Monthly Archives: January 2008

The Importance of Apostrophe

Rainbows End has a lot going on, in several directions, much like the reality it portrays on its pages and between its lines. On the surface, I’m intrigued at Deedee’s notion of SF/Futurist categorization. Having spent a semester in Pete Sands’ Science Fiction, Utopia and Dystopia seminar last spring, I could spend a lot of time waffling and pining of what is and what is not SF/Speculative/Scifi and how that is likely an ultimately useless discussion – an approximation intended to group similar, complex texts into an exact bin for the sake of generalization. (I’m going to avoid the market slant to this conversation, that books need to be labeled to be sold efficiently and without much explanation to the potential customer.) I’d rather spend this time talking about what’s happening in a specific text.

RE‘s discussion on overlays of virtuality/reality could have something to say about an act of defining a text as being “SFnal” or “literary” or whatever label you might want to apply. In a simplification, these multiple visual/auditory/tactile realities complicate the act of simple definition – in this case what is real and what is artificial. In many instances, these boundaries seem artificial. The practical consequence of sming, for instance, is an added method of communication, which can be specifically directed to an receiver, but also intercepted if a wearable is hacked. And while the words in sming are virtual (in the sense that they hang in the air and are only visible through a technological interface), really its just another instance of a language of representation, no different than what you’re reading here and now. The problems (and similarities between book and sming, or poetry and instructions, etc) still exist: you can read what someone has written for you, but it isn’t always clear what they mean. The nuances of language are difficult no matter the delivery system. Add in the essential quality of sming – that your message is silent to others who might occupy the same space – and this complication is reinforced. To sming “well”, the author is to hide any indication that they are communicating at all. No facial expression; no body language; no hand signals. The intended lack of expression during sming causes the entirety of the message (intent, emotion, inflection, tone) to be reduced to text.

I write about this with enthusiasm, as, in my fiction writing, I’m very interested in the ability of language to convey emotion (or any complex message) through artifice, how to acknowledge artifice, and how to transcend artifice. I want my cake and to eat it, too, I suppose. In fact, my “save the world” response from class (which I’ll likely post, now that it’s referenced) deals a bit with these notions.  [I’m also interested in cyborgs, hyperreality, and hybirdization, FWIW).  And RE deals a bit with the transcendence of Gu’s poetry, so I don’t feel too selfish raising this point.

Finally, the collaborative processes in RE raise concerns of praxis for me, mainly what are the social effects of crowdsourcing (thank you, in part, James Surowiecki) and, less important here, the shotgun blast assemblage and x-referencing.  I’m not so hot on database theory, so I’ll proceed with my reflection on the temporary communal authoring of the answer boards.  The fracturing of knowledge quest into simple individual tasks is certainly Taylorist, but its effect go beyond simple productivity.  It is an act of exclusion from knowledge in RE.  The individual affiliate is cut off from the meaning, practical consequence, and application of the knowledge they contribute to form.  And, the receptor of the “answer” is separated from the basic processes of knowledge acquisition.  The result is that the seeker of the answer must trust the individual efforts of incremental knowledge from various affiliates.  I want to be clear that these same issues occur for a student today, for instance, who looks to texts to discern an “answer” to any question, whether the field of study is physical or social science, humanities, mathematics, etc.

Thus, I am less concerned with aspects of accuracy, as I think that terms like “meaning”, “true” and “answer” are subjective and fuzzy.  I am interested in the seeming lack of human interaction that is inherent in the “answer board” – or in hardcore academic research in the library.  As a student sitting in a classroom, I think personal interaction (and there is a physical component, in my mind) is a major part of both learning and forming a community that can resist power structures.  So while the crowdsourcing could be viewed as a form of archipelago anarchism, I think it lacks the important condition of personal community.  That isn’t to say that successful community cannot be reached via virtual or technologically enabled methods; the answer boards, though, seem to lack an actual sense of empathic connection between affiliates, which causes them to be cut off from community (and shared knowledge), rather than enabling them to form personal connections.

I’d also be interested in looking at the overlap of real/virtual spaces in terms of Foucault’s concept of heterotopia and the hybrid nature of Rabbit

WeatherWatch – Alert!

Bitter Cold Weather Wreaks Havoc On State

MILWAUKEE — The dangerous cold kept students home from school across Wisconsin Wednesday.

Wind chill warnings and advisories were out for most of Wisconsin because of the sub zero temperatures and gusty wind.Kenosha County sheriff’s officials said the Public Safety Building was operating on backup power Wednesday morning because of an outage. We Energies reports about 400 customers in southeast Wisconsin lost power, including some in downtown Kenosha.

Blowing snow led to near whiteout conditions Tuesday.The state patrol dealt with plenty of crashes all day, including 10 involving semitrailers. Some blocked lanes on I-94.Troopers said many highways are still snow-covered and slippery.For road conditions and any closings, go to the traffic and weather pages of our Web site.

Vigilance Urged as Flood Fears Rise – WeatherWatch

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Vigilance urged as flood fears rise

Forecasters are urging people to remain vigilant and prepare for possible flooding as they predicted more heavy rain and snow.

The advice followed the mildest January night in London ever recorded.

On Sunday the Met Office posted early warnings of severe weather, forecasting heavy rain across the north of England and Scotland. It warned that flooding is likely in areas that are already saturated.

The Environment Agency (EA) said the risk of flooding remained high. River levels fluctuated in many areas on Sunday as rain continued to fall, a spokeswoman said.

Catchments were saturated and river levels were expected to rise quickly with more rain.

There are currently 44 flood warnings and 129 flood watches in force.

Widespread flood warnings were likely across the North East, with catchments in north, west and south Yorkshire most at risk.

The spokeswoman said: “We would encourage everyone living in areas affected by the bad weather to call our floodline on 0845 988 1188 or look at our website to check what their current situation is.”

A Met Office spokeswoman said temperatures in London did not fall below 13.3C overnight, making it the mildest January night on record. The previous warmest January night recorded in London was 12.7C, although it is not known which year that was, the spokeswoman said.

The unusually warm weather has been caused by a front drawing up warm air from the mid-Atlantic, but also bringing wet weather to the north of England.

Developing News Sits Down with Jay Johnson

As the weather will not change, Boris the Weather Profit recently had time to ask Jay Johnson a few questions.

DevelopingNews: Do you read any blogs? Why or why not? Which blogs do you read?

Jay Johnson: I do read a few blogs, mostly book related. Most of these are part of the litblog co-op. Specifically, I’ll check out Bookdwarf and the Elegant Variation once every couple of weeks. Bookslut every once in a greater while. The only blogs I subscribe to are Tom Haudricourt’s Brewer blog at the JSOnline, the cream city review blog, my book blog – The Inside Flap.

As I’ve turned into a primary junkie, I’ve spent far too many hours on one candidate’s blog. I also have become increasingly turned off by mainstream media sources and the spin they put on events and the narratives they choose to cover and/or create. The current digital news climate has made it very convenient to access other news sources that I wouldn’t have had easy access to previously. Thus, I’ve become a fan of the Huffington Post as a more established news source, but without a television arm. I’ve also started to find myself reading the Daily Kos and the Brad Blog, which are more typical blogs, in the sense that they aren’t simply news updates or stories that are called “blogs” by the networks.

This brings up a larger point – more sources, the reliability of media, the biases inherent in “telling” the news and the many interests that influence decision making and word choice – but I’ll duck those now.

DN: Was setting up the blog easy? Why or why not?Why did you choose the template you did?

JJ: It was “easy”, though slightly less familiar than the Blogger interface I use for my personal blog and my book blog. The cream city review blog does use wordpress, but our web editor designed the whole site to use a wordpress structure, so I had not used this web app previously.

Some of the specific differences b/w blogger and wordpress are the widget capabilities. One thing that I prefer in blogger is the “easy” editing available in text/hmtl boxes. I feel like I could make quicker and easier improvements in the right column if I was using Blogger. But, I’m always up for trying new templates. I do like the page/site features in wordpress and appreciate that its open source, whatever that might actually mean in the grand scheme of things that I don’t fully comprehend.

I chose this specific layout mainly for the black background. Black screen backgrounds use the least amount of energy (try using Blackle as a Google alternative – at the least read this page about Blackle, which has links to studies on how much energy would be saved if Google switched to a black background). I also like two-column design; three column puts too much pressure on me to keep a full set of plates spinning.

DN: When you write in your blog, how is your thinking about your writing different (is it?) from writing in other contexts?

As a classmate commented in her blog – sorry can’t remember who – the text window influences my method. I think I lose track of what I’ve written, even what my format or potential conceit may have been. WordPress is even smaller than Blogger. I try to be shorter; my emails trend to the lengthy. I spend considerable time on word choice, sentence and paragraph construction, punctuation, and tone in my short fiction. Academic work tends to be excitable and have a hint of subdued rambling. When composing a blog post with words, I try to be short, but not necessarily precise. More like a tour guide who tries to avoid blocking the scenery. I do allow digression when writing an opinion post. Have I finished answering this? (Scroll.) I do try to use a lot of links, pictures and video when appropriate, so words tend to become less important on my blog than in my writing that gets printed onto paper.

WeatherWatch – Snow Responsible for Chaos

The snow is already likely behind one crash Tuesday morning. A semi jackknifed on westbound 94 near 76th Street. Use extra caution today or you could wind up in the same boat.

Second Day of Rush Hour Weather Problems

Snow Monday afternoon caused serious traffic headaches. The snow is blamed for dozens of spinouts and crashes around southeast Wisconsin.

One of the crashes, a semi that jackknifed in the southbound lanes of I-43/94 near the Plainfield Curve blocked most of the freeway for a time.

At one point Monday, the travel time to get from Highway Q to the Zoo Interchange on southbound 45 was nearly an hour and forty minutes. That trip usually takes 13 minutes. 94 westbound between downtown and Moorland was also up to nearly 70 minutes just before 4 in the afternoon on Monday. That’s usually a 10 minute trip.

Snow fell through most of the day. The National Weather Service expected a total of 4-7 inches to fall around the area. Some areas reported more than 9 inches.

The National Weather Service cancelled a heavy snow warning for Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson, Dodge, Washington, and Ozaukee Counties. Forecasters predicted accumulations between 6 and 12 inches by the time the snowfall is done.

Weather Leads to Big Pile up in Western Wisconsin

I-90 near the Minnesota and Wisconsin border was temporarily closed yesterday after a 20-car pile, which caused only one undisclosed injury.

La Crosse County Sheriff’s Sergeant Bill Lubinski says one vehicle lost control and the other vehicles couldn’t avoid hitting each other.

Snow Totals From National Weather Service and WTMJ Weather Plus Observers

12.5″ – Random Lake (Sheboygan county)
11.6″ – Sheboygan (Sheboygan county)
11.0″ – Howards Grove (Sheboygan county)
11.0″ – Friess Lake (Washington county)
11.0″ – Holy Hill (Washington county)
10.7″ – Cedarburg (Ozaukee county)
10.2″ – Milwaukee-Northeast Side (Milwaukee county)
10.2″ – Germantown (Washington county)
9.9″ – Beaver Dam (Dodge county)
9.7″ – West Bend (Washington county)
9.5″ – Fond du Lac (Fond du Lac county)
9.5” – Brown Deer (Milwaukee county)
9.5″ – Allenton (Washington county)
9.5″ – Hartford (Washington county)
9.0″ – Port Washington (Ozaukee county)
9.0″ – Jefferson (Jefferson county)
9.0″ – Elkhart Lake (Sheboygan county)
8.8″ – West Allis (MIlwaukee county)
8.8″ – Horicon (Dodge county)
8.5″ – Pewaukee (Waukesha county)
8.5″ – Waukesha (Waukesha county)
8.5″ – Palmyra (Jefferson county)
8.3″ – Sullivan (Jefferson county)
8.2″ – Taycheedah (Fond du Lac county)
8.1″ – Greendale (Milwaukee county)
8.1 – Fort Atkinson (Jefferson county)
7.8″ – Watertown (Jefferson county)
7.6″ – Mitchell International (Milwaukee county)
7.3″ – Richfield (Washington county)
7.3″ – Juneau (Dodge county)
7.2″ – Merton (Waukesha county)
7.0″ – Waterloo (Jefferson county)
6.8″ – Brookfield (Waukesha county)
6.7″ – Oconomowoc (Waukesha county)
6.5” – Big Bend (Waukesha county)
6.0″ – South Milwaukee (Milwaukee county)
6.0″ – Union Grove (Racine county)
6.0″ – Rochester (Racine county)
5.7” – Muskego (Waukesha county)
5.2″ – Waterford (Racine county)
5.0″ – Burlington (Racine county)
4.5″ – Caledonia (Racine county)
4.4″ – Franksville (Racine county)
4.0″ – Twin Lakes (Kenosha county)
3.9″ – Sturtevant (Racine county)
3.8″ – Pell Lake (Walworth county)
3.4″ – Paddock Lake (Kenosha county)

from here.

Breaking – WeatherWatch Update

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Cold Blamed For At Least OneWisconsin Death

POSTED: 7:11 am CST January 21, 2008
UPDATED: 7:52 am CST January 21, 2008
BAYFIELD COUNTY,Wis. — The weekend cold may be responsible for two deaths in Wisconsin.The first happened over the weekend in Bayfield County.The Sheriff’s Department there said a woman was out drinking early Saturday morning when she tried to drive home.
Investigators said her car got stuck and she tried to walk but she became hypothermic and died.That same day in Cudahy, police said, officers found 54-year-old Kristine Colla’s body lying in front of her home.Colla was a correctional officer in Franklin.Police don’t expect foul play.An autopsy in that case is scheduled for Monday or Tuesday.