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Twitter Kills

Jun 19, 2009, 9:31 am by Paul Stiverson

There is an epidemic, nay a pandemic, spreading like wildfire across the globe, I speak of twitter: the blue menace.

“But Paul, why do you hate Twitter so much? You, yourself, keep a blog (as is evidenced by this bullshit post), how could you be so vehemently opposed to the notion of rapid-fire short and essentially meaningless online communication?”

Well, gentle reader, I’m glad you ask. The reason Twitter’s proliferation offends me so is because it perpetuates and even necessitates the bastardization of our language. Or to put it differently: “bcuz it kills r words”. With their 140 character limit they make it impossible to formulate and convey a coherent thought, to even try requires a loose understanding of phonics. There are those who claim that spelling, grammar, and usage are unimportant so long as the reader understands the central meaning of the text. If that were the case then why did we, as a species, progress past grunting and pointing at our genitals? (I suppose not all of us have, looking at you Long Island) Could it be because simple communication lacks the nuance that allows us to express complex or abstract ideas?

It was perfectly acceptable when this mode of communication was primarily employed by teenybopper girls and potheads who think they are blowing their readers’ minds, but when legitimate news outlets (the legitimacy of CNN is sadly dwindling at the speed of light) are using Twitter as a means of news gathering then it has gone too far, it is too mainstream. It must be stopped before irreparable damage is done to our common language.

I don't normally tackle the divine, but here I go anyway

Oct 7, 2008, 11:12 pm by Lew

you get two point if know why i used this graphicSomething just made me a little sad. Intelligent Design is making me a little sad. Not the idea itself but the existence of it. Intelligent Design is another name for creationism. If you believe in creationism that is your faith. Calling it intelligent design is trying to use scientific logic to justify your faith. If you have faith I think it is sad to feel you need science to justify it. That to me is what it sad. To me that is a lack of faith.

John Steinbeck is what got me thinking about this. In a few paragraphs in “Log from the Sea of Cortez” he discusses how people react to ideas that they hate. He argues that the best reaction to a new idea is to study it for complete comprehension and only then giving your views of the strengths and faults of the ideas. When someone hates an idea, they do not try to understand, they try to destroy it. This made me think about the evolution vs. intelligent design debate. 5 minutes ago I would have said I hate the idea of intelligent design. But then I tried to understand why intelligent design is out there in the first place. I do not think anyone actually loves the idea in and of itself. It is obviously a way to try to work creationism into the domain of science. It is a reaction by people of faith to the theory of evolution. If you are a person of faith you shouldn’t be scared of biological theories. If you think god is almighty and unfathomable why be scared of science? Yet enough people of faith are scared that they make a public issue out of scientific fact. They realized they cannot fight evidence based logic with faith based beliefs. So they have dressed up genesis with science. The testaments don’t command you to accrue the evidence necessary to prove the divine. The bible asks for faith. If you have faith, then have faith.

Press Shops «Part 2»

Aug 15, 2008, 12:51 pm by Paul Stiverson

8 thousand dollar bibleYesterday I completed my tour of letterpress shops in San Francisco by visiting the Arion Press—there are about 5 other shops in the area, but there were time constraints to be dealt with. I took the train into town, which drops off at the North-East corner of San Francisco, and the shop is in The Presidio, which is in the South-West corner. I had a long way to go and a short time to get there (an hour); thankfully a helpful bus driver intervened and told me how to get there using the wonders of the San Francisco Municipal Transit System—branded simply as The Muni. I jumped on bus 47, then I got on the 1, then I walked a couple blocks. I was a bit late for the tour, but the guide delayed things for me. The gentleman leading the tour was a bit older, I think he was a man of some import around the press (maybe the head dude, I’m not sure). Anyhow, he started by describing what the press (the business, not the machine) does, which is to commission artwork to accompany classic literary works, then typeset them beautifully along with the artwork, print them, bind them, and sell them to collectors (note this is all done by hand, so the limited edition books end up being quite beautiful, if expensive). They typically do 3–4 books a year with a run of no more than 500, oftentimes a much smaller run.

The fellow then took us down to where the magic happens, the print room. The printer had just finished a run on a page (two pages actually) of Don Quixote; he described the machines, and told us why they weren’t using the larger presses for this particular job (I think it would have been terribly appropriate for them to be printing with a Windmill, but instead they were using a Cylinder). He also had some proofs of the accompanying artwork We were shown the extensive collection of irreplaceable type, and their type warehouse. Next stop was the type foundry, where they actually cast the little metal sorts and arrange them into pages. This is the part that is truly rare, there are very few active type foundries left in the world. They let us take an ornamental sort, and then we moved to the binding room, where two cute gals were working like slaves making boxes that Quixote would eventually find his way into (fine books typically come in a box so they don’t fall open on the shelf). There were stacks of unbound books that were in various stages of completion: folded pages, sewn, formed, etc. He showed us the device that sews the edges of the book together and described the way books are mass produced noting, and how they sometimes hand sew the leaves.

We then returned upstairs and perused their collection. In the tradition of Gutenburg they printed a two volume bible (pictured at right) which looks beautiful but carries a price tag of seven-thousand dollars, you can add a grand to that if you want it bound. Another interesting work is a take on Waiting for Godot pictured below.

This tour was awesome, and it further cemented my desire to get into letterpress in any way possible.
Go Dough

Schedule

Aug 5, 2008, 10:29 am by Paul Stiverson

Well, my time in California is winding down (thank goodness). My last day of work is Wednesday, the sixth, on the seventh I fly to Dallas for (my fellow blooger) Mark’s wedding. Here comes the twist, on the tenth I fly back to San Francisco. [I drove here, and I don’t much want to leave my car in the Bay Area.] Then I wait, you see Mallory is flying in to the Bay Area to make the drive back to Texas with me, it will be nice to not be alone with my thoughts for 28 more hours—it gets scary in there. The problem is that Mal flies in on the 15th, leaving me with 5 unscheduled days in South Bay, this shouldn’t be a big problem though, I made it though the three unscheduled days at the start of summer right, and now I know the area, piece of cake.

There is a pretty kick-ass bookstore about two miles from the base, and they have a frequent readers card sort of thing going on. They track your purchases on this little paper card, and when you buy 10 books they give you a book of the average value (of the 10 purchased books) for free. Last night I realized that I had a half full card (and a lot of upcoming free time) so I finished out the card and got my free book. Six new books I now have resting on my desk. I figure I should be able to knock one (and maybe a half) out during all the flying parts, leaving me 5 or so to read during the 5 unscheduled days. The books are as follows.

As I sit here I see 15 books I’ve read already (and three I couldn’t stand to read one more freaking page of), it has been a good literary summer.

WWKD

Jul 6, 2008, 5:07 pm by Paul Stiverson

Cover of Yesterday I was traipsing through a local bookstore looking for something interesting to read when I happened upon an unexpected treasure: What Would Kinky Do? by none other than the most famous Independent former Gubernatorial candidate for the great state of Texas, Kinky Friedman. I picked it up and I was—for lack of a better word—giddy, so happy was I that I managed to work into conversation with the clerk that I had the great pleasure of voting for the author in 2006.

I would have made this post earlier, but I was too intently focused on reading the book. It is hard to call it a book, it is actually a collection of essays and articles written for previous publications, although I’m sure some of them were written for this publication. I am quite happy with it, and I suggest that the rest of y’all go out and procure a copy; although I do wish it was a bit more coherent (a bit of it was repetitious).

In one of my favorite parts Kinky recounts a story involving some Green Berets, himself and his Peace-Corps buddies, and a bar in Thailand, that could have had catastrophic results for the author had he not realized that one of the Green Berets was a fellow Texan: “The next thing anybody knew, the invisible bond of latent homosexual Texas manhood had transcended all other human chemistry in the bar and the world.”

I call Dibs

Jul 3, 2008, 5:47 pm by Jon

What a boring day, and by boring I mean... well, uneventful kinda. The Boss was out, and I've actually been the only person in the office all day today. It's 5:45 PM. I should be leaving now. I should be.

So anyways, the day. It's spent sitting in front of a computer mostly copy/pasting information back and forth between an executive summary and the main report. I write reports IRL. But it's boring, and I'm bored, and forget trying to focus on any one thing. So lunch rolls around at 11:00-ish and I head out for some sweet Panera Bread sustenance. I get to read In Search of Memory for a while and it's pretty damn interesting. Nerves! Proteins! Charged Ion Channels! The first part of it is mostly review for anyone who may have taken a class that covered cell biology. It covers it in a historical perspective, though, so even if you can still remember all the way back to those college courses (assuming you didn't sleep through them), it makes for any interesting read about the people behind the discoveries.

After finishing up there I run by B&N to pick up a book covering Chinese characters and their stroke order (no, this is not about epileptic kung fu actors). I want to do something productive, and the Olympics are coming up, this could be productive (maybe I'll post about it).

On to the meat of the story. I'm cruising around with the windows down rocking some Röyksopp and it's damn hot. I pass up my normal turn-off and pull into a Walgreen to get some icy deliciousness (see where this is heading). I'm not sure what I want, it just has to be cold. And then I see them, Dibs, man. They're almost an iconic ice-cream treat, like Dip-N-Dots or astronaut ice-cream. So I grab a 26 piece container and head on my way. It's hot, the ice-cream is cold, my lap feels like an arctic prairie on a cool spring afternoon. This stuff is awesome. I just consumed 99% of my saturated fat for the day no lie!

I get back here to spend the rest of the afternoon browsing the internet and avoiding doing any actual work. Browsing the net I find some pics of Dibs containers to post here and they all have different brand names. Apparently, Nestle owns Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Holdings, Inc. So that explains the Dreyer's labels and the Nestle labels, but what about this Edy's that I see too?

Let's call Dreyer's.

I call the number on the container and ask the lady on the line why there are Dreyer's and Edy's ice-cream products. Turns out that Breyers, not to be confused with Dreyer's, is an east-coast product, and so as not to have to compete with Breyers brand wise, Dreyer's used their co-founder Joseph Edy's name.

Someone should tell Dreyer's that Texas is East of the Rockies, I want some Edy's ice-cream now.



Words, man!

yes i felt awkward, it was weird

Jun 7, 2008, 5:49 pm by Trey

so first off, anyone who know me in the least bit, knows that i live for and strive on incredibly awkward moments pertaining to and ranging from just about anything and everything.

this however, made me feel incredibly inferior to about 5 coworkers that... well let's just say, there is no way i am inferior to them, except maybe that i can't place in the special olympics; well, they aren't really retarded, but they are about as smart as my fossil wallet (on one of it's bad days at that).

anyway, what happened; we were casually jesting with one of our coworkers (who is afraid of his own shadow mind you) about roosters and how mean and forceful they can be. the conversation quickly escalated and a joke was made about one tripping him and pecking his eyes out. me, being the idiot that i am, knowing good and well that no-one in the lunch-room would catch the reference, quickly popped off
"quoth the raven, nevermore!"
loud enough to get the attention of everyone (which i soon realized i didn't want). well after this clever moment (so i thought), all conversation ceased for about 10 seconds and they just looked at me with a blank stare, and i swear i got a telepathic message from every one of them saying "...huh?"

needless to say, that was the end of our lunch and for probably the second time in my entire life, i actually felt awkward.

You never loved your friends, my friends, as I will love my foes!

May 30, 2008, 11:26 am by Paul Stiverson

I’ve never been one for a poem
I’ve found them a waste of time
try and toil, studying a tome
never can make sense the rhyme.

Lo, this morn that did revise
no word, no sound hit my ear
but a verse opened my eyes
Everything finally made clear.

Enough with that gayety, on to the point of this post. This morning I was making my usual rounds, checking blogs, reading webcomics, and rather than the typically hilarious, sarcastic post from Paul Burns for America I found a glorious poem by a Gilbert Chesterton. It honestly did change my opinions of poetry… I hate to say it (because I thought it a contradiction), but this poem is fucking awesome. I leave you with a stanza.

The tide of battle changes, so may all battle be
I stole my lady bride from them; they stole her back from me
As I wrenched her from her red roofed halls, I rose and saw arise
More lovely than the living flowers, the hatred in her eyes
She never loved me, never wept, never was less divine
And sunset never knew us, her world was never mine
Was it all for nothing that she stood, imperial in duresse
Silence itself made softer with the sweeping of her dress
O you who drain the cup of life! O You who wear the crown!
You never loved a woman's smile as I have loved her frown!

The poem that opened the post was all me by the way.

Distractions

May 26, 2008, 3:14 pm by Paul Stiverson

You might have noticed, from my last post, that I have become a bit forgetful. I left my book in two different places, and I also lost my pen, which is something that usually doesn’t happen.

Apart from reading Snuff on the plane I also read, The Last Lecture. In it the author talks about achieving goals you set as a child.

You might ask what the last two paragraphs (sentences) have to do with anything, and the answer is simple. I’ve been forgetful lately because I’ve been distracted—I’m not going into details as to the nature of this distraction, suffice it to say that my focus in life has been distracted. The distraction has been present for some time, but the recent move to California has exacerbated it, and it has to very much to do with one of my (the only notable) childhood dreams. I have decided how I will relieve the distraction, but alas it is something that would be terribly difficult to do from here, so this distraction will have to remain in place until the Fall.

Trip Itinerary, a retrospect.

May 26, 2008, 1:46 am by Paul Stiverson

On Thursday I took a short lunch and took off from work a little early, I went back to the dorm and packed all the stuff I had set out into my backpack, grabbed my book, and was southbound on the 101 by 5:15. Unfortunately I was on the 101 at 5:15 which meant I was mostly sitting still; it took over an hour to drive the 30 miles required to make it to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Now my flight to DFW was scheduled to leave at 7:10, so I was a bit nervous while navigating the labyrinth of overpasses leading into the airport but finally found a parking space in section E22 and after hastily grabbing my backpack, shoes, and book I started running (that’s right, running) to the check-in desk. I made it to the check in desk by 6:30 and thankfully there was no line, not even a hint of a line… I was the only person. I got my boarding pass and head to security—there were a few people in the security line, but no worries it seemed to be moving pretty quickly and my flight hadn’t even started boarding yet. About the time I took off my shoes and tossed them in the grey bucket/tray thing I realize that I had left my book (Dreams From My Father) setting at the checkout line. I thought it would be a terrible tragedy to miss my flight on account of a paperback (no matter how engaging it is) so I chalked it up as a loss. I get chosen for a random security check, thankfully I left my bomb in my other backpack… close call. I throw my shoes back on (I didn’t bother to tie them) and head for my gate, stopping briefly on the way to see if the newsstand has any interesting books. After looking at the shelf full of Dean Koontz novels I decide that I can make the 3 hour flight without a book.

After boarding the plane I met a lovely young couple who were flying home to visit their families. The two were from Dallas, but had been living in the Bay Area for a few years. Really nice folks. The flight went smoothly—we left, and arrived on time. Mark was waiting for me, and we proceeded back to his house for the night.

In the morning we all got up and started getting our shit together for the drive to Bellville. I asked if we could stop on the way at a bookstore so I could pick up a new copy of Dreams From My Father, Mark obliged. The trip went smoothly, putting us in Bellville and at the church with enough time to change before the rehearsal dinner got underway. At the rehearsal I got to meet the bride’s two little brothers—who were serving as junior groomsmen—good kids. The rehearsal dinner itself was quite nice, we had mexican food which was quite delicious. Also, Andrew, the groom, presented us with our Groomsmen gifts, a slick Kershaw knife, which I had to leave in Texas because I wasn’t going to check any luggage on the return flight. During the dinner I was reminded of a story which I then told, and will eventually share here—“The Beanhole”. After the rehearsal dinner many of us retired to the hotel in Brenham to share a few beers and many laughs, Steven was kind enough to open his room to me for the night.

The day of the wedding we all congregated at the church to get ready, we took some pictures before everything got underway. Then the big moment was upon us. The bride’s mother misplaced the groom’s ring so we had to stall for a minute, the ring was eventually found, but not until after the ceremony—another groomsman volunteered his for the actual exchange.

At the reception I got to see most of my fish buddies, including one who had recently gotten back from Korea. Jenny was kind enough to make the trip down to be my date. Dancing ensued. After the reception I retired to The Woodlands with Mark and company to bed down for the night.

The following afternoon (today, mind you), Mark’s mom gave me a ride to Bush Intercontinental for my connecting flight to DFW. About halfway to IAH I realized that I had left my book (Dreams From My Father) sitting on her counter, I declined her invitation to turn around and get it, deciding that Mark could mail it to me along with my knife. I entered IAH at approximately 12:40 with plenty of time to catch my 2:05 flight, I knew little of the ordeal that awaited me on the other side of that security station. I stopped at a book shop in IAH and bought a book, Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk, then made my way to the gate in time to find that my flight had been delayed by half an hour. Eventually we board and make our way to DFW, a short flight. In DFW I check the departure screen to see that my intended connection is in the final stages or boarding, and in a different terminal; I make my way to the skylink and head toward gate D22 (from C18). Upon arrival I find that I have missed flight 39 and must try to board another flight. I make my way to gate A13 where I am able to get a ticket for the next outgoing flight. The plane that I should be boarding arrives and the passengers disembark, we all start to line up for the ensuing boarding frenzy, but are told that boarding will be delayed for mechanical reasons. We all take our seats. About an hour later the flight attendant comes back on the line and tells us that the flight has been cancelled, but not to worry, there are other flights leaving town and we will all have a place on one of them. After four hours in DFW I am finally boarding a plane to SFO where I will find that my book has disappeared into somebody else’s possession (not in the lost and found) and that I had parked in short term parking, I payed the $113 to get my car out of hawk and drove back to the dorm in the cold and uninviting 55º California night.

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