January 6th, 2005

caillebotte_the balcony


I have indigestion. I don't know if it's from dinner last night, or from trying to digest all this. It's the new LJ TOS, to which we will all soon be expected to agree. This was one of the things included in brad's expected announcement yesterday of the New Site Order. As usual, the Amen Chorus is singing in the comments, with but few dissents. Of course, we need not believe Brad's rosy predictions, as he is no longer our benevolent (if sometimes incomprehensible) dictator. He is now more of a Grand Vizier. Anyone familiar with The Tale of a Thousand Nights and a Night knows that Grand Viziers are seldom loved, and almost never trusted.

I suspect that it will take about a year or more for sufficient proprietary software to be added to the LJ code before it will differ enough from that of the various LJ clone sites to make any mass-migration of users to those alternatives difficult or inconvenient. That's when the real changes are apt to begin. I'll say that I hope I'm wrong, and that LJ won't be going down the road of so many other web services that have gone corporate. We should always hope for the best. After all, the LJ Social Contract is still there, though it is now called the LiveJournal.com Guiding Principles, at the behest of the corporate lawyers, as they disapproved of the use of the word "contract" in this context. (Apparently, this word now belongs solely to the legal profession. Sorry, Philosophy- you've been shat on again.) Maybe these principles will survive, and not be hollowed out, but that remains to be proven. I fear that Principal will eventually outrank Principle hereabouts.

As we don't know the terms of the deal, there is no way of telling how much power Brad, or anyone else connected with LJ, will retain in the expanded company. He claims to trust the new owners of the site not to make any substantial changes, and says that he would not have made the deal had he not done so. Fine. The question I'm asking myself is whether or not he has secured a strong enough position within Six Apart to ensure that they will not, in a year or two, sell their company, LJ included, for a big bundle of cash to, oh, say Yahoo, for example. Despite anything I may have said elsewhere, I'm pretty sure that the Trotts didn't buy LJ just for the free cookies. Cookies are tasty, but people with a taste for Venture Capital are seldom as fond of baked treats donated by admirers as they are of a Big Payday, and their pictures on the cover of Forbes. We shall see.

I hope that this is the last I'll have to say on this subject for a long time, as I find that the whole thing makes me a bit queasy. I want to get back to my usual maundering, and to quit staying up so late.
laszlo moholy-nagy_chx

Things Fall Apart

My high-intensity lamp, older than 90% of LJ's users, and already rebuilt twice, finally gave up the ghost a couple of nights ago. When I turned it on, it flickered a bit, and I thought the bulb had come loose. It had, so I tightened it, and a couple of seconds later the glass part of the bulb detached itself from its base and shot out of the lamp, smacking into the carpet. (I wonder now how far it would have gone had the lamp been pointing sideways.) There was hissing and the smell of ozone. I unplugged the lamp, and used pliers to remove the metal base of the bulb from the socket. I put in a new bulb, and it worked for about thirty seconds before it went dim and then dark. I fear the lamp is utterly defunct this time. The parts for it are no longer available.

So, today I went down to the hardware store and bought the closest thing to a replacement that I could find. It's a big architect's lamp, just like the one I have attached to Sluggo's desk. The problem is that these lamps are held in place by a little vice-like piece at the bottom, which must be clamped onto a piece of furniture. The particular piece of furniture to which the new lamp must be attached in order for it to be in a useful position does not have as much wood to grip as does Sluggo's desk. Thus, it is a bit unstable. I'm sure it will eventually come crashing down, damaging whatever is in its path. But this style of lamp is the best compromise, now that they no longer make the nice, medium sized free-standing lamps like the old one, so I'll just have to live with the risk.

I also bought compact fluorescent bulbs for the new lamp and for a 3-way living room lamp that has had a one-way compact fluorescent bulb in it. The new bulb for the living room lamp is a bit bigger than the old bulb was, and doesn't quite fit, so I had to Mickey Mouse the receptacle a bit. I don't like having to do that, but I didn't realize that there was a size problem until I had already opened the industrial-strength package in which the bulb came- meaning that the package had to be utterly destroyed in order to get the bulb out. I'm sure I could return it, but I don't like to do that when I've destroyed the original packaging, as the manufacturers know, I'm sure. That's why they made the packaging that way. I'll just use the lamp as little as possible, putting off the day when I have to buy yet another bulb.

I also damaged my knuckle while forcing the plug of the new desk lamp into the socket of the extension cord from which it must draw its power. The socket in the extension cord is a bit small, and the plug on the new lamp is a tad too big. Why the various manufacturers are unable to produce things that meet standards which have probably been established for at least a century, I don't know. Now the slice on my knuckle keeps opening up and dripping blood on Sluggo's keyboard. I fear that he'll develop a taste for it. He does run on Windows, after all, so he's primed to be a bloodsucker anyway.

I used to accept Capitalism back in the days when it was run by lying, cheating pricks. After all, just about everything is run by lying, cheating pricks, and at least the lying, cheating pricks who ran Capitalism knew what they were doing. But now that Capitalism is being run mostly by lying, cheating incompetent pricks, it's lost its cachet. I guess that so many products aren't made the way they used to be simply because they just don't make pricks the way they used to, either.

But I have to say that the weather this afternoon was very well made, despite the fact that it was occurring four or five hundred miles farther south than it usually does. There was a splendid collection of cumulous clouds, gleaming white with afternoon sunlight and then various shades of pink and orange for sunset. A bit of thin fog arrived with dusk, but the winter stars are still visible. The waning moon will rise late, but I will probably get to see it, as the fog appears to be dissipating and the clouds growing even more sparse. Being out in the cold ought to solve the problem of dripping blood, too, as it will probably freeze. Mmmm, bloodsicle!