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If anyone's reading this from the playa, give a shout. That's too cool a convergence. ^_^

Worth a listen, for some classically styled rock: Dirty Little Rabbits, out of Iowa. And 2K Games kindly made Gary Schyman's orchestral soundtrack for Bioshock available for free.

Ahhh. It's a bright, warm day, the Horde is away, and might not be back tonight.. maybe I should take advantage of the quiet time to watch all of Sátántangó? Or I could check up on this "outdoors" thing..

Here's a fan video for I Just Wanna Fuckin' Dance, from Jerry Springer: The Opera, set to a host of dance routines from throughout cinematic history. If you're feeling low, play this right now. But why wait until then? ^_^

rabitguy noticed the full interview of Fountain Hughes, from which samples were taken for the track mentioned last time, is available online. 'Strangely, one of the first things Mr. Hughes says, by way of introducing himself to posterity, is: "My grandfather belonged to Thomas Jefferson." As if, after 100 years of living, that's what he's most proud of – that his grandfather had been the slave of a great and famous white man.'

Finally, one of my favorite pieces by Fel is available fully finished off, in color - "Soro and Electricity". Not at all worksafe. =:D

If you only see one rabbity YouTube clip this month, make it this one, wherein one unsuspecting pooch discovers what it's like to become a lapine hurdle. The dog's expression at the end of it is priceless. =:D

ethethlay came across rather a cool Siggraph 2007 presentation, 4.5 minutes long, on "content aware" image resizing - rather than simply rescaling everything linearly, as we're accustomed to, this method pays attention to an image's features, preserving what it sees as the most noticeable portions, retaining their size throughout, at the expense of less important portions. Nifty seeing it in action - there are plenty of examples, including making people seamlessly (and effortlessly) vanish from a scene by denoting them as unimportant.

If you want to see John Pilger's The War on Democracy, it's now up on Google Video, as is the second part of The Enemies of Reason.

Damn, but Fixed Noise's Otto is a fun library to play with. What's not to like about an IDM collection - Kontakt 2-based, as usual, offering quite a large degree of freedom in manipulating the samples supplied - with presets like Warm Goat Tung?

'The tone in the mortgage market is "exceptionally cautious," Lonski [chief economist at Moody's Investors Service] said. "You're looking at what will be in all likelihood the worst case of home price deflation since the 1930s."' One good news resource on these matters is the Implode-O-Meter, tracking who's going under; their tally stands at 135 broke US lenders since late 2006.

Britain's new Violent Crime Reduction Act apparently includes provisions to ban people from a given area, taking their photo, fingerprints, and DNA sample, on the suspicion they may be about to cause trouble; no actual offense is required. Ostensibly, this is in order to tackle alcohol-related violence in cities.

The US housing/credit fun continues: "[For July] There was a 93% jump in filings for repossessions on the same month a year ago, and a 9% rise on June's figure, property firm RealtyTrac said." Meanwhile, one of the leading house builders, Toll Brothers, declared net earnings of $27m for the quarter, compared to $175m for the same period last year, including an $89m charge due to land values dropping. "Low- or no-documentation-required jumbo loans had accounted for 43 percent of the builder's sales, according to Bank of America."

BigBlueFox now has Anthrocon 2007 on offer - 3h40m in total, yours for only a 1.2GB download. ^_^

One in four US adults read no books in the past year, according to an AP-Ipsos poll, with the "typical number" being four books in the previous twelve months. I dare say this isn't anything new, though; the co-worker who drove me up to Portland back at the fossil factory was quite open about almost never having read any books, other than essential materials like manuals. (I wonder if this survey included graphic novels? There are worlds of wonder in, say, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, Cerebus, or Promethea)

mycroftb uncovered this talented sculptor bunny (NSFW, surprisingly enough). =:D

A quietly inspiring tale (with photo) of a fourteen year old Labrador, blind and deaf, whose companion, a ginger cat, plays the part of her guide, steering her away from obstacles, and leading her to food.

Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" as you've never seen it performed before - quite something. And there's lapinity to be found, too. ^_^ (Thanks to plushlover!)
Now we have attained wisdom. ^_^
Hmm, if my grandfather was owned by Thomas Jefferson, I'd mention it and it'd be nothing to do with that reason.
I admit, I chose that quote because of its provocative nature, hoping people would be more likely to follow the link as a result. It's a historical perspective no-one in the West thankfully has any longer, knowing a close family member was a slave - that's difficult enough a concept for an outsider as myself to genuinely understand, and surely not much easier to bear in his position.

(Though one could make a case for the child labor used in harvesting much of the world's cocoa, from Ghana, amounts to a similarly grotesque abuse)

The dog's face is a classic 'HELP!' face, isn't it?

My problem with Dawkins is that he's not content asking useful questions or pointing out weaknesses in other views - he falls into the two classic traps all strongly opinioned people do. Carl Sagan and Penn and Teller both fall into them as well.

Trap one: not understanding the enemy.
Trap two: confusing arrogance with intelligence.

Sagan hated astrology with a passion (first problem) and he would go out and criticise the practice on the grounds that the planets just don't have enough gravitational or electromagnetic effect on an individual person to allow astrology to make sense. In this, he's right (mostly - consider that the Moon and the Sun cause tides and their lights directly influence animal behaviour). The problem is - that's not actually what astrology says. Astrology claims that events occur in cycles and the orbits of planets are clocks - by using them you can predict when these cycles start and end.

Wrong, of course (again - mostly - these ideas evolved from repeating events like the Nile flooding - which was actually predictable using stars - that's why Sirius was so important to the Ancient Egyptians), but when Sagan went out attacking astrologers, they'd just say 'but that's not what we're saying happens... Sagan is clueless' and anyone checking would find out that indeed: Sagan was wrong and the astrologers were right.

He would also tend to argue his point with a very superiour attitude: "I'm smart because I don't need this superstitious rubbish and you're obviously inferiour because you do.", which is an exceptionally dangerous way to present these views because the odds are good that the people you're talking to do have an emotional need for these things - so you're trying to convince someone to accept your view by insulting them (rarely works).

Dawkins makes Sagan look like a buddhist monk by comparison.

[PS, I have a ton of respect for Carl Sagan, btw. I think we need a LOT more scientists like him. He may have tripped up in these ways - but he more than compensated for it with works like Cosmos which tried to show why a scientific view of the universe could be just as spiritual as a religious one. Dawkin I see as a wild cannon who is probably doing more damage than good. Penn and Teller - well, they're less about skepticism than they are about libertarianism - their episode of BS that tries to prove that smoking health issues and second hand smoke issues are fraud was just surreal.]
Oh.. the book thing - that's got to be put in perspective...

How many 'pages' of text do you read every day on the Internet?

I suspect people are actually reading more - just not in the form of books.
Oh, unquestionably. The trouble, I suppose, is that people may be reading fewer complete works of some kind, whether factual or fictional, in favor of more conversation. Not that the latter's a bad thing, certainly, especially when it helps span distances, and even cultures. I suppose this follows the trend the music industry's seen, with the rise of the net - they're both seeing fewer big hits, and much lower sales of those leaders, in good part due to the rise of independent musicians and authors. Both can now publish on the net, and be found, satisfying even the most diverse of interests. (And in the case of music and visual works, the barrier to entry's now relatively trivial - there's no need to spend thousands on synthesisers or physical instruments, when something like Garageband and a $99 Keystation 49e can accomplish so much. Spend a few hundred, and you're into the level of Reason, Logic Express, and a wealth of sample libraries and softsynths)

Certainly, I have very little to do with paper now - in part, that's just a strong dislike for the wretched stuff, having had to move boxes of it in and out of storage and homes, usually leaving much of it inaccessible for prolonged periods, sometimes losing it along the way; in part, the lure of conversation - I still enjoy good cinema as much as ever, but given the choice between such a passive experience, and being able to enjoy some degree of company online, the latter tends to win out.
As a professional librarian who provides not only print media but internet access and audiovisual media, my observation would indicate that no, the average person is not reading more as a result of access to the internet. At least, no unless you count "o rly? an what did she say?" as reading or writing. The average internet user that I see spends time in chat rooms or on instant messengers, or hunting for and printing off pictures of celebrities and other such drivel. More than half of our internet printing consists of photographs rather than text.

Book circulation is down. Demand for print magazines is down even more. Demand for DVDs is skyrocketing. I think that says it all.
You may be right - but there's a small flaw in your analysis. You're assuming that people not going to libraries = people not reading. I believe you're right that book and print magazine circulation has gone down, but I can cite from my own experience that my use of libraries has essentially dropped to zero, while in fact, I'm reading more than I ever have.

Similarly - your persistant internet users tend to be people who can't afford their own internet connection - and so not surprisingly, you're getting a bunch of skews in that sample.

Now, are people using the internet for IM and porn? Of course - but that's not a gauge in and of itself of other uses. Consider this scenario: suppose that pre-internet 10% of the population used libraries, 20% bought books and magazines and 70% just watched TV or did other things. Then post-internet, 5% used libraries, 10% bought books, 60% used the internet for a mix of reading, IMing, porn and so on, and 25% watched TV or did other things. You'd see it as a significant decline in reading - and not seeing what the 60% using the net is doing. Clearly it's not 100% for reading, in fact only 1/3 of that has to be reading to actually increase reading levels.

So, that brings us to two issues: how much internet use is reading and how much of that reading is 'good' reading. I doubt that most people on the net are sitting down and reading entire novels that way. In that, I agree with you. However, I think reading newspapers and magazines has been supplanted with reading the online versions and subject specific 'pro-blogs'. Cites like Arxive where physics preprints are archived makes accessing academic literature cheaper and easier.

I guess my concern is that I've heard this before - when TV became a major entertainment and information source, people were convinced that books were dead and reading would quickly become a lost art. Now it's the internet. The thing is, most of what people do on the internet is reading.

That's already an improvement for a lot of people who would never have read in the past.
Did you look at the document I cited? Validly gathered statistics do actually indicate that reading has declined significantly in the US ever since the introduction of television. The study indicates that this has really happened. It's not just someone spouting theories.

I left a lot of details out because I didn't want the comment to be any longer. Our library's service area currently has a population of 9000 or so according to the Census Bureau. Looking back to when the population was 6000, the number of active library card holders has remained almost the same. So library users are a declining portion of the population. The actual number is about 2200, So it has dropped from about a third of the eligible population to less than a fourth over a ten year period. Library cards are free to anyone living in the city and over age six, BTW, so cost isn't a factor.

A survey of our computer users indicates that most of them actually do have computers and internet access at home. However, most have only dialup access. Broadband is not readily available here in town, and all but unavailable outside the city limits. They come to use our computers because the connection is faster.

My own statistical analysis of the websites being used (no, I don't know who went to what site, just which sites were used how many times) indicates that most of what is going on at those machines is not reading of either news or any other kind of text, unless you count myspace and facebook as reading. Having taken a look at those sites, I don't consider them to be significant contributors to either literacy or thought. Even LJ, laden as it is with drama and childishness at times, would be better in my opinion, but it is hardly ever used.

When an increasing number of people can stand facing a sign that says "COPIER" and has an arrow pointing at the machine, and ask "Do you have a copier?" or "Where is the copier?" I can't help but believe that either it is too much effort to read the word "copier" or else they are unable to do so.
*mrowls* That's a... lot of really nice bunnies to wake up to o_o

Also that dancing video just made my day so far ^^ Though it's made me excited now for the next campus drag show and choreographing our next Spice Girls routine... (assuming we can find people to replace the girls we lost... I'm really worried that some african american first year will join OUTreach and be instantly pounced by the rest of us demanding to know if he's ever had dreams of being scary spice o_o)
I'd love to have a large framed print of Soro on my wall. He's just so utterly adorable. ^_^ (Wish I could buy a high res scan of it, though - I'd be worried about a print getting damaged in transit, and the total cost would probably be fairly hair-raising. Same for comics, for that matter - digital comics I don't have to keep safely in some location, or lug with me when I next move)

If only there were a really high quality version of that video available! But that's about as good as it gets, it seems. But soon enough, you're caught up in the song, and details like artifacting vanish from significance. ^_^

Oooh. If you do, see if you can lay your paws on a silver catsuit as in that clip from Priscilla. ^_^ And if that plan came to fruition, you could remake the video for Say You'll Be There. =:D (Yes, I admit it, I own a copy of Spiceworld. On DVD. Bought for full price)

One word... yes! So, so yes...

Well, either that or go completely retro ala Space Channel 5 ^^
*Hee!* Oh, I lead a deprived life.. I've seen SC5, but never had the opportunity to play it. If this latest prospect pans out, though, I'll be getting Wario Ware: Smooth Moves as soon as the first payment hits the account. =:D (Not that I'd rule out a PS2 as well - I'd really enjoy experiencing Okami for myself, and there doesn't seem to be any sign of a PSP version on the way)
Adult reading and literacy in the US has actually been steadily declining for decades. See this study by the NEA.
Good grief.. a 10% fall in twenty years? That's alarming. Perhaps Bush is more of a sign of the times than I'd feared..

With that spanning 1982-2002, I suppose the net's influence wasn't even that strong for much of the period examined - whilst I'm sure, as thewerewolf noted above, that people are reading a lot online now, I'm not as confident much of that's composed of what one might deem literature.

It'd be illuminating to see if people are offering their own reasons as to why that should be so - too busy, books rising in price, or outright just uninterested?
Based on my professional but subjective observations, the decline in literacy and reading has been going on at a steady creep for my entire lifetime. The internet is only a drop in the bucket when you go looking for the cause.

One factor is the persistent anti-intellectual attitude of US popular culture, going back at least as far as the Great Depression and the Roosevelt administration, when the educated populace were regarded as "eggheads" and "ivory tower intellectuals" and considered useless and non-productive. This same attitude has been raised again and again by the political right wing during my lifetime, though at one time it was a notion of the left. (Proving yet again that the two extremes are really creeping back toward one another on the opposite side of an endless circle.)

The second factor is the rise of what McLuhan called "cool media" which includes television and motion pictures, where participation is passive rather than active and does not require as much brain operation. Reading is "warm media" and requires the active work of the brain.

As our culture relies more and more on verbal communication (cell phones) rather than written, the demand for literacy and the ability to write coherently as well as read falls off. I find that a frightening percentage of adults who have graduated from high school or even had some college classes are just not able to read a complex sentence without significant effort on their part. Unless their very survival depends on it, they will do anything to avoid having to read and process that sort of input. The increase in non-verbal signage, supposedly to make things easier for speakers of other languages, has only contributed to this decline.

I don't have answers, only observations, which dating to before I ever saw that study. When I worked in a corporate environment, from about 1981 to 1994, I was repeatedly told to just call people or set up a meeting, rather than use written communication (even e-mail) because people find written communication "too threatening" and "hard to understand."

Here's an anecdote:

I used to ride a commuter train from Woodstock to Chicago every day to work. It was about a 90 minute ride, during which I would frequently be reading. There were a couple, who apparently worked together rather than being related otherwise socially, who often sat together and talked during the trip, in the same car I was in. They were well-dressed, obviously white collar workers, probably in a bank, brokerage, or insurance office (of which Chicago has many.) It was about the time that the fifth Harry Potter book came out, and they were discussing the media hoopla one morning.

He: Have you seen it? The book I mean?
She: No, where would I see it?
He: I went into the bookstore just to see. It's over 700 pages long! No way! Absolutely no way am I going to read anything like that.
She: I can't imagine why anyone would bother.

In another incident, two couples who knew each other were sitting together. One pair were not yet married, the other had been for some time evidently. The married male (in his 30s probably) was describing the layout of their house, and said they had a room with bookshelves and comfortable chairs and lighting where they could sit to read. The other male (I'd say late 20s) expressed shock. Sitting there with his laptop open, doing whatever he was doing with it (often playing back sound clips from films or television that he thought were humorous) he said flatly, "I don't read." The other was now surprised. "Not even the newspaper?" And the answer was, "Why should I read when I can get that from television?"

And there you have it. I think it explains a lot, including why elections are now decided by sound bites rather than policy statements, and why library usage among people beyond high school age has been declining steadily. Our most active clientele is growing rapidly older. Those are the people who still read books and magazines. The 20 to 40 age group no longer checks out books, for the most part. They borrow videos only, and use our computers to get a faster connection to the internet. That's it. :(
That Siggraph presentation was neat. :) Is it just me, though, or does the presenter have an Australian accent? Not that I'm good at recognising those, of course, but he rather sounds like dmmaus (of irregular_comic fame) to me. ^^

The sculptor bunny link seems to be to the cropped version, BTW. Intentional?

Oh yah, and the shadow play video was nice, too. ^^ I already saw it in Lontra's journal, but still... really nifty. ^^
Ooh, there's a feed for Irregular? I'll have to add that. ^_^ I'm not quite sure where that accent's from - it sounds like it might be a bit of a hybrid, from somewhere in the Eastern US; but as far as the US goes, I'm much more a Pacific sort, and California's home to an abundance of accents from many parts. (And whether Garrison Keillor's actually comes from anywhere in particular, or is more of his own creation, I'm not sure. Lovely to listen to, all the same =:)

D'oh! Link fixed. I had the correct one on the image link, at least. ^_^

That kind of shadowplay must take a fair bit of practice - it's one thing to create a plausible stationary image, but to be able to breathe such life into them.. ! That bunny was virtually ready to hop into the audience. (But I'd settle for Soro =:)

There's several feeds, actually - irregular_comic (link only), irregularcomic2 (inlined image) and irregular_comic (inlined image + annotations), at least, and possibly others. :)

And yeah, I'm sure there's lots of practice involved. :) Soro?
Random thing I saw online, figured you might be interested by it...

Bunneh! :)

My goilyofiend catwoman69y2k is headin up to FlamingDude for the week ;) She'll have fun! Hoping yore well!!
FlamingDude? That really should be a synonym for the Folsom Street Fair, surely. =:)

I should try getting along there sometime - but, maybe all the chaos and crowds wouldn't work for me. I think I'd sooner quietly ponder upon the stars while camping in some secluded woodland, snuggled next to someone special. (Probably followed by checking with Celestia just what constellations we'd been looking at)

Actually, the FSF I would enjoy, I think, once I can go along in proper lapine form. ^_^
*laugh* Burning Man, actually ;) And up there is in the middle of what looks to be an old Riverbed: If you use Google Maps and go to Gerlatch, CA, and zoom in a bit and atart following the desert that leads away to the northeast, you'll see an overlay as to where the camp of BlackRock City pops up... The overlay is a bit off, as the actual image underneath thats barren shows the true location.

Its under the stars allright, and pitch black, but as I understand with all the partying going on it can be rather noisy!
the second part of The Enemies of Reason

Enjoyed both. I was surprised to discover through these films how widespread is the belief in the UK for 'alternative' health practices, and even more surprised that the UK government health system sanctions and finances homeopathic 'therapies'. Apparently monumental ignorance and stupidity isn't the sole domain of we Americans, eh? ;-)

BTW, I found this via the Dawkins Pt. 2 page on Google Video:


I think all religion is rubbish, myself, but I found it to be interesting and illuminating nonetheless.
Wow! Check this out!