Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Memetic Tangents

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A recent internet sensation has independently infected both my office and my home.  It doesn’t grab me as much as it seems to grab everyone else, but I’m intrigued by another video from the same group.  One where a couple get together over a shared interest, then scream and swear their plains for a reasonable life together.  A life not entirely unlike my own.

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Written by eswald

8 Oct 2013 at 9:29 pm

Illegible Packaging

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My office includes people of many cultures. Something Chinese Occasionally, some of them will travel to other countries for business or personal reasons.  Judging by the contents of the break room table, someone recently brought something home from China.

Unfortunately, I neither speak nor read Chinese.  Perhaps I should, but both the characters and the tones intimidate me.  The boxes contain some English, but part of it mentions “wonderful stories” and another part says it was produced by a food company.  Each of the little boxes, which probably came out of the big box, has a picture of two cubes and some other kind of food.  So what could they contain?

I’m guessing candy, but I’m not certain enough to open one and put it in my mouth.  After all, the cubes look a bit more like soap.  Then again, the “stories” might well be literal; packages don’t always contain what they picture.

I rarely feel illiterate, so this was a taught me a bit of how my children must feel.  Our kindergartner has been feeling frustrated about reading, doesn’t have any sense of how important it is, and doesn’t want to practice.  Digraphs are a daily slog, and the difference between “R” and “L” is torture.

We won’t give up, though.  I didn’t marry one of the smartest people I’ve met just to raise illiterate children.  I may read code more often than books, but variable names and documentation are still largely in English.  Add that to emails, blogs, comic strips, recipes, legal forms, software menus, video game text, street signs, product labels, and dozens of minor words scattered throughout daily life, and I probably don’t spend ten waking minutes without reading at least one word somewhere.

There was once a time when everything you needed to know could be taught verbally.  We no longer live in such a time.  Reading is fundamental.

Written by eswald

1 Oct 2013 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Lifestyle

Humble Opinions

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Many of my favorite games are free, but I’m not opposed to spending a few bucks here and there.  I just find it embarrassing to tell my spouse, and paralyzing to think of everything else I could and should be paying for.  So it took me until the ninth Humble Indie Bundle to actually bring myself to send some money their way.  Contributing some to charity helps me feel much better about the whole operation.

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Written by eswald

24 Sep 2013 at 9:10 pm

Posted in Entertainment

Controlling your Caps

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I’m not sure when I started using my Caps Lock as a third Control key.  I seem to have had a registry file to do so for quite some time, so it probably dates from before I started using Linux as my primary OS.  The keymaps file that switches it on my LFS console is at least seven years old.  The file backing Gnome’s control panel setting has been stored in one of my home directory repositories for over four years.  It’s been long enough that I honestly get surprised when I try to use someone else’s keyboard and find that a shortcut doesn’t work.

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Written by eswald

17 Sep 2013 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Technology

Creating it Easy

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Bob Ross makes painting look easy.  A stroke or two and a few dabs makes a great tree.  Mountains and clouds appear out of nowhere.

I’m nowhere near that level.  I can barely make something look decent when I have a reference picture.  I’m fortunate to have other solid skills to rely on for a living.  That, though, is no reason to stop.

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Written by eswald

10 Sep 2013 at 9:44 pm

Posted in Lifestyle

Stacking Considerations

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I’ve mentioned RPL before, as the language of my high-school calculator.  For some odd reason, I didn’t mention that it’s a stack-based language, like Forth.  I’m now dealing with another stack-based language, which makes me wonder whether that high school experience is helping me keep it all straight.

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Written by eswald

3 Sep 2013 at 7:54 pm

Posted in Technology

What is Art?

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My spouse’s family entertains occasional debates about whether certain painters are or are not artists, or at least whether their paintings are or are not art.  I would hesitate to call my paintings art, which has made me ponder the question of what I mean by that.

Art, to me, is designed to connect the audience with the artist on an emotional level.  There are easier and harder ways to do so, simpler and more complex media, meaningful and banal messages, but it seems to all come down to the feelings evoked.  My paintings have been more about either my basic interests or more recently copies of pretty pictures that seemed reasonable to attempt.  Never has the audience been part of my process; I’m not even sure I want anyone to see my earlier works.

That may be why one of my great grandparents had hidden a painting in the attic.  It’s a basic still life, showing more skill than I’ve yet put into an oil painting, but worth keeping only for maintaining a relationship with the painter.  In a house filled with paintings, it has been set apart, given a place easily visible from within the two largest rooms.  Is it art if the feeling it evokes was unintended, and dependent on the history and knowledge of the viewer?

Other debates have centered around the kind of emotion produced.  Does art have to be beautiful?  Can something that turns your stomach be considered artistic?  Is it art if it’s clearly designed to evoke lust?

As new forms of media have been developed, the world of art debates and later accepts them one by one.  Photography can easily capture amazing moments, but requires much less effort than a painting.  Movies have unfettered access to storylines, music, and imagery, but don’t always use them artistically.  Video games bring audience participation to the forefront, which can produce very powerful moments as long as they don’t feel forced.

Then again, I’ve written one game that was more addictive than artistic, and one with an artistic veneer but no substance.  Everything else I’ve produced has been either purely functional or just for the fun of it.  Will I ever produce something that can honestly be considered art?

Do I even want to?

Written by eswald

27 Aug 2013 at 8:45 pm