March 13, 2005


rambling about the sidebar links

The other day, I walked down to my most local Barnes & Noble to finally actually make use of a generously large gift card from my folks, from this last xmas. (Yes, Xmas. Suck my casual profaning, triune God!) (Tangent: I've seen discussions in various fora about how gift cards are yet one more bursting boil spraying the pus of the underlying infection of modern crass commercial insensitivy to true gift-giving spirit. These discussions tell me mostly that people, as a species, have yet to evolve satisfactory governors over whatever cognitive apparatus handles opinions. The intensity of opinions is not a problem--the problem lies in the utter lack of humor people have in them. But that's a topic for a post best written when I'm not functioning on ~4 hours of sleep on a skewed circadian-rhythms-be-damned schedule.) I blame being out in public for the cough I currently have, and actually, probably the sleep disruption as well.

So I'm killing some time by jabbering about something low-impact, namely the current list of random links down the side of this here blog. Most blogs list only other blogs. It's pretty much a great big linky clusterfuck. (Preposterous Universe had a few entries back with a neat graphic purporting to be from a study of how primarily-politically-oriented blogs linked to one another, and it broke down as you'd expect--a great big explosion of blue off to one side, an equally big explosion of red off to the other, allegedly more tightly cross-linked to itself, and a thin middle band. It reminded me a lot of that classic elementary-level science demonstration of using iron filings scattered round a bar magnet to physically outline its magnetic field (again, possible future entry topic when I'm more lucid and in the right frame of mind to strangle a dubious metaphor into submission, namely that much like the magnetic fieldlines, the truly relevant polarity really isn't the two-d cross-section of them displayed by the fact of the magnet sitting on a classroom desk, but the actual poles of the magnet itself. Backburner #872.)) As part of my perverse streak, that's why I'll always mix blogs and non-blogs freely in my links list at any given time I feel like changing its contents about.

The links as of today. I'm not going to hyperlink these, because I'm lazy. A fault within oneself is always a good leverage point to vault into a moral high-horse saddle over the presence of it in others, so if the threes of you reading this are too lazy to click on the actual links on the actual blogger page, whether or not you have to get there from an aggregator or are reading it directly, go complain elsewhere.

BoingBoing: A skimmer, mostly. One of those weird-and-neat-stuff-on-the-web linkblogs. It recently brought me to some great videos of this incredible automated chicken-caging industrial machine and to a hyperpowered industrial shredder that chewed threw things like washing machines in seconds, so it got shordurpersaved for awhile.

Cognitive Daily: Blog focusing on cognitive science, which is an area I've always found simply fascinating. The mind is cool, the brain is nifty, and the slowly fumbling investigation into how the one makes the other is full of awe.

Dubious Quality: I like videogames, and Mr. Quality writes primarily about them, so it tends to work out. Plus, now that several friends of mine have spawned and inadvertently lead to the discovery that I'm actually pretty good around and with kids, I appreciate the other large chunk of the blog that's about amusing stories about his particular spawn.

Forksplit: A kind of unending ragedespair against everyone around the author's character. I prefer to think of it as a literary device--a fictionalized first-person character, if you can dig it. Because considered as a real person, I think I'd probably want to punch her in the face at closer than textual distance. There's probably some sort of deeper analysis into humor to be performed about this--something about how Wile E. getting crushed by an anvil is funny, but being in the same room as a real person getting an anvil dropped on them is (usually) not funny at all.

Hysteria, Mysteria, and War! (jk's tarot site): I have a minor interest in tarot, not as a purported divinatory gobbledygook tool, but more as an interesting thing that a very few people have made very interesting symbolic structures out of. (And a great, great, great deal many more have made profoundly tedious fluffycrystal crap out of.) Jess Karlin's a big part of why I still have a minor interest today, instead of it dying a decade back when I first truly understood how deep the sea of bullshit was that the interesting bits floated in.

Jeff shrugs: I actually know this guy in real life. He maintains that videogames are fun and cool things, despite all pressure from his wife to the contrary. His blog was originally titled something else, and then shortly after he'd created it, I received a panicked IM to the effect that the first Google hits on that name pointed to some unholy blend of webcomic and blog whose mission statement was sharing and expressing the stress and existential angst of being a teenage furry. On strictly honest self-analysis, I'm not sure my reactions to his concomittant feeling of uncleanliness (part of active listening is restating what one is told in different terms, to demonstrate that you're paying attention; I believe my amplification involved something like "unclean, I understand. Like sticky, crusted and matted-together nylon fur.") were exactly helpful. Friends overlook each others' minor flaws. Anyway, he promptly renamed his blog to something less...sticky.

Lileks: his Bleats, actually. Now that our great nation's moment of accountability is over, he's become readable again for me. (Understand: I have a strong hunch that in the alternate universe where James Lileks was a passionate Kerry supporter, but with all the rest of his personality not being mirror-reversed, that I found him just as unreadable during '04 as in this universe.) His redeeming features for me have always been the sheer warmth and joy in his Gnat entries (in my own way, I really am a big old softie; you just need to get past the electron-probability-cloud of orbitting razor blades), and frequently hilarious turns of phrase when he manages to balance out shrillness versus inherent wittiness--a battle that he primarily was losing throughout election year, but seems to have regained his footing on now that he's under less stress-by-proxy.

Metafilter: An uneven but good "cool webstuff" collection point, usually of a more thoughtful variety than the lower-brow variety like boingboing up yonder. The discussions revolving around the collected links are...predictable...for discussion fora, but you don't feel that you need to fail an English test in order to post.

Mind Hacks: More cognitive science bits. I still haven't bought the book it was originally created to push, but that's mostly at not having stumbled across a copy yet.

Online Etymology Dictionary: I like etymology. It's neat stuff, that's frequently sparked new understanding, or at least new thoughts, just looking at the evolution (or, as you might say in an increasing number of jurisdictions, creation) of words.

Penny Arcade: joy in killography. Their Childs Play charity drives of the last couple years are both a good cause, and amusing in that those vested in seeing gamers as morally lesser are reduced to muttered grumbling that there are better charities, but then falling silent because everyone knows it's a variant of clean-your-plate-kids-starve-in-Cambodia illogic. I still want a "I smolder in generic rage" t-shirt.

Pointless Waste of Time: cheerfully obscene humor. There's all sorts of good stuff here. Their review of NBA Live 2003 is one of the best games reviews I've ever seen, and I'm including Old Man Murray's work, rest in peace.

Preposterous Universe: bloggishness mostly revolving around lay science of the physics variety.

Quarter to Three: one of the few message boards I have a presence on these days, such as it is. The general vibe of the place tends to drive off the terminally-arrested-at-early-adolescence demographic that is, it pains me to admit, an unfortunate part of the set of gamers overall, and especially online. A few actual developers and such post there as well, which is nice, but nicer is that no one treats them as rockstars or celebrities. It's a place where I can mention that, say, the very ending bit of System Shock 2 was a godawful bit of b-movie idiocy, and two posts later one of the dudes who was at Irrational (who made the game) and actually responsible for it can virtually shrug at me and say "hey, we liked it," and absolutely no one goes "OH MY GOD, YOU MADE SYSTEM SHOCK YOU RULE!!!" In fact, people can go, "How did you make such a decent game when you're so obviously wrong?" and it's all in good humor.

Sit Down and Shut Up: Brad Warner's my favorite Zen writer these days. He's got that blend of not-taking-this-Zen-shit-all-that-seriously, yet caring deeply so anyway even while joking about it, that still strikes me as a bafflingly rare combination on pretty much anything people care about. It's a stance that resonates with me strongly, which I imagine probably doesn't surprise anyone who knows me even passingly well. Once again, when a tiny percentage of humanity wipes the rest of us out entirely, it's not going to be because of intensity of caring about things--it's going to be from a terminal lack of humor. Backburner.

Universal Acid: a sort of miscellaneous literate skeptical-asshole stance on things. Once again, it's the science articles that drew me to the place.

Visual Thesaurus: I like language. This is a beautiful language toy.

Where the Hell is Matt: Probably will drop off here sooner than some of the other links. But a nice travel blog, and worth visiting for the spastic world-travelling dance video in which he once accidentally elbows a Bangkok whore right in the face in the course of happy flailing.

Yongfook: funny rants about disgusting Japanese food. One of thoe one-note deals that's continuing to amuse me in short doses.

And there you have it. The length-versus-reward of this entry should tell you--it tells me!--why it's very rare for any blog to talk about all its sidebar links in any detail whatsoever.

posted by Gar @ 2:17 AM
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