children and rejects the North American philosophy in which children are less important in society, he said. He used the pay differential between a professional athlete and a school teacher as an example of the way children are valued here.
He also said North American tough-love and zero-tolerance forms of discipline and teaching have been a ‘miserable failure.’
He also stressed that children most need ‘human presence’ over anything material. He referred to an American study that says the average female guardian spends three minutes a day engaged in active conversation (not giving orders or directions) with her child, while the male parent spends an average of about 45 seconds.
‘The power of presence… it’s the most significant factor in the lives of successful children,’ said Brokenleg. ‘Too many children are living without that contact.’

Compare this with the competitive philosophies that determine modern, anxiety-riddled “good” schools. Compare it also to Nicole Nolan’s slightly tongue-in-cheek piece in the Globe and Mail, New lessons in true Canadian grit. (This article, too, first found via Wood’s Lot.) Nolan’s article is delightful, and without a doubt true. She writes,

When one begins to teach, one inevitably seeks guidance in one’s own experiences as a student. Thinking back carefully on my Canadian teachers, I realize there can be no doubt at all on the matter: they were harsh. Whether it is because of our history as hewers of wood and drawers of water, or the stiff-upper lip influence of British culture, Canadians prefer that life — even the life of the mind — have a certain bracing quality to it. There is no benefit at all in writing a philosophy paper, the theory seems to go, unless the experience bears some resemblance to jumping naked into Georgian Bay in early summer.

Nolan’s telling it the way it is (or was, in my day back in the 14th century). When I came to Harvard from the University of British Columbia, I was appalled at the grade inflation, at the shallowness of the papers accepted by professors, and at the general lack of real work that was required. At UBC, my professors competed as to who could be the biggest sadistic pain in the butt. But do I endorse that for children? No way. And I even have my doubts about applying the psychological abuse that goes with that kind of regime to young adults — that’s the kind of nice person I am. (And no, it’s not the case that I’m still secretly plotting to kill some of my former UBC profs.) It’s as Brokenleg says: presence matters. And regimes work toward eliminating presence in favour of numbness and abstraction. The more numb — the number? — you are, the better you’ll adapt to becoming a functioning cog (a number) in the machine. On that note, too, see Elaine Frankonis at Kalilily Time and her excellent rant against Bill O’Reilly’s 10 Rules for Effective Parenting (gah, another fucking list!!!). Here’s Elaine:

— Discipline is essential, but no parent should inflict FREQUENT physical or mental pain on a child.
— A good parent will ensure that home is a refuge — a place where a child feels protected and loved. There will be no RANDOM violence, intoxication, sexual displays, UNCONTROLLED anger or vile language at home.

Does the first mean “occasional” pain is okay? And the second that “planned” violence, etc. and “controlled” etc. are okay?

Faced with a choice between O’Reilly and Brokenleg, it’s a no-brainer to choose the latter. But he expects you to trust to love, while the former trades on fear and anxiety, and our outsourced economies and homegrown anxieties unfortunately leave too many people yearning for the pain that O’Reilly advocates.

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