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Archive: January 2003

Suppostulatory Arguments

I swore I was going to continue to stay out of the whole sorry mess (after my one post, I mean), but Ian‘s injunction brought the following passage to mind:

“You can prove anything you want by coldly logical reason—if you pick the proper postulates.  We have ours and Cutie has his.”

“Then let’s get at those postulates in a hurry.  The storm’s due tomorrow.”

Powell sighed wearily.  “That’s where everything falls down.  Postulates are based on assumptions and adhered to by faith.  Nothing in the Universe can shake them. I’m going to bed.”

–Isaac Asimov, Reason (1941)

Please note that absolutely no other correlations between the cited story and the situation at hand are intended, and should probably not be inferred.  (Like that will stop anyone.)

Getting Mixed In/Up

Remember the redesign competition I mentioned (along with a lot of other people) a while back?  They’ve announced the prizes up for grabs, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the Grand Prize package includes a copy of Eric Meyer on CSS.  I do have to wonder how much use it will be to someone who can successfully restyle another person’s site with CSS… but hey, no complaints here!  Good luck to all the entrants.

Contrary to what Zeldman has to say, I generally don’t wish I were not writing a book.  When I’m writing a book, I enjoy it because it’s something I like to do and because I wouldn’t have agreed to do it if I weren’t excited about the project.  When I’m not writing a book, I enjoy the time off, but usually get back to the authorial keyboard within six months or so.

Rewriting a book, though… that’s a whole other story, and one with distinctly fewer comedic overtones.  I hate having to revise my own work, because my deep-seated impulse to tinker usually drives down the quality of the text.  The dread spectre of endless revision is tempered by the glimmer of needed new material, but to me, it’s like mixing chocolate syrup into a thick vanilla milk shake: the end result isn’t as awful as it could have been, but Lord, it sure isn’t good.

(It may help your understanding of the previous paragraph to know that I loathe chocolate.  No sympathy is necessary, because believe me, I’m not missing out on anything.  Call to mind a food that you truly despise; something that, if you accidentally got a mouthful, you would instantly spit out and then try to scrape off your tongue.  That’s what chocolate is like for me.  Kat couldn’t be happier, because I never try to steal her dessert.)

Reviewing other people’s work isn’t bad.  I’m currently reviewing two books, and this morning I started getting severe dèjá vu.  The chapters I was reviewing for both books referred to the same sites, and even had screenshots of those sites that were taken on the same day.  I’m about 98% certain it was all just a big coincidence.  Either that or the computers that run the Matrix are getting less creative.

Head Banging

Earlier this afternoon, I was seriously thinking about smashing my forehead through the monitor of my Windows machine.  Why?  I was trying to do some standards-based scripting for IE5.5.  You’d think I’d know better by now, but no.  It’s a very simple little routine, and yet IE5.5 just silently fails at one point for no good reason (and, I’m told, so does IE6).  I have script debugging turned on and it still doesn’t tell me anything.  It just stops the routine.

In another area of the page, I have a block-level element set to 100% the width of its parent element, which is also 100% the width of its parent, with none of them having any margins or padding.  The expected result is that the “innermost” element will be as wide as its parent, and that element as wide as its parent.  Does IE5.5 do this?  Of course not—that would be too easy.  Instead it leaves a roughly-one-em gap to the left.  Oh, and the links in about half the lists simply fail to respond to user interaction of any kind.  The link text becomes plain old ordinary text for no apparent reason.

I’m really beginning to loathe IE/Win.  Sure, sure, NN4.x is worse, but I’ve stopped worrying about how it renders pages (by dint of hiding most styles from it) and I don’t even try to script for it.  Thus IE/Win now occupies the “most unforgivably broken browser” slot in my life.

I should learn not to talk about music until I’ve had a chance to listen to it a few times.  My opinion of Gravity has sharply improved in the past week.  I really started to like it when I told iTunes to always skip track 9.  Gravity still hasn’t grabbed me the way Spiritual Machines did this time last year, but it’s still darned good.

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan in your life is likely to find the Buffy Sex Chart amusing on some level.  I found myself remembering the relationship charts that were drawn up in an attempt to map the emotional landscape of Twin Peaks—which was, let’s admit, only possible if you extended the chart into several more dimensions than the usual three.  I was also reminded of an analysis of the show’s vampire population ecology I spotted recently.  It’s  a population-dynamics paper with equations and graphs and everything, although it’s written specifically to be understandable even if you don’t follow the math.  Now that’s über-geekitude for you.  I love it.

Speaking of television, last night Kat and I saw a commercial for Domino’s Dots™.  These are, it would seem, fried dough balls with cinnamon-sugar coating and a white icing.  They sound like donut holes to me, and they seem like a half-step from the Cinna Stix®, which are themselves a half-step from breadsticks.  So here’s my theory: Domino’s is very slowly evolving into a national-chain version of the typical local neighborhood Italian bakery.

It’s so crazy, it just might work.

Discontinuities

We stayed up with some friends last night to celebrate the discontinuous nature of our culture’s timekeeping, like most of you probably did.  Those of you observing the Gregorian calendar, anyway.  Then I got up at 5:45am to do my radio show and cover the show after mine, since its programmer is out of town.  She covered my Christmas show last week, so it was a fair trade—but boy, are my cells tired right now.

So we kick off another year.  I’m not going to do a “best of the year” thing here, or point to anyone else’s.  Ever forward, and all that.

I do have one small observation, however.  If you’re going to legally change your name to Jack Ass, I’m not sure how you can possibly bring a defamation-of-character suit against anyone, with the bare possible exception of yourself.  Even if you did have some kind of noble reason for making said change, you’re on really, really shaky ground when you claim someone else injured your reputation.

January 2003
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