==pla|\|ing lakes==

Rarely has reality needed so much to be imagined. --Chris Marker
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Friday, May 30, 2003

Online divorce sites booming
For fees ranging from $50 to $300 -- a small fraction of what most lawyers charge even for an uncontested divorce -- couples are being provided with the appropriate forms and varying degrees of help completing them.

The phenomenon is spreading. Rival firms CompleteCase.com and LegalZoom.com each say they have served 20,000 clients nationwide in less than three years of operation. Hits on the divorce section of the California court system's do-it-yourself Web site soared from 6,800 in May 2002 to about 15,000 last month.

12:47 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Dutch cannabis cafes to be slammed by new passive smoke legislation protecting employees [News Room]

12:59 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

It seems calculated to turn the purist pale with horror

Plans afoot to turn The Lord of the Rings into a musical
[News Room]

I don't think you need to be a purist to recoil from this one.

12:54 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Hear hear

Steven Schnur on the bane of cellphones
For a dozen years now I have resisted the blandishments of family and friends, refusing to equip my car with a cellphone or hang one from my belt, steadfastly maintaining that the best reason to leave the house is to escape its tyranny. Carrying one around seems as onerous as wearing a court-ordered collar, but then I've never been comfortable making calls - few of the men in my family are. My father used to sit beside a ringing phone insisting, "If you wait long enough, it stops." And it always did.

I feel victimized by its imperial summons, forced to interrupt work, to pause in mid-sentence, to rise from the dinner table, even, on occasion, to step from the shower, dripping with irritation; I feel entrapped by another's impulse, impelled to respond without benefit of adequate reflection or the eye contact so critical to understanding true intent.

Perhaps I'm alone in this, or perhaps, as others have suggested, it's genetic. It's not the caller that annoys me so much as the conditions of the conversation. I hear well enough, but discovered long ago that hearing alone is not sufficient for comprehension. In order to absorb the full import of another's words I need to be in their presence, to watch mouth and eyes, the tilt of the head, the tension in neck and shoulders. The spoken word is but one part of the total communication and I, for one, simply don't get the message without the other elements. So why compound this discomfort by exposing myself to it wherever I might be?
I once liked phones, but since my 30s I've been less and less enamored of them. Cellphones sound more like a sentence than a convenience to me.

Whereas I find email a civil, calming form of communication, cells seem quite the opposite.

But then I don't talk much anyway.

3:29 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Reed mosque
Senegalese Sufi art at the Fowler in L.A.
Through photomurals and video visits, Passport to Paradise will offer glimpses of the domes, towers, elaborated fa├žades, and labyrinthine layout of a building complex in Senegal that is made entirely of straw, reed, and sticks. The structures are aesthetically stunning. As first encountered by the curators in 1994 (and illustrated in the photographs to the right), straw, reeds, and sticks of yellow and red hues were bundled with baling wire and juxtaposed in harmonious patterns across walls rising to seemingly perfect domes of straw. Triangular and bar motifs marched across the walls. The compound is the inspired creation of a holy man (marabout) named Serigne Omar Sy, accomplished by a group of young men living a monastic life with him. Amadu Bamba has come to Serigne Sy in dreams, explaining that he should recognize and venerate the reed pen (qalam) with which one writes the Word of God. Sufi poetry bears many references to a writer's intimate relationship with the pen, for with diligence and devotion, one can become "a pen in the hand of God." Serigne Sy and his men have realized this sense through what can be justly called an architecture of the Word. The fretwork of triangles and other forms are holy "words," Serigne Sy says, in an arabesque that conveys the rhythms and intentions of writing. The layout of the 1994 compound was a geomantic device ("magic square") that concentrated healing energy toward its central chamber. As construction proceeded, repairs were needed for earlier portions, making the place a monument to Bamba's philosophy of never-ending work for the glory of God. Serigne Sy is a controversial man, however, and the compound has been burned to the ground twice by those opposed to his visionary practices. The place's vulnerability must be an important aspect of its message, and without entering such an unfortunate fray, visitors to Passport to Paradise can easily appreciate the spiritual and artistic achievements of this wondrous architecture of the Word. Most intellectually staggering of all is the fact that Serigne Sy and his followers live in a sacred text as literally as can be imagined. [link]

2:49 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

New book to be published next month reveals France refused Picasso citizenship on the grounds he was an "anarchist with Communist sympathies"

Now that's a nice trick -- being an anarchist and a Communist.

Not a bad painter either.

1:21 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Big week for astronomy

On top of the reverse-shadow eclipse this coming Saturday, there were 2 X-3 class solar flares over the weekend (one of which generated a geo-storm which will hit soon), 2 comets got eaten by the sun and a sunspot the width of 6 Earths formed.

SpaceWeather has animation of the latter two events.

1:04 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Canada's schizoid attitude toward pot

At least among politicians.

2:45 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Monday, May 26, 2003

Christian tithing down 62a> in the last year [Undernews]

9:08 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Despite the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and laws providing up to a 5 year sentence for adultery, sex and sensuality are making a big comeback in India

Economic good times and email -- and a new assertiveness by women -- have something to do with it.
The real source of the massive urge for sexual exploration that Indians, particularly women, have developed suddenly is as mysterious as the reasons for the rise and all of civilizations. But one thing has come out clearly in the survey. New technology is an important factor encouraging the phenomenon. Internet and mushrooming cyber cafes have helped, as have mobile phones and SMS (short message service) facilities. Women and men have suddenly heard from old flames, childhood friends, former classmates, whom they may have fancied once, dates have been fixed, and one thing has led to another. In most cases straight, unembarrassed initiatives have come from women, as men twiddled their fingers thinking of creative ways of broaching the subject.

Wife swapping, relatively unknown in India until recently, has made an appearance. Adventurous couples are advertising in newspapers their desire to meet like-minded people for wife and husband swapping.

11:39 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Good little interview with David Thomson (see The New Biographical Dictionary of Film link in left column)
Pop Matters: What is the value, to you, and to a culture, of literacy?

David Thomson: I think it's just vital. I think it's a scandal that, 100 years after the dawn of film and at a time when we know statistically how much time children spend watching moving imagery, that the educational system doesn't take on filmic literacy. For instance, classes could ask what is a cut and what does it do, as they ask what is a sentence and what does it do. Yes, literacy has declined. And you've got children who are terribly vulnerable to what they see on the screen. I think the school should spend much more time examining how we think we know. How do we think we understand? I think those are huge issues.

I'm very interested in film as an influence on behavior, in how films affect the way people regard love and truth and violence. It's something I've been trying to explore for a long time: the degree to which films have been making a dream landscape for all of us. The degree to which many people walk around today in life as if they half hope they're being photographed. Everyone is a little bit of an actor nowadays. The people as a whole have turned into ghosts that are imitating people in films. Nobody in this country has any politics anymore, and I think it's connected. We've given up the responsibility of being ourselves. Generally, I think film is much too complicated to be just worshipped. I find that very disturbing.

3:24 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

ex-lion tamer on art (particularly 70s punk & co.) and edgesex
malcolm mclaren, svengali to the sex pistols, operated a bondage wear shop in london called sex, one of the first storefronts to offer latex wear by the light of day instead of by brown paper mailorder, and what's more to offer it as a replacement for/radical statement on high fashion. this was the environment in which the pistols were germinated.

similarly, the new york dolls, arguably the catalysts for late 70's new york punk, were as much a part of the drag performance scene as they were rock musicians. wendy o. williams of the plasmatics was an actress in porn films and made that aesthetic an integral part of her work. lydia lunch, the san francisco punk prophetess, shock performance artist and goth queen, destroyed the boundary between north beach smut purveyor and high-theater mainstay. throbbing gristle was born out of some very dodgy performance art bordering on live action pornography. many punk musicians who later became famous made their skag money as twinks for high society perverts.

3:11 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

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