Although I have done it all these thirty years or more, although I live my life surrounded by other people who are always doing it, still I think that there are few activities so worthy of inspection as the reading of novels.
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READIN started out as a place for me
to keep track of what I am reading, and to learn (slowly, slowly)
how to design a web site.
There has been some mission drift
here and there, but in general that's still what it is. Some of
the main things I write about here are
listening to (and playing) music, and
watching the movies. Also I write about the
work I do with my hands and with my head; and of course about bringing up Sylvia.
The site is a bit of a work in progress. New features will come on-line now and then; and you will occasionally get error messages in place of the blog, for the forseeable future. Cut me some slack, I'm just doing it for fun! And if you see an error message you think I should know about, please drop me a line. READIN source code is PHP and CSS, and available on request, in case you want to see how it works.
Matthew's posting of an article about fonts at Google+ reminds me that I have not posted yet about the recent typeface change at READIN -- partly or mostly out of the conviction that it is not the sort of thing that would make any difference to anybody who is not me... But what are blogs for if not stuff that would make no difference to anybody but the author?
Lately I have been writing everything (everything I write on the computer that is not code) in Palatino Linotype, and finding that it is much easier on the eyes than any other typeface I have tried. (I do not love the numerals; but most of what I write in non-programming contexts is alpha characters.) So I modified the site's stylesheet to specify that typeface name as the primary choice; if you have the face installed (and it seems to be pretty standard-issue), that's how the site should render.
Giovambattista Palatino was an Italian calligrapher of the 16th C., who in 1556 wrote a manual of lettering styles. Hermann Zapf is a German typeface designer of the 20th C., who in 1948 named a set of faces after Sig. Palatino.
New cave paintings have been discovered at the Caves of Nerja in Andalusia, a system of caverns "discovered by a group of boys hunting bats in 1959." Although this is not yet confirmed, initial carbon dating of the images (left, a painting of the seals which the cave-dwellers hunted) indicates they are approximately 43,000 years old, or nearly half again as old as the images at Chauvet. Researcher José Luis Sanchidrián Torti (of the University of Córdoba) speculates they may be the work of Neanderthals. (A Facebook commenter points out that this would be appropriate, given the Neanderthal nature of Spain's contemporary justice system.) Thanks for the link, Rob!
My father built a time machine and then he spent his whole life trying to figure out how to use it to get more time. He spent all the time he had with us thinking about how he wished he had more time, if he could only have more time.
Time-travel paradoxes and jokes are one of my favorite things in science fiction. Today I started reading Charles Yu's first novel, How to live safely in a science fictional universe, which is looking in its early pages like it is going to be an extended time-travel paradox/joke, and a hilarious one. And not just that, also a character study, what looks like it will be a successful one -- I am identifying closely with the narrator and his quest to "relive his very worst moment, over and over," to "go back and fix his broken life."
(Continuing in this year's theme of re-readings:) A correspondent has gotten me back interested in Domingo Zárate Vega and The Art of Resurrection. This is the frontspiece to the book, a pastoral letter written on the 25th of February, 1931, by the bishop of La Serena, José María Caro; in my own rough/not-fully-coherent translation (original at Casa del Libro):
Dear children of Our Lord:
What has been transpiring among you has filled with grief your bishop's heart.
A poor demented man presents himself among you -- one like those who fill our madhouses; and the faithful (I include in this adjective all those who go to church and who comply with their religion, fulfill their sacred duties) have received him as God's messenger, as the Messiah himself, no less, and have made themselves his apostles, his flock.
And meanwhile the faithful -- the judicious, the educated faithful -- have been tolerating this scandal, this blasphemy, tolerating mockery from these faithless maniacs; whose meanness of consciousness seizes any occasion to display its own lack of taste, lack of discretion, of appreciation for the things and people most worthy of universal respect and veneration... How can such a thing have happened -- how can such a hallucination be contagious? Our Lord has permitted it as a punishment for some one and as a humiliation for many.
We are all sensible enough to tell when someone else is in his right mind and when he has lost it. If among you, some poor campesino stood up and claimed in all seriousness, to be the King of England, if he surrounded himself with ministers (like such a king), and wore a special gown to show his office... Is there anyone among you, even a single one, who would not see the madness such a poor man was suffering from? Wouldn't it be the same if he claimed to be Our Holy Father?
And yet there are those among you who do not recognize his madness, because he claims to be not a person of this world, but nothing less than King of Kings and Lord of Lords himself. I repeat myself, our madhouses are full of just such things... Will any one among you let himself be led by the hallucinations of such a madman?
I pray that you, you who have suffered before this spectacle, will assist with your charity, with your prayers and with your counsels in ridding us of this contagious madness.
I ask, for the love of God and of one's brother, the love that we all must bear, I ask that you do everything, with your parish in mind, devote every force to keeping from this danger those who might fall into it, and to bringing back those who have been lost to this madness.
I hope, besides this, that when the authorities come to understand this evil, as I have demonstrated it to you, they will bring some remedy, will separate this danger from us all.
I wish you peace and felicity in Our Lord.
José María Caro
Caro Rodríguez would later be named (by Pius Ⅻ) Archbishop of Santiago and a Cardinal of the Catholic church, the first Chilean Cardinal. I could swear I saw a better translation of this letter somewhere, when I was first reading The Art of Resurrection. But am forgetting where now, or by whom.
Parecido a las otras utilizaciones de los labios y las manos, como sonreír, acariciar, enfurruñarse y pegar puñetazos, el ruido vocal hace enlaces entre la gente que desean o necesitan ser conectado -- para el apoyo reciproco o para establecer la jerarquía o para declarar la hostilidad, por ejemplo. Así vemos que la canguro que hace monerías al niño realiza un acción lingüistica similar en general al escolar ambicioso que me saluda con un tono ascendente en la última sílaba del «Good morning, sir.» Y si esas acciónes sean comunicaciones, entonces necesitamos redefinir la comunicación: no como la transmisión entre A y B de estados mentales, menos aún como la transmisión de «informaciones», sino como la establecimiento, el refuerzo, la modificación de relaciones interpersonales del momento. Y sería mejor decir, no es comunicación, sino lenguaje. El lenguaje es una manera humana de relacionar a otros seres humanos.
El cuento de Babel se equivoca: el uso primordial del discurso humano fue más probable ser diferente, no el mismo.
(Update as of Saturday): We played the set through tonight and it took just about one hour. If we do everything the same speed on Thursday and without any screw-ups (there were a couple tonight which stretched the set out slightly), we will probably have space to play one more song, which will probably be NJ Transit.