Michaelwclark.com

Just my stuff


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Blind conformity

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I’ve been busy latetly. Earthpages is a few days behind. But I have been doing some R&D with Linux software. I like Linux. Now trying out a very light OS for older computers called Lubuntu. For me, it’s a bit snappier than Xubuntu.

If you’d like to try Linux, be warned. At the beginning it can be frustrating. Simple things like unzipping and installing need to be learned all over again. And it can be buggy. You gotta have a bit of a tech sense, I think. Still, it’s nice to get away from that fracking Microsoft hegemony. Free software might be the wave of the future. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could have access to computers, learning and creativity?

Here’s a little comic I did this morning. I’m posting it through Blogilo. On an older computer Blogilo seems nicer (faster) than the WordPress editor. Still testing it out though…


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21st Century Signs and Urban Changes

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Now that I’ve finally got a good mobile phone that takes nice pics, I’m beginning a new venture, one that has been percolating for some time now. Actually two ventures. One is a photo series called “21st Century Signs.” The other is a series called “Urban Changes.”

21C Signs will chronicle signs that catch my eye as I go about my daily business. I won’t crop or filter the images. It’s just a quick historical snapshot. The series might seem unexceptional today, but in the future I think folks will be interested.

Urban Changes is about how my city, Toronto Canada, is changing soooo fast. Old buildings are disappearing by the truckload. New buildings are coming up and altering our skyline like never before. So this series will outline abandoned, soon to be trashed, and glittering new structures.

You can keep up by simply coming here because it’ll all be on Twitter. And my personal Twitter feed is at top right of this page. I was lucky to grab the name “@MikeClark” at Twitter early in the game, when Twitter was just taking off. If you want to see the whole thing, here’s the link:


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June

So ends a pretty terrible month in the news. I started this at the beginning of the month. At some point I realized that it was mirroring the tragic headlines that dominated a good part of June.


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Only in Toronto…

assbackwards-01.jpg licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Click image for source.

Toronto sports fans are rejoicing that the Leafs finished dead last in the NHL season this year.

Why?

Because this dismal season made them eligible for a lottery to get the first draft pick for the upcoming season. And they won the lottery. So theoretically, Leafs get to choose the best new player. I say theoretically because there’s no guarantee their pick will actually turn out best.

Many fans actually wanted the Leafs to lose their final games so they could get this pick.

To me this is the same kind of ass backwards philosophy that runs through much of Canada: Keep the dollar low so we can attract foreign business and, especially, customers for exports like good ol’ Texas Tea (Alberta blend). Meanwhile, tax more so we can (supposedly) get better services.

It’s a loser’s game… in sports and life. Far better, I think, to always do your best rather than skulk around in the mud.

 

 


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Beauty and the beast


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Bryan Ferry’s Avonmore

Does anyone remember Roxy Music? How about the front man, Bryan Ferry?

Back in the early 80s I really enjoyed Avalon, a Roxy Music LP featuring Ferry. So I ordered the similarly titled Avonmore from the library out of sheer curiosity. We have an amazing library in TO and can get almost anything, if willing to wait a while.

When the disc arrived at my branch I wasn’t expecting much. Just another aging rocker trying to relive his or her glory days, right?

Well, the minute I got the CD rolling, I had to revise my expectations.

The first song “Loop De Li”  is a nice tune with superb studio production—like a time tunnel to the past, but masterfully executed. Same thing with the second cut “Midnight Train.” So by this time, I’m thinking, wow, I can relive my youth and have a favorite album for the car!

Then the third cut comes along, “Soldier of Fortune,” and it’s a bit of cold cut. A very good song, but the atmospheric continuity is suddenly broken. I mean, if you’re going retro, shouldn’t your CD really be a concept album?*

Image via Wikipedia

That’s about the only gripe I have with this record. Some thematic continuity does reappear later on, along with a couple of covers. Even the covers are pretty good. Especially Robert Palmer’s “Johnny and Mary,” which comes off sort of sad and distant. But maybe that’s fitting considering Palmer passed away at age 54.

All in all, a good album. I probably wouldn’t spend $20 on it. If unavailable in the library I’d have listened through Spotify, enduring their irritating ads.

I feel that these multimillion dollar rockers have been overcharging the common folk for decades. It’s about time we got some payback. Although, come to think of it, we’re still being fleeced. Just in a different way. Taxes (library) and internet fees in Canada probably amount to a lot more home entertainment spending than just buying records.

Oh well. Pay up or be outcast. It’s the same old story.

*CNN aired that “Sixties” show again last night, produced by Tom Hanks and others. It claimed that Sgt. Peppers was the first concept lp to change everything. But this is debatable. Frank Sinatra did a sublime concept album in 1955 with In The Wee Small Hours.


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One thing leads to another

A Netgear DG632 ADSL modem with an 8 pin JTAG ...

A Netgear DG632 ADSL modem with an 8 pin JTAG header at location “5”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a holiday here in Canada, so I was taking it slow this morning. Every now and then our internet connection needs to be reset by restarting the modem. That happened today, so I got up out of my comfy chair and went down to the basement where the modem sits.

I also have a personal reference library in the basement, so while waiting for the necessary 10 second “off time” before restarting the modem, glanced at some of my books. A dictionary of anthropology caught my eye. Browsing its pages while waiting for the internet to return, I found some interesting material on the idea of liminality.

You’d think I’d know all about this concept; it’s right up my alley. But as things go, I’ve only made note of it until now.

Some quick research on Wiki produced these two links. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in religion and the related idea of numinosity. Of particular interest is the distinction anthropologist Victor Turner makes between the liminal and the liminoid. The one is structured and expected by society, and more like work (e.g. going to Church); the other is free and playful (e.g. going to a rock concert). But both apparently have similar effects. They transport you somewhere out of the ordinary.

For me, going to Church is a lot more than just a “trip.” And I only go when I feel called to do so (not via social pressure). But that’s something I’ll elaborate on at earthpages.ca. In the meantime, I just wanted to link to these two exciting finds.

This second link is an interview with Talal Asad. I was pleasantly surprised to discover his views on postmodernism and religion. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. And it’s always great to find an “established” thinker who’s saying things that you’ve already thought about. It gives you a sense of reinforcement and encouragement. After all, a single innovative thinker is often ignored or marginalized (as has been my experience). More than one, however, and people start to take notice.

Apart from my personal story, I really believe that humanity would benefit from using all of the intellectual tools we have at our disposal… especially with regard to religion and society.