Archive for August, 2003

where are all the grandparents?

Sunday, August 31st, 2003

I suppose the American extended family we know most intimately here in Saffron Walden is the Doonesburies. Talking with my daughter the other day, we suddenly realised that there is a strange shortage of granny interaction there. I mean, Joanie never seems to have anything to do with Alex. I do know that they live on opposite sides of the continent, and that Joanie ran out on her own child as a young woman. But I still think it odd. Maybe it just is the case that upper middle-class Americans don’t have grandparents any more than they have washing lines and that only poor people and country dwellers still maintain the tradition. It’s very sad, if it’s true. Of course, on the Well, it would be possible to discuss this at endless length in the comics conference, but I’m not there now.

a test of readership

Friday, August 29th, 2003

I have got a perfectly horrible story up on the Guardian’s web site this morning. It’s not original, of course: I found a pointer on Rafe Coburn’s site, I think. But it’s news to the English; and I’ll be interested to see if other papers take it up, because that column goes out with the Wrap, which is now a subscription-only service. Will anyone read to the end? Will anyone notice it’s a great Daily Mail feature? Will I get off my perfect bottom and write it for the Mail while simultaneously finishing the Foster profile?

this modern world

Friday, August 29th, 2003

Kevin Drum has just lived through the perfect summary of the modern economy. Two years ago, he brought a Minolta colour laser printer for $1000. over the last few weeks, all the consumables ran out: four ink cartridges, a fuser oil roller, and a drum kit. The cost of replacing all these was $686. A new printer, of the same model, now costs $600 from Amazon, with free shipping.

It’s worth noting that the arithmetic is slightly different with HP inkjets. They come with specially undersized print cartridges when you buy them, so that it isn’t nearly cheaper to buy a new printer (£200) than to replace the cartridges (£50).

rave reviews

Tuesday, August 26th, 2003

If any readers are anywhere near Manchester tonight, they should rush off to Ratdog. I had no very high hopes of them last night, but they were lovely: slick, imaginative, and interested in their work. They played a set consisting of about half the stuff that people wanted to hear (pre-1976 Dead tunes, preferably not sung by Weir originally) and half newer and very pleasant material. Sax, keyboards, lead guitar, all thoughtful and making space for each other. Very fine rhythm section. Mr Weir, in a full beard and yet fuller moustache, looking extremely bizarre, “like a crazed Victorian Ghillie”, said John Gillow, who popped up in the seat next to us. Well, yes, except that crazed Victorian ghillies aren’t usually wearing sawn-off denim short, and don’t have the melancholy glittering eyes of a beagle that’s spent its whole life smoking the wrong cigarettes. Quite without ego, though: his guitar was mixed right down and there were no special spots on him or anything. One of the nicest, friendliest, and most fun concerts I have ever seen, and about as different in atmosphere from a modern Dead show as you could imagine — except, of course, that almost all the audience were Deadheads.

a long strange trip

Monday, August 25th, 2003

The first time I saw Bob Weir play was around 29 years ago, at the Alexandra Palace, though I was, God knows, in no condition to trust the evidence of my eyes at the time or for about eight hours afterwards. And in about an hour, I’m off with my daughter to see him again, in Milton Keynes, in a place so small that row 8 is the back row. We shall be Very Good. I hope that he is too.

a glimpse of the future

Monday, August 25th, 2003

If you want to know where the debate on altruism, group seleciton, and sociobiology is going for the next decasdee, these papers would be a good place to start.

The, like, great chain of being

Saturday, August 23rd, 2003

If you can understand this, it’s too late to save you.

Righteous preaching

Saturday, August 23rd, 2003

Things my friend the vicar would say if he had only thought of them: “You cannot wave your unread bible and scare me. I know its larger story and I will tear you a new biblical asshole.”

From the rather wonderful Real Live Preacher.

richer than anyone in history

Saturday, August 23rd, 2003
One of the minor wonders of the Empire is that a rich man in America can not only muy more things than the richest men of the past could dream of; he can buy servants that were once the prerogative of an Emperor. Snoop Doggy Dog is a medium-successful rap star, with scarcely more than $100m to his name, but he has a personal Archbishop, just like the Queen of England:
Snoop turns away in disgust, passing the blunt to his ‘spiritual advisor,’ Archbishop Don ‘Magic’ Juan. Juan, sipping from a bejeweled goblet and wearing a white suit with a dollar-bill pattern, is a former pimp who earned ordination. Decked out as Dolemite, he’s the rapper’s unofficial mascot. ‘Snoop is calmer now, baby,’ Juan shouts at me above the din, waving smoke from my eyes with a gold-encrusted hand. ‘Millions have seen it. They saw it at the Playboy mansion, when we visited there together. His family life has improved, and he’s reaching a spiritual level that he couldn’t reach before because his brain was clogged up with weed and alcohol. That’s why his career is taking off the way it is, why he’s touring with those — what’s their name? — Hot Chili Peppers, and with 50 Cent.’
Between inhales, Juan is still talking. ‘Everybody’s always pullin’ at Snoop Dogg, but I try to do for him. I go get him things, like a fish fillet — I know he like that. Orange Crush — he like that, too. And because of my association with Snoop, I’m taking myself to new heights. Like — and you print this — I’m the first pimp William Morris ever signed!’
Maybe not quite like the Queen of England.

The quote comes from a story in Salon. I don’t know if non-subscribers can get it.

He’s on our side

Saturday, August 23rd, 2003

Just a throwaway link from tnh but this is a lovely piece of work, and shows what libraries can do on the web if they are so inclined. It makes a good illustrated primer to one thesis in Dr Longley’s important book.