Older blog entries for rachel (starting at number 66)

9 Oct 2001 (updated 9 Oct 2001 at 19:45 UTC) »
Moonbase University is holding its second session at 7pm this Thursday night, at Cellspace, on 2050 Bryant Street in the Mission. Dr Peter Cheeseman of NASA Ames will be giving a talk on artificial intelligence. Our first session - on space exploration, and also featuring Peter - was great. Drop by if you're in the neighborhood.

"The ancients decorated their sarcophagi with symbols of life and procreation, some of them even obscene. For the ancients, in fact, the sacred and the obscene were very often one and the same. Those people knew how to honor death. Death is to be honored as the cradle of life, the womb of renewal. Once separated from life, it becomes grotesque, a wraith - or even worse. For as an independent spiritual power, death is a very depraved force, whose wicked attractions are very strong and without doubt can cause the most abominable confusion of the human mind."

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, translated by John E. Woods.

Auden, towards the end of his life, repudiated the poem I quoted from last week. "The reason (artistic) I left England and went to the US was precisely to stop writing poems like "Sept 1st 1939", the most dishonest poem I have ever written," he said. "A hang-over from the UK. It takes time to cure oneself." And: "If, by memorability, you mean a poem like "Sept 1st 1939", I pray to God that I shall never be memorable again."

Oh well.

The Onion has excelled itself.

26 Sep 2001 (updated 26 Sep 2001 at 01:08 UTC) »

So my baby brother Alain turned 32 yesterday. 32! The fact is, people are always as old as they were when I first met them, so that Jeremy is permanently 24, and Kay will never be older than 10, and Alain is 19 months old. We're practically twins.

He's wanted a proper American football for ages, and I tried to buy one from the online NFL store last year, and they screwed me around, so I didn't. So no link for them. Anyway, I was at the Seybold keynote this morning, and after I'd finished absorbing fun facts about Apple (10.1 looks pretty slick), I went into Copeland's Sports on Market and demanded the finest football money could buy.

It was really expensive. But it's pretty fine. It's a Wilson, which is good, apparently, and it's made out of dead pig; also good, I'm told. "Designed for the serious competitor/professional" it warns, in a handsome navy font on cardboard of beaten gold. "To revitalize tacky grip, buff with a stiff brush." Words to live by.

I'm planning to be in Queensland in January, so I'll give it to him then. I thought about keeping it as a surprise, but then, you know, I thought better of it. So I called. Yay, international telecommunications. I love how you can just punch in a number and be talking to your brother 13000km away.

"To revitalize tacky grip, buff with a stiff brush," I told him.

"You bought me a blow-up doll!" he cried in glee.

It's the right football!

"It's sitting on my desk, quietly glowing," I said.

"That's what it'll do when I get it," he said. "Except I'll make a few passes."

"Oh you can't play with it. It's way too good."

"Only indoors," said Alain.


Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

NOT, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist -- slack they may be -- these last strands of man
In me or, most weary, cry: 'I can no more.' I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

They're called fire devils.

Customer (deliberately): Have you in fact got any Linux systems here at all?

Owner: Yes, sir.

Customer: Really?


Owner: No. Not really, sir.

Customer: You haven't.

Owner: No, sir. Not a scrap. I was deliberately wasting your time, sir.

(How long till VA changes its name? Answers on a scrap of cheese.)

Customer: Well I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to shoot you.

Owner: Right-oh, sir.

(The customer takes out a gun and shoots the owner.)

Customer: What a senseless waste of human life.

We're using Wiki for our Burning Man postmortem. Boy, is it ever super-cool.

If any of you Spock Mountain Research Lab types are out there, can I buy you beers and pick your brains on gray water reclamation?

Sorry to everyone I didn't see at the show. On Tuesday I was going quietly mad, so I wrote everything up, packed the car and was in Black Rock City by moonrise Wednesday.

Still there in spirit.

27 Aug 2001 (updated 27 Aug 2001 at 19:56 UTC) »
"Women aren't human, Bill. Or perhaps, more precisely, they're a different species than men, with different wills and different purposes on Earth. You know this instinctively, Bill, and it's your instincts that make you such a good operative."

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