Adina Levin's weblog. Mostly for conversation about books I've been reading. Other stuff too.

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Sunday, January 05, 2003

You'll find new blog entries at the BookBlog's new home.

The new site's on MovableType, with search, categories, integrated comments, and other goodies. This is exciting -- hopefully it will make it easier for people who are interested in some topics but not others to find what they like on the site.

Permalinks will continue to work here, but I've moved the archive to the new site as well.

Please update your blogroll and bookmarks; I'll see you there.

I hate moving in physical space. I remember being 7 or 8, moving houses in Philadelphia, and thinking that one's memories are encoded in the sights and smells of a particular place, and you lose an irretrievable part of your consciousness when you go.

Even moving blog addresses makes me a little sentimental, which is strange.

Compost Bin
Took a major life step today. I set up a green, 3 cubic yard coated-wire mesh compost bin, behind the wood fence that separates the gravel driveway from the side garden and deck. Many of the remaining leaf bags went into the compost bin. The rest of the leaf bags are out for pickup.

It seemed completely absurd to me to put the bags of leaves and clippings at the curb for recycling, and then head off to Home Depot to purchase a similar number of bags of mulch for the garden beds. Hence compost.

I still have no idea how long I will be in Austin. The compost bin might make it harder to sell the house. Might attract bugs and vermin. I might not be here long enough to use the resulting compost.

If worse comes to worse, I can hire a garden person to cart the pile of compost away, and put down a new layer of gravel. $100 max. Non fatal. Reversible.

I bought the house in part because I was tired of avoiding commitments because I don't know what the future holds.

Music: From Jerusalem to Cordoba
I heard these folks tonight at Casa de Luz.

From the promo email:

Music, chants, and texts from Mediterranean sacred traditions.

A musical voyage through history and spirituality.

Catherine Braslavsky, chant, drum, dulcimer;
Joseph Rowe, texts, oud, drums, tampura, mbira, Tibetan bowls.

Hildegard of Bingen, Gregorian chant, Troubadours, Ibn Arabi, Yehuda Halevi,
Judeo-Spanish, and original compositions

Braslavsky's beautiful voice
Musical illustration of cultural influences and differences in Christian, Arabic and Jewish songs from Andalusia
Cross-cultural themes of spiritual openness, in liturgical poetry by Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, Ibn Arabi (Sufi)
Meditative atmosphere (also see not-as-good)

High seriousness. The performers strode onto the stage seriously, Rowe ringing a meditation bell. Rowe narrated the performance in * a * serious * performance * voice. There were Judeospanish and Arabic pieces that could have been celebratory. There were Sufi pieces that could have been done with more energy.

Western-european style. The vocals were beautiful, the instrumentals were fine accompaniment; they complemented the singer and created atmosphere without overshadowing the vocals. But the rhythms, phrasing, and tonality were westernized. This isn't a big complaint because it sounded good, and because cultural purity is exactly beside the point.

Uniformly meditative pace. Her specialty is Gregorian chant; he's studied with Hamza El Din, so it stands to reason.

The concert was held in a performance space of Casa de Luz, a local macrobiotic restaurant and community center. The average audience age was about 50; a central-Austin ex-hippie crowd. One can imagine such concerts being held at the estates of monarchs and nobles in Andalusia; this was good American pay-at-the-door democarcy.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Weblog clustering
The reason I get all all excited about weblog clustering is that the "winner-takes-most" aspect of the log scale graph is NOT what is most interesting about weblog networks.

If it were, then the net would be like network television -- a few top broadcasters, and an infinite number of passive viewers.

It's not. The weblog network is a mesh of communities with overlapping and shifting memberships; each subcommunity has its connectors and popular voices.

When we focus on identifying the "most central node" of the network, we turn a world with multiple centers into a hierarchy.

LOTR commentary
On Fellowship and Two Towers by Renee Perlmutter via Dorothea Salo.

Two interesting points about divergence from the books:
  • The book is overflowing with honor; the relevant scenes in the movie were exchanged with something else. In the book, Eomer makes his decision despite "the letter of the law", based on his judgement of Aragorn; Faramir does not hesitate for a second, faced with the temptation of the ring; Aragorn stays loyal to Arwen throughout the books - however tempted he is by Eowyn, he does not flirt with her, hug her, or give her false hope. And Merry and Pippin's resistance and courage...Gimli... the Ents.. all gone comic relief. Comic relief, a more comprehensible fare than honor, for how can persons choose the righteous cause unless they are persuaded or threatened or exiled, unless they have no other choice? They cannot, according to TT the movie. But we, who love the Indo-European epic, may know otherwise.

  • "It has SEXY ELVES. Elves are not supposed to be sexy. Magnificent, blindingly beautiful, frightening maybe; but not sexy."

  • Not to mention this priceless cartoon.

    Friday, January 03, 2003

    Ruta Maya wireless update
    On the subject of blogs reporting local trivia, the folks at Ruta Maya say they probably won't have wireless up and running until after SXSW -- they're working furiously to get their performance space ready for bands and crowds.

    City Blogs
    In a comment on the post below, Howard Greenstein refers to nycbloggers, a site that aggregates New York blogs. I love the map that locates NYC bloggers by proximity to subway stops.

    Relates to a conversation I was having with Peter Merholz about sites for local blogs, which he writes about here. One of Peter's insights is that blogs are a great way to report trivia that gets bypassed by traditional media: "I'd love to know that I ought to avoid the intersection of Sacramento and Oregon because there's a massive pothole."

    The comments to Peterme's post include links to other regional blog sites, including Los Angeles and the UK.

    Thursday, January 02, 2003

    Blog communities
    Ross Mayfield writes about some nifty work by Valdis Krebs to map the network of relationships at Ryze, an online business networking group, and the weblog tribe on Ryze.

    Here's some more analysis that would be really interesting:

    a) identify clusters of blogs -- blogs that share a number of blogroll blogs in common (first filter out the most popular blogs).

    b) use text analysis to identify the topics the clusters have in common by identifying words they use much more frequently than average.

    This would identify groups of New York bloggers, Java bloggers, warbloggers, etc. Groups wouldn't be mutually exclusive; lots of people would belong to more than one cluster. exports blogrolls in RSS and OPML format, so that might be a workable dataset. They have 6915 blogrolls with 108278 links.

    The math to do this is pretty far may not be that far over my head -- so this one goes out to the Lazyweb!

    Got a quick lesson and lots of pointers from Ed Vielmetti -- more neat stuff to learn.

    Wednesday, January 01, 2003

    How people use email
    From a comment to Mitch Kapor's Chandler weblog.


    1. People are more efficient when related messages are grouped together and the groups are in rough priority order.

    2. People want to be able to see all their "to-do" messages -- ones that they need to read, respond to, or act upon -- easily.

    3. (or maybe 2b). When a message has no more pending actions, people want to remove it from their list of "to-do" messages.

    4. People want to execute actions with one or fewer clicks.

    5. Old messages are a valuable resource.

    6. The faster and better a Search tool is, the less important it is to file messaages.

    7. Fuzzy-logic or "scoring" filters are much more accurate than the "sudden death" filters that most email clients now have.

    8. Most people won't customize their own setup, but are usually willing to import customizations that other people have made.

    9. Messages that are to you and only you are usually more important than messages where you're one of many recipients.

    10. Some people (e.g. customer service reps) answer the same questions over and over, but computers are not quite smart enough to be able to figure out which response is appropriate.

    and MORE