Monday 13 May 2013

tremolo heroism or darlings of oblivion

Here is a compact and gorgeously executed reflection on the ephemeral hardships, annoyances great and small with a significant license and latitude whose resolution and denouement does not rate, it seems, as the stuff of literary treatment. Film abounds with lucky breaks, some of which could be classified as what Vladimir Nabokov called his “darlings of oblivion,” but they are seldom acknowledged as something plot-forwarding. Minor annoyances make up the surplus of our days, unfortunately, and while those irritations overcome are not really the defining matters. Sometimes what rules the day is nothing savoury or bidden to repeat, despite the fading but all-consuming importance it once demanded. Is there more of a demand to merely relate or commiserate with a book? I don’t know—it seems like what’s ephemeral and overcome, a laundry-list with its associated dirty laundry is something never summarily done away with and still exists as nagging distractions for a faithfully limned character and a species of simplification for the reader. Are such trifles really eliminated and what does it mean if they are?

Saturday 23 February 2013

future-perfect or jam to-morrow

BBC Magazine profiles an interesting study from Yale University’s department of Sociology on the potential connection between the confines of grammar and financial readiness, with likely bonds among the cultural gradients in the spectrum of mores, like hierarchy, collectivism versus individualism, gender equality, etc.
The lead researcher groups all the world’s languages into two classes, one group, which includes English, is marked by a strong shifting of tenses to express action, intentions and wishes that are to take place in the future, covering both the mundane and the inspired, and the other group of languages whose rules of grammar do not make a big distinction between present and future. The difference does not fall strictly among family lines—for example, while in English one must say, “It will snow tomorrow,” auf Deutsch, a close relative, one can say, “Morgen scheint es” with no ambiguity.  European on balance languages seem to have the most formal ways of differentiating time. After large-scale studies on the future-oriented habits of speakers of these different lingual classes, mostly involving savings and retirement but also habits, like exercise and preventative health, that defer rewards for present action, the researcher found a strong correlation between shoring up for one’s future, whether one’s Golden Years or something more immediate though not instantly gratified, among those speakers whose tongue did not really have a separate future tense.

I wonder if there is also some corollary for those complex past-perfect constructions that some languages admit: I would have had already been on the road, had it not been snowing. Some peers in the fields of sociology, economics and linguistics found these conclusions to be specious, but such ideas, daily affirmations in the way grammar may make tomorrow very different from today (I always thought it interesting that in Spanish and German and a lot of close dialects, the word for mor- ning and tomorrow are the same and without causing grave confusion), estranging and currying procrastination.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

commutative property or sixth happiness

Perhaps I was a bit prematurely to dismiss the new year as numerically unremarkable. I heard an India fortuneteller on the radio this morning, prefacing her words and prognostications with the pronouncement that all numbers are indeed lucky, that this year, broken down as 2+0+1+3 yields six, the number of harmony in some circles and duty or domestic relations in others.

Personally, though I don’t buy into this sort of resonance and extra properties of digits wholesale and without reservations, I do often catch myself noticing a four (creation and rebirth) buried in a string of numbers all the time—though I use every mathematical operator I can think of to get to four, mixed multiplication, division along with addition and subtraction. I have notion from somewhere that four was my auspicious number, though I can’t recall what brought me there. I suppose that there would be no harm in it if I have been mistaken all these years and my lucky number turns out to be five instead. Also, when possible, I always try to remit a payment that works out to four, 82,00€, $48.00, £62.00. It is all a bit mad, I’m sure, and I guess a little bit maddening—look! It's a four, but it seems to me that vast outpouring of bills is a pretty flat landscape, dominated by zeroes and ones, and maybe a little packet of good fortune can be wired out as well. It’s a bit like ones choice for postage stamps, when bills were still mailed out, and payments usually were franked with grim and plain stamps, or else a bit of the evil-eye and just the opposite.

Sunday 16 December 2012


Though I feel woefully inadequate to offer relief to the unthinkable tragedies of the headlines and do not want to be another haunting voice to those who suffered loss, especially for those without intermediacy and far-reaching empathy, it is the hard things that sometimes one must do: that the author of the Hunger Games franchise hails from the same small community strikes me as something curious and unexpected. It is surely nothing to detract from the gravity of the situation nor the serious discussions that need to take place in the aftermath, neither is it any condolence or help for healing.
Far from glorifying violence, which I believe the American media unfortunately does with its cause-celeb, striding on the necks of facts to try to be first to get the story without regard for the consequences of inaccurate reporting or of making matinee idol monsters to be understood rather than allow us to contemplate those enduring monsters that we create and tolerate, the stories were an allegory inspired by seeing the same kind of terrible juxtapositions of war and violence and the anodyne chasers of misfit reportage filed under culture and lifestyle and usually for the benefit of sponsorship, the stories were allegories questioning the same kind of spectacle and of the horrors that go unseen by institutions and estate.  Redressing injustice is not a matter entertained due to customs imbued. Shield laws are in place for other crimes, meant to stave off premature incrimination and allow the law to pass judgment before the media and public has already decided, and though there is no innocence to protect or peace to be recaptured in such cases, maybe allegory for the outside world is a better format in order to avoid the vicious trap of fame. These terrors need to be seen and should be consigned to history, but the unfiltered unfolding of events and hastily assembled biographies and backstories do not help law enforcement and responders once broadcast, and I fear only serve to propagate that awful virus of twisted, angry logic when all involved become instant and intimate characters on the world’s stage that the audience is keen to analyze and interpret.

Friday 17 August 2012


Apparently the typeface Baskerville is one of the more comforting and believable in the font kingdom, even if just barely so. Maybe all job and university applications, rรฉsumรฉs, curricula vitรฆ will be appearing in classic, transition font from now on for claiming that slight edge. Heretofore, I can’t think of any corporate logos or brand identity that uses Baskerville either—for that matter. Perhaps the trust element is in its quiet novelty, something just a toe over the familiar and instantly recognizable.

Thursday 9 August 2012


Lest we forget, our friendly anti-terrorism office sent out a message recently that August is Anti-Terrorism Awareness month and we are admonished to be ever-vigilant and that it was also a perfect occasion to review and renew annual mandatory training requirements.

August, additionally, is Cataract, Psoriasis, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness and Audio, Goat Cheese and Panini Appreciation (according to one’s communion, I guess) Month. What inspired collusion results in such a horrendous and random patronage? The terror bit is especially disconcerting, I think, because I guess the message is not such a subtle reminder that had we always remained ever on guard, suspect and omnipresent, the events following in September may never have happened. Such a sentiment seems rather sorry and insulting, considering all the theatre and duplicity that’s imposed unchecked but very easily and beyond reproach justified and indoctrinated in all our everyday activities. Is it a resilient or circumspect thing to accept and cower to a thousand small tactics affecting freedoms of movement and one’s privacy that certainly are far-removed from peace and reconciliation—or even from triangulation and appreciation of the broader connections? Reminders of the patent and obvious are only cues, become ornamental as the rest of the theatre syndicate, even if the time of the year has been appropriated too to recall or foreshadow things to come.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

nickled and dimed or be gone dull care

Summer recesses and vacation opportunities, depending on the culture of course, I think have always muted financial developments. It is, however, rather eerily quiet right now, and not maybe the driving forces, rather than those that have to deal with the consequences, are on holiday. Still, underlying conditions have not improved or set in the right direction and plans are going unattended without even follow-on debate or discussion. Perhaps less meddling is called for in order to separate the real from the virtual market, but still America is without a budget with an economy buoyed momentarily by turbulence and expecting yet another round of so called quantitative easing and the bargaining and coping of an election that may see drastic cuts to the social safety net, and Greece is primed to renegotiate its financial aide and stake its membership in the eurozone on the good graces of its neighbours.
Toil and trouble never take a holiday and I wonder if the hiatus from the attention and worry from the usual hyperbolic and gloomy headlines and analysis is to purpose: the prophecies of doom are inuring, lulling and desensitizing and can be by such cycles suspended or overcome before they cry Wolf. The driving forces probably need the support of a labour and spending pool prone to anticipate such drama, because I suspect that a dramatic crisis is not deferred otherwise, creeping and leisurely at a vacationer's pace and not with the expected and wanted clarity of disaster.

Friday 6 July 2012

instructions to applicant

What an obscure thing to commit to paper, and what a bizarre punishment for those born under the sign of 87. I wonder what old legacy programming subroutine is triggered with this magic number. It’s like the legal fictions, which vary greatly by jurisdiction, for people born on a 29 February, which I imagine could get people in quite a bind and might only be remedied by a telefax addressed to somewhere on some other time continuum. These systems, which justify more than a few jobs by continuing to refuse to communicate with one another and require a translator and arbitrator, are not the most navigable and produce as much red-tape as the bureaus and agencies that the sustain. I wonder, though, if anyone has bothered to compile the surprising snatches of poetry in unappreciated bureaucratic boilerplate. Some passages are untouchable and have survived updates and revisions to regulations, like one of my favourite sections that includes “notorious misconduct off-duty—with regard to off-duty conduct, all employees have an obligation to conduct themselves so that no disgrace or disrepute will be visited on the Department of the Army” as a primary cause for dismissal—very non-committal and open-ended and probably a guildline that would defy being stated any other way.

Thursday 7 June 2012

overseas telegram

Here’s a bit of typically nannying that strikes me like those Friday afternoon conscientious bureaucrat emergencies that necessarily wait until just before quitting-time and the weekend because to be unburdened and shared freely because it took the problem-holder all week to perfect it:

in a startling announcement, the culmination of some prancing concern and worse-case-scenario research that began back in 2007, the United States Postal Service, not the most agile and fleet-footed government entity even discounting strictures and operational model, has announced the ban on sending lithium batteries in the mail, extending at least over the holiday season and the beginning of next year, should contingencies and controls be in place. The electronics industry is outraged, although some meekly suggest that the ban is not completely without merit, since cellular phones, computers, navigation devices, watches, and hundreds of other little accessories are powered by such batteries, at times embedded and not so easily removed after manufacturing. Private shipping companies and contract couriers will still be able to post in- and out-going lithium batteries, which with the above, makes the decision seem completely arbitrary and misinformed, like the eager gloom of security theatre, since I imagine as cargo in boats and airplanes or in the bays of post offices, USPS and the packages of other companies are not segregated. Under extreme conditions or when poorly manufactured, there is a small risk of batteries catching fire or exploding in transit—but also I suppose at rest, on the shelf, in use, in Pago Pago or Novosibirsk and could be any hazardous or innocuous, randomly chosen, from substance Businesses and the national postal service will surely lose out over loss of volume and the effort associated with renegotiating carriers, not counting lost sales opportunities in the chaos or the large number of American expatriates living and working overseas. I hope that Royal Mail, Deutsche Post, and other rogue carriers do not mend their wayward ways, but such restrictions could possibly inspire electronics manufactures to invent new accoutrements that are powered by fear or by farce, which would still be hard-pressed to avoid end-of-the-day disasters.

Monday 28 May 2012


Some weeks ago it was suggested that the United States will expand (turn inward) its vigourous disinformation and propaganda operations to help sway domestic opinion. There mere hint of more government sanctioned red-herrings diluting journalism—especially when the mainstream and most hard-hittingest comes pre-fabricated in the forms of internet research, stock-photographs and sponsored articles (take the case of the on-going tumult of confusion in Syria, for example)—has met the requirement and served up a hopeless dose of distrust without doing anything further. To bring the level of skepticism this high effectively negates the public’s ability to rally around any cause (or any health-conscious person or stock-market croupier for that matter), since one is not just looking at stance, ideology and motivation with a suspicious eye, which was always advisable, but now has cause also to doubt the veracity of the movement itself. It is as if Anonymous or any protest group is not just prone to infiltration but could be nothing more than a strawman of stuffed-ballots and a colossal toolbox of popular sentiment. To bait the public with such hoaxes is the censoring of the word gullible from the dictionary but puts conspiracy into everything once there is no way of verifying trustworthy sources.

Monday 21 May 2012

sock puppet or propagaะ˜da

Bundled and buried within the US omnibus defense bill is a rather unassuming rider that would overturn protections for the American public from being subjected to disinformation campaigns by the government and the military. Proponents of this language argue that past measures, which came into force after World War II and a bit ahead of the Red Scare, makes for ineffective diplomatic correspondence in demanding a measure of accuracy in message and reporting, and the success of propaganda used on terrorists in foreign lands is too promising and ought not to be squandered on domestic audiences. I suppose now it might be even more of a challenger to discern the hype from the distraction and truth, half-true from the total fabrication.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

aberglaube or friggatriskaidekaphobia

The superstition and fear surrounding Friday, the 13th seems much abused, like a hypochondriac’s frenzy or made-up disorders and diseases installed for purposes of pill-pushing—or even feuding among werewolves and vampires and hybrids. While it probably is contrived and a very modern invention (with no clear evidence before the mid nineteenth century) the individual elements of Friday and the number thirteen have associations with bad luck. Friday, though certainly not universally, is shunned as a inauspicious day for beginning voyages by sailors for many other professional ventures and Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Thirteen is awkward numerologically speaking, especially as it is the perfection, completeness-motif of twelve, plus one: at the Last Supper, Judas was the thirteenth guest; in the Nordic pantheon, the mischievous Loki was the thirteenth god; there are twelve chief Olympian gods—twelve houses of the zodiac, twelve tribes of Israel and twelve legatees of Mohammed in the Shi’a tradition. Superstitions (Aberglaube), folklore in a modern currency, make for strange juxtapositions and embellished and abstracted do much to reinforce our own capricious behaviour.

Thursday 15 March 2012

rico sUAVe

Ruben Bolling who writes the uncomfortably true Tom the Dancing Bug series over at Boing Boing perfectly captures the off-putting dissonance behind the latest by-products of the war on terrorism, which is now turning back on itself--like the Ouroboros, the archetypal symbol of the snaking consuming itself and which ought to be the badge for this whole mission--in a helpful pamphlet. I found it most hard to understand how an individual with a background in constitutional law (Verfassungsrecht) could possibly, not under duress, let such conclusions and interpretations have free reign. There must be some horrendous goods and rank majesty out there to persuade those in power and in the public to suffer such a stance so lightly.  I like the pamphlet’s suggestion, for those equally confused, to write an essay about it which the CIA will grade after the thought criminals are dispatched with, but the whole subject, reality outstripping satire, is not so much conducive to humour.

Tuesday 6 March 2012


On certain slow news days, when the headlines are dominated by pageantry, corrections, retractions, revisitations and pro forma events, I wonder if there is not some sort of viral persuasion for disengagement and even repulsion in circulation among mainstream media outlets. This anti-news is a confirmed and competent school of journalism, it seems, and latches on to the day’s events with a subtle and ingenious mechanism to distract and dissuade. Such reporting is not of the opportunist variety, taking advantage of gladiatorial games or easy-chair terrorization to obscure substantive stories, but something else—something insidious and lulling enough to cause the public to take leave of that estate. Focus is not magnification, and as bad as the idleness that can be inspired through misinformation or omission is, the idolatry is even more dangerous.

Monday 27 February 2012

meet and seat or strangers on a train

A European airline has a new pilot program for its passengers, which invites solitary fliers to pick their seatmates based on their social- and business-networking profiles for long-haul flights.

Apparently there have been certain cliques of frequent-fliers that have tried something similar in the past, and I suppose the idea behind it is to deflect an unwelcome chatty companion or colicky baby without having to be rude, or perhaps pair people with similar interests and backgrounds, but I really don't know what to make of this voluntary screening and choice. There is certainly more to learn about a stranger that is not part of his on-line presence, and maybe some back-story would make transoceanic conversation quicker to come about, but it takes down some of the better and more developed social barriers when it seems one could interact with their profile on the video screen of the seatback in front, rather than get to know, politely ignore, or help the person right next to him or her. Fate and chance can bring one books, movies and bargains, as well, but the skills that it takes to meet people make the seemingly random more meaningful. It's as if the more traditional ways of human-interface (without some digital overlay, a gel for spotlight) are becoming too novel in their straightforwardness, but I am sure that communication and the adventure of widening one's social-circle will outlast gimmicks and layered shyness.

Sunday 26 February 2012

long winter’s nap

BBC's news magazine is drawing on a body of evidence, anecdotal, historic and scientific, which strongly suggests that convention wisdom regarding sleep may be a very modern contrivance and something unnatural and possibly something that we are not ideally suited for. Rather than sequestering oneself for a solid, uninterrupted and sacrosanct period of eight hours, which does seem like an awfully lofty and impractical demand, mankind through most of its history had distinct periods of sleeping and waking during the night, a segmented sleep.

It, I imagine, is difficult to research what was considered standard practice and common-knowledge, but sociologists have found all sorts of references in literature, liturgy and medical guides that before the inversions of the industrial revolution, which ironically gave people more to do nocturnally but also put a premium on peoples' time. Personally, I usually make do with less than this attested eight hours of sleep, and as a rule, I would find myself waking at two or three o’clock. Generally, I was frozen in place, just longing to go back to sleep. Surely this nighttime brush with panic was not a healthy impression and would probably carry over into the daytime with more serious repercussions than being simply tired. I figured it did not matter much if I had had a restless sleep, since I was surely not alone with this touch of insomnia, and it seems more of a disservice to one’s well-being to worry over sleeplessness. I am not sure what agents of the Sandman made segmented sleep unfashionable and even feared, but I should not, I guess, be content with staring in the darkness, stock-still, if I wake in the night. After all, that second sleep is always more refreshing and rewarding than the first.

Saturday 28 January 2012

plagerize, bowdlerize

It was not as if the activistas and the internet community was too busy running a premature victory-lap on putting off the votes on SOPA and PIPA not to notice, the matter was simply not being covered by the media and could not compete for anyone's attention it until it signatures were already penned, and without much debate, protest or bother twenty-two EU member states along with Mexico and Japan chose, in authoritarian style, to join America's Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a treaty which contains many of the same entertainment-industry engineered provisions and much of the same language as SOPA and PIPA. The spirit of the law, at least as it is being portrayed to signatories that needed little convincing, has merit for commerce but endangers freedoms, and at odds with existing and enforced national policies, raises the spectre of censorship. Those few who were aware of this unilateral decision did voice their concerns: there were rallies on the streets of Poland and some representatives in Poland’s national donned Anonymous, Guy Fawkes masks in protests.
That the people had no voice but will be the ones enforcing and working within the framework of the law is nearly as big of an affront as any of the bad policies it contains. The treaty will not come into effect until it is passed by the EU Parliament in June, and the parliamentarian formerly negotiating the treaty resigned his post in protest over the character of the treaty, the secretive lobby and that no regular citizens had any input. In related developments, another social-networking service has agreed, in order to continue operations internationally, to comply with redacting notices at government request. This is tragic news, especially for one of the facilitators and moderators of the revolutions of the Arab Spring to bow to oppression, but they had little choice. Perhaps, however, as bad as it is, all is not lost: approaching threats of censorship more systematically than has been done by others forced to comply, the blacked-out content will not just be elided but obviously censored and only within country, not to the world, and all redacted items and the take-down requests will be archived in a clearing-house that fights for freedom of expression. Faced with the unsavory task of unpublishing uprisings, no other service has gone so far to ensure the censors will be held to account.

Thursday 26 January 2012


Just recently, European Union courts have ruled that individuals have the right to be forgotten (DE), to truly have their auto-biographies expunged from the internet--at least, what people have contributed themselves to social-networking sites. It would not be feasible to have one's record totally cleared, but hosts of the bigger gatherings are obliged to remove, retaining no copy, remove material at the user's request, for instance, old images from parties that might prove embarrassing or incriminating, regrettable and untoward announcements or opining or one's entire profile, although there is a definite persistence of memory given all the connections that one forms with automatic gestures, fast and deep. Lethe was one of the legendary rivers of the Underworld of Greek myth, and to drink of its waters helped the recently arrived to forget and lose some of the sting associated with no longer being among the living, and according to some traditions, the forgetting waters that ensured reincarnated souls could not recall their past lives. Ownership of one's personal and private memories is an essential part of one's selfhood, but there are times when one does need to dull and filter recollections (verbatim memory of the wonderful, banal and the debilitatingly mortifying) with some selectivity in order to function, and it would be equally torturous to know that our imperfect memories would always be bailed out by such a permanent and unwavering record.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

dash, pinch, grain

There is apparently a modest proposal circulating on the internet, which touches everything from credible sources to social-engineering to censorship to Orwellian thoughtcrime, and it is difficult to dissect the tone and earnestness but I think the suggestion that major search engines should either filter out or at least warn gentle-readers when they come across a website espousing fringe- or conspiracy-theories or pseudo-science has to be a provoking gadfly to raise all sorts of debate and get those debaters engaged. After all, who would be determining the criteria that would earn content an almost universal and discrediting label? The internet, beyond ensuring free-exchange of archival knowledge and new experimentation and even assertion, with or without suffering the rigours of the scientific method or peer-review, also is good at creating an environment that incubates such alternatives, perpetuating them and allowing others with similar convictions and suspicions to find one other. Whether confirming and reinforcing the "false" beliefs of another is a dangerous or irresponsible thing for adult and literate advocates and detractors alike should not be taken away from the individual, of course, and ought not be a matter for the facilitators (the search engines) to condone or condemn either. The printing industry was not expected to police the more outrageous tabloids and most were still able to raise the appropriate level of skepticism or curiosity while waiting on queue for the super-market checkout. Beliefs, mainstream or not, about the environment, diet and nutrition, vitamins, water-purification would not be the only matters subject to labels, but someone with sufficient passion to be assured that any other point-of-view is wrong and a risk to public-safety could extend uniformity to matters of politics and even religion too.

Wednesday 18 January 2012


Yesterday marked the beginning of the internet's hour of desperate need, and I hope that the exposure and message sent reaches its intended audience. The vote, and perhaps subsequent hearings and challenges, however, is just a formal codification of the shady dealings that are happening in regimes the world over to silence the voice of dissent. The same champions of this current legislation shut-down Wikileaks as revelations were unfolding furiously and with the same attitude (but not with the same gravity, yet) as the dictators that tried to stop the uprisings of the Arab Spring. Though it is not the only insidious facet of the bills revealed, one major complaint of websites is the expected burden of policing every link, every tangent of what they post and of what they host, with criminal consequences for non-compliance. Most websites, fearful of litigation, will just give up or become expatriates, though there is probably not much of a margin for escaping.  
There is additionally the potential for oligopoly on the internet by a few media sources and, by extension, the chance to regulate the flow of misinformation.  The internet is just a series of tubes, but it is also a medium that is free and open and patched together by architects that do not suffer being bound by red-tape.  It seems to me that for whatever reason, possibly thrashing out against loss of power or prestige, the US government or its minders have taken to a new strategy when it comes to getting their way: a convoluted, byzantine legal support structure that places a Sisyphean labour on the public at large, like this obligation to make sure all ones commentary is copacetic or the reporting requirements of the US Internal Revenue Service imposed on foreign banks that would make them shun American clients (and investments) over the paperwork and administrative costs involved.  Just as if the government were serious about generating tax revenue, they would make businesses pay their fair share, SOPA and PIPA will not be effective in curbing piracy and copyright violations by "foreign rogue sites."  Maybe the Super Powers are expecting the rabble to do their patrolling, under threat of torture, or maybe these policies, which no one even bothers reading in full, are hopelessly complex by design, wearying one into submission.