Culture

Better Living

DyREnet has some useful tips for better living. Samæl’s extremely happy with his new Houseplant, while Spencer was let down by her Papermate-Comfort Mate, medium ball, black ink, click-action, writing pen after years of support. DyREnet also has some new and spiffy random taglines. Some of my favourites include: “Still legal in sixteen states.”, “no Subliminal mEssages eXistant here”, “We’re not quite the downfall of man, but we’re trying.”, and “The masses have spoken; we just didn’t listen.” Keep it up, DyRE, and I’ll have to kill you.

Uh, well, maybe not.

A Conversation on Information

Umberto Eco is a professor of semiotics, philosophy and literature at the University of Bologna in Italy, and he is well known for his academic publications as well as popular fiction such as The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum (which I am currently reading). In this interview, Eco discusses the Internet, information overload and filtering, hypertext , hypermedia and virtual reality. He was very open minded and articulate in his descriptions and criticism of the internet and information filtering, especially given that the internet was not very developed at the time.

“I am not saying that Internet is, or will be a negative experience. I am saying on the contrary that it is a great chance. Once we have asserted this, I am trying to isolate the possible traps; the possible negative aspects.”

Much time is spent discussing information filtering, and why it is necessary to go about such things and how it becomes difficult on a system like the internet because the amount of options is often overwhelming (like going to google and typing Umberto Eco and getting back 61,200 results). Another topic is communities on the internet. He is enthusiastic at the possibilities but he adds that the information still must be filtered. You must choose which posts and authors you wish to read, and we often choose them randomly, but if we had a filter we could know which posts are important and which are crap. Regardless, he likes the idea of finding new ideas and perspectives through the internet community. “Is that a substitute for face-to-face contact and community? No, it isn’t!” Fascinating stuff.

Role Playing

Check out The Window, for role playing the way it should be (“simple, usable, and universal”). The Three Precepts on which it is based are solid and actually contribute to the storytelling aspects of RPGs (as evidenced in the third precept: “A good story is the central goal.” ) Check it out, I found it fascinating (and I don’t even play RPGs anymore). In fact, some of those ideas there have inspired me to perhaps create a different form of Tandem Story

Ushering in Twelve Eighteen

Yes, today is twelve eighteen. What, you may ask, is twelve eighteen? Well, its one two one eight. Before you ask, one two one eight is twelve eighteen. What the hell does this have to do with anything? Everything, of course. Chaos theorists have pondered those stories carefully (specifically the Yankee Stadium incident and the mathematics of 1218), and some believe them to be central in gaining the necessary understanding of the universe.

Lost Luggage

Ever wonder what the airlines do with your luggage? Sure, they claim 97% of lost luggage are returned to their rightful owners within 24 hours and another 1.5% within 2 days, but what about the remaining 1.5%? Well, after 6 weeks, they sell it (and going by the percentages, this works out to be somewhere around 435, 000 bags). Apparently most of the lost bags end up in a small Alabama town at the Unclaimed Baggage Center, where they, in turn, sell the contents of the lost bags at discount prices. In case you don’t feel like hopping on a plane to visit Alabama (what would you do with your luggage?), you can always visit their webpage and buy stuff online.

Snacktastrophies

Pudding-Factory Disaster Brings Slow, Creamy Death to Town Below: This article ran a while ago, but I think its the funniest thing I have ever read over at The Onion. An exerpt: “Sweet, creamy death swept through this small Illinois town Monday… burying hundreds of residents in a rich, smooth tidal wave of horrifying pudding goodness.” Priceless descriptions of the tragic, tragic horror of the delectably Choco-Licious™ death-pudding.

Demotivators

To find the perfect gift for those hopeless people in your life, go to Despair, Inc., a company that sells demotivational posters similar to the popular motivational posters found in most business settings. My favourite demotivators:

  • Procrastination – “Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.”
  • Apathy – “If we don’t take care of the customer, maybe they’ll stop bugging us.” {I printed this out and put it in my cube.}
  • Blame – “The secret to success is knowing who to blame for your failures.”

LOL. I might actually buy one of these someday…

Bah Humbug

Lawyer Wants To Bar Christmas as Federal Holiday: This grinch has been trying to steal Christmas for almost 3 years now, with the argument that having Christmas as a federal holiday is a violation of Church and state. “the Christmas holiday amounts to a government approval for a day of Christian religious origins marking the birth of Jesus Christ” This guy obviously doesn’t know much about the History of Christmas, which has its origins in pagan rituals that were later adopted by Christianity to celebrate the birth of Christ. In my opinion, Christmas is such a wonderous holiday because of its secular aspects, including holly, ivy, Mistletoe, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, snowmen, jingling bells and presents on Christmas morning (which have been repeatedly recognized by US Courts). Furthermore, this is a season who’s very message transcends any specific religion, ideology, or tradition to become an occasion for collective reflection on the values of what brings us together. Lets just hope the Courts stand firm…