Tuesday, December 07, 2010

You See What You Want

A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of spending a little time with an old friend I've rarely seen over the last twenty-five years. In reminiscing and catching up she asked me if I remembered her daughter's birthday party who was five or six at the time. I did remember the party, but was taken aback by her relating a memory from it. Apparently I'd tied-up one of her nephews, who was 10 or 12 years old then. She laughed remembering him flailing and rolling around in the grass. I don't remember that, but I'm sure it's true.

A few summers ago with a family visit here I was effusive in praise of one of my little nieces not allowing herself to be tricked into barking by me. Most of my nieces and nephews are adults now and it's only in their adulthood that I've come to know I was the source of much childhood terror by telling them ghost stories. At first I was incredulous that I had told them ghost stories, but their relating the stories prompted immediate recognition.

An older niece scolded me about trying to trick my younger niece into barking, pointing out that it wasn't nice to make someone seem foolish for my own amusement. She made a good point. Even though I'd managed to trick my sister-in-law into barking and other animal sounds, her wily daughter wouldn't be duped. But the whole charade from my perspective wasn't solely for my amusement; it was more to the idea that a family who howls together is happy. Likewise I'd tied up the boy as a Houdini escape challenge. I feel sure that I knew he would escape with some effort. The pay out was that his escape would bring adulation from the five and six year old party-goers.

This is the silly post has giving me writers block. I'm not sure where I want to go with it, all I know is that I seem to have a lot on my mind. Yet have a hard time developing a story. The best think is probably to simply delete the post; what I'm afraid of is that won't stop the block. So I think I'll put together some links.

The title of this entry comes from a favorite song by Zap Mama Nostalgie Amoureuse

The picture is from a report--links in this précis--by the IEA International Energy Agency. Click on the image to see it larger. It's a graphic that may not provoke a sense of panic in others as it did me.

Lately I've been using a fun Internet tool called Readon.ly. It's quite simple and the How Does It Work link at the site is brilliant for it's brevity. I'll give the wrong impression of it with too many word, but here goes. Readon.ly provides a bookmarklet for your browser. It allows you to select a section of text from an article or Web site. A popup window makes it easy to assign tags as well as to edit a tweet which includes a shortened URL. It will then put your highlight on the Readon.ly site along with any tags you've assigned. The first page provides the highlights from various users in chronological order. Each highlight has a little bird you can click on to tweet other's highlights. People who click on the Readon.ly tweets are taken directly to the page where the highlight comes from along with an obvious to close popup of the highlight. It sounds complicated but is easy and obvious in use.

I don't often find myself asking myself, "What did I tweet today?" and then looking, which is easy to do. I do sometimes look over things I've linked to over time at Facebook. And I find that I enjoy looking over the readon.ly highlights I've made. The highlights are not date stamped. I remember posting three to day which I'll share and the one just before which I posted last night.
“As the cybernetician Stafford Beer once said to me: “If we can understand our children, we’re all screwed.”
Brian Eno "What Happens Next?". . . and then:
“Telling students that they can’t read or discuss the primary documents is “absolutely contrary to any decent practice in international affairs or any other field of study,” Sick said."
Gary Sick who received his PhD in political science from Columbia in 1973 about warnings communicated from the State Department against discussing WikiLeaks. . .and then:
“the system has become so ossified politically that there is practically no way for such nonconformity to be implemented within its official structures”
That's from selections of Vaclav Havel's 1978 essay "The Power of the Powerless". . . and finaly:
“What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.”
Jimmy Carter July, 1979 speech, The "Crisis of Confidence".

I highlighted at various times of the day, so there were hours between posting each of these highlights. Each article was different stuff before and after, yet at the end of the day what's posted seems to have a common thread.

I have no idea whether readon.ly will find a following. It would be very different if a lot of people do, a world-view collection of great sentences. Well, there may be problems to scaling. But readon.ly seems quite fun now. I didn't mention that there's a tag cloud at the top of the page. It's easy to see pages of highlights by tag name. So far my favorite thing to do is to look at pages of highlights sorted by user. Readon.ly is worth looking at.

Okay well I think I got this post as a writer's block out of the way.

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