Category Archives: Photos/Video

[UPDATE 10/18/09]

Noam Chomsky 6 Oct 2009

In Washington D.C. back in 2004 (seems like a whole other era!) I saw Noam Chomsky speak for around 45 minutes. Whatever his supposed political “bent” (and people describe him as a leftist/socialist), his talk was one-hundred percent sincere and full of lucid and penetrating insight. He understands, more deeply than probably anyone, the meaning of, and the meaning behind, society and its constructs.

What is chilling about these brief remarks from San Francisco just last week is Chomsky’s demeanor – he’s not concerned, he is truly troubled. Five years ago I did not hear this tone. And that was at the height of the Iraq War and the Bush administration’s “War on Terror”.

In signature fashion, the Linguistics Professor recognizes and grants the alacrity of the positions on both sides of the political/cultural divide – that people are suffering, that white Americans feel their country has been slipped out from under them, and that many would be willing to head down a desperate path to correct the perceived threat. Chomsky sees analogies with the current U.S. to the conditions of 1920s – 30s Weimar Germany, describing the Weimar Republic era as “the height of civilization”, before its dark “fall” and the rise of dictatorship. Perhaps Chomsky shouldn’t have singled out Germany – Russia became a Totalitarian state under Stalin before Germany did. Two sides of the same coin. For the record, to date Communist countries have killed far more of their own people than have Fascist countries.

Still, Chomsky’s conclusions should be a wake-up call, even if the comparison to Nazi Germany is overkill, and the crimes of the Soviets an oversight (by sheer numbers, , if only because for any who’ve followed Chomsky know that he’s arguably our country’s sharpest commentator on such matters.

You have to take him seriously, and by the tone in his voice, one can see that he is dead serious.

That history repeats is demonstrated time and again, though the shortness of people’s memories clouds the truism.

Here, as many other commentators right and left have done, Professor Chomsky (Linguistics, M.I.T.) singles out Rush Limbaugh as cause and symptom of the cultural divide inflamed during the past year.

But for the record It must be said that Limbaugh, probably the right’s de facto spokesman, was absolutely correct in saying that an Obama presidency would ratchet up a left-right divide like nothing else. He predicted during the ’08 Presidential race, six months before Obama took office, that an Obama presidency would inflame racial tensions and increase partisanship – NOT “heal divisions” with “hope and change” and all the rest promised by Obama the candidate.He was right.

So it is a fact that unlike Limbaugh’s more measured prediction, which has come to pass, Chomsky’s prognosis of a sick body politic descending into fascism has yet to show itself. Doesn’t mean it couldn’t (maybe we just need to give it a few more years…)

Both make a similar point, the disagreement being on the cause – but quite frankly, in his remarks Chomsky confirms Limbaugh’s 2008 prediction. Ask yourself – if Obama had lost the election would Professor Chomsky have said what he said, how he said it?

– dgw

10th Amendment Pledge

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"cloudmir1" by Autechre.

Gantz Graf [Best Quality version – not embeddable]: directed by Alex Rutterford, music by Autechre.

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Sigur Røs

Sigur Røs are an exceedingly unique and organic rock slash folk slash pop ensemble who came home to Iceland in 2006 to play a series of unannounced, free concerts in various outdoor venues and near various Icelandic villages who have had little exposure to live popular music.

Sigur Røs' concert/documentary "Heima" (Smekkleysa2006)

The result is is Heima (roughly “home” in Icelandic). Heima includes shots of the band and audiences in diverse settings all over Iceland.

It’s an amazing film; the cinematography has a true-to-life tonality and contrast that both showcases Iceland’s long, long history; and its famously serene yet severe, stark landscape. A wonderful film with a documentary-like approach devoted as much to the unique landscape and unique people of that isolated island nation.

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Vinnie Wilhelm; K. Vonnegut on Writing

Writer Vinnie Wilhelm wrote the following in a correspondence with me in Sept. 2008:

Vinnie and David Wilhelm at Bowling Alley in Ballard, WA

Vinnie and David Wilhelm at Bowling Alley in Ballard, WA

“But questions of identity are ultimately ancillary to the work: they go away in the end, and the work has to succeed or fail on its own terms.”

– Vinnie Wilhelm




On writing better–Kurt Vonnegut

This is an excerpt from his book of essays Palm Sunday. I think it pertained to science writing, but you can apply it generally.


1. Find a subject you care about. It’s hard to bring yourself to write if you don’t believe in what you’re writing. We procrastinate for any number of reasons (and perfectionism is one of them). But if you deeply suspect that a thesis chapter isn’t yet ready for prime time, get a reality check. Present it as a 10 minute talk to your lab group.

2. Do not ramble, though. Outline your argument. Boil it down to the essential points. Then use the outline to construct your topic and summary sentences for each paragraph. It ain’t necessary to point out every possible exception to every generalization.

3. Keep it simple. I was once told that the perfect paper in ecology was 10 pages long and had one good idea that was bolstered by a variety of evidence. Such a paper maximizes the possibility that it will be read and remembered.

4. Have guts to cut. Nearly everybody loves the sound of their own voice. Go through your first draft and ask, of every sentence, “Is this really necessary?”. This particularly applies to your Discussion. It is not a repository for every thought you have had on the topic. Relate your data to your hypotheses and to the current thinking in the field, honestly confront your limitations in a caveat paragraph, and propose one or two next steps.

5. Sound like yourself. Science writing is not supposed to be boring or flowery. Write as if you are explaining your study to a colleague.

6. Say what you mean. It is often easy to get lost in the thicket of sentences and paragraphs. Before you sit down for the day’s writing, spend a minute explaining to an imaginary officemate why this paper is worth writing, and what the data mean. Then make sure every sentence advances that message.

7. Pity the readers. The literature is huge and expanding. Clear, concise writing is needed now more than ever. Whenever you are tempted to leave one murky paragraph, imagine a reader some time in the future (or better yet, a reviewer or editor) wincing and shaking her head. Then buckle down and write what you mean.

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IT/Technical Writing: New Google Chrome and Software from MadCap

New from MadCap Software, Inc.

MadCap has come out with four new apps – lord i have this feeling that I’m gonna be out of date very shortly with my technical writing/Tech. Com. knowledge accrued over the last year during my CRT program at the University of Washington.
MadCap Blaze looked particularly interesting; worth checking out. The gist of their marketing blurb here is a more usable version of Adobe’s FrameMaker. Sounds interesting. Probably TC and Computer Science and the like at UW are on top of such things. Reminds me once more of the reality that my education in my “chosen” field is, well, inadequate, to be blunt.
But sometimes I worry – are we all gonna be woefully outdated in a couple years? I guess in the tech-age knowledge is more and more a commodity. Takes money to know money. That’s capitalism I suppose. But hyper-capitalism, more like. My gosh the rapidity of innovation in IT. Boggles the mind.

Below is an email I got today (I’m on their marketing list for some reason, probably because I registered for a trial version of Flare last spring

<> wrote:

From: <>
Subject: MadCap – Four New Releases
To: —
Date: Monday, September 8, 2008, 12:36 PM
MadCap Software, Inc.

MadCap Software Home

Introducing… Flare Version 4
Continuing to Lead Through Innovation!
Industry-first connectivity with content contributors and reviewers
Brand new reporting engine shows the health and status of your project
New publishing formats including direct to PDF, XPS , XHTML, and AIR™
Print publishing engine that’s gone from great to amazing
Global Project Linking to share project components such as CSS, images, master pages,
and others

Now Available!
Blaze introduces a new paradigm for enterprise print publishing through highly flexible topic-based authoring.
Full Unicode support
Highly configurable auto-numbering for volumes, sections, paragraphs, and pages
Complex page layouts
Conditional text to create multiple versions from one source
Multiple document outlines
Single sourcing to multiple outputs including direct to printer, PDF, XPS, HTML, FrameMaker®,
or Word™
Seamlessly integrate print publishing into a complete document workflow with MadCap Lingo,
X-Edit, Analyzer, and Flare
Blaze is super for people who want to write and publish printed manuals. The content reuse features, such as multiple outlines, will save so much time. It’s really the future!
Bonni Graham, documentation manager, Scantron Corporation
With Blaze’s Page Layout feature, I can reuse document elements quickly and easily. I love it!
John Hedtke, best-selling author, and owner of JVH Communications
I thought I couldn’t live without FrameMaker, and then I met MadCap Blaze. With its emphasis on topic-based writing, I can easily use Blaze to arrange and rearrange information as I see fit, thus freeing my mind from the linear drudgery of bookmaking.
Edward VanArsdall, founder of VanArsdall Information Design
Using Blaze, I’m creating topic-based projects with several content-reuse options to leverage my content in several different ways. With Blaze, I no longer need FrameMaker to get high quality printed outputs for long technical documentation.
Paul Pehrson, technical writer, Attensity Corporation

Now Available!
Using the X-Edit family improves your corporate workflow by allowing subject matter experts and occasional contributors to seamlessly review and provide content for your documentation.
Edit and send documents to Flare or Blaze users for inclusion in projects
Share CSS style sheets and table styles with Flare, Blaze, X-Edit or even your
Web team for a standard corporate look
New publishing formats including direct to PDF, XPS , XHTML, and AIR™
Integration with MadCap Lingo for easy translation
X-Edit Contribute
Flare and Blaze users create contribution templates. Casual contributors use these templates to create content using the correct styles and other project formatting options with an easy-to-use interface. Once completed, documents are emailed to the Flare or Blaze user for inclusion into the project.
X-Edit Review (Free)
Reviewers use X-Edit Review to make edits or annotations to Flare and or Blaze topics. The Flare or Blaze author adds reviewed content to the project. No conversion hassles, no messy formatting, no lost edits – just content in your projects, ready to be published.

Version 2 – New Release!
Analyzer scans your Flare or Blaze project for:
Issues — Broken links, duplicate styles in style sheets, duplicate TOC and outline items, topics
not in selected TOC or outline, and more
Used and unused items — Snippets, topics, styles, variables, map IDs, images, and more
Suggestions — Snippets, variables, index keywords, new styles, writing structure, and more
What’s New in Analyzer Version 2:
Faster installation
New Views
Index Keyword Suggestions
Topics not linked by Map ID
Project annotations
New Reports
Index Keyword Suggestion analysis to improve your project index
Assigned CSH IDs
Project Annotations (sorted by topic or by annotation)
Printable list of topics in target TOC
Topics not Linked by Map ID

Sincerely,MadCap Software Inc.
(858) 320-0387
MadCap Privacy and SecurityIf you do not wish to receive news or product information from us, please click here to be removed from our email list.

MadCap Software, Inc., 7777 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, California 92037

Google Chrome

Google’s new open-source browser, available as of today for Windows and I don’t know when for Mac:

well, this video doesn’t tell you a whole lot, but from what they describe, it looks like Chrome will be more efficient than what’s out there; minimalist like is, which is good. Hmm, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been more innovation in the realm of browsers. But I think what has really moved things along is the growth of web-capable mobile devices. From what I can see from screenshots, in its rendering and its look, Chrome reflects this shift.

Supposedly Google has (or had) been backing Mozilla Firefox, particularly as an alternative to Microsoft IE. I’m not sure what will happen with that, but Chrome appears to represent quite a big jump from those two.

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Sunday@GasWorks: BBQ and concert scenes

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GasWorks park: July 12, 2008 Family BBQ/concert/etc.

Medieval Battle w/ Sir Aveloc et. al. circa A.D. 2008

New Edit:

videos (3):

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