furia furialog · Every Noise at Once · New Particles · The War Against Silence · Aedliga (songs) · photography · other things · contact
2 February 2005 to 23 December 2004
1. Place one standard metric drum of whole or partial flour in a preheated diorama for one hour at 11°40' South, 43°19' East.  

2. In a separate movement, collect the impetus of four ovals, and encourage until mildly absent. If ovals are unseasonable, you may substitute another idiom.  

3. Add the olive pits, caramel wrappers and peeled marshmallows, two at a time, being careful that they do not become defibrillated or indurate.  

4a-4d. Set aside.  

5. Present each guest with an uncontroversial discussion topic, or a single unscented flower.  

6. 20 minutes before serving, restate the major objections in a penitent tone. Objectors may require a moment of relative silence or absolute darkness.  

7. Line a large ukulele mold with gravel and paraffin. Spread the batter counterclockwise, with quick, variegated strokes of a 3.25mm (or wider) vegetable punch. Qualify with silvered almonds and doll hair.  

8. When the winter has just started to become oppressive, exchange the final two layers. Performate the top crust with hardwood in moral or gull shapes. Allow to coalesce, and then demonstrate at anteroom temperature on slowly revolving stained glass.

Red Line, Cambridge/Boston
1. Boy with orange hat. Seen by Emma waiting, apparently, for a bus outside of the Vargeld.  

2. Construction planner. Referred to twice in the conversation between Marik and the couriers. Known to be exacting and arrhythmic.  

3. Civic meterer. Lives in one of the blue houses on the street behind Aria's building. Older, listing. Complains to Storod on the street during the blackout, although it's not clear whether she understands that power is a quantity. Collects silkscreened eggs.  

4. The replacement florist. Shoes suggest decline in fortune is recent; idiom implies acceptance. Would give flowers to unattended children, but obviously in the Corridor there do not tend to be many of these. Hums drones. Panics in traffic.  

5. The translator who dreams of the continuity of oceans. Implied by Marik's speech to the victims, later referred to by Emma in her list of terms. Misses the last train the night of the crash, and thus is still in Anholz Station when the Minister's staff arrives. Wary of owls, expectations and shadow.  

6. Aria's broker. Indirectly introduces Garner to Maribelle, and thus to the Morrises. Sends the letter, after all, although in the end most of the mentors probably believe this was Jonathan, especially after Jonathan conceals the sale. Dropped last, and somewhat arbitrarily, just before the move.  

7. Sprinter. Sits in front of the Minister during the first act, but is reseated in the orchestra after the arrests. Never really suspends disbelief, and would go with Gossett if the bridge were closed. Loans jazz to borrow edges.  

8. Parts buyer. Misunderstands Emma's question about phases, but gives her the right number by mistake. Takes over from the warder during the flood, and treats the children's questions seriously. Solves the maze. Sleepless and drained and stronger than walls.
Last night I finally got around to seeing Super Size Me. I've read Fast Food Nation and Food Politics, so not that much of Spurlock's industry information was new to me, but I was still appalled all over again by the magnitude of it. It doesn't seem too unreasonable to say that McDonald's is ultimately and knowingly dedicated to bleeding short-term profits at the expense of the methodical medium-term destruction of bodies with french fries and long-term destabilization of societies with ground beef.  

I hate McDonald's, the corporation, on principle, but I also physically despise the bilious crap they serve as food. Back when I occasionally ate fast food (i.e., before I read Fast Food Nation) I could deal with Burger King or Taco Bell every month or two, but I think I've eaten at McDonald's exactly three times since puking up a Big Mac in 1984, and after the last time was finally able to quit thinking that it couldn't possibly be as disgusting as I remembered. For me the burgers provoke immediate nausea, the "milkshakes" taste worse than anything I've ever ingested as medicine, and the fries are so unmistakably inorganic that if I discovered one in any other plate of food I'd want the responsible kitchen condemned. These truths seem so indelible to me that the effort required to accept that they are not universal is almost enough to make me physically ill by itself.  

Spurlock, however, likes McDonald's food. Statistics imply that his embrace is far more typical than my defiance. Because I hate McDonald's food, I would only ever conceive his month-long experiment as a contentious test to see whether it's even possible to reasonably contain the damage you're doing to yourself. But I just walk by. One profound problem with McDonald's is exactly the least damage they can't be prevented from doing to unbelievers, but that's what Fast Food Nation is about, not Super Size Me. The movie is not investigative journalism, it's a speculative memoir of surrender. The movie is about a different profound problem, the social and biological toxicity of the craving McDonald's exists to serve and promote. In this, as in so many other things, arguably the greatest horror is not the ever more amoral schemes that opportunists contrive for profiting from human weakness, it's the urgency with which people line up to pay for their own physical and moral poisoning. Perhaps the worst thing about this evil is that its executors can't be blamed for its invention. Perhaps the worst thing about Super Size Me is that Spurlock eats this way three times a day for a whole month, and we only see him throw up once.
I understand that forecasting the weather is difficult, and I hold no human being culpable for the fact that it was 35F today when the forecast had insisted it was going to be 55F. I assume there were clear, tangible indicators that suggested it was likely to be 55F today, perhaps even very likely, but something less-likely happened, and in the end it wasn't. The improbable will periodically occur.  

But what I would hold someone responsible for, if I thought it weren't a pervasive cultural flaw, is the destructive precision with which uncertain predictions are communicated. Weather is merely the most obvious daily public manifestation of a fundamental reluctance, or perhaps an inability, to say what we really know, rather than what we wish we knew. We'd like to know whether it's going to rain, and how cold it's going to be. What we know, however, is not these things, it's what's on the radar and how it's been moving and what our computer models can extrapolate given the data we know how to supply. We know what stock prices have been, and how many we sold last year, and how long other projects that seem like they will turn out to have been similar took.  

I brought the clothes I'd need for running in 55F, but since it was 35F when I left home, I also brought some others. If I'd gone out and felt too cold, I'd have come back inside. The forecasting failure of is little direct practical consequence, but that isn't an excuse for a forecasting grammar that obscures the essential natures of the activity and its results. "Today's high: 55F" is nonsense. What we should really see is a graph of the last 24 hours and the next 24, maybe, of past predictions and future ones as probability ranges, with a trendline of the actual temperature running through the past. Ditto for precipitation: past predictions, future guesses, the measurement history. This, after all, is what we actually know for sure: what we think, what we thought, what was.  

And if we learned to talk about the weather, maybe it would help us understand how to talk about other systems. Maybe a daily reminder of the limits of certainty in one natural system patently out of our control would encourage us to acknowledge the limits of certainty in the human systems over which we exert only slightly more influence. Maybe we'd be a tiny bit less likely to manage by oversimplified dashboards and spurious charts and uncalibratable figures. Maybe we'd build communication tools better suited to representing hard-won understanding of vital complexity, rather than discarding it in favor of quantification of our wishful ignorance.
Although I have not done any comprehensive research into the spectrum of available charities, and so offer no informed endorsement or particular insight, my wife and I donated to the International Response Fund of the American Red Cross. I don't pretend to have any good formula for prioritizing world crises and needs, either, but this disaster seemed too catastrophic to ignore, and the needs too straightforward to second-guess.  

Peace, on this planet, is dangerous enough, and paradise fragile. Natural disasters ought to remind us how inexcusable it is to compound the difficulty of existing here by destroying our environment and undermining our cultures and inventing ideologies to justify wars.  

Do something good today.
1. Björk: Medúlla
2. Mascott: Dreamer's Book
3. Puffy: 59
4. Abra Moore: Everything Changed
5. Jimmy Eat World: Futures
6. Supercar: Answer
7. Kings of Convenience: Riot on an Empty Street
8. Issa Bagayogo: Tassoumakan
9. Nightwish: Once
10. Alanis Morissette: So-Called Chaos  

Or, annotated for reduced clarity:  

The Best of 2004 (Epilogue)  

1. I ? Huckabee's
2. The Big Animal (Duze zwierze, Poland, 2000)
3. Goodbye Dragon Inn (Bu san, Taiwan, 2003)
4. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom, South Korea, 2003)
5. The Crying Wind (Fuon, Japan, 2004)
6. The Parking Attendant in July (Kan che ren de qi yue, China, 2003)
7. The Incredibles
8. Before Sunset  

Also very good: Coffee and Cigarettes, The Corporation, Fahrenheit 9/11, Finding Neverland, Garden State, The Ketchup Effect (Hip Hip Hora!, Sweden, 2004), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Napoleon Dynamite, Untold Scandal (Joseon namnyeo sangyeoljisa, South Korea, 2003).

These days the memory of her voice pulls me out of good dreams, but not bad ones, so at least now there is some solace in nightmare.

The material in his pants was worth more than some people's cars, but the color of them has never, in the entire span of human in history, been in fashion for anything intended to be seen outside of an esophagus.

There will be plenty of time, later, to argue about the difference between compulsion and regret.

The exact spin of the truck, as it crossed the median already shedding clouds of Korean aluminum and Malaysian static-fiber, took its front wheels close enough to my head for me to pick out the smell of tires leaving asphalt.

I remember when I stopped knowing what you think, and later, when I stopped caring.

This desert used to be a place.  

You will always open the yellow door, and most of the time this is what will lead you to her.  

He knows I hate him looking away while he's talking to me, but he also knows how his profile affects me, and I have never known how he balances these two and decides whether to turn.  

I wish I could promise you that I'm never going to lie.  

In the Mexico where the three of us learned what time is worth, waiting is sometimes a way forward.  

A 647-year-old oil painting in a perfectly square frame lifts silently off a cloud-grey wall, and 405 miles away a zero changes to a one with a peripheral click.  

The man with the third code wears black leather shoes that seem unremarkable until you notice that they bear no manufacturer's logo of any kind, gray wool pants with faint dots of heel-flung sand up the back of both legs, a blue crew-neck sweather with folds still pressed into it from having sat on wire shelving under great weight, and an immaculate almond-brown felt stetson under whose left brim, two inches behind his ear, the bullet has just entered.  

The three largest American tobacco companies have each killed more human beings that all the world's missile manufactuers put together, which is indirectly but indisputably why, for the fourth time since I swore this would stop happening, I am standing on the front step of my own house in early afternoon sunlight with a cardboard box full of snow globes in my arms, trying to improve on how I broke this news to Meredith before.  

"The processes for cigarettes and cheese," he was saying, "are basically the same," which explains a little bit about the cigarettes and quite a lot about the cheese.  

A red square is sealed by any movement into an adjacent black rank, unsealed on the conversion of its original marker, and removed from play after the third change in control, all of which Marco knows exactly as well as I do, so I wait patiently while he fumes at what he will presently recognize has been his own negligence.  

The brownstone was rehabbed half-heartedly in the late Nineties, the dog still has his appetite but not his hearing, and the Belgian in the neck brace has been dead for no more than an hour.  

I am doing something viscous and unmentionable when the phone explodes.
Site contents published by glenn mcdonald under a Creative Commons BY/NC/ND License except where otherwise noted.