Does art have intrinsic worth?

It’s a good question. Is there anything intrinsically worth paying money for about art? I mean, there are things that cost a lot of money simply because they take a lot of money to make; and aeroplane, for instance, or complex bit of software. That’s what I would consider intrinsic value, as it takes a lot of effort to get that product to market.

Most art, however, with the exception of films (and let’s be honest, most of them are pretty bad as art), is pretty cheap. I know, it’s not the usual perspective on art, but you can make an album for under $5000 these days. And things like that.

I think that the record companies realised that modern music especially has a low to-market cost and therefore should not cost much money, not really, as music is a basic human thing. People will keep making music, even if it’s given out for free.

Record companies, then, exist to foster two things: scarcity and cults of personality. Scarcity (in the form of physical distribution) makes an item more valuable to a potential buyer. A cult of personality makes an item more valuable because the more people in the cult, the larger the potential buyer pool.

Mug

He put down his coffee mug in the usual place. It faced the usual direction. The only difference being the time. 1500 hours. Drinking coffee at that time of the day was unheard of. He raised an eyebrow and gazed at the cup. The usual place. The usual direction.

Perhaps today he would change two things.

A news item.

I’m getting married. For those of you who are into caring about that sort of thing. The rest of you, carry on, carry on.

Starting over…

So, I’m starting over here at Naked & Ashamed. Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. Changing the name
  2. Clearing out the old plugins
  3. Changing the theme
  4. Cleaning up the links

The only functionality I’m keeping for sure is the tagging bits. The rest of it, especially Extended Live Archives, is going the way of the dodo.

Edit: I’ve replaced Ultimate Tag Warrior with Simple Tagging, as Simple Tagging is just a way better plugin. And smaller.

The Microsoft Phune arrives.

In response to the Apple iPhone, Microsoft has announced it’s latest entry in the mobile devices arena, aptly named the Microsoft Phune. It comes in one colour, Executive Brown, a colour that has apparently sparked a copyright controversy with Mark Shuttleworth over its close resemblance to Human Brown (Shuttleworth arguing before a South African court that as Executives are a subset of Humans, he owns the copyright on Executive Brown).

Now, the Microsoft Phune is only in developmental stage, but based on previous Microsoft devices, here is an artist’s rendering:

Apparently, news of this device has Apple shitting bricks, and based on that mental image, here is an artist’s rendering:

Rumoured to be included the phone’s next-generation application suite are Microsoft Mortar (for firing off emails), Microsoft Wall (to keep out malware), and Microsoft Minesweeper (a game of unknown origins).

Microsoft CEO Steve “Chairmaster” Ballmer confirmed in an interview with MSNBC that the phone would be launched alongside a slew of fashionable accessories, such as the Microsoft Purse, which, Ballmer said, “Not only makes the Phune cool, but functions as a handy self-defence weapon as well. That’s what we call feature-complete. Right there. That’s it.” On an interesting side note, Microsoft Purse has an embedded processor that runs a program called Microsoft Tax, which extracts money from the purse on a regular and increasing basis.

The Microsoft Phune is expected to launch in December of 2007. No, February of 2008. Wait, June of 2008, and only to business. Hold on, December 2008 after a complete redesign and the addition of nine different shades of brown.

Running Windows under virtualisation: A retrospective.

I just realised that on my home computer–internetless as it is right now, curse Bell–Windows has been relegated to a sort of seldom-used shared library sort of deal. I boot it up in virtualisation every once in a while when I want to compose something in Notion or… I can’t think of anything else right now.

Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, Skype, etc, are all exactly the same in Ubuntu. Compiz beats the pants off any other windowing system, period.

And Windows XP is that appliance I put in a box in a closet and don’t pay much attention to except when I need it, which is rarely.

It’s a beautiful thing really. The simplest of simple technologies gives me back the choice I want. As a fanboy might put it, I no longer bow before the golden calf of Redmond.

Was Nicodumus some sort of bumbling idiot?

Sometimes I wonder if we sometime attribute too little intelligence to the people described in scripture. Consider, for instance, Nicodemus. He comes to Christ under the cover of night, for whatever reason, and asks Christ a question. Christ’s answer is–typical of him, and I might add, typical of most Jewish teachers of the time–obtuse and indirect. Perhaps Christ wanted Nicodemus to understand something more important than simple facts, something that takes a relational metaphor to even partially grasp.

Nicodemus isn’t stupid. As a Pharisee, he’s probably been exposed to this sort of teaching his entire life, where the teacher doesn’t answer the question with a answer, because the teacher isn’t interested in simply imparting information. The teacher wants to know if the student is actually interested in what he has to say, wants to know if the student is engaged with what he saying.

And what does Nicodemus do? He replies to Jesus with a question of his own, one that I think is a rehtorical question. How can a grown man be born again? But again, he’s not stupid: history would suggest that Nicodemus is a man well known for his wisdom. He’s actually employing Christ’s own methods, asking a question that seems simple enough on the surface while on a deeper level engages Jesus’ trope on its own terms.

This is why the conversation seems to jump around so much. Jesus and Nicodemus both understand that they’re among the most educated people in Israel at that time. Jesus is a rabbi, Nicodemus is a Pharisee. They jump from concept to concept without explaining any of it, really. Yet Nicodemus seems to understand, and from all reports, seems to have believed.

I think we do a disservice to Nicodemus and Jesus’ conversation by reading it as if Jesus is instructing Nicodemus, the toddling idiot, in all these blinding truths. Perhaps a better reading would be that two theological giants of the day are having a conversation, and one of them is suggesting a view the other has either not considered or considered unlikely.

Lament

Amble on and we’ll
pore sweat over maps
and plumb with a limestone
snap and mark twain.
This is the culvert
where I first met you.
Or the summer swing
empty but for crows.
Or a dark horse promenade
with peacock feathers
and coruscant crystal.
Or, more likely, the one
octave fingers of a hand
and the three cracking
joints of a finger
all built for the fabulous
black suns arranged
ringside to the red river.

Toddle on and we’ll
find our sea feet
to the rise and swell
of brine and food, in an
awkward displacy of glances
passing this way and that
over a meniscus border.
Or, I’ll see you haven’t
been who you are
for a long while now,
the seasons colouring in
and changing and colliding,
hazelnut to streaked wheat
and back again, the way
the fabulous blazing white
sun almost made its home
ringside to the red river.

Well and we’ll cross like
ships in the night in the war
in the lines fraught, familiar.
Well and you’ll glisten like
crystal as the moon forces
the brightness out of you,
the force of which is this,
lament and broken singsong
canticle across time and space
to the place where I first
remember convincing you to
turn that terrible blazing
Polaris away from crossing
the red river, from crossing
the Rubicon and releasing its
puissance into space.