- Crowded apartment full of books and computer parts, paper swimming amongst the magazines and toys.
- Crappy election year, full of spite and below the belt politics.
- Terrible twos.
- Non-product-oriented business opportunities (the sneak peak can still be had here).
- Numerous magazine subscriptions.
- Brand new, unjaundiced, bright-star year full of hope and possibility.
- Year ending in an odd number. Odd years have proven, in general, to be better for me, historically speaking.
- Trippy threes.
- Shiny new faces, replete with goodness, grace, and generosity.
- Numerous magazine subscriptions.
A happy and healthy and peaceful 2005.
There are a tremendous number of online resources out there meeting the call to help people in Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa. One of the better, and least denominational, is Network for Good. [Addition: This CNN page is also excellent]
From everything I’ve (sadly) heard over the past few days, nothing will help people more than plain old cash money. The organizations involved there simply need funds to keep supplies and food moving. I am donating to American Jewish World Service but it matters not.
Giving online, unlike sending a check or volunteering, still feels strange to me. The disconnect between the button clicked and the recipient helped is all too wide. But from the reports, it may be that donating on the Web may be the fastest route to those overwhelmed by tragedy.
The Year 2004 was the year of the weblog. More people understood what a blog was, more participated in an individual or community blog, more used blogging technology in some form or another, and more people looked up the word “blog” than any other.
In lieu of actually coming up with my own favorite blogs where you’ll find tremendous overlap with others, here are the top favorite weblos of 2004, in no particular order but my own:
Somehow or another, the grade-C student, war dodger, and all-around good-ol-boy became TIME Person of the Year 2004.
It’s not astonishing. What is fascinating is that Time, in its infinite (pun not intended) wisdom, decided that George W. Bush was a historical marker of some sort — that he represents an American achievement on some order and therefore even greater recognition. Mr. Bush won a narrow majority, has “the lowest December [approval] rating for a re-elected President in Gallup’s history,” and has already gone back on his recent acceptance pledge to be a re-uniter.
The real question is who should have been picked. According to the posts on Metafilter, every U.S. President in office (except or Mr. Ford) has been covered since 1932. If not the President, who? Certainly, the Democrats fell flat on a race that was theirs to lose, religious figures are divisive, the array of media anchors are publicly seen as failures, business leaders have not led, the military is failing to win publicly accepted wars, and local governments receive no national attention. Internationally, the Europeans and the U.N. have not stood up to genocide while the Russians have failed themselves. In Asia, China has grown but the cost is unknown.
Way back in 1998, I started a little project called The Site at MANOVERBOARD. It was a combination of desires to show new artists’ work, to run a publication that was relevant to the new medium called the Internet, and to publish artwork that would not necessarily get seen unless a dollar was being made.
I truly enjoyed the six years of designing and developing the website and, today, I’ve called it quits. At least, temporarily.
The final artist, for now, on The Site is my old time favorite artist, Ruth Root. I’ve only had her slides on my desktop for the past 10 months. And it was upon posting her work that I realized a few things:
- Even six years later, there are very, very few good artist-driven websites out there. Galleries themselves have poorly designed and updated sites; and artists, for whatever reason, have trouble showcasing their work online. This is a lacunae that will eventually need to be filled but it also helps validate my original aspirations for The Site.
- I’ve not participated much lately in the world of contemporary art in New York or elsewhere but I also don’t believe I’m missing much. The same names are recycled for the most part and young artists seem to all be using pencil and ballpoint pen. This is not such a bad thing, mind you.
- Allowing a site to go dormant, willfully or not, is sad — kind of like asking your dog to not eat for a while so that you can work longer hours for less pay.
I’ve been thinking a bit about the relationship between bullets, those unordered lists you find that are marked at the beginning by a circular and typically black shape, and blogging.
The aphorism, which was professionalized and academicized by Friedrich Nietzsche over 100 years ago, is the real antecedant to the web log, and by extension, the bullet. (Martha Nussbaum, my Nieztsche instructor in college, used to love floating these little one- or two-line stanzas over our heads during class and they always seem postively puzzling and incisive at the same time.)
A blog typically takes a single idea, condenses it into its few lines of simplicity, and hopes that a reaction will inhere within a reader or among readers.
The bullet (a.k.a. “”) is an example of an even further reduced thought. It takes the place of a complete idea or parses a complete idea into separate but related strands and creates an easy-to-digest and all-encompassing means of displaying a bit of tightly wound information. At its best, the bulleted item will run only one or two lines which will in turn allow a reader to make immediate association to another bulleted item below or above it or both. Bulleted lists are least helpful when the bulleted items are many sentences in length, because then they look like paragraphs with dots in front of them.
[HTML has always had a very simple way of creating bulleted items. You allow each bulleted item to be defined by a something called an "li" which is short for a list item; further, these individual items then get wrapped in a "ul" tag that allows a Web browser to understand the items as series within an unordered list.]
In any case, recently I think I’ve successfully used bulleted lists in this blog and this fact is, upon reflection, sad. Because bulleted items can be seen as an abbreviated version of a blog itself — because bulleted items are reduced entries of reduced information — a bulleted list is essentially a blog of a blog. There’s nowhere else to go to make things pithier. We’ve arrived at the final sub-atomic state of blog entries.
Of course, one could create a weblog that consists of one word entries, perhaps modified by check-marks, arrows, or some other dingbat. But at that point, the dingbat would be the one writing the damn thing.
Today is Sunday and these are the scattered, boring thoughts going through the head of a generally unscattered individual. Sundays are somehow always filled with these kind of thoughts for me.
- I must finish that educational website as soon as possible. It’s going to be very stylish and I just need time to get the many images properly composed, edited, placed, and styled. I need time. Why the hell am I wasting time writing this?
- New Year’s is coming up and I actually don’t care. Or do I care? No, I don’t care.
- Our closet is packed with cardboard boxes on top of cardboard boxes, and behind them is a vacuum cleaner that needs to be found so that cleaning can be done.
- Tomorrow is Monday and I imagine now that my productivity then won’t be great.
- I just received one of the new series of books that holds all of the early Peanuts comic strips. It should make me feel young or old.
- We’re going to eat latkes tonight with our family and that will be nice and greasy.
We’re now almost half way through the holiday here in Jewishland, which sometimes feels about as remote as the Arctic Circle. In any case, I found a few interesting tidbits about the holiday — some of which are courtesy of my child’s school:
- A Talmudic debate occurred at one point between the schools of Hillel and Shammai. The latter believed that we should light all eight candles and then each day, light one less. Hillel argued for the opposite: light one candle, then two the next night and so on. He won the debate. Chanukah would be a much darker and more deliberate holiday had Shammai won.
- Antiochus Epiphanes was the Hellenic ruler of Syria when the family Maccabee struggled against Greek culture and religion. While today we often glorify the ancient Greeks and their beautiful-looking language and ruins, the nation was once a colony that preyed on its residents like any other hegemon.
- According to Chabad.org, the first time that elephants were used in war was during the Maccabean War.
- My pals at TheGolem.com show Harrison Ford at a Chanukah celebration in New Haven, CT. Who knew? (It’s a spoof.)
It’s sad (and now safe) to say that “blogging” became synonymous with writing political commentary during the lead-up to the 2004 U.S. Presidential campaign.
During the heat of that political fray, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I resented the fact that the major media associated such bloggin’ with right-wing or left-wing online commentators. Now, I think I understand my resentment: for almost ten years, bloggers have created incredible technology, funded it out of the sweat of their own armpits, and created a mass movement of online typists — and the only bloggers that can get street cred are political hacks, some of which happen to be talented writers and journalists. (Nothing against political blogging, but it probably represents only 10% of the “blogosphere.” (I hate that word even more than “blog.”))
In any case, Canada is in the news these days for so many reasons: immigration and emigration, outsourcing, Bush visiting, protests, bookstores coming to America and I came across an excellent resource: Canada’s Best Blogs. Thought I would share.
Merriam-Webster has declared that the most searched term on their site in 2004 is the word “blog.” The top ten list includes a word that I had not heard or read before: “peloton.”
What is the meaning of people looking up the meaning of the word “blog” online? Three possibilities:
- The word “blog” is so incredibly undescriptive that readers need to figure out its derivation, meaning or even pronunciation.
- Blogging is so popular these days (apparently there are now 4.8 million blogs) that newcomers to the word “blog” are curious.
- Bloggers, who are not always the most scrupulous group of folks in history, set up a program to carefully deluge the Merriam-Webster website with requests for the definition of the word “blog.”