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|Friday, September 19th, 2014|
|Battle on the Bay Report Part II: Experiment Results
In my previous entry I described my two experiments at the Storvik SCA Event Battle of the Bay. One was an effort to do a long form storytelling contest. The other was an effort to prepare a Bible story as a Viking story to tell at the contest.
The short version is that my boast Friday night at the boasting contest worked better for me than the story. There were a lot of issues for me in telling the story, many deriving from the fact that (as usual) I did not have enough time to work on it and what got premiered was really a very rough prof of concept rather than a final conceptualized story. OTOH, for reasons I will elaborate on below, while I am glad to have tried the experiment, I'm not sure it is worth the effort to improve it and try again.
As for the contest itself. I think that went better. But I did not do nearly enough to publicize it so that it got an audience to see that long-form storytelling is fun and good stuff. I can definitely think of ways to improve on that is I run the experiment again.( Read more...Collapse )
|Thursday, September 18th, 2014|
|My storytelling experiment at Battle on the Bay
Last weekend was the Storvik event Battle on the Bay. It's local and a camping event and I was free that weekend due to my withdrawal from an academic conference (I had failed to get my paper done, which is rather disappointing). Rivka wasn;t feeling up to camping that weekend so she and Aaron stayed home while I went to the event.
I tried two experiments at the event. The first, based on a conversation I had with Scholastica (the current Atalntian Royal Bard) about trying to build a space for long-form storytelling, was to issue a story-telling challenge. The second, inspired by fianaclare
's "Ieasu Odinson" stories, was an attempt to translate a bible story to a viking paradigm.
The first experiment was very successful, the second is definitely a work in progress and I'm not sure if I am up to it.( Read more...Collapse )
|Wednesday, September 17th, 2014|
|Tahara Blog: First Time With A Number
This was the first time I have ever done a tahara for a Survivor. M-3885. fatlefty
may know something of the numbering conventions to know what that means.
Yitzchak Isaac ben Moshe. You passed through horror. Your journey is at an end. May the Lord take you into his keeping.
|Tuesday, September 16th, 2014|
|Friday, September 12th, 2014|
|Thursday, September 11th, 2014|
|Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014|
|Yes Virginia, There Really Is An Israeli Left
I have been trying, on and off for awhile now, to write a piece called "How The Liberal Disapora Killed The Israeli Left" it basically boils down to the refusal of the Liberal diaspora to recognize anything other than Shimon Peres as a legitimate left position in Israel.
As always, the universe is a much more complicated place, among both Palestinians and Israelis. Both Israel and Palestine are more highly fractured around the future of the peace process (for varying values of peace process), the future of Hamas, the future of the region, etc.http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.613586
Briefly, on the Israeli side, the split is between left of center Tenuah (Livni) and Yesh Atid (Lapid) v. Habayit Yehudi (Bennet) and Yisroel Beiteinu (Leiberman). So far, Likud is leaning rightwward -- as is the Israeli public. (According to this article
, recent polling shows that in an election Yesh Atid would lose about 7 seats and Livni's Tenuah would be in danger of dropping out of Knesset altogether).
On the PA side, the difference between Hamas and Fatah has become more pronounced, with Fatah insisting that reconciliation means that Hamas must yield operational control of Gaza and abide by Fatah's foreign policy. I'll add that arresting Fatah activists in Gaza during the war and apparently planning a coup against Fatah didn't help.
But on Israel/Palestine, the American left behaves with the same utter lack of nuance that it accuses conservatives of acting with in the rest of the Middle East. Basically, if it don't look like Oslo and the Israelu leadershipo isn't bravely forging ahead without regard to the actual facts on the ground, then its all hand-wring. (I will not worry about the folks who actively embrace Hamas as the true voice of Palestinian liberation, etc. If you think Israel are a bunch of colonialist genocidal oppressor scum to be driven out by force and exterminated if they won't go back to Germany (whether thay actually came from there or not), well, at least it is consistent.
So the conversation of the Liberal Diaspora has not become "how to support the new Israeli left" or "how to build a new path forward in a dynamically changing Middle East." Rather, it is all sorts of self-pitying boo-hoo pieces about "whatever happened to the Israeli left and wahtever shall we do?" Then the Liberal diaspora has tromped off to go eat a gallong of metaphorical fudge ripple and feel sad that they can never seem to find anyone like Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak.
|Friday, August 29th, 2014|
|RIP Master Ioseph of Locksley
I am grieved to report ill news from the Rialto. Master Ioseph of Locksley, mka Joe Bethancourt, is dead.
I had the pleasure of knowing Master Ioseph for 25 years. Mostly virtually, occasionally in person, and increasingly rarely as we both were less active in the Society.
The Filk Was Great . . . to quote the title of one of his songs that became the title of our CD that featured him as guest at NEFilk in 2000. But it is done, and he has sung his last song.
|Friday, August 22nd, 2014|
|Will Hollywood Go The Way of Radio
In the mid-1990s, radio was a popular and highly profitable medium. It got taken over by large corporations who proceeded to homogenize the product through product surveys and autmoation across increasingly consolidated platforms/
And a funny thing happened, people stopped listening. And the more people tuned out, the more the industry got relentlessly monolithic and homgenized. Now it was no longer consolidation for profit, it was consolidation for surival. And in that environment you never took risks. You did what the numbers and surveys told you. Because the most successful radio stations were the ones who attracted that largest average audience.
But as the industry kept doing the same thing, more and more people got bored with it and wandered off. Other, more fragmented alternatives online got traction instead. Today, more people than ever are listening to music, more people than ever are even buying music, but the number of people listening to radio is at an all time low.
Two useful pieces: it's not piracy that's killing the moive industry
and the reason Hollywood makes so many boring superhero movies
suggest a similar dynamic is starting among the major studios. As films become more expensive to make, and Hollywood makes fewer of them, they become more formulaic. The giant success of a handful of movies using the formula inspires an ever increasing number of films to follow in their footsteps Consolidation makes it harder for the individual producers that used to interject new and creative approaches to break in and disrupt the formula. With the cost of attending movies continually climbing, and new alternatives becoming available, the audience declines, causing Hollywood to stick even more rigidly to the "proven" formula.
And, over time, you can't break out. Even if some amazing new radio station format broke through, no one would discover it. the potential audience has gone away. All that's left is a rump audience that *likes* the same old crap.
We'll see if Hollywood can learn from the past.
|Thursday, August 21st, 2014|
|Working from Home until after Labor Day
We're remodelling the office. So I now need to figure out how to use Slack -- which is apparently the latest popular messaging and document sharing platform.
I'm hoping this will prove more productive. Also need to figure out how to check my office voice mail remotely. I was travelling for most of the lead up to this.
|Friday, August 15th, 2014|
|Ferguson and the Power of the Self-Narrative
One of many lessons of the tragic shooting of African-American Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO and its aftermath is the power of our internal and societal narratives. How we frame a situation dramatically influences how we respond, and thus influences others.
Policing -- particularly crowd control and protests -- has two competing narratives. We have the "cop on the beat" as part of the community "to protect and to serve." More officially, we call this "community based policing." It centers on the idea that the vast majority of people in the community are peaceful and law abiding. There are occasional moments of danger and potential violence that require carefully measured force to address the very specific danger, but the objective is to resolve situations without force if possible, with minimal force if necessary. Critically, the "cop on the beat" is a member of the community. A part of the community as much as the fireman, the teacher, the teenager, whoever.
The second narrative is the "war on crime" or "thin blue line" model. It is a hostile jungle out there. The only thing that defends poor, frightened desperate law abiding folks (coincidentally envisioned as white -- not that we're racist!) is the brave thin blue line of grim and gritty policeman (coincidentally mostly white and male -- not that this makes us racist or sexist!) willing to put their lives on the line and do what it takes to stop those criminal animals (coincidentally envisioned as young black men -- not that we're racist!) and anarchist mobs from destroying what's left of our once great Nation. It's Dirty Harry and Fort Apache the Bronx. And anyone who thinks all this stupid "rights" stuff that panders and protects criminals (coincidentally envisioned as young black men and young Latino men -- not that we're racist!) is part of the problem.
And, of course, an army conducting a war on crime needs weapons, right? Real weapons, 'cause it's a jungle out there and we're all just one step away from living in a Hellscape where criminals gangs that just happen to be visualized as young black men high on drugs rape our women who just happen to be visualized as white, attractive (but not 'slutty,' obviously, if they were 'slutty' they'd be prostitutes) and suitably grateful when rescued.
We got to see both these narratives play out in Ferguson.( Read more...Collapse )
|Wednesday, August 13th, 2014|
|Tuesday, August 12th, 2014|
|Good Dennis Ross Piece on What Should Happen Now In Mid-East
I think Dennis Ross had it right in this piece on Sunday about the choices Hamas made and the course forward. Especially the idea that since a final status peace deal is impossible now, the objective should be to make immediate improvements that reward Fatah for forgoing violence and build the political capital of leaders who support negotiation (Ross lists some good concrete steps on both sides that could build well with ratification of an agreement like the Lapid Plan). As Ross concludes: "Our diplomacy after this recent conflict must foster tangible changes on the ground, not promise a vision that is unachievable. That is the essence of good statecraft, and rarely has it been more needed."
|Friday, August 8th, 2014|
|Tuesday, July 29th, 2014|
|Victories Are Nice
Well, it's been an interesting week last week, and no mistake. But it finished on a rather nice note.
The House passed by voice vote the Cell Phone Unlocking Bill of 2014. The House had passed a version of this back in February, but it contained a really awful bulk unlocking provision added at the last minute by the largest cell phone companies. The Senate version removed the offending clause and got us back to the good bill. the House passed by voice vote (meaning everyone agreed) and the President (who supported the legislation) issued a statement that he looks forward to signing it.
There is a sufficiency of nourishkeit out there that remedying some is pleasant. We have reaffirmed that people have the right to unlock their phones once they pay them off, and have spanked the Copyright Office for straying well beyond what Congress intended (and what previous Registrars of Copyright had done). Hopefully it will stick for them as we go to the next Trienniel Review.
|Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014|
|I am very much afraid it will get worse before it stops
The Gaza crisis is heading in exactly the wrong direction. As in 2006, it stems from the inability of Hamas to understand Israeli motivations.
Short version: Hamas (and the broader Palestinian population, and I suspect the broader Arab world) believe that the more credible a military threat they are, the more likely Israel is to back down. Believing Israel to be monsters who understand only force, a population of foreign colonizers engaged in a policy of colonial enslavement, coupled with an utter unwillingness to engage -- Hamas believes it will win by threatening Israel's economic and social security. Essentially, the belief is that Israel are a bunch of big cowardly bullies who will stand down if you stand up to them.
Actually, the Israel motivation is reverse. The primary motivator for Israel aggression is fear. When Israelis feel they have the upper hand is when the Shalom Achsav and B'tselem guys come out. When Israel feels its existence is actually threatened, as opposed to merely theoretically threatened in the abstract, they have TOTAL FLIP OUT. There is nothing like 10 centuries of persecution to give you a persecution complex.
So, the more Hamas looks like a credible threat, the more likely Israel is to actually increase its assault.
Say this to folks who don't understand it and this usually gets a rather sneering answer: either along the lines like 'right, they are already committing genocide, how could it be worse.' Or something equally stupid like 'Oh, so you're saying they're justified in committing war crimes.' None of which is actually helpful or changes the situation.
Which is why I'm depressed. The dynamic is exactly like the one that triggered the government shutdown. And just as unavoidable given the current set of players and motivations. Hamas (and now apparently Fatah) think they have hit on the winning strategy and if they can only hold out long enough Israel will cave and give them concessions because Israel will have no choice. But the more Hamas demonstrates its credibility as a military force, the more Israel will feel compelled to destroy it and the less they will care about anything other than NEVER AGAIN!! KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL!!! until the threat diminishes down to a level where the panic goes away.
This is what happened in '06 in Lebanon. Hezbollah kept upping the military assault on a theory that they could drive the Israeli army back by inflicting casualties. In fact, the more Israel felt it was in a real war, the rougher and more desperate they got until they reduced Beirut to a smoking ruin and Hezbollah declared "victory" and agreed to a return to the basic cease fire.
So I believe this is going to continue to get very ugly for the foreseeable future. Which is why I am disabling comments. I really have no interest in the usual blather that has about as much to do with what is happening as discussions about fairness affect the physics of pennies dropped off the Empire State Building. My passionate wish that the universe would be otherwise has nothing whatsoever to do with what my Mentat brain gives me as the prime projection. if y'all don't like it, you can decide I don't know what I'm talking about.