Wednesday, May 23, 2007

all your fishbase are belong to EOL

E.O. Wilson has been trying to get this kind of deal going for a while. now that it's coming together I have to admit I'm sort of ambivalent about the whole thing. but at the same time I’m surprised something like this doesn't already exist. when I was six or seven I started making something similar with national geographic photos and notecards. but then I gave up when my system quickly outgrew the confines of its recipe box.

I’m talking about a species of wiki, er, um I mean a species wiki: a wiki for species. The Encyclopedia of Life is what they’re calling it. presumptuous title maybe, but it goes along well with the whole ethos of the project; the introductory page and filmstrip have a nice Age of Aquarius optimism about them. it’s not really going yet, they just have some sample pages and stuff but it should be pretty rockin’ by the middle of next year.

the idea is to get a wiki going for the 1.8 million species we know of. lots of reasons for this, which you can surely imagine, so overall I think it's pretty exciting. and it looks like you’ll be able to search data at different levels of expertise too. from say 4th grade desert biome diorama assignment to Rachel Carson thrice decorated.

this way, to put it in Tyndale’s terms; ere too many years, the lowly talking head on the local news will be able to scrape together his human interest story about walking sticks, killer Africanized bees or the chipmunks at Yellowstone with the same wealth of data as the high priests of biology.

there are other precedents for this besides Brittanica and recipe boxes. for example there’s the complicated fishbase, where a guy can get lost pretty easily. before long you’re backstroking the green arrow just to keep your head above water.

then there’s the White House subcommittee-commissioned ITIS (integrated taxonomic information system) who sullenly explain basically, “look, we’re only doing this because we have to.” and his new, more global sister is the catalogue of life, where I even found they keep viruses! actually, both sites are pretty neat, but duh! no pictures.

wikispecies is pretty good taxonavigation in its 3rd year, but still lots of gaps. no English vernacular name (American Goldfinch) for Carduelis tristis, for example, which is kind of a big deal to me.

here, why don’t you compare the yeti crab pages from each site and see what you think.
wiki yeti crab

EOL yeti crab (still just a demonstration page)

ITIS/catalogue yeti crab

say, you know what would really be nice? a mashup of all of these and other databases with color images, smells, howling, chirps, and things you can chase through the woods with your own feet. actually I think I heard about something like that the other day. I’m going outside now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Radio West in Sanpete

for the next few days radio west is in town (Spring City to be precise) doing some shows about local stuff: history, housing, the art scene, economics, dialects, authenticity, heritage (or heriteeege, as they say it around here) and so on. yes, it's on the air right now.

you can get it at 90.1fm along the Wasatch Front, 88.3 in Sanpete or from their webcast. they're having some fun minor technical difficulties but fortunately the power hasn't gone out on them yet. this happens sorta routinely around here-blackouts I mean, not radio shows.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lisa Bufano

remember how on Soilent Green there was that girl who was furniture? yeah, um, me neither. hey, but look over here. it’s, it’s

Lisa Bufano’s got legs for arms and legs for legs. she’s a Boston artist & dancer who started into prosthetics when she lost some members to toxic shock.

now she even runs daily along the Charles river; cool.
here’s her website. she’s moving to California this month and looking for a place to live in the Bay area, so if you know anybody. she’s also working out some new dance routines and says she'd like to try something with propeller or rocket legs. that might be a little ambitious I think but nice work if you can get it. in the mean time I’m thinking something with her doing like upside down ballet, with breakdancers for hands.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Brad Wheeler's harmonica army

yesterday I drove 4 hours for a 2 hour meeting. now I’m all driven out, sheesh. but if it were at all possible I would make the trip up to Ogden to be a part of this thing here.

Brad Wheeler has a dream, a calling. his centenarian grandmother told him so and he’s doing it for her too. basically it’s this: round up 2,000+ people with their harmonicas (key of A) to play When the Saints Go Marching In and sustain it for 5 minutes.
it’s this Saturday and, like I said, I would totally go if I could. but you need to be a part of this. no, leave me, it’s ok, I’ll be fine. call me when you get there, let me know how it goes. you can even keep me on the line and I’ll phone in my harmonica song too. oh how I’d love to be in that number…

Saturday, May 05, 2007

one political ear candle

my faithful subscribers,

I take full responsibility for what has just happened. this weeblog was never supposed to be a place for serious political dialogue or for serious anything else. but in the course of a year of posting deeply personal nonsense for a pitiably small elite readership of bored friends, family and strangers, this was bound to happen at some point, right? like I said, I blame myself fully. I’m sorry alright. I said I was sorry.

anyway, I’ve got a solution. a proposal for redirecting anything even vaguely political and depositing it in one central location. here it is, it’s right here. I mean you are here. this is the place.

last night I watched/listened off and on to about 40 minutes of a “debate” between a local crusty monomaniacal mayor and a national AM radio wiseass. the mayor was all about impeaching the president. you'd think he forgot about the many, more assailable monsters within his reach. you’d think he forgot there was a monster movie on the other channel. pure hoodia. I have to admit that whenever I hear the word impeach or impeachment, like a 4th grader, I immediately imagine some disgraced middle aged white man in a suit reluctantly being enveloped by a big peach. it’s an involuntary response, the image that leaps into my mind’s eye, and I can’t get past it.

so we were watching it in my father-in-law’s living room where he’s got a new TV with a bunch of channels. and like I said, on one of the other channels was this old movie with two sweaty uniformed guys in fisticuffs. they were grappling in the jungle when a native guy threw a knife into one’s back, dropping him almost instantly before the other one, sort of a poor man’s Ernest Borgnine in a captian’s hat, shot a round from his pistol at the retreating native. then there was a girl and, it seemed, some sort of love triangle and so on. we changed the channel again.

eventually we stumbled back onto the throwdown between the increasingly hoarse mayor and the AM asbestos lawyer loudmouth. actually this channel was just the audio from the shouting match and the video from the jungle movie. (yeah, I really don’t know.) but by now they were back on impeachment while captain hat guy, the girl and others were watching from a clearing as 3 evenly spaced tyrannosaurs rexes approached on the horizon. and every once in a while we got a close up of a dinosaur face: early 60’s cheapness like a rubber sock puppet. I mean who ever heard of a rubber sock? the people began firing their pistols and then smoke grenades at the 3 advancing rubbery sock puppet dinosaurs. I won’t spoil it for you. but it was all set to the score of barking ideologues filmed before an ornery studio audience. this alternative media presentation unlocked a vision to me and my thoughts drifted back into the peach.

I saw the 3 of them; crusty mayor, asbestos mouth and the president, all confined to the inside of a big peach. like general Zod and the Kryptonian riffraff and something out of Roald Dahl. the three of them peached up together, floating though space, with an eternity to work out their differences.

what items should they have for their infinite journey of self-discovery? I’m going to say no booze, ‘cuz you know. but otherwise it’s your call folks. first aid kit, Superman comic books, rubber socks, more birthday cake, a gazebo, any pets, you tell me. and I’m going to start by giving them a few Neil Young albums and the wherewithal for listening. I don’t know, maybe some booze would be a good thing. like I said, this is where you can tell the tow-truck to unhitch all your political baggage.