Alas, Poor Horatio

Thursday, 23 March 2006

Keeping the tradition of irritating my colleagues for their (and my) outmoded love of literature (and apropos of my somewhat insensitive interruption of  one of my colleague’s  accessing non-print media yesterday), I would like you to consider  an article regarding a publishing innovation: straight-to-paperback .

Should this win the hearts-and-minds of distributors, retailers, and editors, our gig could be over faster than you can say “under-capitalization.” The market for literary titles has been commoditized to the point that only Oprah produces reliable hits and, with the advent of straight-to-paperback, authors can now expect to be remunerated primarily by name-recognition and that not so much. Loss of margin almost always translates to market irrelevance. Bon voyage.

As others privy to my rantings might know, my sense is that whereas in the 1950s—during the era of  Lionel Trilling  and even in the 1980s in the era of  Harold Bloom —literature was “important” to non-specialists, the lie is now becoming apparent as non-print media such as film, video games, and television render all but irrelevant the “study” of literature. This has been a specialist niche for more than twenty years and publishers are at last willing to let  Shakespeare  give up his ghost. If we’re lucky, English (language and literature) departments will be downsized to fit somewhere between the departments of philosophy and anthropology.

Literature has had little to offer the sensibilities of mainstream America since the Civil Rights movement, the end of the Cold War, and the advent of third wave feminism. Literature seems to now be a pastime for the overeducated and the intellectual elite. Without writing, English professors wouldn’t be employed. Coupled with the fact that we professors of literature farm our most fungible skill—the teaching of writing—to graduate students, we cannot be long for this  university-as-corporation world .

1/3 (rhetorical) odds that in 15 years the jig will be up.

I want to be your DNS

Sunday, 26 February 2006

Some of you have domains registered with  Godaddy  but are loved enough by me that mistersquid has agreed to provide with you free hosting. One of the (first) steps you will need to take is to delegate DNS to me. Here is a tutorial explaining  how to change the nameservers for domains hosted with Godaddy .

Screenshot of video tutorial explaining how to change nameservers for domains registererd with

Brain-Dead Safari Programmers

Thursday, 23 February 2006

If Safari is your main browser and you’re runnning it as-shipped, your Macintosh is vulnerable as  a Brooklyn-based iPod lover . Bad jokes aside * , this is a serious vulnerability that has been targeted by at least  one virus/trojan/worm found  “in the wild”. To fix this problem caused by brain-dead Safari engineering, switch to Safari (you’re likely in it now), go to Safari’s “Preferences”, click on the “General” tab and uncheck ‘Open “safe” files after downloading.’

The above image is a link to a (2.4 MB) video tutorial on  how to prevent Safari from opening so-called safe files .

For those of you prone to getting techy about such issues, John Gruber of  Daring Fireball  has an excellent discussion on  the nature of this vulnerability , as well as some excellent suggestions for Apple’s Safari and Finder programming teams.

 *  The loss of Christopher Rose’s life is an unmitigated tragedy, and the metaphorical reference to his murder as an abstract concept is not meant to suggest that his death is merely a laughing matter.

Down Our Noses

Sunday, 29 January 2006

I decided to track this down because, you know, the whole rhetorical category of ethos is some (if small) comfort in these times of Liberal woe. John Stuart Mill wrote in March 1866 to Conservative MP Sir John Pakington

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative.

On the other hand, I’m starting to wonder if I’m terribly mistaken, that maybe the Rapture is nearly upon us, that it is being devoutly and piously hastened by America’s elected officials through war in the Middle East, and that living in these End Times isn’t best done with a  user’s manual  close at hand.

(In case it’s not clear: : P)

Eyes Too Slanty?

Friday, 27 January 2006

The video above (21.2 MB and which you can watch by clicking on the picture above) was taken from  Koji’s Cafe  and can be found on a web page that provides  a tutorial on how to use “Eye Talk” .

What appalls and fascinates me about this product is what it says about Japanese perceptions of beauty. Over the last couple of years, I’ve done some research on anime and I’ve seen enough of it to know better than to explain the Western appearance of anime characters away as Susan J. Napier does in  Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke . Napier writes that anime “offers a space for identity exploration in which the audience can revel in a safe form of Otherness unmatched by any other contemporary medium” (27). The problem with Napier’s assertion (outside of the fact that she does not consider interactive media such as newtorked video games) is that characters in anime overwhelmingly resemble Anglo-Europeans and almost never Asians, especially if the characters in question are protagonists. To my mind, Napier is much nearer the mark when she reminds us that Oshii Mamoru suggests that the “de-Japanizing of [anime] characters” is “part of a deliberate effort by modern Japanese toevade the fact that they are Japanese’ ” (25), a statement reminicent of Hayao Miyazaki’s assertion that “the Japanese hate their own faces” (qtd on 25).

The whole sorry problem reminds me of what has happened in the United States with blacks striving to erase their racial difference by getting rid of their naps. The issue has been addressed by many, but perhaps never more effectively as Okot p’Bitek in the  Song of Lawino 

They cook their hair
With hot iron
And pull it hard
So that it may grow long.
[. . . .]

They fry their hair
In boiling oil
As if it were locusts,
And the hair sizzles
It cries aloud in sharp pain
As it is pulled and stretched
And the vigorous and healthy hair
Curly, springy and thick
That glistens in the sunshine
Is left listless and dead
[. . . .]

The beautiful woman
[. . . .]
Smears black shoe polish
On her hair
To blacken it
And to make it shine,
She washes her hair
With black ink;

But the thick undergrowth
Rejects the shoe polish
And the ink
And it remains untouched
Yellowish, greyish
Like the hair of the grey monkey.

Most of the black men I know don’t bother straightening their hair because they are bald as chemotherapy patients.

Recombinating . . .

Sunday, 22 January 2006

I’m in the process of revising the second chapter of Recombinant Media: the Mutation of Subjectivity in a Post-Print Culture. While I do intend to produce an artifact which my tenure committee will recognize as one that meets the requirements for tenure (e.g. a book), I’m guessing that that artifact will be a document compiled from a larger set of assets much in the same way that many computer programs are (binaries) compiled from a much larger source code. In a sense, that artifact will be a document compiled for the “book” platform.

The  audio version of   Recombinant Media will not be part of that artifact, though both derive from the same source.

Spam Return Domain

Thursday, 6 October 2005

 mistersquid  has been online since late 2001.  mistersquid  doesn’t get much traffic, is strictly a homegrown affair. He doesn’t even have a donation link. If you’re reading this, chances are high you’re a friend, a  Slashdot  reader, or a bot. The point of this paragraph is that this site holds almost zero interest for the entire population of the Internet.

Yesterday, just after 12 pm EST, monyiliev phoned my home line. He was not pleased that I had originally posted his public and private information in the post below. I owe monyiliev an apology. I had published his phone number and that was private information. His home address is located on his company’s web page, and so is public information. Connecting his user name, his real name, and his public information, however, is something not even eBay does. I do not believe I was breaking the law by doing so myself, but I had no right to publish his phone number under any circumstance, and for doing so I am sincerely regretful.

monyiliev and I worked out our differences. My main points were that I did not appreciate his leaving negative feedback in retaliation and that all of this could have been cleared up had he responded to either of the emails I sent him over a three-month period. If he was not going to refund $3, then he could have communicated that and given me the opportunity to pursue something different or let the matter drop. Forcing me to drop the matter by not responding to email is bad business practice. monyiliev agreed, and I would like to believe he will in the future be more responsive to his eBay buyers. We also agreed to mutually withdraw our feedback ratings. The feedback opinions, however, will remain.

About four hours later, at 4:23 pm EST, started receiving notifications of failure-to-deliver from postmasters worldwide at an initial rate of ten an hour and increasing to fourteen per hour by 9 pm EST. At that point, I began automatically bouncing email for that does not have an existing account. The notifications of failure-to-deliver mainly involved spam for fake rolexes, and many of the emails included attachments with binary payloads to infect new hosts.

This post is not an accusation, its intent in keeping with the intention of the following email I sent to monyiliev

This is not an accusation. Please disregard this if you know nothing about this. Unfortunately, as of today I have found myself the recipient of a massive amount of spam. I am in the process of investigating the matter and will report my findings, if appropriate, both the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the state of New York. It is my sincere hope that this email surge has nothing to do with you and/or will clear itself up soon.

To his credit, monyiliev responded promptly

This has nothing to do with us. We respect everyone's privacy, and do our best to keep it that way.

All the best,


Frankly, I don’t believe monyiliev, but I admit that my suspicion has no supporting evidence and is largely post hoc ergo propter hoc . While that’s what philosophers call it, most rational human beings call it intuition, though I admit my intuition could be misguided.

For now, I have begun researching methods for discovering who is responsible for making  mistersquid  the return domain for a spam network. I know the process will be circuitous and time intensive and that by the time I educate myself enough about methods to discover who is abusing my beloved  mistersquid , the perpetrator(s) may no longer be discoverable. Still, I don’t suppose it could take as long as it took me to write my dissertation.

In the meantime, I have reported my intuition regarding monyiliev and this domain abuse to

    the  Federal Bureau of Investigations 

    the  Food and Drug Administration 

    the  Federal Trade Commission 

Given  mistersquid  doesn’t make any money and is, strictly speaking, small fry, I don’t expect any of these governmental offices to prioritize investigating who is abusing my domain. The most I’m hoping for is that my report will help bring into being a miraculous cross-referencing of spam offenders in the back channels of these organizations.

I wonder in which field I’m going to earn that second doctorate.

eBay Blues

Monday, 4 October 2005

I received  my first negative rating on eBay  for an  item  for which I was the buyer. I paid immediately and received an item that is significantly damaged. The item is a Griffin Technology PowerMate and its underside is gouged.

I emailed the seller,  monyliev , on 15 July 2005 about the problem asking for a small consideration: a $3 refund for an item for which I paid $39.50. I didn’t necessarily want $3 back, but I did want some acknowledgement of the damaged item, an apology, a swap. Something. While I appreciate the functionality, aesthetics are important to me. Hey, I’m a Mac user.

I was summarily ignored. On 4 September, I sent another email notifying monyiliev that the item “WAS DAMAGED.” More ignoring. eBay allows users to leave feedback for up to 90 days (in this case until 12 October 2005), and on 30 September I decided that I should tell other eBayers about my bad experience with monyiliev. I pulled my punch, though, giving him a neutral rating captioned with

     Item damaged. Unresponsive to 3 emails sent over 3 months. NEGATIVE.

While I was mistaken that I’d sent 3 emails (I’d only sent 2), I had given monyiliev ample opportunity to contact me, explained clearly there was a real problem, and left feedback which reflected the nature of my transaction.

That same day, monyiliev retaliates with negative feedback.

     One of those ebayers trying to scheme money back Aking $3back Be aware. NEGATIVE

I requested monyiliev’s user information from eBay and phoned him, leaving a message (under 30 seconds) explaining that I did not appreciate his disingenuous feedback, that the item is damaged, that I was not necessarily looking for $3, and that he should call me at his first possible convenience. Of course, he will do no such thing. Still. It’s the principle of the thing.

Since then, I debated initiating a “Buy It Now” transaction solely for a second opportunity to leave negative feedback for him. I considered phoning him at 6:30 this morning to tell him just what I really thought about him and his business practices.

I settled with kvetching about all this and consolidating his publicly available information:

                    eBay user ID: monyiliev


                    [Private information removed, 5 October 2005]

We’re #2!

Tuesday, 23 August 2005

Today was the first day of class for Athens city schools. It really was magical, watching all the kids and their parents heading to  East Elementary , the children shiny, eager, and excited to make new friends.

On a somewhat related note, the first day of fall quarter 2005 for my school,  Ohio University,  is Tuesday, 6 September. I’m thrilled to know that my students cannot wait to get to class and  party their brains out .

Cybernetic Smithy

Thursday, 14 April 2005

It’s always a pleasure to read James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man . On Monday, in my  survey of Twentieth-century English Literature , we finished our discussion of Portrait , examining closely the end passage where the narrator’s point of view collapses into Stephen Dedalus’s own (or in an alternative reading where Dedalus’s powers of observation as manifest in his journal overtake the very narrative in which it is figured.)

As with the near half-dozen non-prostitute females Dedalus encounters throughout the novel and to whom he is erotically drawn, at the end of the novel Dedalus stiffly responds to the point of rebuff a young woman’s cordial tactics. Dedalus explains

15 April: Met her today pointblank in Grafton Street. The crowd brought us together. We both stopped. She asked me why I never came, said she had all sorts of stories about me. This was only to gain time. Asked me, was I writing poems? About whom? I asked her. This confused her more and I felt sorry and mean. Turned off that valve at once and opened the spiritual-heroic refrigerating apparatus, invented and patented in all countries by Dante Alighieri. (274-75; Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Penguin 1964.)

The remainder of the entry ironically characterizes their interaction as a “friendly” one.

What is interesting to me, besides the inability of Dedalus to communicate openly and directly with someone to whom he is attracted, is the fact that he places the act of writerly sublimation inside the domain of the cybernetic. Dante’s extraordinary unconsummated love for Beatrice is for Dedalus a patented mechanism, a “valve” that controls flows through a hydraulic “refrigerating apparatus.”

Portrait can be read not only as the coming-of-age of an artist, but also as the partial cybernation of the same. When Dedalus writes that he will “forge in the smithy of [his] soul the uncreated conscience of [his] race” he tropes his very soul as a technical process, a smithy. His exhortation of “Old father, old artificer,” establishes a genealogy not of sanguinity but of artisanship. The “fatherDedalus invokes is not Simon, his birth father, but the Athenian “artificer,” architect, sculptor, and inventor Daedalus, the novel’s final sentence a gesture toward a cyberneticist genealogy.

While only a few moments in this novel, their coming as they do at the end strongly suggests just how Modern Joyce’s sense of artistic becoming is.

Ohio’s Senator Mumper Impedes Ohio Commerce, Flouts U. S. Constitution

Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Cruising  Slashdot  this morning, I find that my very own  Senator Larry A. Mumper  is the author of  Ohio Senate Bill 209 , whose aim (according to  an article on CNN ) is to require Ohio eBay sellers to license themselves and post a $50,000 bond in addition to requiring eBay sellers to attend a state-approved auction school, to take undertake a one-year apprenticeship with a licensed auctioneer and to pass a written and oral exam on auctioning.

At about 9:20 am EST, I phoned Senator Mumper’s office to let him know that I am extremely displeased with this piece of legislation. The person on the other end informed me that changes to Senate Bill 209 were being introduced today which would ensure the Bill would not affect individuals who sold on eBay. But that was not my concern, I explained.

My two objections are that

1) this legislation on the face of it appears to conflict with Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution (also known as “ the Commerce Clause ”) which prohibits states from enacting legislation that will impede commerce between the states.


2) Sellers on eBay are not auctioneers. It is the software on eBay which does the auctioning. eBay sellers are in fact clients of an auctioneer, not auctioneers themselves.

I provided the receptionist with my name, address, and phone number, and indicated that I will be writing a carrier mail letter to express my intense displeasure with Senator Mumper’s role in authoring this legislation.

In case you’d like to do so, too:

Senator Larry A. Mumper
Senate Building
Room 222, Second Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215




The nature of god reveals itself when you  find yourself praying  to someone in whom you don't quite believe.





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