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8 August 2006

Bikely nicely

A new site: is a social networking site for sharing your bicycle ride routes. Enter them into the database, and they get shared with site visitors, including a trace of the route on a Google Map.

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Posted in OnTheWeb on 8 August 2006 at 9:39 am by Nate
24 July 2006

DFW on life

I ran across this in a larger transcription of a speech David Foster Wallace gave at Kenyon College over a year ago. Just posting it for my own posterity and for general interestingness.

But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and [unintelligible — sounds like “displayal”]. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

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Posted in OnTheWeb on 24 July 2006 at 4:14 pm by Nate
13 July 2006

Dixie the tiny dog

I found this on the web, wandering about in the dachshund part of the internet…. Apparently, it’s also a song.  Regardless, it does seem to describe the dachshund attitude quite well, especially the part about not being owned, just fed and bought.

“Dixie The Tiny Dog” by Peter Himmelman

I’m a tiny dog named Dixie
I have small feet which pitter patter on the linoleum floor, you can hear my toenails in the middle of the night
My tag says I belong to the Johnsons, but they don’t own me, they just feed me, they just bought me one day
No one owns me, I’m Dixie the tiny dog
And in the middle of the day I sit in the sun and I hear young children call me a weiner dog, perhaps that’s what I am
The Germanic term is dachshund, and I like that
I’m thin and I’m proud and no one can make fun of me
I can slip through the bars of a prison if I were ever incarcerated, but I don’t know what I would do wrong
My body yields no evil inclination, I’m a pure weiner dog
My name is Dixie, and I go dancing ‘cross the floor in the evening of the Johnsons when everyone is sleeping
Sometimes I look for a morsel of food, but they’re so clean they’re almost anal-retentive in their cleanliness habits and there’s nothing for me
But I don’t despair
Because I know tomorrow my Gaines Burgers will be there, and they will unwrap the plastic from them and then feed me this succulent dish, and I will eat
And oh, I’ve watched the German Shepherds with their long necks, their graceful necks, dipping into the toilet to drink whenever they want to have a drink of cool water in that well
But I must plead, I must beg, I must whine for Mr. Johnson to put out my bowl, or one of the Johnson boys to refill it after I drink it, because I’m Dixie the dog and I like water
And in the middle of the night you can see me dancing a small Fred Astaire tap dance, with my little toenails
They go click click click against the linoleum, and I run down the hall and I slide
And the back of my goes in front of me…slowly
I’m long and I’m thin, I’m Dixie the tiny dog and I like it.

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Posted in OnTheWeb on 13 July 2006 at 8:51 am by Nate
3 July 2006

How to kill someone…

with an iPod nano.

This one probably only works on Brits, Anglicans, and other Commonwealth people:

6. Carefully unstaple a tea bag and pour the contents on a plate. Break into the lithium-ion battery pack and saturate the tea with the battery’s poison, then dry the tea in the sun (or with a hair dryer if you are in a hurry). Put tea back in tea bag and bend the staple back to its original position. Put the tea bag back where you got it.

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Posted in OnTheWeb on 3 July 2006 at 10:26 am by Nate
28 June 2006

Small lodgings

What can you do with a 10-by-10 room? Anything you want, it seems.

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Posted in OnTheWeb on 28 June 2006 at 9:41 am by Nate

Diet Coke Bellagio

Some people have way too much time or creativity or both.

Posted in OnTheWeb on 28 June 2006 at 9:40 am by Nate
25 June 2006

Lance’s drug use

I’m not exactly a big fan of Lance Armstrong, but after his wins, I had hoped that he somehow wasn’t as dirty as the rest of the sport of cycling.

According to a report on NPR, that hope may be too much. Frankie and Betsy Andreu, former friends of Armstrong’s (and Frankie’s a cycling commentator for OLN), testified that they heard Armstrong admit to use of banned substances:

According to sworn testimony reviewed by NPR, two witnesses heard Armstrong openly acknowldege in 1996 that had used several performance enhancing drugs. What you are about to hear are the details from that testimony and from one witnesses who says she was there when Lance Armstrong said he used “growth hormone, cortisone, EPO, steroids and testosterone.” Armstrong is angrily denying that the incident happened….

In her sworn testimony in that case, Betsy Andreu recounts what happened after, she says, two doctors, wearing white coats and name tags, walked into the hospital room. Andreu never identified the doctors, but says in her testimony they were not Armstrong’s two primary oncologists, or his brain surgeon.

In her deposition, Betsy Andreu testified:

I said, I think we should leave to give you your privacy. I said that to Lance. And Lance said, that’s OK. You can stay. And I turned to Frankie and I said, I think we should leave. And Frankie said, no, Lance said it’s OK. We can stay. And so the doctor asked him a few questions, not many, and then one of the questions he asked was… have you ever used any performance-enhancing drugs? And Lance said yes. And the doctor asked, what were they? And Lance said, growth hormone, cortisone, EPO, steroids and testosterone.

When asked last week about her testimony, Betsy Andreu said, “I answered every question truthfully and honestly. It is 100 percent truthful.”

…But according to Andreu’s testimony, Armstrong came back to the issue last year when he called Frankie Andreu just a few days before Andreu was deposed. In his deposition, Frankie Andreu is asked “is it your testimony that Mr. Armstrong called you and said it was his recollection, that the hospital incident never took place or didn’t happen the way you’ve recollected?” Andreu answers, “Yes. Correct.”

The deposition continues:

QUESTION: What did you say to him when he said that?

ANDREU: I remained quiet.

QUESTION: Did you consider it odd that he was telling you about the hospital incident?

Andreu interrupts and says, “I considered it odd that he even called me, because I hadn’t spoken with Lance in probably two and a half years.”

And I can’t say that there seems a reason that NPR could find for the Andreus to do this, unless it seemed like the truth prevailed.

Armstrong is asked if he can help explain why Betsy Andreu would make up a story about the hospital room. Armstrong says he has no idea, other than “she hates me.”

“Lance and I used to be good friends,” Betsy Andreu told NPR. “I would go to his house and I would cook for him; I would talk to him on the phone about baby questions; I used to go out to dinner with Frankie and Lance and Kristin, often.” Kristin was Armstrong’s first wife. Betsy Andreu acknowledges that over the years, her friendship with Lance Armstrong soured. But she says that doesn’t mean she would do something, in her words, so reprehensible as make up a story about the hospital room. “I’m sorry that it upsets him so much that I refuse to lie under oath. I was always going to tell the truth,” she said.

I know that people often want to take down a champion, but I don’t see an obvious motive for the Andreus, especially considering how he was a big booster of Lance as a commentator.

Posted in OnTheWeb on 25 June 2006 at 11:05 am by Nate
13 June 2006

BF’s fifteen minutes of fame

He’s shown up in our national daily paper (not the New York Times), with the splash photo and everything.

For Flanagan, the Catholic Church is “a family that you love even when you disagree. You stay and you have the argument.”

Posted in OnTheWeb on 13 June 2006 at 8:53 am by Nate
17 May 2006

And I’ll still probably go see it….

I succumbed over the weekend and read the book that opens as a movie on Friday, after three years of resistance.

I love this line from a review of TdVC:

Sir Ian, in the best tradition of British actors slumming and hamming through American movies, gives a performance in which high conviction is indistinguishable from high camp. A little more of this — a more acute sense of its own ridiculousness — would have given “The Da Vinci Code” some of the lightness of an old-fashioned, jet-setting Euro-thriller.

But of course, movies of that ilk rarely deal with issues like the divinity of Christ or the search for the Holy Grail. In the cinema, such matters are best left to Monty Python.

“Always look on the bright side of life!”

Posted in OnTheWeb on 17 May 2006 at 6:02 pm by Nate
3 May 2006

Fame for the pagan

My semi-husband, the Baptized Pagan, gets a little fame in the Boston Globe traffic blog.

For these we thank Brian of Cambridge, who obviously rides the Green Line and was raised by whales:

T.Q. (for “Transfer Quotient”): the ability to choose a spot on your current train which best positions you to transfer to your next train

Expresspair: a unique form of despair that comes when you realize a Green Line car is an express and will not be stopping to pick you up — despite the rain.

T-ear: the ability to understand and translate to fellow passengers the garbled sounds of MBTA announcements. A trait among native New Englanders who, due to freak accidents, were raised by whales.

Posted in OnTheWeb on 3 May 2006 at 8:34 pm by Nate