St. Petersburg: the city that totters along atop its three-inch fuck-me heels. Yes, the former Leningrad dolls itself up in miniskirts and shortshorts and decolletage and thus goes into the category of places I'd like to visit without my mother. Though I suspect it's tough on men here: I walked in front of two women practicing English break-up lines. "Don't put your trip on me," one would lightly accentedly say. "Don't put your trip on me," repeated the other. Then after some staccato Russian, "Drama." "Drama." "Crisis-drama." "Crisis-drama." More Russian. "I don't need this crisis-drama," the first declared. "Good-bye."

Speaking of abject humiliation, [ profile] nzraya is somewhere in this city for another few hours, and it's looking like we're not going to get to rendezvous after all. I suppose I could make an effort to track her down, but as if I need that crisis-drama!
I've lost myself in a daze of nostalgia over the last month, and one of the worst things I have done was digging up the journal I kept from the end of my senior year at high school to the start of my sophomore year in college. It was originally intended as a repository of story ideas, but quickly devolved into a collection of keenings about women; rereading it now, I'm glad of this, as the story ideas are often banal but the keening is top-quality. I was surprised to see, though, several mentions of a song I hadn't listened to since 1990. I discovered "Six O'Clock" on a crappy Hollywood Records compilation cassette of the Lovin' Spoonful, and I fixated on it as the perfect accompaniment for a life then composed mostly of infatuation and regret.

I'm sure the tape has long since disintegrated, but I found a torrent of what seems to be the complete discography of the Spoonful, or at least those bits of their career before John Sebastian departed. I've been known to buy CDs for a single song, but this is the first time I've ever downloaded 257 megabytes for a two-and-three-quarters minute song. Right now I think it was worth it, but I'll let you be your own judge.

The Lovin' Spoonful -- "Six O'Clock" (
In passing, [ profile] hermionesviolin mentions Songs Inspired By Literature, by "Artists For Literacy." This reminds me that I had once thought that if I got nothing else out of the Lit Hum syllabus, at least it ought to be good for a mix tape. However, after Led Zeppelin's "Achilles' Last Stand," "Tales Of Brave Ulysses" by Cream, and Tom Lehrer's "Oedipus Rex," the idea sort of petered out.

(As a preemptive strike in my defense, I'd like to point out that I merely used the site that came up first in my Google search on "lit hum syllabus.")
I learn from one of the new Agitators that Jon Ronson, author of the amusing romp with terrorists Them, has come out with a new book about bizarre US military projects.
One operation details President Clinton's order for a Psychic Spying Unit to find the Loch Ness monster using telepathy. The operation cost 15 million pounds, which in today's dollars translates into over $28 million.
Though, to be fair, the dollar was much, much stronger during the Clinton administration.

I am reminded of the advertisement the CIA ran in my college newspaper for its summer internship program. It listed fields of experience they were interested in: philosophy was not one of these. "Remote viewing," on the other hand, was. I remember thinking at the time that remote viewing was something abstrusely technical, involving perhaps satellites or ultrasound or thermal imaging; certainly something you could major in only at CalTech or MIT. Little did I know that remote viewing was actually out in Uri Gellar territory. I know that some people have trouble accepting the softer side of the CIA as presented by Alias, but maybe there's something to the fascination with all the Rambaldi stuff. Maybe that's the true secret of the post-William Colby, pre-Porter Goss CIA; it was just a bunch of crystal-swinging, incense-burning new-agers . . .
In honor of the Final Four, I thought I'd repeat a comment I discovered while trawling (which means the same thing as "trolling" in fishing but not in LiveJournal) through [ profile] dlgood's archives.
During S5, Cordelia is either unconscious or dead. So she doesn't enter the office pool.

Way back in BtVS3, these are the schools she got into: USC, Colorado State, Duke, and Columbia.

Cordy, all incarnations of her, would have taken Duke. And would be fully convinced of how wonderful Duke and Coach K are.
I completely agree with this, though my perspective is 180 degrees askew from [ profile] dlgood's -- I don't think he likes Cordelia much, and I know he hates Duke. I am reminded that during the first few seasons of Buffy, I thought that Cordelia's subconscious perceptiveness was so great that I had some hopes the spinoff would be called "Cordelia Chase, Psychic Fashion Detective." Cordy would be a Columbia undergraduate by day, and would solve crimes and fight against poorly attired demons on the catwalks and in the sweatshops of Manhattan at night. She would be assisted in this by Angel, who, having moved to the West Village and immersed himself in the galleries and boutiques south of Houston, was discovering his inner fabulousness -- which is about the only characterization in which my scenario did not diverge too greatly from David Greenwalt's.

[ profile] dlgood's comment also reminds me that Cordelia's list of acceptances was my strongest piece of evidence that Mutant Enemy was stalking me: I attended Columbia, my parents met at Duke, I once spent a week at Colorado State for an Order of the Arrow conference, and USC are letters I use almost every day.
Happy birthday wishes for [ profile] aliera_!!!

I think I got the tag right; things change so quickly around here.

I was thinking about birthdays the other day. I had a great deal of success finding [ profile] lynnmonster with only a hunch that she might be on LJ, so I've been trying to replicate that success with other people from my past. I've been completely stymied in this pursuit, though, so I've been looking for better strategies. It struck me that people may represent themselves under names I'm not familiar with, they may change their locations and their interests, but their birthdays will be the dates I remember (not that I was ever that good at remembering them). Unfortunately, birthdate is a category not provided by LJ's Directory Search. But then I remembered the trusty old Google site search. All of a sudden I had hundreds of possibilities -- the vast majority of which I could dismiss without ever leaving the page.

I didn't have any success with this new technique (I tried only one birthdate), but it did lead me to investigate my own friends (which is what reminded me that [ profile] aliera_ lists today as her birthday) -- and I was surprised to discover how few of my friends list a birthdate in their user infos. Having just attempted (and failed) to stalk people by this very feature, I can understand people's reluctance to put such a clear identifier on the internet. My reasoning was much more hopefully paranoid -- I figured that including my birthdate might encourage people to buy me stuff. (They're all out to get me . . . presents!)

But what most surprised me, for some reason, was that three of my LJ friends were born on September 11th.
Hell. This will explicate the punchline.

Someone ([ profile] lynnmonster, [ profile] nzraya, or [ profile] sassiwithani, obviously) needs to refresh my memory on the Great NYPIRG War of '91. I remember the figure of $51, but not whether that was what the student activity fee would be raised to, or that that was the amount the student activity fee would be raised so every one of us could kick something back into Ralph Nader's pocket. I do remember that the flyers claiming that establishing a NYPIRG office on campus would be a boon for environmental activism were printed on unrecyclable paper.

ETA: Upon reflection, I have decided that the situation in '91 was that 51 dollars was the existing student activity fee, and that it was spread out over somewhere between 100 and 150 student organizations, each receiving somewhere between 30 and 50 cents per student. The initiative to establish a NYPIRG office would have raised the student activity fee to $54, which doesn't seem to be such a great increase until one realizes that that means that NYPIRG would receive a contribution at least six times that given to any other organization.
I've seen all sorts of "Smile Time" icons; what I have yet to see are the slashy photomanips showing puppet-Angel and Ernie from Sesame Street enjoying intimate moments. Come on LJers! I want to see Angel/Ernie OTP NC-17 animated .GIFs on my Friends' Friends page!

What "Smile Time," and the resultant iconolatry, has reminded me most of all is an anecdote I heard back in my college days. My friend Ben (who has an LJ if not any entries as [ profile] beastlydead) was an intern one summer through a program run by, I think, the American Society of Magazine Editors. Every week or so, all the interns at all the various magazines would meet for a lunch at which they'd hear some big journalistic wheel speak. At one such lunch, the guest of honor was the editor for the publishing branch of the Children's Television Workshop, which put out a Sesame Street magazine. (I think I may have subscribed to this magazine as a child; I clearly remember receiving magazines associated with both The Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact.) After the editor finished speaking, the floor was opened for questions. Ben immediately raised his hand.

"I know you must get asked this a lot . . . " Ben started.

"No," said the editor. "Bert and Ernie are not lovers. They're just good friends."

After the collected interns finished laughing, the editor said, "I'm sorry, that was rude of me. What was your question?"

To which Ben could reply only, "Um, that was my question."
[ profile] bonibaru points out this exciting tidbit from [ profile] news:
Invite codes
We've always wanted to remove invite codes but it's a big, scary change, so we've been slow about it. Since we initially added them, though, we've added: screened comments, moderated communities, anti-spam-bot protection, community invites, and a few other anti-abuse measures. The final one we've been working on (if you follow lj_dev) is human tests: making users recognize a blurry word or distorted audio file before they can create a new account. This ensures accounts are made by humans and not spambots (which can't read blurry stuff or understand muddled audio). Anyway, we're rushing to finish that, and then the plan is to remove invite codes tomorrow or Friday morning. (the commercials gave us good motivation to finish by then)

But... we know people are divided on this issue, some wanting LiveJournal all open, and some wanting to keep it exclusive. Also, some people value their invite code collection, and would be offended if we devalued it by making them obsolete.

So, we have a plan. Users will be able to join LiveJournal without an invite code and have a "trial account" for 30 days. Trial accounts are identical to free accounts, except that after 30 days they won't be able to make new posts or comments unless they're either invited to stay by an existing user (with an invite code) or pay for a paid account. Paid accounts expire to free accounts (not trial accounts), so we're not forcing anybody to keep paying if they don't want the paid bonus stuff. Hopefully this is a fair compromise.
I am all for the prospect of LJ being a less exclusive district (though with more than a million and a half LJs out there, I'm not sure what exclusivity it can really claim); however, I am already a little nostalgic for the soon-to-be-bygone era of the invite code. I fondly recall the fawning letter I sent to [ profile] masqthephlsphr begging for my code. I have always taken pride in being having secured such an illustrious forebear (and I appreciate that she forbears from publicly expressing her disappointment in my paucity of updates); I am similarly prideful when I regard my own spawnling, though I wish his user name were as mellifluous as his writing (atpo_tch would be a little less easily rhymed). I will miss this self-selected genealogy (so much more rewarding and dare I say revealing than my real genealogy, which shows me to be the descendant of cultists and confederates), this tracing of intellectual bloodlines, this record of the ties and bonds of friendship. Plus, I've been hoarding up the 6 invite codes I have left for a special occasion, when I could have been trading them for cigarettes.

But there is still some time left! I can still have the spawnage of my dreams! And, seeing one of my favorite posters, after much too long an absence, drop by the board, I can't help but reflect that [ profile] matching_mole would be a pretty sight indeed. Not to mention [ profile] mundusmundi, [ profile] padawan_dedalus, [ profile] brooklyn_cjl, or even darby_with_an_epee_and_a_phd_in_biology. Not to mention that with the success I've had with finding some of my college friends here on LJ, I hope to see benjamin_christopher_strong before too long.

So the window of opportunity to become my spawn stands still slightly ajar; whether it will admit a balmy breeze or a chill wind I cannot say. If anyone is interested, drop me a note.


One more thing about this new policy. I foresee a small problem with the new regime: since users with trial accounts will be blocked from posting new entries and new comments after 30 days, they effectively have one month to kowtow to and curry favor with users with spare invite codes. I envision LJ becoming a place of great obsequiousness around the middle of January. Indeed, should there be a flood of new users, we might soon have a drought of invite codes. And once you're blocked from making new comments, how can you beg for a code?
R.I.P., Professor Shenton.



April 2009

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