[fawny.org: Le «blog personnel» de Joe Clark]

2003.07.30 – You know when you hit a link to a page and you end up in the middle of it? It’s especially true with Weblogs – Blogger most prominently, but Movable Type lets you split up a post, and the continuation tends to land you in the middle of the page. How does it work?

I am part of a project where there is some dispute as to the ability to refer to components of an item. Some contend that, say, only an entire document can be the object of a reference. This is obviously ridiculous: HTML lets you refer to any element on a page. Even PDF gives you a range of options regarding where a document opens (on a specific page, at a bookmark, etc.) Sometimes only a portion of a document is relevant.

But let’s not be all theoretical!

I figured if I have to prove that fragment identifiers are actually useful, I’d go all the way. I have already described myself as “a nut” for adding ids. Could we add id attributes to every element in my book chapters? That way anyone could refer to individual paragraphs if they wanted.

The answer: Yes. Eventually.

I SCIMmed Antonio Cavedoni and asked him if he knew how to do it. All of a sudden he whipped an XSLT out of his holster. He did essentially all the work. It was a volunteer project, and we had a lot of time to work on it, and it required quite a bit of validation (everything does validate), but we’re done.

File sizes increased by 4 K or so. Some very large files were disproportionately affected (20 K more in one case), but I consider that livable. (gzip compression seems not to be working at the moment.)

You saw it here first

Behold, then, the only documents on the entire Web in which every single element has an id attribute: The Building Accessible Websites serialization.

If you want to be really precious, you can now examine the source code and link to any paragraph, heading, or anything else in the document. You can cite my book in detail, and, conversely, hold me to everything I say with great specificity.

Use it. Prove that it’s usable. Then later, someday, this method of Web authoring might just catch on.  

2003.07.27Noel D. Jackson (“NoelDJ”), who is but 19, runs what he charmingly calls a girlie site, Inconceivably. It’s valid XHTML 1.1, save for the necessity of an incorrect MIME type. (You could Google those terms. I have only a few Web-designer readers who do not understand compliant development. Only one I know of, in fact.)

SkinMarvin.com In so doing, NoelDJ follows in the hallowed footsteps of SkinMarvin, the first and presumably only gay-skinhead Web site with valid code.

I have been funnelling suggestions (and completely-rewritten HTML) to Stephen Cox for months. Eventually his page will validate, will use semantic HTML, and will meet Priority 1 accessibility guidelines. (That will require a dodge due to his multimedia, which remain unreasonably difficult to make accessible. It is literally true that it’s easier to make a two-hour movie accessible than a QuickTime clip that is shorter than a music video.) I’ve also handed Corin (op. cit.) a raft of improvements and corrections. He has superb taste (best flower photography since Mapplethorpe – and wait till you see the photos of Corin), but he has been getting bad advice about Web development. His site cries out for CSS image positioning, for example.

Marvin started a trend. We’ve now got enough sexy personal Web sites groping for valid code that we can start an entire campaign: The KEEP YOUR DIRTY SITES CLEAN Challenge. “Only Your Mind Is Malformed.” “Keep the FILTH on Your Page and Out of Your Code.” “Keep Your Code Out of the Gutter.” That sort of thing. Whatever will perturb the genteel homophobia of a Canadian captioning manageress and demonstrate that correctness in Web development has nothing to do with “correctness” in Web content.

So who’s next?  

(skip)

2003.07.21 – Tantek “WE ALL LOVE TO SAY, AND ESPECIALLY WRITE, HIS SUPERSPECIAL SURNAME” Çelik documented it (once I nagged!), and it is indeed true: I do in fact write everything on my sites by hand, with liberal use of templates and good authoring tools. (I can now say “everything” and mean it. NUblog and Bookblog are powered by a textist-developed PHP/SQL database, but are not updated, though admittedly Bookblog may get the occasional update here or there in the future. theBRML.org runs on Zope and I have not really been able to figure out what to put there that does not require massive conversion from someone else’s invalid HTML. I would need help with that, actually.)

I dislike the word “handrolled” and the phrase “I roll my own HTML,” because of the drug connotations, but they are nonetheless accurate. Indisputably, my Web output is reduced by this labour-intensive method; any logging tool would tempt me to update with epic frequency. But the bottleneck is not really authoring, it’s having something to say. I give you what I can.

Right. So how do I do it?

I have a pretty good system, actually. Any Macintosh user could duplicate it wholesale. The linchpins are BBEdit with Interarchy, Lynx, and CopyPaste.

BBEdit

BBEdit is the extension of my central nervous system in 2003 that WordPerfect 5.1 was in 1990. (We upgrade.) It’s not quite true that I do not have to think to use the program, but it is true that everything is automatic. It’s to the point where I write every file in plain text that could possibly support such a format because it is so easy. BBEdit never makes it hard to write; any procrastination is my fault, not its.

(Interestingly, I still recall WP 5.1 keystrokes. I typeset a ≈200-page report in 5.1 in the early 1990s; it was and is a superb code-driven typesetting system. Jonathan Franzen wrote The Corrections in DOS WordPerfect, and he knows something: No better program for actual writing has been developed.)

I have meticulously-developed preferences that make it easy to stare at text files all day. As stated in my book’s colophon, I do indeed use black Georgia 17 text on a pink [rgb(242,181,231)] background. I struggle to explain why this backdrop colour works. It merely does. And pink is not a positioning statement of any kind, nor is it an amusing coincidence or “ironic.” I admit I tried it on a lark, but, like a stray cat, it seems to have adopted me.

BBEdit can create a new, valid HTML document with a single command. I also use stationery, though that is not ideal, as it fails to include the enormous metadata I prefer. A typical page will include multiple screens of Dublin Core metadata that no machine outside of the espionage services can read (I use it for futureproofing); vast usage of the link element; plus stylesheet and other declarations. A not-atypical example, from cinema reviews (which you will likely wish to skip):

“Classic” head elements
  • <meta name="keywords" content="captioned movies, described movies, audio-described movies" />
  • <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
  • <meta name="Revision" content="2003.07.13" />
  • <title>‘T3’: Joe Does the Movies: Accessible movie reviews (Joe Clark: Media Access)</title>
  • <link rel="Stylesheet" href="/css/access/access2003a.css" type="text/css" title="Stylesheet" id="Stylesheet-ID-Screen" />
  • <link rel="Stylesheet" href="/css/access/access2003a-mono.css" type="text/css" title="Print stylesheet" media="print" id="Stylesheet-ID-Print" />
Dublin Core à go-go
  • <meta name="DC.Title" content="Joe Clark: Captioning and media access" />
  • <link rel="schema.dc" href="http://purl.org/metadata/dublin_core_elements#title" />
  • <meta name="DC.Title.Alternative" content="Resources on media access" />
  • <link rel="schema.dc" href="http://purl.org/metadata/dublin_core_elements#title" />
  • <meta name="DC.Creator.PersonalName" content="Clark, Joe" />
  • <link rel="schema.dc" href="http://purl.org/metadata/dublin_core_elements#creator" />
  • [and dozens more]
  • <link rel="start" href="/access/cinema/" title="START: Accessible cinema" />
  • <link rel="Contents" href="home.html" title="CONTENTS: Accessible movie reviews" />
  • <link rel="section" href="home.html#mopix" title="SECTION: MoPixed movies" id="Section-MoPixed-id" />
  • <link rel="section" href="home.html#open" title="SECTION: Open-captioned movies" id="Section-Open-CC-id" />
  • <link rel="prev" id="PREVIOUS-link" href="legallyblonde2.html" title="PREVIOUS: ‘Legally Blonde 2’" />
  • <link rel="next" id="NEXT-link" href="lxg.html" title="NEXT: ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’" />
  • <!-- Begin LINK elements for chapters -->
  • <link rel="Chapter" href="findingnemo.html" title="‘Finding Nemo’ review" />
  • <link rel="Chapter" href="brucealmighty.html" title="‘Bruce Almighty’ review" />
  • <link rel="Chapter" href="downwithlove.html" title="‘Down with Love’ review" />
  • [plus nearly 40 more at time of this writing]

Hence, to assure the most-recently-evolved page structure, what I tend to do is edit a previous document. Thus the most “correct” page among everything of mine online is the most-recently-updated. In fact, while they are still of valid HTML and CSS, many of my older pages are somewhat embarrassing in coding terms. (Incidentally, I have always disliked the term “code,” particularly when used as a verb. It’s numbing and offputting and reminds one of the improper inversion of the master–slave relationship between writer and tool.)

How to write in BBEdit

I type away, usually ignoring paragraphs but usually paying attention to headings and every inline element. I tend to add hyperlinks as I go along, which is ridiculously easy in BBEdit. Typically I will copy the URL of a page to clipboard 2 and its title to clipboard 3. Adding the link involves selecting the text, hitting Ctrl-Option-A, and pressing Command-V-2, Tab, Command-V-3, and Return.

My passing mention of multiple clipboards and URLs and titles will be explicated in due course. Work with me here: I’m building suspense.

Repetitive structures

I write the same structures over and over again. Cinema reviews all have the same headings (with unique ids altered by a search-and-replace). Entries to this Weblog have undergone accelerated evolution in 2003 and now work with a skeleton:

<h1 id="TK-h1"><a href="#TK-h1" title="Permanent link to: ‘ENTITLE’" rel="bookmark" class="permalink" id="TK-a">Item headline</a></h1>

<p><a class="datestamp" href="#TK-h1" title="Permanent link to: ‘ENTITLE’" rel="bookmark" id="TK-datestamp">2003.07.21</a> – Beginning of item text</p>

<p>End of item text  <a class="graf" href="#TK-h1" title="Permanent link to: ‘ENTITLE’" rel="bookmark" id="TK-graf">¶</a></p>

TK (“to come” as used in journalism composition systems) is the id attribute of the ultimate permalink; ENTITLE is the entry title. One notes the semantic addition of rel="bookmark" (that is what they are!), and the reuse of the same permalinks. Each log entry includes three discrete places for you to find the permalink: I wanted to make it obvious to anyone.

Every window overlaps. A typical desktop (from the TiBook; multi-monitor, naturally)
Two-monitor screenshot, small

Compliant markup

Like everyone else, it took me a while to adjust to standards-compliant HTML and stylesheets. But like the young kids today, it’s really the only form of HTML I ever properly learned. I’ve customized BBEdit to even more strongly enforce correctness.

I also have quite the list of glossary entries that insert phrases and markup for me. Plus, every HTML element I use with any frequency has a keystroke command.

It is easy, post-facto, to select text blocks and turn them into HTML structures, paragraphs especially (Shift-Command-P on any number of paragraphs).

BBEdit id attributes pull-down menu I am a nut for adding id attributes to many elements on the page. They come in handy: I can and do link to individual paragraphs, among other structures. (An online acquaintance is using an XSLT transformation to add ids to every element in my book HTML, for example.) I have no genuinely easy method to add those at will; BBEdit makes it unreasonably difficult to add the so-called “common attributes.” I’ve repeatedly suggested a fix. I do have a glossary keystroke I sometimes use. There is, however, another benefit: BBEdit makes it easy to zip to any identified element via a menu.

I leave a great deal of typography to my overly-complex stylesheets. Merely as an example, paragraphs are indented by default, but any browser that understands adjacent selectors (IE on Windows does not) will fail to indent paragraphs that properly should not be indented, as after headings. When I absolutely have to make something permanently unindented, as with code or caption samples, I can use <p class="noindent">, for which I also have a keystroke (Shift-Ctrl-O).

Moreover, every month I learn more about semantic HTML, and if you examine the source code of any files I’ve created in the last year or more, you will view an object lesson in the correct way to structure a document. (Since I use Transitional DOCTYPEs, I feel no compunctions about using br, hr, small, and other legal, fully-authorized elements that Ian Hickson and his ilk would view as adulterations.)

Typography

Apart from stylesheets, the typographic quality of my sites owes itself to the fact I have been able to touch-type Macintosh accented characters and correct punctuation for 19 years. It continues to stagger me how difficult Windows makes it to type anything other than the US-ASCII characters imprinted on commodity keyboards. It is a prime index of the poor taste and quasi-autistic cultural ignorance of Microsoft programmers. Simply put, only the most rarefied and committed Web authors using Windows could come up with the utter correctness of my presentation. Try it yourself and prove me wrong.

I do use glossary entries for oft-found but hard-to-type sequences like nested quotation marks (&#8220;&nbsp;&#8216; rolls inelegantly off the fingers), and have accepted the fact that thin, en, and em spaces, while defined in Unicode entities (many others of which I know by heart anyway), fail to render in real-world browsers.

I am able to save Macintosh characters in BBEdit and, near publishing time, convert them all to entities in one fell swoop. I could leave the actual characters in place (I have recently been forced to switch from ISO-8859-1 encoding to UTF-8), but entities are unambiguous and I have no difficulty manipulating files that contain them. I note that a recent “upgrade” to BBEdit unilaterally destroyed accented characters saved in a file with what it peremptorily declared to be the wrong character set, but after I yelled loudly enough – it was the first time I had been enraged at any Macintosh product, and I felt extra-betrayed because I use the program for hours every day of the year – Bare Bones Software finally unfucked it. I have no illusion that they somehow understand that they were wrong; like the software they created, they believe they know everything about my character encoding in advance of my even writing a document, let alone saving and publishing it.

Interarchy & FTP

One must copy his files to the server, of course. And here I am somewhat fanatical: The only files that exist only on the server (currently the Veldt: Luke now runs his own hosting company) are redirect files. Those should ultimately be replaced by HTTP 301 calls, and, I desperately hope, ultimately will be.

Every other file calls its home on one of my computers and is merely duplicated online. It is possible to reproduce my sites nearly intact just from the original files (except, apparently, for those troublesome redirects).

Naturally, I use the clumsily-named Interarchy as FTP program. It’s not as useful as oldschool System 7–era Fetch in one respect: Interarchy essentially demands you drag and drop everything, and its default windows are simply too wide on an iMac screen, a fact I have complained about repeatedly and which is rebuffed by our friends in Perth. Fetch allowed one to upload files from a dialogue box, which, under OS 9 and later, Interarchy now also barely supports.

Half the time, though, I just FTP directly from BBEdit, a marvelous tool. I save locally first (Command-S), then upload (Ctrl-S). I have a shitload of bookmarks all set up. It works fine.

The hiccup involves my home network, which is flaky by Macintosh standards. The fabled Girl Power iMac (so notorious it was lampooned in an Amazon customer review) has a hard time connecting to the TiBook, while the act of retrieving long directory lists, like the nearly-thousand-item joeclark.org folder on Girl Power, causes her to crash.

Such a crash has no effect other than ridding one of the pervasive, crippling fear of crashing the computer. One can keep on using the network, restarting later. I would, however, like it to stop.

Lynx

I view every variation of Windows prior to XP as malignant, troublesome, derivative, clunky, unæsthetic, and deeply common, and XP only barely tolerable, but I am nonetheless bisystemic. I am more competent in running Windows than most who have never owned anything else. (Quick: How do you show only the desktop?) Meanwhile, I’ve run Unix shell programs for nearly a decade. In no way does that imply I am competent at issuing Unix line commands.

I telnet into Luke’s box, using the homegrown but solid DataComet software. I read mail in Pine and use Lynx, the leading text-only Web browser.

Lynx has a storied history in the accessibility demimonde. Back in the days of DOS, screen readers could handle Lynx admirably. But it seeded the early misconception that accessible Web design had to do with text-only versions of a site, which is, of course, false. Now hardly anyone uses Lynx, including very few people with disabilities. From what I can tell, the chief user base involves Unix technical developers (I suppose I am nominally in that category) and residents of third-world countries without broadband connections, and even they are dwindling. Based on a little reading of pages so questionable I won’t even link to them, it appears fewer than 1% of all browsing is done in Lynx.

However, this isn’t a popularity contest. Lynx will change the life of anyone doing Internet research: You can mail Web pages to yourself. In other words, a Web page can be forever. It’s not exactly the only method of preserving Web pages, but it’s the easiest.

Macintosh Internet Explorer carries the tremendously useful Scrapbook feature, in which you can save an entire Web page with all its graphics. I’m told that you can, with difficulty, save the source HTML of any page in an “archive” in most browsers, but the trick then becomes organizing those files. Scrapbook puts them in one place; Lynx puts each page in a single E-mail (press p for Print and take it from there).

It’s convenient to use Lynx to search for keywords in a large set of related document – e.g., CRTC hearing transcripts or Weblog entries.

  1. You can turn on link numbering, so that you can go to or activate any hyperlink on the page by typing a number (just the number to follow the link, number followed by g to deposit the cursor on the link).
  2. You can then, for example, place the cursor on the first link to a Weblog’s archives section, press Return to load the page, press / to search, and type your keywords and Return.
  3. If the term is found, you zip to it; you can mail yourself that document right then and there.
  4. You can keep searching by pressing n.
  5. You can go back to the archives list, down-arrow to the next one, and repeat the process. (You only have to press n to retain the previous search term.)

So if you’re wondering how I can find every occurrence of a term on 20 or more Weblog archive pages, that’s how. And it might take me five minutes. Once I find what I want, I mail it to myself. I never delete anything I preserve in this way.

Even on sites with poor accessibility (e.g., missing or inadequate alt texts on images), all the page’s text will be present in Lynx. It’s beautifully formatted if the page uses anything resembling semantic HTML, and in any event is always at least readable or searchable. (With correct character encoding, Lynx does a Herculean job of rendering pi characters. It will even automatically transliterate Cyrillic into Latin.) Every hyperlink on the page is written out in plain text in a “References” section at the bottom of the message, with correct cross-referenced numbers.

Moreover, the text-only version of the page is not an “untrue” version: Nowhere is it stated that a browser must load graphics. Lynx’s rendition of your page is as valid as any other device’s, though I suppose that is most true of semantically-written pages.

Lynx is, however, poor as an archive mechanism for pages using data tables, because Lynx runs all table cells into a linear order. Another text-only browser, the confusingly-named Links, renders tables (and frames) with no problem, but I cannot figure out how to get Links to mail a page. It is apparently impossible.

Public Lynx sites are now rare, and half of them on the longstanding list don’t work. Scramworks and SAILOR are, however, functional. The Macintosh and Windows Lynx versions can be used, but mailing to yourself might or not work.

CopyPaste

Astonishingly useful $20 shareware. It gives you ten (actually 100) clipboards. Just add a digit to your Cut, Copy, or Paste keyboard command, as Command-C-2. It doesn’t always work (no version on 9 or X has always worked), but it works nine times out of ten, and good heavens does it speed things up. It’s very easy to copy a URL, a page title, and page text all in three fell swoops, then paste them back into HTML (as inside an a href="" element and a blockquote cite="" element).

It’s multisystemic, too – 9, X, and Windows. There’s something wrong with you if you’re not using CopyPaste.

Miscellaneous features

I will eventually get VirtualPC running on the TiBook (my licensed version lives, and chugs along with great effort, on Girl Power), at which point I’ll be using more browsers than anyone in Toronto, but as it stands a day doesn’t go by without three browsers running at once. The Mozilla, Camino, and Safari tabbed-browsing features are now indispensable (and I have listed them in order of preference – Mozilla’s keyboard shortcuts are now also an extension of my nervous system).

Now, a final point. My opponents find it at best odd and at worst Orwellian that I am able to amass so very much publicly-accessible information. Now you know how I do it, and remember, it’s publicly-accessible, so you have no right to complain. But you may gloat a little to learn that recently I’ve been finding myself unable to locate pages I distinctly remember reading even with the myriad mechanisms I already use, so no I’ve added another habit to my list: I bookmark everything of remote interest. So should you.

Structure & infrastructure

Interestingly, I do look with envy on other Weblogs with vast infrastructures. The man with a name to rival Tantek Çelik’s, Adriaan Tijsseling, is an example: He wrote his own posting tool for Movable Type, which he also uses, and also wrote a utility to update his iTunes listening list automatically. Plus he’s got a blogroll, a recent-items list, and, with all those features, a necessary multicolumn layout. (At my current level of simplicity, a single column is sufficient.) His code now validates. And he is the only person I have ever met who prefers to describe himself as “hearing-impaired.” A deaf Dutchman in Japan who runs a state-of-the-art, nay, bleeding-edge Web site: The 21st century in a nutshell.

Compared to him, I’m a piker.  

2003.07.17b – Not surprisingly, I preserve anything resembling a disturbing search request. Some, I suppose, are more “noteworthy.”

1 for "a boy s life by joann wypijewski"
That one dates back to 1999. I contend that my tiny page of that era was actually a log.
1 for "about joe clark"2 for "date of birth"2 for "who is joe clark"1 for "birth joe clark"
Though some of those are intended to refer to the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, if some queries should in fact refer to me, my response is: A bio page is a long-term goal of mine. And it’s gonna be thorough.
1 for "akromatopsi"
That’s achromatopsia (complete absence of colour vision), though that spelling is possibly an accurate transliteration from the Greek. See the book chapter on colourblindness.
1 for "all of joe clarks personal letters"
They are not online.
1 for "all the guys"
That posting was fully linked at the time. I note that nobody else has linked to it (actually, Kusch did, but Google never found that link).
1 for "bad religion font"
If you refer to the logotype, it’s Friz Quadrata.
1 for "brett d stewart"1 for "brett stewart"1 for "brett stewart"2 for "bret stewart"2 for "b 8204 r 8204 e 8204 t 8204 t"1 for "brett"2 for "brett"2 for "brett"
He’s got his own page. What more does he want?
1 for "conversational maxims in the movie clueless"
I’ve never written on that topic, though it sounds actually quite solid. (I am a linguistics grad.)
2 for "duchesne"4 for "duchesne"
Only discussed over at Volt, whose homepage I need to update for next year.
2 for "television without pity"
Discussed at NUblog, as faithful readers know.
3 for "mathieu chantelois"
He seems to hate my guts, whereas I see him as incompetent, among other faults.

I read everything written about me and everything written about my friends and whoever interests me, and I follow every lead related to me or those interests. This should surprise no one. Neither should my thoroughness.  

2003.07.17a – I don’t know what the heck is going on in my dear chum Adam “Milagro Greenfield War” Greenfield’s life (he’s moving where?), but I recall his high dudgeon at a famous Honda advertisement. Adam (too elemental a name for such a polyvalent fellow) complained that the ad, in which a domino effect mesmerizingly transmits from one car part to another, is an unauthorized remake of an art piece.

“Ad Nauseam” column, Private Eye, 13–26 June:

The big news in adland is that Honda’s much-vaunted TV slot “Cog”... may not be quite as original as first claimed.

Two Swiss artists have called in the lawyers against agency Wieden & Kennedy, claiming that “Cog” is bizarrely similar to their own 1997 short film, titled The Way Things Go... [...]

Many of the most successful adverts of recent years have been flagrant bites from the work of real artists.... The director [of a separate film] sued and lost on the grounds of the IP lawyer’s mantra that there is no copyright in an idea, only in the embodiment of that idea. But if you saw the film and then the ad, it only proved once again that the law is an all-singing, all-dancing ass.

Ad creatives call this inspiration, even sometimes patting themselves on the back for being talented enough to “spot” other people’s work, as if a burglar deserves credit for knowing how to break in... [A]lthough adland can give it out, it can’t take it.... Sony and agency TBWA were so pleased to have offered inspiration [to a separate TV commercial] that they ran to their lawyers and the ads will not be shown again....

The only question remaining is whether they nicked the idea from the hapless Swiss duo or whether it came from the opening sequences of The Great Egg Race, an ’80s TV program that began with what appears to “Ad Nauseam” to be yet another version of this supposedly groundbreaking idea.  

2003.07.15 – Is the beat of Soweto truly indestructible?

A BoingBoing posting led to a 15 MB QuickTime video of the astonishing spectacle of a quasi-humanoid robot patrolling Soweto. The 21st century polices the 19th. White technology “protects” the black townships. I don’t understand why the robot doesn’t have 360° vision (except to make its “real-time video feed” easier to follow), and the final domain name in this inexplicable teaser video does not exist, but it is freaking me out with its realism and plausibility. I simply cannot believe my eyes – because it’s far too believable. (The android even wears a badge and its antennæ carry warning decals.)

‘What if... we could build a system... to help police...’ do what, exactly?
Robot patrols Soweto

Just as third-world countries skipped landline telephones and zipped directly to wireless, why wouldn’t policing skip human beings altogether and deploy replaceable, reparable robots off a Chinese assembly line? I keep thinking of Virtual Light, in which the LAPD uses miniature surveillance/attack helicopters small enough to fly into a kitchen. That’s not all: The most corrupt police force this side of Russia launches its own spy satellite.

How old hat to worry that computers and robots will turn against “us.” Why go to all the bother? We can set them up to police our undesirables.  

2003.07.14 – Or, I suppose, up.

Herewith, I begin a summertime serialization of tidbits from Anthony Lane’s Nobody’s Perfect. He’s the most delightful writer I know. I experience delight reading him. And, pace Wilde, he views cinema as too important to be taken seriously.

  1. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

    The new British gangster film, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, has been a booming hit in its native land. I have a suspicion that it could take off here, too, and that, a year from now, sophisticated American travel(l)ers will be signing up for the full Smoking Barrels Mean Bastard Tour with Luxury Pub-Wrecking Option. Those with money to burn could even be offered a guided tour of Vinnie Jones. Vinnie plays a debt collector named Big Chris, and he is the best reason to see the picture. I find it difficult to describe the Jones face, with its almost unbroken line of eyebrow, although I feel confident that you could strap it to the front of a truck and use it to clear snow. Two Smoking Barrels is Vinnie’s first film; until recently, he was a soccer player, or, more accurately, a Visigoth in the cunning guise of a soccer player. He attained the status of Public Hero Nº 1 back in 1988, when, awaiting a corner kick, he reached behind him and, without looking back, grabbed the private parts of Paul Gascoigne (his only rival as England’s leading lout) and twisted hard. This touching moment was captured in a famous photograph; the people looked upon it and said, Surely this man could be a movie star. And, lo, it came to pass.

    – p. 272; 2003.07.14

  2. Star Trek: First Contact

    What is it with Star Trek? Why can’t it be like any other TV series and stay where it belongs? Imagine if every show were like this – breaking free of the small screen and boldly heading for the big one. We don’t have to sit through Roseanne IV: The Wrath of Dan or E.R. II: The Search for Doc, so I can’t really see the point of Star Trek: First Contact.... The hook of First Contact – number eight in the Star Trek series, if you can believe it – is that planet Earth is once again threatened with destruction, this time by the Borg. The Borg are the scariest folk in the universe; they are half organic, like supermarket granola; they have forearms left over from the Terminator films; and they suffer from troublesome scalp problems, not least a bunch of little hoses sprouting from the backs of their heads. We are told that they have “a collective consciousness,” with no concept of individuals, although by that criterion our galaxy would have long ago been conquered by the Partridge Family.

    – p. 272; 2003.07.15

  3. Dazed and Confused

    Meanwhile, up at the tougher end of the scale, there are jocks like O’Bannion (Ben Affleck) and Randy “Pink” Floyd (Jason London). I was hoping that Pink might have friends called Larry “Black” Sabbath or Chris “Deep” Purple, but, sadly, not....

    – p. 37; 2003.07.17

  4. Apocalypse Now

    ...not to mention the perennial, uneasy suspicion that Kurt’s kingdom, run by Brando with Dennis Hopper as his Fool, is in fact nothing worse than a T.S. Eliot Study Group gone terribly wrong. But there is so much to set against that, beginning with the deep, thugga-thugga heartbeat of the choppers in the opening seconds; they fade in overhead, as if the audience were a restless river. (Murch got an Oscar for Best Sound on the picture, and his work remains unsurpassed; take a friend who is visually impaired to this movie, and I guarantee that he or she will get things out of it that you can barely imagine.)

    – p. 355; 2003.07.31

  5. The Madness of King George

    Now we have Nicholas Hytner’s The Madness of King George, adapted from Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III, which was a big hit in London when it opened, in 1991 – so big that two years later it even came and played in Brooklyn for a few nights. The people at Goldwyn thought that Bennett’s original title sounded like a sequel, so they changed it. Why not call the movie Mad George III: Beyond Thunderdome, and bring in Tina Turner to play the Prince of Wales?

    – p. 98; 2003.07.31

2003.07.08 & 21

Noah Abrahamson:

I’m at a streetcorner (Leavenworth and Sutter, to be precise) and it’s 3:00 A.M. Eastern time; thanks to some leaking wireless access from a closed coffeehouse, I can tell you

  1. I’m tingling with all sorts of thoughts and memories and hopes,
  2. it’s both exhilarating and anxiety-producing (I had a miniature anxiety attack this afternoon walking around the Castro) and
  3. it’s rather precarious of me to sit on the sidewalk typing this, with a billboard above my head saying “sure, go ahead, beat me up and steal my computer.”

Indeed, a couple crossing the street were overheard saying, “Huh, even the homeless have laptops now? Man...” I should put out a cup.

But we have not seen anything yet. Matt Müllenweg:

Essentially, a man in his late 20s early 30s, who administers Macintoshes, goes out on the town in Ann Arbor San Francisco and sits around a sketchy district in the middle of the night updating his Weblog via TiBook.

My key works but it seems the door is jammed somehow, so I’m currently locked out of my house, which is as they say a bummer. My battery runs low, but thank goodness for WiFi.... (Power update: I just ran the extension cord on the side of the house to the porch, so it looks like I can finish this.)

Essentially, a 19-year-old, who otherwise publishes an entire Weblogging software application, updates his Weblog while locked out of his house by plugging his laptop into the porch outlet and connecting via Wiffy.

What were you even capable of doing when you were 19?

Be a gay man.

I’m in favour of opinions. I have my own. I am more strongly in favour of evidence. It’s coming up more and more in My Field, for example, and has been a staple of discourse on our diverse homosexualist communities since the 1990s. The next time somebody tells you “gays” are a “desirable target market” because “DINKs” have “higher disposable income,” your response should be: Prove it.

They won’t be able to. And the results for lesbians will surprise the hell out of fabulists of gay-male wealth.

M.V. Lee Badgett, Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men:

  1. “The average lesbian/bisexual woman in this sample [General Social Survey: National Health and Social Life Survey] earns $21,331 per year (in 1991 [U.S.] dollars), 8% more than the average heterosexual woman, who earns $19,738 per year.... Gay/bisexual men earn $21,258 compared with heterosexual men, who earn $28,680 per year, a 35% difference” [p. 34]

  2. “[T]he census findings match the GSS findings quite closely. The... study compared people in married and unmarried opposite-sex couples with people in same-sex couples. They found that men in same-sex couples earned from 13% to 31% less than men in married couples, depending on where they lived. Women in same-sex relationships who worked full-time, on the other hand, had no statistically significant difference in earnings compared to married women who worked full-time.” Other analyses show “a 30%–32% wage penalty for unmarried gay/bisexual men, while unmarried lesbian/bisexual women earn 17%–23% more than married heterosexual women” [p. 36]

  3. Gays and lesbians have children – sometimes at rates not significantly different from straight people. (Full references are in the book. I may later cross-reference links.)

    Survey & question Lesbians Heterosexualist women Gay men Heterosexualist men
    Yankelovich
    [Have] children in household 32% 36 15 28
    [Respondents are] parents 67 72 27 60
    Voter exit poll
    Children in household 31 37 22 ½ 32 ½
    GSS/NHSLS 28 14

    Also, in the 1990 U.S. Census, 20% of lesbian couples and 5% of gay-male couples had children vs. 57% of (hetero) married couples. In Canada: “About 15% of the 15,200 female same-sex couples were living with children, compared with only 3% of male same-sex couples.” Gay parenting seems considerably less common in Canada, but it is hardly nonexistent

And of course now we have even fresher evidence. “Gay Affluence Questioned Using Census 2000 Data”:

Men in same-sex couples typically earn less than other American married men, according to a newly released Urban Institute analysis of Census 2000 data.... But the institute’s analysis found the income gap lowered or closed entirely when it looked at states with laws that protect workers from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is currently legal to fire someone based solely on their sexual orientation in 36 states. “These data suggest that when the fear of job-related discrimination is lifted, gay men perform on par or better than other American men in the workplace,” said David M. Smith, communications director and senior strategist of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, who commissioned the Institute’s study.

The data are online:

  1. Income of gay men lags behind that of men partnered with women
  2. Workplace protection linked to higher earnings for less-educated gay men

I’ve known only two conspicuous-consumer gay men. The rest of us are just making a living.

2003.07.07

(Updated) Took me forever to get around to it, but here, on Jonno’s insistence, is a cleaned-up rendering of an instant-message transcript.

Standards-compliance tip: It is certainly a trial to turn such things into semantic HTML – the definition list (dl) seems to be the best method. (Note that dds may follow each other, as may dts.)

jonno
do you know or read Glenn Reynolds?
joeclark
I have heard of him, seen him on TV, passingly looked at his site once or twice with negligible interest.
¿Porqué?
Oh. Of course. Instapundit.
jonno
cf. the post i just re-edited for the fortieth time
i cut it down to its essence
arrogant twit
joeclark
Well, the reality, which I and a very few others have expressed, is that there are now a series of mutually incommunicado blog islands. factions, even.
jonno
which i completely recognize
however
joeclark
We were always one of them.
jonno
to say gay blogs are “largely ignored” ... i mean, by whom?
jonno
the non-gays?
please
joeclark
He’s right. There is remarkably little Weblog miscegenation. Plasticbag is the only queer Weblog read regularly by straight people, and only then the standards-compliant, Creative Commons–apologist geek types.
jonno
that’s not the point i’m trying to make
joeclark
It was the point I was trying to make.
do go on, dear.
jonno
he’s inferring one monolithic “weblog readership” who reads Instapundit and whatever and “largely ignores” gay blogs
i.e., for all his punditry
he
does
not
get
IT
joeclark
Look, it’s like when Slate started.
“Wow! Another general-interest Web magazine!”
No, another twee Kinsley-infested obsession with inside-the-Beltway Washington politics.
those people cannot think of anything else.
joeclark
they believe the purpose of the Internet is to give them another outlet to perseverate on the picayune issues they think are important.
the chattering classes, after all.
the same thing happened with plastic.com:
“You amateurs have given it a go. We’re the real New York City magazine journalists. We’ll take over from here. Have a nice day.”
jonno
urgh
joeclark
SO:
The warbloggers consider that all other blogs are irrelevant except inasmuch as they gave them the idea to write their own blogs, which, at that point, immediately become the true, immutable, and archetypal variety.
jumped-up arrivistes.
jonno
that is EXACTLY what i was thinking
you are a source of great comfort sometimes
joeclark
often, yes.
Curmudgeons are idealistic, etc.
I have an idea.
jonno
i want to take on these self-important twits at some point
joeclark
We need to get the facts out there.
it is subtly different from “We were doing it first.” It’s also different from “Yeah, but we came along later after you worked all the bugs out.”
jonno
well, you’re so much better at this kind of thing
it was somehow tying their blogging identity/mission/mandate to 9/11
which gave it this spurious gravitas + authority
not all spurious
i mean, some of them are smart
or at least not stupid
joeclark
forgetting how many hits Metafilter got that week.
jonno
but the self-importance! ay!
EXACTLY
jonno
i mean, who WERE any of these people before 9/11?
i don’t want to fall into the “we were here first” trap
b/c that is not the point either
it’s not about establishing supremacy
it’s about recognizing that this medium entails a multiplicity of voices
which is what makes is TRULY inventive and radical and very, very different from anything else
they just
don’t
get
that
joeclark
Blogistan is not a stan. The blogosphere is not a sphere. Weblogs are an archipelago.
jonno
ooo
joeclark
sometimes it’s harder to get from one island to another, sometimes it’s easier.
Blogipelago.
jonno
(™ Joe Clark, 2003)
sounds like an after-shave
Blogipelago... by Prince Matchavelli
anyway
i sent him a cordial-ish email
simply quoting what he said
and asking him whether he actually READ any of these supposedly ignored gay blogs
jonno
needless to say, i have not rec’d a response
joeclark
You and I have two subtly different viewpoints on this, since you write a popular gay blog with all the fixin’s, like blogroll etc.,
jonno
mmm, fixin’s
joeclark
whereas I write something with about 250 views a month that borders on the solipsistic. The most popular gay blogger (we exclude the Little Bugger Andrew Sullivan) would still get ignored by straight people. But so would an unpopular gay blogger....
jonno
i’m not complaining about being ignored by straight people
again, i’m calling his arrogance into question here
the concept of ONE readership
joeclark
the only one they care about. the people who agree with everything they write and everything written on every Weblog they link to.
jonno
yes, that one
joeclark
I am guilty of that, too. I cannot stand Murdering Mouth and Otherstream. fucking Randroids. I don’t want anything to do with them.
jonno
(David Otherstream is a long-standing e-pal, so i will ignore)
joeclark
Yeah, but Randroids, libertarians, and right-wingers I get enough of already.
jonno
yes, we all create our own little blogipelagos
but according to Ms. Pundit
he & his ilk constitute the land mass
and we are all tiny little atolls far off in the sea
joeclark
True.
jonno
which may be true
in terms of raw numbers
i don’t know
i don’t know how many hits/page views he gets
i mean
joeclark
They feel they have license to say so because their own echo chamber deceives them into thinking they’re genuinely popular.
jonno
EXACTLY
if my readers are exclusively homosexualist
i expect i would get a tenth of what he does
which is not so different from the way the gay blog world operates
in some circles
i try to stay away from that
but AGAIN
it is giving them ATTENTION
which they do not NEED
and will make them more SMUG
joeclark
and will get my legions of opponents to simply accuse me of sour grapes again.
jonno
argh
joeclark
that wouldn’t stop me, though.
jonno
it is maddening

How this is not a popularity contest

2003.07.08 – So that cute Matt Welch and his ugly, hateful adherents will be clear, I’ve had a very long time to think about the issue of Weblog popularity since the publication (and republication) of “Deconstructing ‘You’ve Got Blog,’ ” and I can assure readers that whenever you read a complaint of mine about anything else, you are not actually witnessing a case of psychological displacement or a cover story for complaining about not being popular enough online.

I am popular enough online: Exactly the appropriate number of people read my pages, nearly all 1,200-odd of which are related to obscure or technical topics, some of which are posted in the hopes that the 70 or so people online with a similar interest will eventually happen across them via googling.

Generally, when people wish to complain about not being popular enough, they will actually say so. It is improper to claim that unrelated complaints about, say, the power-law relationship of Weblog popularity or, in older documents, about the logging A-list are smokescreens that camouflage gripes about personal unpopularity.

You don’t have to agree with anything I say. You may not, however, accuse me of ever-differing methods of complaining that I’m unpopoular or that my sites are poorly-read. I’ve already lived through popularity, thank you very much, and it crashed the box my sites were hosted on, thereby taking down fifteen other people’s sites with it. I’ll take appropriate popularity over getting Slashdotted anyday.


Further, I’m waiting for somebody to bother noting the small innovation I have brought to the discourse on Weblogs, the concept of the blogipelago. I think it’s an accurate model for contemporary Weblogging.

2003.07.05

“It’s Morning in Amerika” Ten Years Ago in Spy. It’s also garbage day.

If anybody has old Spy issues they are hoarding, get in touch with me. Few reasonable offers refused.


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