Archive for January, 2011


Ideal vs. Material

If anyone read the review of Irving Kristol’s posthumous collection of essays The Neoconservative Persuasion, they may have also noticed the strict line that neoconservatism draws between the dynamics of the material world and the “moral” and “religious” considerations. It never occurred to me before, but it seems like a great number of the larger ideological debates of the modern era can be drawn along these lines. To quote from the review, most of Kristol’s essays

add up to an extended tirade against American liberalism, which I think should figure as still another of neoconservatism’s principles — the largest and most energetic principle of all, judging by the evidence here. The tirade rested on two main inspirations, neither of which can be dismissed out of hand. Kristol repeatedly argued that American liberalism, in its domestic programs, has relied on a parched and narrow vision of human nature, which attributes too much importance to material conditions and not enough to moral and religious considerations.

Such dogmatism and rabid anti-materialist sentiments (in both the capitalist and the philosophical senses of the word), of course, are the cornerstones of modern American religion, and the dogmatism, at least, carries over to the American right. It’s not outlandish that American religion and conservatism make for such wonderful bedfellows.

The main sticking point for me, the one thing I cannot get past, is this reactionary attempt to deny what is so obviously true about the world: things change quickly and dogmatic rules prove to be inadequate to them as soon as they’re printed or typed. What’s so bad about admitting this fact and trying to deal with it rather than taking the conservative path by closing one’s eyes, plugging one’s ears, and yelling as loudly as possible. Wanting to believe something doesn’t make it true, and attempting to strong-arm materialist (or realist) considerations in the name of morals, dogmas, and static, proscriptive ideals won’t make it go away.

That this is an accepted and acceptable route is something I just cannot fathom.


Commute 01-30-11




Horn Tooting

So this is brag-time. It’s a big day for the residents of little old Ghost Island. You see, Erinrose and I decided to make this book, and then Sean Higgins and Jesse Malmed both contributed texts to it, and then so did 60 other really wonderful writers and all of the sudden it is today and our book is a real complete book. It is The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature, an anthology of blurbs for books that exist only in that non-space of the potential.

Not only that, we like it.

Here is where you can (read: should, please) get yourself a personal copy:

Question: Is it really own-horn-tooting when you are an editor and you are saying that other people gave you awesome things? Regardless:I am tooting someone’s horn and tooting loud because I am damn proud of this little book.

Here’s a picture:

And PS: If you buy it I will make a drawing for you. It will probably be of a monster eating another monster, plus some kind of glob-figure with birds and teeth and hearts.


Evolution of Hue in bmp>gif>bmp>gif (2x) around a pole

Here’s a short animation I made showing how the .gif algorithm deals with approximations of colors that fall outside its palette.


Food Blogging

Ralph’s restaurant in Philadelphia is the oldest family-owned Italian restaurant in the country. It is in a small room with half-tiled walls and a lot of great old wallpaper and the most tables per square foot of any restaurant I know. This makes it a strange echo chamber gossip room.

I learned all about a ski vacation, I saw cowboys or would-be cowboys, I heard about wedding preparations and also the Eagles game. It was a box of voices.

I ate lasagna. It was as big as my face and served in a bowl.

Ralph’s only takes cash, just like when they started over 100 years ago. The recipes, apparently, also date from 1900.

What you should do is take out some money and a tape recorder and make a record there. I would like a record of quiet humming at Ralph’s while waiting for food. I would like to listen to that record.

‘Ralph’ is also a slang term meaning to vomit. For example: I ate so much Ralph’s I nearly ralphed.

January 2011