The Terrible Tinkerer

Two things have been on my radar recently… first, Mr. Jalopy’s ‘Owner’s/Maker’s Bill of Rights’, which is discussed in a Wired News article here (,70735-0.html).
Unrelatedly, I’ve been thinking about the direction that a lot of technology seems to be taking. I feel like, five or ten years ago, a decent desktop computer was chunky enough for pretty much any thing you’d want to do. Now, by contrast, a game console or a DVR has a lot more under the hood than an average computer, unless you’ve built your computer specifically for gaming or video capture. I feel like this is a trend– towards powerful, specialized technology.

To repeat something a lot of other people have been saying, this technology is only worthwhile inasmuch as you can take it apart and rejigger it, or hold on to it and use it for spare parts a few years down the road. Though this seems obvious, I don’t see any way that the Owner’s Manifesto or something like it will ever come to be widely implemented.

Somewhere along the line, PC components became standardized and interchangeable; hopefully the same thing will happen with gaming consoles and DVRs. (Not if the DMCA has anything to do with it, I bet) There’s got to be some way to help the process along…

Also, mad props to asp for making Oldblivion (, which has made me and my antiquated computer very happy this last little while. We need more things like this and Mount & Blade (


Scientific-Atlanta Explorer 8300

I was interested in fucking around with/voiding the warranty on my new Scientific-Atlanta Explorer 8300– I’d be most interested in figuring out a way to mod the UI, which is pretty profoundly shitty. I checked out the stuff Scientific-Atlanta has on its website, but that was rather unhelpful (it’s mainly about deployment and distribution).

what we have dreamed of, sleeping and waking

“For too long typographic style and its accompanying attention to detail have been overlooked by website designers, particularly in body copy. In years gone by this could have been put down to the technology, but now the web has caught up.”

Finally someone is working on adapting Bringhurst to the web. It’s just getting started, but it looks like it’s for real. Check it out here (

Bad art

Somewhere in one of their essays, Auden or Eliot (I can’t remember which) makes some point about how there’s essentially bad art, and then there’s art which is bad because it’s irresponsible– because it leads other people to make essentially bad art.

Much as I respect Maynard James Keenan et al., at some level they had to know that A Perfect Circle was swinging the door wide to a lot of bad art. You can’t hardly turn the radio any more without hearing some crap rock singer wrestling with his inner demons.

The converse of this kind of bad art is Nick Lachey, who seems to have a lot of potential which gets pissed away by shitty producers and lame management. I seriously hope someone goes Danger Mouse on his ass…

ST:DS9-Necessary Evil

I just watched the DS9 episode “Necessary Evil” (S2 E8). A very good episode, I think.

I was watching the first part of Season One a little while ago, and it’s impressive how quickly DS9 found its footing, both in its characters and in the sense of the particular magic of DS9.

The flashback episode is overused in TV, but it was cool to see Odo and Kira back in the day. (Convincing, as well.) Kira looks really good with long hair.

‘there is so little love…’ cont’d

I was reading an essay the other day, ‘Discovering Aryan and Dravidian in British India’ by Thomas Trautmann (Historiographia Linguistica XXXI, 2004), and one of his main points is that early Orientalism in India, while an effect of British colonial power, was a collaboration between British Westerners and pandits.

Many scholars recently have begun the exploration of the production of this knowledge as a form of dialogue or a conversation, not a dialogue between equals to be sure but nevertheless one with mutual inputs and diverse outputs. […] Fewer and fewer scholars are any longer satisfied with a notion of Orientalism as a Western imposition upon the East, without the agency of those it imposes upon. (38)

It seems a shame, then, that the choice of which movies get shown in the West seems to get made unilaterally (especially in this day’n’age).

Is this a choice some authority makes, or that filmgoers make with their feet? I suspect the former, but with no good reason. (I suppose distribution probably has some effect, but I doubt it’s the primary reason.)