A Stroll by the Shore

Can one narrate time — time as such, in and of itself? Most certainly not, what a foolish undertaking that would be. The story would go: “Time passed, ran on, flowed in a might stream,” and on and on in the same vein. No one with any common sense could call that a narrative. It would be the same as if someone took the harebrained notion of holding a single note or chord for hours on end — and called it music. Because a story is like music in that it fills time, “fills it up so nice and properly,” “divides it up,” so that there is “something to it,” “something going on” — to quote, with the melancholy reverence one shows to statements made by the dead, a few casual comments of the late Joachim, phrases that faded away long ago, and we are not sure if the reader is quite clear just how long ago that was. Time is the element of narration, just as it is the element of life — is inextricably bound up with it, as bodies are in space. It it also the element of music, which itself measures and divides time, making it suddenly diverting and precious; and related to music, as we have noted, is the story, which also can only present itself in successive events, as movements toward an end (and not as something suddenly, brilliantly present, like a work of visual art, which is pure body bound to time), and even if it would try to be totally here in each moment, would still need time for its presentation. That much is perfectly obvious. But that there is a difference is equally clear. The time element of music is singular: a segment of human earthly existence in which it gushes forth, thereby ineffably enhancing and ennobling life. Narrative, however, has two kinds of time: first, its own real time, which like musical time defines its movement and presentation; and second, the time of its contents, which has a perspective quality that can vary widely, from a story in which the narrative’s imaginary time is almost, or indeed totally coincident with its musical time, to one in which it stretches out over light-years. A musical piece entitled “Five Minute Waltz” lasts five minutes — this and only this defines its relationship to time. A story whose contents involved a time span of five minutes, however, could, by means of an extraordinary scrupulosity in filling up those five minutes, last a thousand times as long — and still remain short on boredom, although in relationship to its imaginary time it would be very long in the telling. On the other hand, it is possible for a narrative’s content-time to exceed its own duration immeasurably. This is accomplished by diminishment — and we use this term to describe an illusory, or, to be quite explicit, diseased element, that is obviously pertinent here: diminishment occurs to some extent whenever a narrative makes use of hermetic magic and a temporal hyperperspective reminiscent of certain anomalous experiences of reality that imply that the senses have been transcended. The diaries of opium-eaters record how, during the brief period of ecstasy, the drugged person’s dreams have a temporal scope of ten, thirty, sometimes sixty years or even surpass all limits of man’s ability to experience time — dreams, that is, whose imaginary time span vastly exceeds their actual duration and which are characterized by an incredible diminishment of time, with images thronging past so swiftly that, as one hashish-smoker puts it, the intoxicated user’s brain seems “to have had something removed, like the mainspring from a broken watch.” A narrative, then, can set to work and deal with time in much the same way as those depraved dreams. But since it can “deal” with time, it is clear that time, which is the element of the narrative, can also become its subject; and although it would be going too far to say that one can “narrate time,” it is apparently not such an absurd notion to want to narrate about time — so that a term like “time novel” may well take on an oddly dreamlike double meaning…

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

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Terminator Awards

All I caught of the Academy Awards was the credits. Does anybody know why they were playing the Terminator theme song? Was the whole thing Terminator themed? That would have been cool.

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The Magic Mountain

I’ve just finished reading Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. One of the best books ever written, I’d say. Definitely deserved the Nobel Prize. It should be required reading for all Westerners.

I need to read it again.

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It was almost 70F in Eugene yesterday. What happened to winter?

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I’m spending the night in Portland at a Best Western that has free Wi-Fi. Maybe I’ll play some ArmyOps before I go to bed…

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I’ll be driving down to Oregon tomorrow morning. Should be back either late tomorrow or the following morning, depending on whether I decide to spend the night.

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Dell 8600

I have a new laptop, a Dell Inspiron 8600. The specs are as follows:

  • Intel Pentium M 755 (2GHz/400MHz FSB) 15.4 WSXGA+
  • 1GB DDR SDRAM (2 Dimms)
  • 64MB DDR Nvidia GeForce FX Go5200
  • 8x CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/ double-layer writing capability
  • 100GB Hard Drive
  • Integrated 10/100 NIC/Modem
  • Intel Pro/Wireless 2200 Internal (802.11b/g, 54Mbps)

I lucked out with the video card. Granted 64mb isn’t too hot, but ATI Linux support is dicey, so I wanted an Nvidia. Nick is also looking to get a new laptop and he discovered a few days ago that Dell is no longer selling the 8600 with Nvidia cards (probably why I got 25% off).

When I got the thing it was running Windows XP. Of course I wanted Linux. I wasn’t quite sure what distro I wanted to put on it, but I was leaning towards Slack.

The first order of business was to burn the Slackware 10.1 ISOs I’d downloaded earlier. I swear I was in Windows for at least 45 minutes trying to figure out how to burn a damn ISO. After that I just got fed up with it, formatted and installed Suse (which, by the way, resized and kept the Windows partitions. Interesting). After about three seconds in Suse I was burning the images. And they call Windows user-friendly…

The next few hours were spent distro-whoring. I went through Suse, Ubuntu, Gentoo, and Slackware, finally settling on Slack.

Getting everything to work in Slackware took a little work, but wasn’t too much trouble.

The first thing was, of course, to install the Nvidia drivers. Grabbing them off Nvidia’s site and installing them the normal way works fine (ignore the warning the installer gives about the conflicting rivafb module). My trouble was getting X to load after that. With the help of Google, I was able to make a custom xorg.conf that worked just dandy.

The second thing I wanted working was the wireless, which uses the ipw2200 module. I don’t know if it supports kernel 2.4, but I couldn’t get it working without upgrading to 2.6 (slackware 10.1 still ships with 2.4, with 2.6 in /testing).

Upgrading to 2.6 is easy. Simply read the README.initrd in /testing/packages/linux-2.6.10/. In the step that has you installpkg everything, I’d also add kernel-source (44MB).

When I got 2.6 running, it was a simple matter of doing make, make install on ipw2200. Then I extracted the firmware to /lib/firmware. After that finishes:

modprobe ipw2200
dhcpcd eth0

Also, reading the iwconfig man page is helpful.

Now the wireless is running. To switch back to the wired connection, do a

modprobe -r ipw2200
modprobe b44
ifconfig eth0 up

The next thing was sound. Since I’d upgraded to 2.6, I needed to install the new alsa-drivers. After that, there’s the problem of a conflicting module named snd_intel8x0m (something to do with modem sound). That needs to be removed and added to the blacklist.

modprobe -r snd_intel8x0m
pico /etc/hotplug/blacklist

Now all that’s left to do is run alsaconf and alsamixer to adjust volume.

It’s been running great for a few days now. The only thing I’m still working on is getting ACPI fully working (i.e. making the screen turn off when it’s closed).

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You can go to jail in this game?

Nick, Ice, and I played ArmyOps last night. We started at about 8PM and didn’t get off till close to 2AM.

Nick is a bit of a teamkiller.

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Media Tracker

The Center for Public Integrity has a nifty Media Tracker that shows you who owns all the media in your area.

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Phoenix Fest

Today I discovered Phoenix Fest, another one of the Burning Man rip-offs, but this one just 3 hours south.

In the re:evolutionary spirit of festivals such as Burning Man, Tribal Gathering, Woodstock 1 and Earthdance, PHOENIX FESTIVAL is an annual autonomous music and arts festival which takes place over “Independence Day” (4th of July) weekend in the scenic Pacific Northwest, USA.

Last year I discovered Mutant Fest, which Tina and I have been talking about going to this year.

So, if all goes to plan, I think we’ll try to attend both Phoenix Fest and Mutant Fest this summer. Should be interesting.

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Nine Years!

Today marks 9 years since John Perry Barlow (Reason’s “Thomas Jefferson of cyberspace”) announced the independence of Cyberspace in his A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather. We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions. You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions. You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don’t exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different. Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live. We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth. We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity. Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here. Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose. In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us. You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat. In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media. Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish. These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts. We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before. Davos, Switzerland February 8, 1996

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My 3-CD set of the Cryptome archives arrived today. Everything from June 1996 to December 2004 for $25.

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Slackware 10.1

Slackware 10.1 has been released. I curse Patrick for not having 2.6 as the default kernel, but maybe next time.

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