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Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Help Me. I’m Evil.1

Jean Rollin. La Morte Vivante. (1982): 01:05:38 - 01:05:46

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The above clip comes from a French film wherein the blonde half of a childhood Boston marriage is reanimated by toxic fumes emitted from a barrel illegally dumped in a castle’s underground vault and which topples during a temblor.

Besides finding this snippet of dialogue funny enough to share, I also would like to note that Catherine Valmont’s (Françoise Blanchard) reanimated corpse is probably the most conventionally pretty zombie in cinematic history. end of article

20070626 12:59:34


I was perplexed and amused by the dialogue in the scene above. I wanted to transcribe the quote, and the best I could come up with (assisted by Harrar’s and translation.google) is Aide moi. J’ai mal whose literal translation into English is “Help me. I have bad/ness.”

I asked Tom who speaks French (but who, alas, has no web presence to speak of) about my transcription of J’ai mal, which I could not verify translates to “I’m evil.” He tells me that the idiomatic English is “Help me. I’m sick.” That the translators for this DVD release interpret J’ai mal as “I’m evil” as opposed to “I’m sick” has ramifications for the meaning of the film, especially since the theme of being ill—of reanimation/lesbianism as disease—is repeated several times in the film’s last fifteen minutes.

Morte Vivante, La. 1982. Dir. Jean Rolllin.
1 When I initially posted this, I was uncertain about the translation.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Yo’ Mama Was a Monkey

How can my fellow citizens be so unrelentingly stupid? (via)

Update: Over the course of the day, I’ve started formulating a much larger and more thoughtful post regarding the subject of religion than I’m prepared, at the moment, to write here. It calls to mind one of the things I said to my good friend Catherine last fall, which is, “Religion is the most important dimension of human existence we can ever understand..” I stand by those words, today.

end of article

Monday, 18 June 2007

Digital Cartesianism

The Internet abhors censorship. end of article

Friday, 15 June 2007

This Tag Cloud Goes to 11

In my previous post regarding tag clouds in MovableType, I note that Kohler’s method requires vigilance and frequent customization, both of which diminish the joy that comes with automation. However, the solution I provide improves on Kohler’s method only by capturing the overflow case. While this prevents tags from disappearing once they reach the top of the CSS ladder (i.e. once tags are used more than N times, where N is the number classes specified in the CSS ladder), the proportions of the CSS rungs in my solution would still have to be manually adjusted every now and again. The solution I detail here improves on my previous solution by paring back the CSS ladder and reducing the maintenance of the CSS ladder’s proportion to the changing of a single variable.

Where in your MovableType template you would like to have your tag cloud, insert this new and improved PHP code.

The quick-and-dirty explanation is that the overflow level is user-defined, and tags are placed on a CSS ladder whose rungs are ten percent of the ladder’s height. This means (as you might have guessed) that overflows go to 11.

The CSS stylesheet code block is now much cleaner.

Cheers. end of article

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Richard Rorty, 4 October 1931 — 8 June 2007

Detail of photo of Richard Rorty on back cover of _Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth_

[. . .] it is not much use pointing out the “internal contradictions” of a social practice, or “deconstructing” it, unless one can come up with an alternative practice—unless one can at least sketch a utopia in which the concept or distinction would be obsolete. After all, every social practice of any complexity, and every element of such a practice, contains internal tensions. Ever since Hegel we intellectuals have been busy winkling them out. But there is little point in exhibiting such tensions unless you have some suggestions about resolving them.

Objectivity, Relativity, and Truth

While Richard Rorty was at the University of Virginia, I had the pleasure and honor of being a student in one of his classes. To see him was to become acutely aware of just how deeply he cared about the fate of American liberalism. We are richer for his having lived and sadder for seeing him go.

Someone who loves him once said, “GG Rorty.” I couldn’t agree more.

Friday, 08 June 2007

Scripting Tag Clouds in MovableType

At the moment, I’m in the middle of proctoring the final examination for my afternoon American Literature survey (1918-present). Teaching a month into what is every other universities’ summer “breaks” (more accurately read “frenzied research period”) is one of the perks of being on the quarter system. Ahem.

Even with such a protracted teaching schedule, I have had time to tidy my data, spruce up my blog, trial new software, and spend time with my girlfriend. I’ve even managed to catch a few zombie flicks and observe that

One logic which pervades the zombie films is that anyone can be transformed into one of the undead. Living humans may have to act decisively and aggressively to protect their own lives, their own interests. Once humans recognize the presence of the “living dead,” an oxymoron at best, they can legitimately, rationally (according to the rules of the narrative and the logic of the diegetic social structure) exterminate every single one of them. The exhilaration, disgust, and terror of identifying the presence of the living dead is the terror and exhilaration of identifying a group of people who must be killed, extirpated, whose very existence is a threat to one’s life. Exterminating them is the only “rational” choice, the only “logical” choice. Recognizing the undead issues a genocidal imperative.

Excepting theories of zombie politics, the most noticeable of my start-of-summer activities for you, my gentle and discriminating readers, is the weighted list of topics in this blog’s sidebar referred to by most as a “tag cloud.”

This blog is powered by MovableType and a Google search revealed two pages I found useful in constituting my own tag cloud. The first page I used is titled “How to Make a Tag Cloud for Movable Type Blogs.” There, Ed Kohler (aka Technology Evangelist) provides instructions on using MovableType tags to output custom class values (for the anchor tags, or links) which correspond to specific CSS formatting. In summary, Kohler’s method sets an anchor tag’s class attribute to “tagX,” where “X” is the number of times the specific tag occurs in the blog. The stylesheet itself specifies a ladder for each class value from “tag0” “tag1” to “tagN” where N is any positive integer.

The problem with Kohler’s method becomes apparent in the case of a tag that has been applied to more than N entries. With Kohler’s method, one would have to have at least N+1 values in the stylesheet (presuming you begin at 0), and you would be required to add values (and adjust the ladder spacing/proportions between “rungs”) each time any tag had been applied N times one would have to have increase the number of specified classes to at least N+1 and adjust the ladder spacing (width of the “rungs”) to keep the structure proportional. Kohler’s method requires vigilance and frequent customization, both of which diminish the joy that comes with automation.

A more joyful solution would use a script-based approach like the approach discussed by the chef at eatdrinksleepmovabletype.com. For his weighted category list, the chef uses PHP to construct a simple ladder that will output the appropriate inline styles directly to the page. The code is not very elegant, but it works, and it gave me the second building block for a more elegant solution.

First, you will need to make sure that your web server properly interprets PHP code that is embedded an HTML file. Those of you running your own Apache webserver need only add the following code to /etc/httpd/httpd.conf and restart Apache. (UPDATE: The code I had initially provided--"AddType application/x-httpd-php .php .html"--breaks HEADER.html and README.html prepending and apppending. The code below preserves that functionality.)

Next, find the place in your MovableType template where you would like to have your tag cloud and insert this code.

The PHP code in the middle sets the link class for tags that have been applied to more than 30 entries to “tag31.” In this example, 31 is the “overflow” number. All other tags are assigned a link class that corresponds to the number of times the tag has been applied. In essence, only the overflow condition needs to be programmed. The MovableType variable tags can handle all the other cases. PHP provides just the right glue for this puzzle.

The final piece to be implemented is the CSS stylesheet code block which, for my purposes and as of this wrtiting, is as follows.

As a final note, you’ll notice that the CSS is customized for a black background. That is, tags which occur more frequently do not only appear larger than less frequently occurring tags, but they also appear brighter, chromatically popping from the black background in shades of dark gray to almost white.

Customize to taste. end of article

Saturday, 02 June 2007

Not No Renaissance Scholar

I’m overdue for a post, especially considering that two posts ago I made the silly error of taking “wherefore art” to mean “where are” as opposed to “why are.” The question Juliet asks

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? (2.2.33)

is, of course, much more interesting than a query about location. Juliet’s question is the start of a profound meditation regarding the conflict inherent in the specific identity of the person with whom she has fallen in love and the familial network that claims that person’s filial allegiance.

It’s no less than I deserve for so glib and offhanded a parody of great literature.1

1 Thanks to John Gruber for clarifying this in his own correction to a previous post of his own.
Work Cited
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974.

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