Friday, 30 November 2012

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work

The author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a popular MetaFilter topic, was born 177 years ago today (November 30th 1835) in Missouri. The printer, riverboat pilot, game designer, journalist, lecturer, technology investor, gold miner, publisher and patent holder wrote short stories, essays, novels and non-fiction under the pen name Mark Twain. This included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (recently adapted into a musical), one of the top five challenged books of the 1990s, published in 1884-85 to a mixed reception and with an ending that still causes debate.

In his life, Clemens ... received a total of three patents. Twain spent some of his summers in Elmira, New York. His study is now on the campus of Elmira College. Its original location, Quarry Farm, is out of the city a little ways and can also be visited. In more recent summers the Mark Twain Musical Drama was staged in the round, where the college hockey team plays. He also presaged the local food movement.

The extensively quoted author of the Tom Sawyer stories, Mark's work and life are still the subject of research, imitation, analysis, interpretation (disturbing claymation) and inspiration (nsfw).
Mark lived his last few years in Redding, Connecticut, where he donated many books to the local public library association. Photographed in 1861, 1902, with family, as a lecturer and with various friends.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens

Mark died on April 21st 1910 and is immortalised in Google doodles, stamps, benches and forthcoming commemorative coins. His works are widely available online in various digital formats, for ebook readers and at your local public library and bookshop.

He also liked cats.

(Extended version of MetaFilter Front Page Post. Additional links, text by knile, lumpenprole and three blind mice.)

Friday, 2 November 2012


Looking up at the midnight sky just now, while listening to distant English church bells chime in midnight. Hey; there's the moon, barely a degree away from a bright Jupiter. Thinking, slipping back to four years ago today, watching the moon and stars from my bed and train cabin as it trundled through North Dakota, waking up the next morning somewhere in Minnesota while heading towards Jenny Levine's excellent ALA conference on games and libraries. That evening would be spent meeting a new bunch of people and friends, drinking various things, investigating this Twitter thing, and/or remarking on Amy Jean Kearns's pink iPhone.

First drinks of GLLS2008 tagged :-)

But that was then, and this is now, four years later. Four days to go now until election day. Five days exactly, or 120 hours, until the polls start to close in the swing states. Six nights - minimum - until there's a result. Still too many unknowns, though the more plausible analysts have Obama narrowly ahead at this moment.

My fear is widespread disruption in many polling stations on tuesday. Especially by twitchy and partisan "observers" kicking it up over people voting who they don't like the look of. Also, it being close enough where it matters for delays due to slow counts, recounts, problems with voting systems, and lawyers. Lots and lots of fucking lawyers, on both sides. A repeat of the 2000 count would be a socio-economic and political disaster.

Even an American Political junkie such as me wishes this particular three ring circus was over with, and over with now. This hour. I've been following it for four years, this road to yet another extreme, bitter election with shouting and abuse on all sides. But, whatever the result, the day after a president-elect is determined it all starts again. "Who will be the Democrat candidate in 2016; Hillary, or someone else?", what's left of the media will ask.

I might have something positive to write about the whole American political thing when it's done, but for now I'm tired of it and out. And if you ain't got anything good to say, probably best not to say anything at all.