Netflix – not an unmixed good?

Big Arm Woman points out:

Before Netflix, I would have suffered through the second half of the movie because I would have felt the strange need to get my money’s worth from the video store visit and selection. But Netflix has turned movie consumption into a never-ending stream of content, paid for out-of-sight with a monthly credit card charge, and so I no longer have any connection to the product that arrives in my mailbox.
I could get all hoity-toity here and say that Netflix has made me more discerning about the movies I will deign to watch, but that’s not true. These movies are all flicks I wouldn’t pay full price to see at the theatre, so I pretty much know what I’m getting. Really, Netflix has just made me more jaded and impatient with movies.

I’m tending to agree.

Ummm . . . is computer lust a sin?

Well, I suppose it falls under greed rather than lust, really.
I got to play with a 13″ MacBook yesterday over at our Colleges IT department. Thanks, Jeff DeVuyst! It’s White. Sleek. Shiny. The built in camera thingie is cute.
The only drawback I can see (given that I’m eligible for an interest free loan deducted automatically from my paycheck) to buying one is that I’m afraid it’s marginally bigger than the beautiful computer bag from Crumpler (who evidently would rather not sell their products to adults via their own website – go figure). Oh, well – I’ll take the plunge sometime this summer.
I like the chicletty keyboard – the clicky action feels very nice.
I LOVE the screen, shiny or not. I had my 12″ PowerBook G4 with me (but in a neoprene sleve shoved in my bigger backpack, which is why I’m not certain about the Crumpler) and was able to put them side by side. The difference is amazing.
I do prefer the metal skin to plastic – I had an iBook before this and it never felt as substantial as the PowerBook. But, since plastic is what’s on offer, the white model is fine – all you get for your extra $200 is black and 20 GB of hard drive (click and scroll for the comparison chart). I confirmed that with Jeff. Now over the life of the loan that would be about $4 per pay period, but . . . .

Preservationist Versions of History

You know, one of the joys of my sad, twisted, medievalist life is seeing people who live in the right now jump around about the past.
The headline on this story might make you think that the bookstore being saved is OOOOOOLLLLD; ‘venerable?’ Well, lemme tell you, it wasn’t there in 1984 when I was a senior at Rice. I don’t remember anyone mentioning it to me (a notorious bookstore person and, in those days, regular visitor to Houston) before 1987. It sure didn’t have the Bissonet Theater before 1984.
And the last time I was there? I’d prefer a Borders. Big box book stores should be good. This was a bad big box bookstore with poetry readings.
It looks like a case of fundamentalist preservationism to me. Let me give you a big hint – just because you don’t remember life before a certain fact doesn’t make it historical. Just older than you.
Via the bookslut blog.

What a difference a year makes . . .

What one forgets as time passes is that organic lettuce bought at the Farmers’ Market is not pre-washed. Which means I had to haul out the salad spinner. Is there anything bigger and more annoying to try to fit into the refrigerator than a full-sized salad spinner?
Are there smaller ones? I’m hopeful. This is too big.

It’s all in the stars

I find the astrology exposé about Jerome Anderson at MyDD amusing – and am reminded about the Emory aftermath of the Heaven’s Gate Cult. A professor of political science, Courtney Brown, gave a press conference alleging that the Heaven’s Gate group were a fraud. He knew this because he was in psychic contact with the aliens in the Hale-Bopp comet.
Emory reeled. He had tenure. He’s there at Emory – but I note that he’s still an associate professor. The website linked above not only has scholarly matters, but I’m interested to see a link under his publications to speculative nonfiction.

Outhouses as Protest Art

In protest, they’ve erected multicolored outhouses along county roads and the main streets of the county seat, Berkeley Springs. They’ve called for a moratorium on big development. One weekend this month, they rallied before Farnham’s backyard titans to repeat the mantra, “Keep Morgan County Rural. Keep Morgan County Green.”

Here’s a Washington Post story about anti-development protest with an outsider artist twist. Well, sorta. Outsider to the extent that I’m not sure I’d get out of my car to see the main subject’s statues. Hippy art? He’s the son of a lawyer, raised in Scarsdale.
I guess the lesson is you can’t move away from suburbia – it will come and get you!

Posted in Art

Balcony blogging from a former vacation spot

There was a time when Geneva and the Finger Lakes in general were a vacation destination – and I can feel why this morning. I’m blogging from an adirondack chair on the third story balcony looking at the lake, hearing a train go through downtown (bells and whistles at the two level crossings), listening to the fountain splashing in the Park below, and feeling a perfect breeze. It’s 65 and gorgeous. No wonder there are big porches on the houses on the west side of Main Street – looking east towards Seneca Lake.
Skaneateles Lake still has some of the frisson of a place for the rich to spend summers, but I’m afraid people don’t take long enough holidays any more to make lake houses worthwhile. We’re a little too far from any big cities other than Syracuse or Rochester for the summer thing to work any more.
It’s too bad – people are missing a good thing!
Here’s an interesting article from the Washington Post about vacations in America – and how many of us don’t use all we have.


In December, United announced it was switching to something it called WilMA, for “window-middle-aisle.” At the time, United officials said the system would save four to five minutes per flight and $1 million a year.

That bit of good news is from this article, which I found via Tea, Lemon, Old Books – another blogging medievalist.

Farmers’ Market day

I missed last week, but here’s the Geneva Farmers’ Market. There’s not a lot of local produce yet – exotic organic lettuces, strawberries, and peas were about it. But below you can see one of my two purchases. I’ll have cut flowers on the table until October (well, except for the weeks when all they have are things that make my eyes water!).

New grills, good tunes

A friend bought a grill and baptized her patio with fire – or flamed london broils – tonight. The longest night of the year should be spent at least mainly outside! On my way home and then around town with Argyle the Airedale I heard:
Dido, “Slide”
Cake, “Mexico”
Depeche Mode, “Strangelove”
Joy Division (New Order), “Digital”
Tina Turner, “Way of the World”
Roxy Music, “Kiss and Tell”
Aretha Franklin, “Another Night”
Allison Moyet, “Falling”
M People, “Last Night 10,000”
DJ Amanda Medley of Madison Avenue Tunes, including “Don’t Call Me Baby,” “Who the HELL Are You?” “Everything You Need”
All in all, a useful mix.

More and more about less and less

I’m excited! Nicholas Everett’s Literacy in Lombard Italy, c 568-774 just came for me through Interlibrary loan! I know what I’m doing all afternoon!*
Why do I care?
1. I think about inscriptions on buildings – public writing.
2. If no one much could read, medieval inscriptions were mere decoration, a superficial revival of antique models.
3. If people could read,** inscriptions conveyed information and therefore my project has much implications for a much broader audience.
*oooooh – and in my cool new prescription (progressive bifocal) Maui Jims.
**don’t get me started on reading silently vs. reading aloud unless you have a while to listen.
further Argh! I just deleted a real comment on this post in the midst of a pile of spam and now I discover that the BACK button won’t recover it. I juat caught a bit of text about language as I hit “despam.”
Language – what language did people speak, what language people did people read? Most of my dissertation is about Francia (the Frankish Kingdom, but in Italy that’s no problem at all. In the 6th and 7th centuries the vast majority of the population (all the non-Lombards other than some Greek speakers in Naples and South Italy) would be speaking Late Latin — it’s not even Proto-Romance at this point. If there were someone to read Latin out loud to them, they’d understand it, at least in the simplest sense of “understand,” and I agree that there are a lot of senses there! Here’s a way of thinking about chronology and linguistic register: How well do people really understand the King James Version or Shakespeare or the 1928 Prayer Book read aloud and at regular speed? That might have been what the Aeneid sounded like by 568. Remember, though, that Jerome’s translation/version, the Vulgate, was in a much more everyday and modern Latin – barely 150 years old. More like hearing the Good News Version, I’d guess.
In Germanic speaking areas, things would have been different. The number of Lombards in Italy, though, was always relatively less in proportion to the population than Franks north of the Loire, we think. Visigoths in Spain? Also probably a fairly neglibigle proportion — there may have been more people in Spain still speaking various Celtic languages than there were Visigoths.
The linguistic research of the last 30 years has pushed the dividing line between Proto-Romance and Late Latin (the point at which two people would no longer have understood each other) forward into the 9th century. The historical research (like the book I just got) has revealed a larger (though in absolute numbers still quite small) number of literate persons. The combination means that reading aloud would have reached an audience. That’s the new consensus of the early 21st century.
Whoever it was, come back and re-comment! Sorry! I’ll address anything else! –MCT

Passing time

I do hate it when good works make me tense! I survived a 2.5 hour version of what is more usually a 1 hour monthly board meeting and fully expect to hear from people tomorrow about “what did you really think?” Knowing the good and agreeing on the good course are two different things. We forget that at our own risk – at the risk of being appointed to ad hoc committees to chart the good course.
Groove Armada and a rum tonic are helping.