28 janeiro 2005

Un enlace al cortometraje español de Nacho Vigalondo nominado a los Oscars 2005:
7:35 de la mañana
[en una página francesa con subtítulos en francés]
[otro enlace al vídeo sin subtítulos]

27 janeiro 2005

Bitácora @ Home - Jan 27th, 2005:

Watching: My Life Without Me - Mi vida sin mi
Sob escuta: Pixies - Wave of Mutilation
: Slawomir Mrozek - El Árbol

Candles at a loading ramp for the former German railway company Deutsche Reichsbahn in Berlin.

60th Anniversary

26 janeiro 2005

After 130 years of typing the same way the keyboard has finally grown up. New Standard Keyboards of Santa Maria, California announced "alphabetical" keyboard that offers user-friendly benefits and quick data entry for any level user. New Standard Keyboards debuted a patented USB-interface computer keyboard at CES 2005. This keyboard has just 53-keys and offers many advances over QWERTY and DVORAK designs.

The New Standard Keyboard is a bold departure from current designs and will compete directly with standard QWERTY models as a replacement keyboard for users who value user-friendliness over arbitrary standardization. The keyboard has only 53 keys instead of 101 or more, which places them all within easy reach of the home position. It also takes up much less desk space, measuring just 12.5-inches wide x 5 inches deep x 1-inch thick.

The New Standard Keyboard solves all the problems associated with QWERTY, which was used on the first commercially produced typewriter in 1873. Ironically, QWERTY was actually designed to slow down the typist to prevent jamming the keys, and we’ve been stuck with that layout since. While QWERTY was great in its day, it’s not relevant on a computer. Computer keys can be placed in any order desired. After 130 years most people still use a keyboard layout specifically designed to be as inefficient as possible. New Standard Keyboards is changing that.

Many have attempted to build a better keyboard. The Dvorak keyboard of the 1930's is the most famous. It never caught on because the demand was for user-friendliness (it still is). People want instant gratification. Dvorak’s jumbled letters look no better than QWERTY, and no-one wants to buy anything that has a significant learning curve just to reach a low level of hunt and peck! Dvorak also overlooked ergonomics and his design retained the crippling key layout that forces the left wrist into a grossly unnatural position.

Those who value user-friendliness over standardization and demand attention to ergonomics will love the New Standard Keyboard…

This 53-key alphabetical-oriented keyboard with USB support for IBM-compatible systems is a long–awaited solution to the QWERTY keyboard problem, which has confounded typists for 130 years, according to New Standard Keyboards.

The keyboard is the invention of John Parkinson, an electrical engineer who also holds a degree in psychology with an emphasis on industrial psychology and ergonomics. Parkinson set up training programs in a typewriter factory prior to branching off to develop the New Standard Keyboard, which has earned patents in the USA and UK.

The keys are arranged alphabetically so there is no learning curve for hunt and peck typists as well as senior citizens who have never had a computer because they are challenged by the difficult basic keyboard. The keyboard can be learned at a glance, and differs from other manufacturers attempts at alphabetical-based designs because it is also efficient for high speed typing.

The New Standard Keyboard has several functional and ergonomic advantages over QWERTY keyboards, which Parkinson believes will make it a desired accessory for new system buyers and those wishing to upgrade or update their keyboard.

The advantages include: the alignment of the keys with natural movements of fingers to insure proper posture while typing; alphabetical letters can be easily found and keys are color-coded; all keys can be easily reached from the home position; shift keys are centralized and shift characters can be easily typed one-handed; editing keys are integrated; the keyboard has a smaller footprint, which allows the mouse to be placed right next to the typing keys; and there are only half as many keys to learn.

The New Standard Keyboard also eliminates the “typing on concrete” feel experienced on many laptops and the “mushy” feel of some desktop keyboards. Parkinson’s design uses a new, short-travel key (2mm) that has its snap point very early in the travel distance to produce a positive click action with minimal finger movement while still providing a softer feel.

The New Standard Keyboard will be sold to distributors and resellers and has a suggested retail price of $69.95. It is compatible with all systems running Microsoft Windows 95 and above. It will ship in April 2005.

[No matter how fast we type with this, it looks too Fisher-Price to me. From Tech-Blog.org]

25 janeiro 2005

Idea to embrace:
(if I could afford any diamond I would rather spend my money elsewhere)

Yes, diamonds are forever. But even the most expensive, sparkling ad campaign has never been able to put a sheen on one of the guiltiest of our guilty pleasures. The legacy from this most dazzling of earth's creations is a dark one indeed.
Cecil Rhodes, the infamous British imperialist and business magnate who founded the De Beers Mining Co., exploited tribal relationships in order to gain control of the South Africa diamond deposits in the late 19th century; he later became a key figure in the establishment of apartheid South Africa. Battles have been fought over the gemstones; during the 1990s, diamonds fueled the civil war in Angola, and further diamond-related conflicts have raged in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most recently, the London human rights organization Global Witness described how the terrorist network al-Qaida infiltrated the diamond trade to raise funds for al-Qaida operatives and to launder significant sums of money. (To the diamond industry's relief, the 9/11 Commission Report played down this claim.) Since the 1970s, India has been cutting and polishing very small diamonds for export, but suspicions have arisen that Indian children have been doing more than their fair share of the work, and for little pay.
The jewelry industry has responded somewhat: Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was established by merchants and governments to make sure they were not using "conflict diamonds" -- what the United Nations identifies as those coming from "areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments ... used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or [the United Nations]." The Kimberley Process was implemented in early 2003, and as of April 2004, there were 43 participants, including the European Union. But critics like Global Witness claim that major U.S. and international jewelry retailers may be paying only lip service to the process.
To add insult to all this injury, there's a strong suspicion that diamonds are not quite as precious as they are made out to be. Edward Jay Epstein stoked this skepticism in his book, "The Rise and Fall of Diamonds: The Shattering of a Brilliant Illusion," the definitive diamond industry exposé. Epstein contended that De Beers built a false pricing structure around a product with little inherent value. Several suits against De Beers by the Justice Department later, the company finally pleaded guilty in July 2004 to charges of price fixing, and agreed to pay a $10 million fine, ending a 60-year-long impasse during which De Beers' top brass were reluctant to step foot on American soil for fear of being arrested.
Faced with this information -- just the tip of the iceberg -- how can any blushing bride say "I do" while suspecting that the engagement ring on her finger may have once been part of an agreement between al-Qaida henchmen? How can she obey the current De Beers ads urging her to "raise your right hand" (like Halle Berry and Sarah Jessica Parker) if she knows that the tiny diamonds in her new "right-hand ring" may have been cut by the small, callused fingers of a poor child?
Technology and ingenuity have provided a solution that's lighter on the conscience and the wallet -- and just as easy on the eyes. It's taken 115 years, but lab-made diamonds are being produced that are identical to the million-year-old variety dug from the earth. Plus, they're cheaper, by nearly half. But don't think the diamond industry is ready to embrace this new technology -- and give up all of those profits -- without a serious battle.

diamond maker

It was the September 2003 cover story of Wired magazine that truly heralded "The New Diamond Age." Writer Joshua Davis profiled two start-up firms, Gemesis and Apollo, that had begun manufacturing gem-quality synthetic diamonds. "This sudden arrival of mass-produced gems threatens to alter the public's perception of diamonds -- and to transform the $7 billion industry," Davis wrote.

Synthetic diamonds, of course, are not new: Those pursuing DIY millionaire dreams have been trying to make their own diamonds for centuries -- often getting burned or maimed in the process. As the diamond industry itself points out, synthetic diamonds have been available since the 1950s, when General Electric developed a way to transform graphite into diamond. The De Beers company even has had a hand in this business, as the largest producer of synthetic diamonds for industrial use. Until now, prohibitive manufacturing costs have kept companies from making jewelry-quality gems that can compete with the real thing. But these new diamonds are not only inexpensive to produce, but they're also virtually indistinguishable from natural diamonds -- even in the lab.

Gemesis, based in Sarasota, Fla., is the best known of this new breed of diamond makers, creating showstopping yellow and orange diamonds similar to the colored natural diamonds that have been spotted on bling-sporting celebs like JLo. The lab-made yellow diamonds are a quarter of the cost of natural ones; a Gemesis diamond might cost $4,500 to $5,000 per carat, whereas a comparable natural fancy yellow might cost $15,000 to $20,000 a karat.

synthetic diamond made in Brazil

The Gemesis process uses high pressure combined with high temperature to mimic the way that diamonds are formed naturally underground. With hydraulics and electricity, the machines focus increasing amounts of pressure and heat onto a "core" of carbon. David Hellier, the president of Gemesis, prefers an analogy to cultured pearls, saying that the machine is "simply a vessel to control or manage the growth process."

The technology, though, cannot produce white diamonds, the most popular and available type of the diamond on the market. Hellier claims that Gemesis has no plans to try to create one, citing pricing as one rationale: "There is more value in the fancy colored diamonds because they simply don't exist at price points similar to white diamonds." Instead, Gemesis is focusing on the colored-diamond market; it's excitedly promoting its introduction next year of a blue diamond, among the most rare.

Boston-based Apollo Diamonds uses a completely different process to create diamonds -- white diamonds, among others -- that could ultimately prove more significant. Apollo diamonds are grown using what the company calls "modified Chemical Vapor Deposition technology." In this complicated, patented process, Apollo fine-tunes temperature, gas composition and pressure to create the perfect combination to produce synthetic diamonds. The result is an extremely pure crystal, which makes it almost impossible for even the most sophisticated equipment to discern the difference between these and natural diamonds.

More important to Apollo: The diamonds are a key element in enabling the company to compete in the semiconductor market. As Davis explained in Wired, semiconductors require diamond wafers. The CVD process allows Apollo to make almost-natural diamond wafers in bigger sizes than previously possible.

minerals found on kimberlites

Bryant Linares, the president and CEO of Apollo, sums up the company's operations by saying its "cultured diamonds" will be significant in three major markets "beginning with the gemstone market and followed closely by the optics/electronics and nanotechnology markets." Linares confirms that Apollo intends to start selling water-clear diamonds for jewelry in the latter half of next year. Does Apollo have any deals with Harry Winston's or Tiffany's? Linares responded to this question with a written statement: "Apollo Diamond is currently in discussions with several prospective high-end international partners in the gemstone industry, whom we cannot name at this time."

The Wired article caused major ripples in the slick veneer of the diamond industry's confidence. Most of the responses have been subtle yet strong. Martin Rapaport, the chairman of the Rapaport Group, an international network of companies involved in many aspects of the diamond and jewelry trade, addressed the "cultured diamond" situation in this way: "Of primary concern to the entire jewelry industry are the three Ds -- detection, disclosure and documentation. An additional concern for natural diamond producers is that legitimate, fairly disclosed man-made diamonds will compete with natural diamonds. Such competition may shift jewelry demand away from natural diamonds and reduce or restrain natural prices."

The two major industry associations, the Gemological Institute of America and the International Gemological Institute, have seriously undercut the synthetic diamonds' credibility by refusing to grade or evaluate such diamonds with the famous "four C's" standard (carat, color, clarity, cut). The GIA's public stance on the matter is that synthetic diamonds should not be categorized like natural diamonds. As GIA's president, William E. Boyajian, has said, "GIA's policy is, as it always has been, that there is nothing inherently wrong with synthetics, provided they can be identified and are properly disclosed." From such statements, it is clear that the GIA thinks these lab-made gems make lovely jewelry, but they are not and never will be in the class of "real" diamonds.

The Gemological Institute of America also sent state-of-the-art screening instruments to jewelers and groups to help them detect synthetics and diamond simulates. These instruments, DiamondSure and DiamondView, are manufactured by the Diamond Trading Co. -- part of the De Beers group of companies.

In the most drastic move so far, the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) banned the trade of synthetic diamonds in April 2004. "There is no doubt that we must take a firm stand against synthetic diamonds," Shmuel Schnitzer, the president of IDE, said in a statement. "These are imitations, and must not be handled by members of the legitimate trade."

But, at this stage, the main industry debate over lab-made diamonds is a semantic one. Hellier, the president of Gemesis, doesn't like to call his company's product "synthetic." The industry, though, takes umbrage at the "cultured diamonds" term used by Gemesis and Apollo. As Jerry Ehrenwald from the IGI says, "When they culture a pearl, they put a seed in the oyster, and the oyster continues to secrete the nacre. It's quite a natural process. With synthetic diamonds, there is nothing natural about stone." (A German court has banned the use of the "cultured diamond" label.)

Gemesis and Apollo also want their gems to be classified by the GIA and IGI. Hellier from Gemesis says, "We think that confusing these man-made diamonds with real diamonds will cheapen or devalue real diamonds. We want them to be distinct products."

It sounds like both groups want the same thing: To keep lab-made diamonds distinct from natural ones. But to the gem-makers, that means classification and recognition. To the natural diamond industry, it means something else entirely.

Carson Glover, a spokesman for the public relations arm of the De Beers' Diamond Trading Co., dismisses claims that the natural diamond industry has anything to worry about. "Synthetics have not eaten into natural diamonds at all. These are two very different products. Diamonds are a gift of love, used to symbolize relationships, celebrate milestones -- anniversaries, the birth of a child, etc. Synthetics are not the real thing. They have amazing capabilities from an industrial standpoint, but they don't have a retail presence yet. Nine out of ten women want the real thing."

But 2004 was the first year that Gemesis' cultured diamonds were even available to the consumer market. Nine out of ten women probably have no idea they even exist. But as Apollo readies its white diamonds for market as well, that all may change quickly.

Dug-out diamond

Most of the jewelers who do stock the lab-made diamonds often wax enthusiastic about their beauty, bright colors and affordability. Very few jewelers bring up social or environmental concerns as justification for stocking the gems. Fred Schrode, the owner of Schrode Jewelers in Florida, concedes that some of his customers "have definite thoughts about conflict-free stones." These customers tend to be younger, he says. However, Schrode doesn't like to get into the moral and social implications of buying a diamond. "I think that when you start mentioning 'conflict-free' to a customer, you open Pandora's box. But if you're asked by a customer about conflict-free stones, you can tell them, 'These are OK; they're grown right here in Sarasota.'"

Others, though, have no problem pitching directly to the socially aware. "My customers appreciate these synthetic stones for the ecological and social values that are embedded in them," says Matthew White, the founder of greenKarat jewelry, which sells only synthetic diamonds. "We're looking toward to a time when, instead of being apologetic about wearing a synthetic stone, those who wear the natural stones will be draped in shame."

  • greenKarat.com
  • Diamonds Cultured
  • Schubach.com
  • Info on synthetic diamonds
  • From Salon

    20 janeiro 2005

    An imaginary Editor's Rejection Letter:

    Dear Señor Michael of Sirvientes (do I have the spelling right?):

    We've now had the chance to read the long manuscript--a behemoth, really--you kindly sent us. While we appreciate your earnest attempt at developing the distinct personalities of the old chap and his fat servant, we've found the storyline to be problematic. You stuff the plot with one too many adventures that do little to advance the plot. There are too many characters whose fate the reader gets attached to but who suddenly disappear never to be heard from again. Maybe another publisher will be willing to trim the book to approximately two hundred pages; we simply don't have the time.

    Plus, what is one to make of the fact that Cide Hamete Benengeli is said to be the true creator of the book? Is this true? At times this seems like an ingenious device. But we've had a word with our legal department on this respect. They would be anxious about bringing out a novel whose authorship is uncertain. The field would be wide open to a copyright lawsuit. This problem is exacerbated by Mr. Benengeli's religion. Given the political situation in which we live today, as an Arab he would even have grounds for defamation, given the derogatory comments made of moriscos in your work. The comments on Catholicism and the Church are smoother but we might also get caught for publishing them.

    And the style!!! Advance apologies for asking but did you take a writing course in college? You write carelessly. Your sentences twist and turn. You don't always seem to know where you are going and what you have in mind. Your vocabulary bank seems quite limited given the size of your endeavor, and your use of adjectives is questionable.

    In short, Don Quixote is not really for us. We do wish you success in placing it elsewhere. Let me conclude by saying that should you have something substantially shorter, preferably with some elements of Magical Realism, please don't hesitate to send it to us. We've also been looking for novels about ghetto life in New York and Los Angeles. If you do decide to try your luck at one, please keep drugs and violent crimes to a minimum. We usually get criticized by reviewers on this respect, although these books do get adopted in college courses.

    From The New Republic online

    19 janeiro 2005

    O Diabo Não Dorme >-)

    Foto de Pieter Wienerroither
    Obrigada ao Miguel :-)
    My fridge

    Many people walk up to me, point their finger in my face and ask: "Why do you hate men so much?"

    It totally dumbfounds me because some of my songs, including 'Why did you leave me you bastard?', 'Only think of your cock' and 'Sleep with her and you will be castrated' are actually about love, forgiveness and responsibility.

    When I was growing up, I realised that women lived in a man's world. In Ottawa during the 1980s, the government forbid women from becoming doctors, soldiers or teachers, they forced women into marriage as teenagers and women suffered a celibacy tax unless they bore a child by the age of 20.

    People abandoned their daughters in dumpsters at birth and women, such as me, were banned from singing in public unless we chose songs that praised the gift of motherhood and the pleasures of cooking. It is no wonder I had a subliminal urge to self-destruct myself and take the whole damn sex of men with me.

    So when my first album came out, it was really weird, because people actually went to the music store, bought the record and listened to it. When I met them on the street, they told me how great I was and I thought, wow, I'm not the only woman who feels like this.

    But soon, despite the fact that all men are genetically educated from birth to dominate, betray and beat up women, I found that I still actually liked them. Men are really important. Largely because, without men, we wouldn't know whether we were women or not.

    In the title track on my new latest album 'Love is a fridge', I use the metaphor of a refrigerator packed with food to show how an oppositely-sexed couple of two people, a man and a woman, share their love for one another, despite their differences in gender.

    It's about how my boyfriend and I are like a fridge. When we are together, there is a real buzz. We always like to open up and look inside each other to see what we have and then, when we have decided which parts of ourselves go well together, like preparing the ingredients for a meal, we really get cooking!

    I've got eggs, but no bacon
    I've got fish, but no ham
    I've got duck, but no orange
    I've got cream, but no spam

    For when I'm without you,
    My heart begins to freeze
    It's like ten thousand yoghurts,
    When all you need is some cheese

    Isn't it biotic, don't you think?

    As we try to create a better world for women in countries that have suffered so much prejudice against the fairer – how I hate that adverb! – sex, I see myself, like today's women, as a pilgrim on the road to a church of equality, riding upon a beautiful horse that has leapt the hurdles of discrimination. But how do I get there? I need a man of course . . . because maps just make my head spin!

    From AK13... My...

    17 janeiro 2005

    A German Dream: Masterpieces of Romanticism

    Moonstruck by Caspar David Friedrich (1818/1824)

    Good stuff, bad weather. "Whenever a storm with thunder and lightning moved over the sea he would hurry out to the top of the cliffs as if he had a pact of friendship with the forces of nature, or even go on into the oakwood where the lightning had split a tall tree from top to bottom, and murmur, 'How great, how mighty, how wonderful!'" Thus a friend remembered the wanderings of Caspar David Friedrich, as a young painter on the island of Rügen in 1802. Man among the unchained elements, drawing a sense of his own mingled littleness and grandeur from their convulsion: it is the archetype of Romantic scenarios, Byron on the ocean, Turner in the Alps, and any number of alert, soulful young German idealists contemplating their travels north to the Baltic or south to the Bay of Naples. Romanticism was the primal urge of high German culture in the early 19th century. Nowhere can the force of this, as reflected in painting, be better appreciated at present than in Dublin, where the National Gallery of Ireland is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a wonderful loan show from the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, A German Dream: Masterpieces of Romanticism .

    It sometimes happens that a great cultural movement goes hand in hand with the self-discovery of the country in which it takes place, and so it was with German Romantic painting. The early 19th century in Germany was tough on intellectuals; in the wake of the Napoleonic wars and the Congress of Vienna came a fierce persecution of democratic ideas and those who held them, so that to assert one's "German-ness" as an artist, one's allegiance to folk culture and local history, was in some ways a radical act. If a painter portrayed himself or others in altdeutsch (old-fashioned German) costume, that too was a political statement. Gothic was traditional, Greek was modern. "We are not Greeks any more," wrote Goethe, and the implications of this thought went deep.

    You see them, for instance, in the extraordinary landscapes with Gothic churches, attended by devout pilgrimages from the whole region, back-lit in all their staggering complication of tracery, by the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841). Beyond comparison the greatest neo-classical German architect of the 19th century, Schinkel simply vaporised the boundaries between the classic and Romantic sensibilities; Prussia might think of itself, through his architecture, as a reborn Doric Greece, but his paintings equally celebrate the nationalist continuity of the Gothic past.

    You can see Schinkel's paintings as a call to nationalist self-confidence. But there was also an inwardness, whispering and pleading to be let out. So the exemplary Romantic was partly an enraptured patriot and partly an exile within his own culture. This chimed with the preferences of Romantic painting for the wanderer, the solitary figure turning his back on his society to better contemplate the distant moon, the silent bay or the landscapes of a foreign land.

    And that was where Caspar David Friedrich came in, quiet, clear and (eventually) dominant. Friedrich was the son of a soapmaker, born in the insignificant provincial seaport of Griefswald in 1774. He died obscure and more than slightly mad in Dresden in 1840.

    His modernity isn't due so much to the "look" of his paintings, carefully composed, thinly laid and breathlessly static, as to the ideas behind them. The question they ask is the one asked by his contemporary, the philosopher Friedrich Schlegel: "Can mankind be understood divorced from nature, and is it so very different from other manifestations of nature?"

    The answer from Schlegel and Friedrich, as from a congregation of ecologists and earth people since, was no and no again. Friedrich did not believe he, or anyone else, was "outside" of nature, and when he painted images like the Nationalgalerie's Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon , 1818/1824, that was the point he was making. The human pair, in their "Old German" clothes, are scarcely different in tone or modelling from the deep dramas of nature around them, the leaning rocks and the half-uprooted, venerable tree in silhouette. They gaze enraptured at the moon - significantly, when Friedrich was asked what they were doing, he ironically retorted: "These two are plotting some demagogic activities."

    If there is one word for the mood of Friedrich's pictures it is "longing": the desire, never satisfied, to escape from the secular conditions of life into union with a distant nature, to be absorbed in it, to become one with the Great Other, whether that other is a mountain crag, an ancient but enduring tree, the calm of a horizontal sea, or the stillness of a cloud.

    Sometimes actual symbols of formal religion do appear - a gothic spire, a cross on a mountain pass. But they are not really necessary, since the object of Friedrich's worship is nature rather than its creator. The watchers in his paintings, turning their backs to us, gaze at nature on our behalf; it is a form of vicarious prayer, and that was how Friedrich's rather small audience interpreted it.

    Sometimes the painting doesn't even need the watcher. Carl Gustav Carus (1789-1869) went to Naples in the travelling party of Prince Friedrich Augustus of Saxony in 1828, and his reaction to his quarters in the Casino Reale would strike a chord with any later tourist who has ever had unexpectedly good luck with a hotel. Led upstairs by an elderly chamberlain, "I enter, and in front of me lie Vesuvius, the sea, the castle, and the blue distance! I thanked God profusely. Not only had He graciously led me to my destination but He had considered me worthy of such a room!"

    The mood is very different from the indignant whining about bedbugs and inedible food of a Smollett on the non-so-grand tour, and in Balcony Room with a View of the Bay of Naples , 1829, Carus painted what may be the first visual prayer of thanks to the Almighty for a concierge's kindness ever done by a gratified tourist - the archetypal blue view past the shutters, a neo-classical Matisse almost, with a guitar propped against the doorframe echoing the slant of a felucca's rigging just beyond it.

    German Romanticism did indeed carry a strong religious streak. Some of its exponents saw themselves as spiritual reformers, sent by the zeitgeist to reform a culture muddied, as they thought, by relativism and realism. Like the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in England, they would remind viewers of the lost (but regainable) piety and innocence of an earlier world, that of the New Testament. They called themselves the Nazarenes. The squeaky-clean, idealised form of Christian representation they went in for - only a hair away from pious kitsch, and sometimes not even that, to modern eyes - is summed up in Friedrich Overbeck's Christ in the House of Mary and Martha , 1812-16, a highly coloured but rigidly frozen pastiche of Raphael. A little of the Nazarenes' cloying, self-conscious pietism goes a long way, and their idea of turning themselves into a sort of monastic order of art-priests (who lived in a sort of commune until 1820 in an actual monastery in Rome, that of San Isidro on the Pincio) now seems absurd. Yet you can't doubt the sincerity of their enterprise, or the intensity of their cult of friend ship. In 1811, when Wilhelm and Ridolfo Schadow, the artist sons of the Prussian neo-classical sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow, caught their first distant glimpse of the Eternal City, they swore an oath that they "would rather stay dead in Rome than return to our home city as unknowns". Four years later, Wilhelm painted one of the classics of German group portraiture: himself and his brother clasping hands in manly resolution, while their friend and mentor, the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen, seals the bond with his left hand on Ridolfo's shoulder and a laurel wreath in his right. It's almost an artworld version of David's picture of heroic brotherhood, The Oath of the Horatii . The Schadow boys are clearly bound to win the battle for Noble Art, and they will do it with their pals as a band of brothers.

    The most startling picture in the show is not a Friedrich, packed as those are with metaphysical symbolism; nor is it a view of those crags, lakes and sunsets beloved of German romantics. It is by Johann Hummel (1769-1852), a professor of perspective and optics at the Berlin Academy of Art, and it depicts The Grinding of the Granite Bowl , 1832. It is an early example of the Technological Sublime, celebrating the wonder of man's power over the natural world.

    The bowl in question was destined for the square in front of Schinkel's Altes Museum on the museum island in Berlin. It was cut, hollowed out, ground and polished from an enormous piece of granite found in Brandenburg. It was very consciously meant to be a world's wonder, like the gigantic basins of hard stone that were such monumental features of ancient Egypt and Rome - condensations of human skill, of incredibly laborious triumph over raw, resistant nature. But the size of this bowl and the technical challenges it posed were beyond anything from antiquity, and Hummel produced three pictures of its creation: first the enormous basin, upside down, being ground and polished in a Berlin workshop, then the job of turning it over (a wondrous spectacle to Berliners, as the erection of the Egyptian obelisk in St Peter's Square had been to Romans years before), and finally the bowl on its plinth in the Lustgarten.

    With his view of the bowl in the workshop, Hummel achieved a near miracle of detailed and layered perception, recording not only the natural colours of the stone but also the hues and shapes of the workshop reflected in its surface: we see windows distorted by the curvature, and even a fragment of landscape through a window picked up on the glassy granite, every detail of the ponderous bracing that keeps the stone in place and of the geared turning apparatus. The basin becomes an apparition, rigorous in its technological truth but also surrealist in its strangeness and intensity. If Hummel had never painted another picture, this one would have assured him a small but distinct place in the history of European sensibility.

    From The Guardian

    The Ten Reasons series of AK13 online magazine... hilarious :-D
    Now this is a book review:

    The Literary World System

    What are you doing? I mean, right now. You're reading a book review. A review of a book that, as it happens, is almost certain to become quite famous among intellectuals around the world over the next few years. And the reason it will become so famous is, in part, because of reviews like this one. After all, Perry Anderson, writing in the London Review of Books, has proclaimed that La République mondiale des lettres "is likely to have the same sort of liberating impact...as Said's Orientalism, with which it stands comparison"--a prophecy that, because it is by Perry Anderson, and because it is the London Review of Books, is, to an extent, self-fulfilling. So by reading this review--becoming one of the people who've heard of the book, who've begun to form an opinion about it, who might even buy it, read it, discuss it, cite it--you're not only learning about its impending fame, you're becoming part of the process by which that fame is established, a process the book itself calls "legitimation." (Translation, the act that has turned La République mondiale des lettres into The World Republic of Letters, is another step in that process.) And this is perfectly apt, because the mechanisms of legitimation--the global economy of prestige that ushers some authors into the international literary sphere while keeping others shut out--is exactly what Pascale Casanova's brilliant, groundbreaking book is all about.

    To understand why it's groundbreaking, it helps to know how the international literary sphere is usually thought about--or rather, not thought about. Academic departments, literary academies, histories and reference works, honors and prizes: The institutions of literary life almost invariably partition the world of literature into discrete, autonomous national traditions--English over here, American over there; Italian in this classroom, Spanish in that; German Romanticism, French Symbolism, the Russian novel. Even the Nobel Prize, our one global literary honor, makes a point of emphasizing the national provenance of its laureates, so that it is understood that it is often a country as much as an author that is being recognized, and that the consecration of, say, a Saramago, shuts the door on all other Portuguese writers for the foreseeable future. As for the books that enter our national literary space from the outside (especially from outside the English-speaking world), do we ever think about why some reach us and not others? Where do translated writers "come from"? Are they simply the most celebrated authors in their own countries? (In fact, they often aren't.) If we think about these questions at all, we probably assume that the writers we become aware of are just better than the ones we don't. (But "better" according to what criteria, enforced by whom?) In other words, we've bought into the myth of an international literary meritocracy, or, in Casanova's words, "the fable of an enchanted world...where universality reigns through liberty and equality...the notion of literature as something pure, free, and universal."

    Casanova's work amounts to a radical remapping of global literary space--which means, first of all, the recognition that there is a global literary space. Her insights build on world systems theory, the idea, developed by Fernand Braudel and Immanuel Wallerstein, that the capitalist economy that has emerged since about 1500 must be understood as a single global system of interlinked national economies. Some of these economies belong to the ruling "core," others to the dependent "periphery," but none can coherently be studied as a discrete entity. Casanova, a scholar at the Center for Research in Arts and Language in Paris, argues, convincingly, that an analogous literary system, a "world republic of letters," has gradually taken shape since around the same time. In her analysis, a core group of nations--France, England and the founders of other "major" European literatures--having built up large reserves of "literary capital" over the past several centuries, control the means of cultural legitimation for the countries of the global literary periphery--a region that, as in the capitalist world system, has grown ever larger over the past two centuries with, first, the rise of European nationalism and, second, decolonization, as nations without previous literary standing, and writers from those nations, have sought international validation. And the capital of the world republic of letters, the place to which even other countries of the core must look for ultimate consecration and the global reputation it brings, is Paris.

    That last idea might damage the English speaker's amour-propre, but our self-esteem should be diminished even more by the evidence Casanova marshals to support her thesis. For it is an ongoing source of shame that so many of the finest exponents even of our own literature were acclaimed in Paris while still virtually unknown in London and New York. Faulkner, without a name in the United States until just three years before winning the 1949 Nobel Prize, was celebrated in France from as early as 1931. Joyce, though already recognized within the avant-garde, was unable to find a publisher for Ulysses until the book was taken up by the great French translator Valery Larbaud. In later years, Tropic of Cancer, Lolita and Naked Lunch would join the list of pathbreaking English-language novels first published in Paris. It was also through France that much of English literature found an international audience. Casanova lists Shakespeare, Scott, Byron and Poe among the authors whose works were long read in French translation, or translations based on the French, throughout Europe and Latin America. This isn't true just of English literature, of course, but of all literature, which is why Paris has been the capital of literary exiles for the past two centuries. And it is also why Paris is the answer to the question of where translated writers "come from." Borges and Kundera are just two of the many authors who became known in the English-speaking world--and the world in general--only after being consecrated by Paris.

    How did this state of affairs come about? Casanova traces the emergence of an international literary sphere to Joachim du Bellay's 1549 essay "The Defense and Illustration of the French Language," which amounted, as she puts it, to a "declaration of war against the domination of Latin."Over the ensuing century and a half, France built up its "literary assets" through, among other means, the translation and imitation of classical models, linguistic standardization and purification, and the refinement of poetic forms and meters, so that by the reign of Louis XIV--the age of Pascal, Molière and Racine--French had accomplished the unthinkable, displacing Latin as the language of literary classicism. As a consequence, Casanova claims, English and other national literary identities emerged in competition with France. Finally, with the awakening to consciousness of nations like Germany--nations that, unlike England, Spain or Italy, had no literary heritage such as would allow them to compete with France on its own, classical terms--a new means of accumulating literary assets emerged. This was the path first articulated by Herder, the eighteenth-century German philosopher and great champion of folk culture: Instead of deriving from classical antiquity, literary capital would now originate in a nation's unique soul or "genius," as expressed in its traditional oral culture--an idea that would prove crucial not only for the emerging nations of Europe during the nineteenth century but for the postcolonial world today.

    Whatever the terms under which it was conducted, however, it was this rivalry among national literatures that led to the creation of an international literary space. Indeed, it led, one might say, to the creation of literature itself--literature as an autonomous realm--for it was, paradoxically, through this same struggle that literary values were asserted independently of national political and moral agendas. By constituting a transnational sphere in which literature could be judged on its own terms, this rivalry enabled writers to appeal beyond their national publics, with their invariably conservative values. It made possible, in other words, the creation of an avant-garde. (And it is because of its unique hospitality to the avant-garde that Paris has endured as the world's literary center.) Here is where Casanova parts company with the historicism that has swept literary studies over the past two decades. Rather than tying literary phenomena to underlying social and political developments, she charts an autonomous history for literature itself. The world republic of letters is governed by its own rules, keeps time by its own historical clock, partitions the world according to its own map and features its own economics, its own inequalities and its own forms of violence.

    Casanova devotes the second half of her book to exploring the means by which writers from the literary periphery have sought to break into the center--a myriad of struggles whose existence has heretofore been concealed by "the fable of an enchanted world...where universality reigns through liberty and equality." The breadth of her scholarship here is staggering: from South America to North Africa, Eastern Europe to East Asia; from the emergent Modernism of Ibsen and Yeats to the most recent postcolonial hybridities; from "assimilationists" like Naipaul and Cioran to "rebels" like Neruda and Achebe.

    Aside from the uncanny consistency of these strategies across time and space--a consistency the recognition of which ought to have a liberating effect on writers working in the loneliness of peripheral obscurity--two overriding ideas emerge. First, that for well over a century literary innovation has been driven almost exclusively by the hunger of marginalized writers for international acceptance. Ibsen, Joyce, Faulkner, Beckett, Borges, García Márquez, Rushdie: By making themselves even more modern than Paris, the "Greenwich meridian" of literary modernity, these great revolutionaries remade the center in their own image, setting the standards of avant-garde practice for writers the world over. Second, that for all the inequalities of its imperial structure, the international literary sphere itself plays a liberating as much as a dominating role. Even as it forces writers from marginalized countries to submit to its norms as the price of recognition, it also frees them from domination by their countries' own nation-building projects and moral and aesthetic prejudices. Ibsen appealed to Paris and London in his struggle against Christiania; Joyce leveraged Paris against both Dublin and London.

    Casanova's reluctance to acknowledge the positive dimensions of the international literary sphere is one of the book's flaws. That reluctance is ultimately a failure to come to terms with her own ambivalence, a failure that smacks of political correctness. On the one hand, she seeks, admirably, to serve the world's marginalized writers by restoring the "political and historical specificity" of their work, thus debunking the notion of literary universality as a product of the "inherent blindnesses of the consecrating authorities." On the other hand, equally to her credit, she clearly cherishes the notion of literary universality, of literary values that transcend political and historical particulars. Granted that her ultimate goal is "a new literary universality," rejecting her own impulses leads her to sequester some important truths. First, that writers at the center are also capable of revolutionary innovation; Modernism began in France, after all, and Frenchmen like Proust and Robbe-Grillet continued to play important roles throughout most of the twentieth century. Second, that peripheral innovation "liberates" the center as much as it does the rest of the world; only in a footnote does she admit, for example, that Claude Simon was as much Faulkner's disciple as was García Márquez. A less doctrinaire, more dialectical understanding of relations between center and periphery is clearly needed.

    Casanova is also surprisingly enamored of the great-man model of historical causation. Without du Bellay and Herder, apparently, literary history would have been completely different. Indeed, her whole account of the initial emergence of the international literary sphere, from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, is sketchy and dubious. Her Francocentrism requires her to minimize Dante's De vulgari eloquentia, a defense of the vernacular that preceded du Bellay by two and a half centuries, as well as to obscure the monumental achievements of sixteenth-century Italian literature--Ariosto, Tasso, Machiavelli, Castiglione--that ultimately flowed from it. And far from English literary identity's emerging in competition with France during the eighteenth century (if anything, cultural admiration traveled the other way at the time), we already find the language being defended as equal to Latin, Spanish, French and Italian around the time of du Bellay--a truer picture of the international literary space that had already begun to emerge during the Renaissance. Indeed, for all her remarkable knowledge of global literary developments, Casanova is surprisingly, even laughably, ignorant of the English literary scene, asserting at one point that Shakespeare had not yet become canonical by the turn of the twentieth century (about two centuries too late) because he was considered "subversive." Given that Britain has been France's great rival for literary pre-eminence over the past 400 years, this ignorance is rather too perfectly ironic.

    Still, the main thrust of Casanova's argument, which covers roughly the last century and a half, is unimpeachable. She has created a map of global literary power relations where none had existed, and she has raised a host of further questions. What exactly are the mechanisms and institutions of legitimation? Just how important, for example, are book reviewers like me and readers like you? How applicable is her model to power relations within individual countries? What kinds of self-betrayals, for example, does New York exact, and what kinds of resistance does it provoke, from writers from the American hinterland? How relevant is her model to the other arts? (Undoubtedly, very much so.) Most important, how relevant is it to the world of today? Casanova herself acknowledges, in a brief chapter that feels like a late insertion, that the system of literary internationalism governed from Paris may have already given way to one of commercial globalization controlled by mostly American publishing conglomerates. With the development of mass-produced, globally marketed literary product that mimics, as Casanova puts it, the style of Modernism--she mentions "world fiction" like the novels of Umberto Eco and David Lodge, to which one might add the many books that piggyback on established literary "brands" (The Dante Club, The Jane Austen Book Club, Anna in the Tropics, etc.)--true literature, like everything else of any value, may be on its way to being replaced by a clever simulacrum of itself.

    But the most important question her book raises, for me at least, is simply this: Why are we so lame? Why is American culture, and the American intelligentsia in particular, so closed off from what's happening in the rest of the world? Why do we still need Paris to tell us what's going on (if we still even listen to it)? If anything, the situation is more dire than it used to be, when instability or repression in Europe supplied us with a steady stream of émigrés who acted as a bridge back to their former world. Susan Sontag used to play a similar role, but she no longer does, and no one's taken her place. The more we impose our image on the world, it seems, the more foreign the world becomes.

    Linguists Gone Wild!

    You know you're at the Linguistic Society of America's annual convention when the woman on the next treadmill at the fitness center is talking not about bond indexes or shopping tips, as would be the case back home, but about recent research on binding theory in head-driven phrase structure grammar.

    The American Dialect Society, which meets in association with the Linguistic Society of America, is the main scholarly group devoted to the study of language in America, and most of the time, it devotes itself to serious concerns. This year's sessions included papers on the current status of Texas German, the vowel characteristics of Atlanta speech, and an analysis of prosodic rhythm in African-American English. But once in a while we like to blow off steam, and we do this by voting for the Words of the Year, in various categories—Most Useful, Creative, Unnecessary, Outrageous, and Euphemistic; Most and Least Likely To Succeed; and an overall Word of the Year. Newspapers love this and cover our selections as though choosing these words is our main purpose. This is partly our fault; no one really cares unless we pretend that These Are Important Words That Define Us as Americans. Still, that's marginally better than the alternate interpretation: This Is How Scholars Waste Their Time When They Could Be Doing Real Work.

    Other year-end word lists tend to be judgmental, listing played-out words no one wants to hear again, but the ADS tries to make truly representative selections, whether we like the words or not. The first time we tried this, in 1990, our enthusiasm for novel coinages got the best of us, and we chose bushlips, a forgotten pun on bullshit based on the first Bush's invitation to read his lips. Our embarrassment has been somewhat mitigated by our improved track record since then: We've opted for such genuinely representative terms as mother of all X in 1991; Not! in 1992; e- in 1998; chad in 2000; and metrosexual last year. (The complete history can be found here.)

    This year, as always, we had to hash over the basics. It's not actually "Word" of the Year; it can be a compound, phrase, prefix, or so forth, but we know we can't get away with promoting a "Lexical Item" of the Year. It's also not about new words, just words that were particularly prominent. We try to keep the words relatively new anyway and avoid well-established terms that happen to have become widespread, such as, for example, tsunami. (Typically it's the lexicographers—not the dialectologists—who keep an eye out for such suggestions; this year my Oxford colleague Grant Barrett, who runs a new words blog, was the one to call out, "No, hinky isn't new, it goes back to 1956!" when necessary.)

    The WotY process has two stages: a morning meeting, in which nominations are sorted into categories, and the afternoon vote, when things get decided. Turnout is light in the morning, when we're usually clustered around a table; by the afternoon, we generally move to an open room to accommodate the crowds. At this year's morning meeting, the suggestions were plentiful. Military terms were prominent—we saw hillbilly armor and backdoor draft. Blog, 2002's Most Likely To Succeed, returned in forms like blogosphere and blogorrhea. The culture of blogging has also spawned related words like pajamahadeen, which refers to bloggers in their bedclothes who criticize the mainstream media and which won Most Creative later in the day. In the Most Euphemistic category, Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction seemed like a lock until Bill Frawley, the dean of the Columbia College of Arts and Sciences at George Washington University, suggested badly sourced, which was used by Colin Powell and others to mean "false."

    The Most Outrageous category is tricky; we never agree whether it's the word itself that's outrageous (typically for having some vulgar element, as in 2003's winner, cliterati, for "prominent feminists") or the concept (as with 2002's neuticles, "false testicles for neutered pets"). This year the strongest contender was santorum, defined (and heavily promoted) by sex writer Dan Savage—in a campaign to besmirch the name of right-wing Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum—as "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex." We dismissed one potential problem—that newspapers wouldn't print the term if it won—on the grounds that we shouldn't censor ourselves. And indeed, in the afternoon's voting, santorum did win, but many newspapers simply skipped this category in their coverage. So much for academic freedom.

    During the afternoon voting, everyone agreed that Most Unnecessary had particularly good candidates. The suffix -based, as in faith-based or reality-based, was widely disliked. "It's its own opposite," said Bill Kretzschmar, editor of the Linguistic Atlas of America. "If it's reality-based, it's not real." The poison erototoxin, which, according to the Senate testimony of antisex "researcher" Judith Reisman, is released into the brain when a person looks at pornography, was a strong candidate, in large part because no such toxin exists. But carb-friendly—when used to mean "not containing carbohydrates"—took the prize. "It's meaningless," said phonetician David "Not the Rock Star" Bowie, "unless you're saying you're a friend of carbs by not eating them."

    In Most Euphemistic, we argued about the ballot's brief definition of wardrobe malfunction—"unanticipated exposure of bodily parts." "It wasn't unanticipated by the utterer," objected Yale's Larry Horn. Former ADS President Dennis Preston retorted, "Who was the udder-er?" causing the room to collapse in laughter. Still, as anticipated in the morning, badly sourced was the winner by a crushing 50-15 margin.

    In Most Likely To Succeed, Anne Curzan, editor of the Journal of English Linguistics, nominated crunk, a rap term referring variously to a state of rowdiness, excitement, or intoxication and also used as the name for a style of rap music. But my nominee mash-up, a blend of songs into a cohesive musical whole, was also strong, as was the red state, blue state, purple state of our current political map. We debated how to combine red state, blue state, purple state into a single term. "Cyan?" suggested American Heritage's Steve Kleinedler. The colored states took the runoff.

    The Word of the Year itself is nominated from the floor; wardrobe malfunction, red/blue/purple states, and mash-up were carried over from previous rounds. New candidates were meet-up, for "a Web-organized meeting," and flip-flopper, which was disliked but grudgingly agreed to have been linguistically prominent in the past year.

    In the end, red/blue/purple states beat runners-up wardrobe malfunction and flip-flopper, 36 to 19 to 11. The excitement over, we ambled off to the annual ADS cocktail party to ready ourselves for our return to the serious business of language and the next day's papers on "Upper Midwest Obstruent Variation" and "Acoustic Characteristics of Utah's card/cord Merger."

    From Slate

    16 janeiro 2005

    Clione limacina (Sea Slug)

    When I first went to Auschwitz, the earth was still white with calcined bone, while thousands of rusting spoons and forks lay on the site of the storehouses. Today, the earth is normal brown, the spoons have gone and the scrawny poplars planted by the SS to hide the gas chambers have become tall and beautiful. Nature wants us to forget, but human beings want to know everything that happened here and then fix it unalterably in the memory of our species.

    Half the British population, apparently, have never heard of Auschwitz. Some of the other half think that there is nothing left to say about it. But Laurence Rees, author of this book and director of the TV documentary series on Auschwitz which started on BBC2 last Tuesday, shows that there is a great deal left to discover. Some of this comes from his admirable hunt for witnesses, both survivors and SS perpetrators.

    Makers of documentaries have been using - or trying to use - these individuals for decades, with varying success, but Rees has spent years patiently coaxing them to talk as the end of their lives approaches.

    Anyway, they no longer worry about consequences. SS staff who used to deny all responsibility and took refuge behind 'higher orders' now talk openly to Rees about what they did and often reveal that they have no regrets. In a deeper way, there will always be fresh answers to be discovered to the big questions: 'How could human beings have done these things?' and: 'Who decided that all the Jews must be killed and when?'

    This is because we can only peer at history through the confusingly reflective pane of our own times. Once, it was assumed that the Germans who ran and guarded the camp were psychopathic sadists and that Hitler must have given a direct extermination order to robot-like henchmen. Today, Laurence Rees and Sybille Steinbacher both subscribe to the 'cumulative radicalisation' theory (he says historian Martin Broszat invented it, while she says it came from Hans Mommsen).

    Put simply, this theory says that one thing led to another. Vast Nazi plans ran into trouble and provoked even more extreme solutions to get out of the trouble. Often, these actions were improvised by local officials. It was the SS leaders on the spot as much as Hitler and Himmler who turned deportation into shooting, shooting into gassing, gassing into a programme of total extermination. The horrible truth is that Europe's Jews were murdered as much to solve problems of living space and food in occupied Poland as to fulfil Hitler's crazed anti-semitism. In the end, the question for the Nazis was not: 'Why we must kill all the Jews', but a worse one - 'Why not?' Their presence had become a problem, so abolishing them was the obvious radical solution. After all, they were not fully human.

    Rees gives much space to the French deportation of foreign Jews to the gas chambers, a digression from his subject, but no more shocking account has been written. He goes at great length into the tangled 'lorries for Jews' affair in Hungary, another digression but one which doesn't add anything new.

    Both books are at their best when sorting out what actually took place at Auschwitz. The great camp, eventually covering a landscape with its extensions and outstations, began operations in 1940 and was liberated by the Red Army 60 years ago, on 27 January 1945. More than a million people were killed there, 90 per cent of them Jews. But murdering Jews was not the original intention of the camp, which was, at first, used mainly for Polish and Soviet prisoners.

    The first trainload of Jews destined for the new gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau arrived in spring 1942. Most of the Final Solution victims died elsewhere, before the firing squads on conquered Soviet territory or in the three temporary death camps of Operation Reinhard (my link) which gassed 1.65 million defenceless men, women and children within little more than a year.

    As these books make clear, Auschwitz was both an industrial killing factory and a place of slave-labour imprisonment where life expectancy was only a few months. The living, under a regime whose savagery and sadism remain almost unimaginable, were entitled to envy the dead. And yet - as these books show - the prisoners fought, sometimes horribly and sometimes nobly, to stay alive.

    Rees fails to mention the political resistance networks within Auschwitz, which Steinbacher summarises well. The two also disagree about whether Allied bombing of railway lines or crematoriums could have saved many victims. Rees calls this 'a new myth'; by the time detailed information about the camp's layout reached the Allies in June-July 1944, the main deportations to the gas chambers had finished. Steinbacher points out that Auschwitz still held 155,000 people and that killings went on all summer and autumn. She also records that the Polish resistance was carrying out attacks on the rail spur leading to Birkenau.

    In spite of his long familiarity with this period, Rees was still shaken by what he found. For example, the aftermath of Auschwitz was also hideous. Through witness interviews, he records the wave of vicious, sometimes murderous, anti-semitism which swept across eastern Europe after liberation, as the Jewish survivors returned to what had been their homes.

    He describes the gold rush at Auschwitz as local Poles sieved the soil of the camp for coins or teeth, and the shame felt by those who had hidden Jews during the Nazi occupation and did not want their neighbours to know. Those neighbours would assume they had done it for Jewish gold and hate them as millionaires.

    As he says, what we learn here about human beings 'is mostly not good'. His conclusion is that we underestimate the power of situations, especially extreme ones, to change not only behaviour but character. Else Baker, one of his interviewees who was sent alone to Auschwitz at the age of eight because her grandmother had been a gypsy, puts it more shortly: 'The level of human depravity is unfathomable.'

    [From The Guardian]

    DANIEL CAPPELLO: How did you become interested in writing about Hayao Miyazaki?

    MARGARET TALBOT: My kids watched several of his movies, especially “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988), on video a lot, and I started to realize that I could abide repeat viewings of them more than almost any other children's movies, with the possible exception of “The Wizard of Oz.” Naturally, I started wondering about the filmmaker who was doing me such a favor. Last summer, when I went to Japan on a United States-Japan Foundation Media Fellowship and began reporting on him, I found out that he hates the idea that children watch his films repeatedly. He's very worried about kids consuming too much media, and thinks that they should watch a movie like "Totoro" no more than once a year.

    [Read on, online only, at The New Yorker]

    15 janeiro 2005

    Estreno en España el 21 de Enero

    14 janeiro 2005

    Edição bilingue :-)

    Obrigada a um blog especialíssimo chamado Baixa Pombalina

    13 janeiro 2005

    Assorted Tidbits:

    Poetry is what gets lost in translation.

    Robert Frost

    Yo no sé de pájaros,
    no conozco la historia del fuego.
    Pero creo que mi soledad debería tener alas.

    Alejandra Pizarnik, Las aventuras perdidas, 1958


    Hay demasiadas cosas
    de las que preocuparse,
    siempre distintas, siempre imprescindibles,
    y nunca se termina,
    y apenas se respira... Y además
    está el muchacho que jamás nos mira,
    la chica que no sabe que la amamos
    Y Platón predicando represiones...
    Y a esto le llaman vida...

    Carmen Jodra Davó

    How To Disappear Completely

    That there
    That's not me
    I go
    Where I please
    I walk through walls
    I float down the Liffey
    I'm not here
    This isn't happening
    I'm not here
    I'm not here

    In a little while
    I'll be gone
    The moment's already passed
    Yeah it's gone
    And I'm not here
    This isn't happening
    I'm not here
    I'm not here

    Strobe lights and blown speakers
    Fireworks and hurricanes
    I'm not here
    This isn't happening
    I'm not here
    I'm not here

    Radiohead, Kid A, 2000

    Kambei Shimada: Go to the north. The decisive battle will be fought there.
    Gorobei Katayama: Why didn't you build a fence there?
    Kambei Shimada: A good fort needs a gap. The enemy must be lured in. So we can attack them. If we only defend, we lose the war.

    Shichinin no samurai (1954)

    Maravillosas Ocupaciones

    Qué maravillosa ocupación cortarle una pata a una araña, ponerla en un sobre, escribir Señor Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores, agregar la dirección, bajar a saltos la escalera, despachar la carta en el correo de la esquina.

    Qué maravillosa ocupación ir andando por el bulevar Arago contando los árboles, y cada cinco castaños detenerse un momento sobre un solo pie y esperar que alguien mire, y entonces soltar un grito seco y breve, y girar como una peonza, con los brazos bien abiertos, idéntico al ave cakuy que se duele en los árboles del norte argentino.

    Qué maravillosa ocupación entrar en un café y pedir azúcar, otra vez azúcar, tres o cuatro veces azúcar, e ir formando un montón en el centro de la mesa, mientras crece la ira en los mostradores y debajo de los delantales blancos, y exactamente en medio del montón de azúcar escupir suavemente, y seguir el descenso del pequeño glaciar de saliva, oír el ruido de piedras rotas que lo acompaña y que nace en las gargantas contraídas de cinco parroquianos y del patrón, hombre honesto a sus horas.

    Qué maravillosa ocupación tomar el ómnibus, bajarse delante del Ministerio, abrirse paso a golpes de sobres con sellos, dejar atrás al último secretario y entrar, firme y serio, en el gran despacho de espejos, exactamente en el momento en que un ujier vestido de azul entrega al Ministro una carta, y verlo abrir el sobre con una plegadera de origen histórico, meter dos dedos delicados y retirar la pata de araña, quedarse mirándola, y entonces imitar el zumbido de una mosca y ver cómo el Ministro palidece, quiere tirar la pata pero no puede, está atrapado por la pata, y darle la espalda y salir, silbando, anunciar en los pasillos la renuncia del Ministro, y saber que al día siguiente entrarán las tropas enemigas y todo se irá al diablo y será un jueves de un mes impar de un año bisiesto.

    Julio Cortázar, Historias de Cronopios y de Famas, 1962


    At the opera in Milan with my daughter and me, Needleman leaned out of his box and fell into the orchestra pit. Too proud to admit it was a mistake, he attended the opera every night for a month and repeated it each time.

    Woody Allen, Side Effects

    The Aliens

    you may not believe it
    but there are people
    who go through life with
    very little
    friction of distress.
    they dress well, sleep well.
    they are contented with
    their family

    they are undisturbed
    and often feel
    very good.
    and when they die
    it is an easy death, usually in their
    you may not believe
    but such people do

    but i am not one of
    oh no, I am not one of them,
    I am not even near
    to being
    one of
    but they
    are there

    and I am

    Charles Bukowski, The Last Night Of The Earth Poems

    Digo-te pot ti... dir-te-ei por ti

    Por ti

    Pela palavra por ti

    Pela frescura do teu suor de rapariga

    Pelo teu rosto sob os meus olhos nos teus olhos

    Não só nos livros se fala como num livro

    E que só num livro tu poderias ler

    Mas também no que nós não podemos dizer

    «um pouco de tempo em estado puro»

    o que não podes imaginar o que...

    no horizonte dos teus olhos no horizonte dos teus lábios

    não esperes nada do que te vou dizer

    nem sequer o mais improvável

    o instante do poema é o instante de um estado nascente

    os meus dedos tocam os teus seios miúdos sem os inventar

    e reconhecem o tremor do seu límpido volume

    no teu corpo na palavra do teu corpo

    num jardim suspenso

    ...o que escrevo é uma teia nua uma rosa de uma aranha

    que tece e destece a sua renda elíptica

    na lonjura de uma proximidade iminente

    ardente errante ardente

    ...o poeta não te diz o porquê nem o como do que te diz

    a palavra fala por mim e por ti

    em todas as sílabas é à língua que ela se destina

    do teu corpo à sua fisiologia trémula e vibrante

    é da palavra de um rio que ela tem sede

    do claro pão vivo do teu corpo

    é da tua garganta negra

    que a palavra desperta

    e inexplicavelmente será a tua

    da tua fonte mais ardente e fechada

    como se fosse só tua

    na língua de uma língua

    numa única palavra branca

    António Ramos Rosa

    inédito, 13 de Outubro de 2004

    publicado no DN de 17 de Outubro de 2004

    Science Fiction of the Day
    (just because we're a bit far from it here in good ol'Lusitania)

    How To Steal Wi-Fi

    Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty
    When I moved into a new neighborhood last week, I expected the usual hassles. Then I found out I'd have to wait more than a month for a DSL line. I started convulsing. If I don't have Net access for even one day, I can't do my job. So, what was I supposed to do? There's an Internet café on the next block, but they close early. I had no choice—it was time to start sneaking on to my neighbors' home networks.

    Every techie I know says that you shouldn't use other people's networks without permission. Every techie I know does it anyway. If you're going to steal—no, let's say borrow—your neighbor's Wi-Fi access, you might as well do it right. Step one: Lose the guilt. The FCC told me that they don't know of any federal or state laws that make it illegal to log on to an open network. Using someone's connection to check your e-mail isn't like hacking into their bank account. It's more like you're borrowing a cup of sugar. (Unless you hog their bandwidth by watching lots of streaming video—that's like hijacking a sugar truck.)

    In the end, it's your neighbor's Internet service provider—not your neighbor—who will pay for the added traffic, and the ISP has already factored a small amount of line-sharing into their price plan. It is true that your surfing could cause the folks next door to break their service contract—many broadband providers do specifically forbid home customers from sharing a connection. But let's deal with those abstract ethical issues later—you have important mail to answer!

    If you want to find a Wi-Fi network, don't start by looking on the sidewalk for chalk marks. "Warchalking," a technique for writing symbols in public places to alert neighbors to nearby wireless access points, is a cool concept that's been undermined by the fact that no one has ever used it. The best method to find some free wireless is to treat your laptop like a cell phone. Since Wi-Fi and cell phone signals travel on a similar radio frequency, the same tricks you use for getting a better phone connection might work on your computer. Sit near a window, since Wi-Fi signals travel better through glass than through solid walls. Stay away from metal objects. Pay close attention to your laptop's orientation—rotating your machine just a few degrees could help you pick up a network that you couldn't see before. Raise your laptop over your head, put it flat on the floor, tilt it sideways while leaning halfway out the window—get out the divining rod if you have to. You might get a reputation for being some sick laptop yoga freak, but isn't free Internet worth it?

    If you live downtown or in a suburb where the houses are close together, a few minutes of laptop gymnastics will probably reveal several Wi-Fi networks. Certain names are a giveaway that a network probably won't be password-protected. Look for "linksys," "default," "Wireless," "NETGEAR," "belkin54g," and "Apple Network 0273df." These are the default network names for the most popular wireless routers. If a network owner hasn't taken the time to change the default name, that's a good clue that they probably won't have a password either. You should also look for signs of hacker culture. Since hackers love giving away Net access, an all-lowercase name like "hackdojo" is most likely an invitation to log on. On the other hand, a name in all caps is typically a network under corporate lockdown.

    If you do get prompted for a password, try "public"—that's the default on many of Apple's AirPort units. You can also try common passwords like "admin," "password," and "1234"—or just check out this exhaustive list of default passwords. You should also try using the name of the network in the password space. A generic password could mean that the network's owner didn't have the sense to pick something less obvious or that they've decided to welcome outsiders. But who cares? You're in. And again, there's no specific law barring you from guessing the password, as long as you don't crack an encrypted network and read other people's transmissions.

    You can tell that you've successfully joined a wireless network when your laptop's IP address changes as it's assigned a local number by the network's router. To watch it happen on a PC, keep the Network control panel in Windows open; if you have an Apple notebook, look at the Network section of the System Preferences program. (And if you're running Linux, I don't need to tell you where to look.) Once your laptop has an IP address, your next hurdle is getting DNS to work. DNS stands for Domain Name Service—it's what translates Internet domains like "slate.com" into IP addresses like On most networks, DNS works automatically. But if you get a browser error like "Cannot find server," go back to your network menus and configure your laptop to use a public name server— in Dallas, for instance.

    Once DNS is working, you should be good to go. While you should be able to surf the Web with no problems, you may have trouble sending mail from Outlook or other desktop programs because of restrictions on e-mail routing that have been set up to stop spammers. If you have problems, just use a Web-based mail service like Hotmail or Gmail instead.

    Keep in mind that the neighbors may not be thrilled that you're sharing the line. One guy next door to my new building shut off his network the day after I moved in, probably because he got spooked by all those blinking LEDs on his router. Even neighbors who are happy to share may see you in a different light if they check their router's URL logs and find a few hundred hits on porn sites. While your browsing will show up under an anonymous address, the short range of Wi-Fi means that they'll at least be able to figure out that one of the laptop owners within 100 feet of their living room is a stuffed animal fetishist. (As a San Franciscan, I need to point out that a stuffed animal fetish is perfectly normal. It's your neighbors who have the problem.)

    Since everyone isn't as eager to share their network as I am, it's only fair to explain that there's an incredibly easy way to keep neighbors and drive-by geeks off your network. All you have to do is set a password that isn't as obvious as "1234." There's an eye-glazing list of Wi-Fi security measures you can implement to block overachieving Russian teens from monitoring your keystrokes, but in real life the only people sniffing your wireless signal are jerks like me who need a place to log on until the phone company wires the apartment. An unguessable password sends as clear a message as a shot of Mace: Go find a Starbucks, creep.

    Clarification, Nov. 22, 2004: There are some laws that could be used to charge you with unauthorized computer use, but my legal sources say that because there are so many networks left open to the public on purpose, it would be tough for an individual to make the legal case that their intent was to keep everyone off their network if it's not password-protected. If you stick to surfing the Web and not other people's PCs, you'll probably be safe from prosecution.

    From Slate