Lily’s Clothes Await Her Waking

Before I met Yung-Hsing, I rarely thought about what I was going to wear for the day until I stood before my clothes. Having lived with her for a while now and enjoyed her orderly nature, I now regularly lay out my outfit before going to shower.

For a while now, Yung has been offering a Lily a choice between two outfits. And because Lily is Lily and needs as much advance warning as you can plan for, Yung has regularly checked the weather and then set out two outfits for Lily for the following day, often pointing them out to Lily so that she has plenty of time to think about which one she wants to wear.

Lily has lately begun to dress herself, and tonight she has taken the next step: she has laid out two outfits for herself to choose from tomorrow morning when she wakes up. I guess she wants to make sure she starts the New Year off right: by creating the choices which she will then choose.

IMG_0062
*Lily’s Clothes Await Her Waking*

A Better Day in New Orleans

We woke this morning in our smallish hotel room — it turns out that the Renaissance Arts was not the hotel I thought it was — but enjoyed our late rising and our breakfast in the hotel, despite the absolute chaos of the restaurant.

IMG_0037
*Yung and Lily in Bed*

Tina and Felix picked us up at the front door and we headed off to the Aquarium of the Americas, which seemed smaller, or at least more chopped up then either Yung or I remembered. We decided it must, in part, be from the increased number of gift shops scattered about the place and the food court that is now also part of the place. (Revenue is revenue, and it’s all part of the overall package that museums find themselves having to offer.

The tunnel you walk-through is still pretty amazing, and the rain forest area was impressive. The passages and hallways, however, are pretty narrow and so even a smallish number of visitors begins to feel like a crowd.

The fun part was the chance to hang out with Tina and Felix and to watch Tina and Lily get to have more time together. Afterwards, T and F dropped us off at our hotel, we grabbed our bags, fetched our car, and got on the interstate as quickly as we could, not stopping until we got to Des Allemands for gas and lunch.

Lily Plays Follows Her Own Labyrinth
*Lily Follows Her Own Labyrinth*

A Culture of Thugs

In our hotel room now, safe and sound, which is not something we take as much for granted in the wake of what happened only a few hours ago.

We are in New Orleans to celebrate the engagement of my sister and her boyfriend, who both have strong ties to the city. Felix grew up here and still has family here. Tina lived a long time here and has the kind of attachment to the city that so many of us find both alluring and puzzling at the same time. (Even before the storms, the city was deeply troubled.)

Yung-Hsing, Lily, and I joined them and the small number of folks they were able to invite to a party in a really lovely atrium that is part of the condo complex that Felix’s sister lives in. The complex is on Saint Charles and only a few blocks away from the interstate.

It was easy to get to, and we were lucky to find some parking on the street a mere thirty yards or so from the building’s front door. The party was terrific, and we were some of the last to leave. My sister insisted on walking us out, and we paired her with Lily, who was thoroughly enamored of her aunt. I walked out with my backpack on my back and the large roller bag in one of my hands. Yung had her back on her shoulder and Lily’s pink suitcase.

We headed out the door in high spirits because we planned on staying overnight and all getting together again the next day to visit the Aquarium of the Americas. As we stepped out of the building and began our way to the car, coming up the street were four young black men. I really thought nothing of it. The same group in Lafayette would have been just four young men walking down the street. They were taking up the whole sidewalk, but I figured they were just feeling their oats. I even made eye contact and said hey to one of them.

What happened next I don’t really know. I was in the lead, but as the group moved along our group, one of the young men made to grab Yung’s bag. She held on and he went to pull harder. She yelled “Hey!” and I guess she startled him enough that he gave up. I looked back to see my wife stumbling, as if she had tripped, and the four guys sprinting down the sidewalk — and I swear one of them looked back and smiled.

I was caught completely off-guard. Yung was first-rate. She said two things: “I’m okay” and then “Get Lily in the car.” We moved quickly, my poor sister both upset that this had happened. She was particularly worried about Yung.

We explained to Lily as best we could, with as little coloring of the events as possible, what had happened, but in that moment, all I wanted was to get out of the city and put it, and its many problems, behind me. I think the worst of it was that I don’t think those four men set out to rob us. It was simply the case that one of them, with sympathy and support from the others, saw an opportunity and seized it. That’s thuggery. Exploiting others when the chance arises is pure thuggery, and I feel sorry for New Orleans that it has these four roaming its streets.

I am not looking to excuse these four. Far from it. But when I thought about it as we drove to our hotel, I couldn’t hep but think that we are surrounded by images of thuggery. In the days leading up to Christmas, I saw in the local paper that the executives of the failing, flailing banks paid themselves $1.3 billion in bonuses using taxpayer funds. That’s exploiting a momentary weakness for your own benefit, and that’s thuggery. A lot of entrepreneurs and developers bought up hundreds and thousands of properties in New Orleans after Katrina, taking advantage of the poor’s inability to deal with disaster. That’s thuggery, too.

I know thuggery of both kinds stretches back as far as humans. It’s the bandits of the Middle Ages and the Robber Barons. I don’t know if, in this moment, I hold out any great hope for humankind, but I do know that I will be glad to leave New Orleans behind.

Words and Music for “The Book of Love”

*** Capo on Fret #1
*** Actual Key Is Ab / Play in Key of G
*** The entire song is G/C/D/G Progression

Intro - G/C/D/G  G/C/D/G  G/C/D/G  G/C/D/G

G           C       D        G
The book of love is long and boring
G          C        D    G
No one can lift the damn thing
G            C                    G
It's full of charts and facts and figures
G   C            D      G
and instructions for dancing
G     C  D  G
But I........
G         C        D    G
I love it when you read to me
G       C   D   G
And you..........
G   C           D  G
You can read me anything
G                C      D     G
The book of love has music in it
G              C           D     G
In fact that's where music comes from
G          C       D        G
Some of it is just transcendental
G             C    D      G
Some of it is just really dumb
G     C  D  G
But I........
G         C        D       G
I love it when you sing to me
G       C   D   G
And you..........
G       C       D     G
You can sing me anything

Bridge:  G/C/D/G  G/C/D/G  G/C/D/G  G/C/D/G

G           C       D        G
The book of love is long and boring
G       C        D    G
And written very long ago
G            C           D            G
It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
G                C       D     G
And things we're all too young to know
G     C  D  G
But I........
G         C        D       G
I love it when you give me things
G       C   D   G
And you..........
G            C       D       G
You ought to give me wedding rings
G    C  D  G
And I.......
G         C        D       G
I love it when you give me things
G       C   D   G
And you..........
G            C       D       G
You ought to give me wedding rings
G    C  D  G
And I.......
G         C        D       G
I love it when you give me things
G       C   D   G
And you..........
G            C       D       G
You ought to give me wedding rings
G            C       D       G
You ought to give me wedding rings

Tools and Content for the Digital Humanities

The following was posted as a comment to the Project Bamboo Tools and Working Group’s main wiki page.

Let me begin by saying how sorry I was not to be able to make it to W2. Having participated in the conference call – thank you Tim for setting that up – I feel like there is some common knowledge within the group that I am missing to enable to glimpse the commonality in the potential demonstrators that have so far been discussed.

And so I am going to try to sketch out a framework here and, I hope, in the process back my way into understanding what it is we are up to.

I should begin by noting that I’m a humanities scholar, a folklorist to be exact. Those of you who saw my 4/6 presentation at the Chicago W1 know that my current research focuses on the rise and development of a boat peculiar to south Louisiana, the crawfish boat. But I’ve also done work on a variety of verbal traditions, literature, and done some work in history.

With that as preface, I offer up a sweeping generalization about humanities studies: it is the study of complex artifacts (understood broadly) in service of understanding human nature. (Historians will be somewhat disgruntled by such a definition, but if a census document isn’t a complex artifact, then I don’t know what one is.)

What humanists need, want access to are these artifacts as well as the variety of information clouds that surround them. Now, too often we assume that this stuff that humanists work with is limited to scribed texts of one form or another. What I like about all the proposed demonstrators is that they are clearly not bounded by such precepts: Tim wants to find a way to cite images and their derivatives – I’m assuming the digital form of both. Mark Williams is trying to find a way to make the steady stream of news reporting available for study. And both Ray Larson and Sorin Matei have as one of their proposed demonstrators some form of geographic-aware tool / methodology.

Ray and Sorin’s proposals are particularly appealing to me because as an ethnographic researcher, I have long been interested in some way of “tagging” objects I find in the field and beginning to build a data / metadata cloud around them in their original context – and both objects and contexts being available to other researchers (either in situ or virtually). Objects in this context are stretchy – or “fuzzy” if you prefer. An object could be a town, a building, a boat, a field, et cetera.

So all this is great news. It’s what we’ve long wanted as a complement, not a replacement, for our extant (call them traditional if you like) data structures which were built around centralizing information in places like libraries and museums. One of the promises of the digital revolution is that information focuses on the object itself, which need not be removed from the variety of contexts which give it its multiple meanings.

I stumble upon “promise” here, because I remember working for a short time with a team at Indiana University back in the early nineties which had been commissioned by AT&T to work on what it was calling a “WorldBoard.” (I think the term was supposed to stand in contrast with the electronic bulletin boards of the time, for those who are old enough to remember, in being “location-aware” information.)

Fifteen years later and it doesn’t really seem like we’ve made all that much progress. There is KML and there is the Dublin Core. But there is nothing like a Zotero that allows one either to write data to some sort of common database or to “browse” it.

I bring up Zotero here because I find myself using it and liking it. It’s not the world’s greatest UI, but it offers a fair amount of flexibility for me as a particular researcher and it seems on its way to offering a way to share information with me as part of a greater collective of individuals studying humans as they move through the world. I can even imagine Zotero becoming a kind of front-end for prior Mellon Foundation funded projects like JSTOR and Project Muse.

What I would like to see, and maybe it would be something like what Tim is proposing, is a parallel project to ARTstor which might be something like DATAstor. ARTstor is a great resource for getting access to quality images of physical artifacts that are either drawn from the fine arts or that have been of the kind of nature that they would be acquired by museums. The chief problem is, first, that museums have their own biases (and they tend towards the fine or visual arts) and, second, that the promise of the IT revolution is that we would not be so dependent upon museums for providing metadata about objects.

Interacting with such an infrastructure could mean either making 3D scans or building 3D models of objects and then locating them in time and space. Google has done a great deal towards this, but it does not seem to have caught on. The reasons are probably multiple: First, 3D work is hard. (I know. I have ten thousand images for my current project and only a few primitive models done in SketchUp.) Second, the Google landscape is a bit of a wild west: you’re just not really sure about the quality of the work done there. (Could one peer review within Google Earth?) Third, it is an impoverished infrastructure, at least in my experience, because it principally focuses on geographic concerns with little room, or at least structure, for other dimensions.

Okay, I’m approaching 1000 words, which is probably some sort of limit. I will think some more and write more when I get a chance. I hope this is useful to someone.

All the Big Questions at Once

Tonight was my turn to get Lily to sleep. As always, we read a few books — my favorites, the Frog and Toad stories — and then we turned off the light. We usually talk for a little while, as I slowly encourage Lily to quiet both her body and her mind — the former twitches while the latter races. Christmas is a week away, and the graduating students in her school are putting on a Christmas pageant for the younger kids. My understanding is that most of the action is narrated by her teacher, but even without speaking lines, she seems to be taking a great deal of the action in. (She is, in her own words, the “indoor keeper,” which she likes because her robe has pink in it.)

So there have been some discussions about Jesus and the fam.

Tonight, as we lay in bed, her small voice reached out to me and asked, “Daddy, is Jesus alive?”

How to answer such a question? I tried to be honest. Jesus is alive in us, I told her. Some people think he lives on in Heaven with God, but the most important thing is that he lives in our hearts. I asked her if Nai-Nai was with us. No, she said. But we can feel her with us when we think about her, yes? Yes. Is Mommy here in the room with us? (Yung was in the kitchen and we could hear her washing dishes.) No. But she is our minds when we think about her? Yes. And when we think about her we feel good don’t we? Yes.

“Daddy?”

“Yes, Lily.”

“Is Mary alive?”

And then she asked about Joseph. I gave similar answers for both of them, but her next question was really the hardest:

“Daddy, is Santa Claus alive?”

Throughput Speeds for the Rest of Us

As I anticipate moving from my MacBook Pro to one of the new MacBooks, one of the things I have to consider is that I am losing not one but both Firewire ports. I have come to depend upon Firewire — also known as IEEE 1394 (1394a for Firewire 400 and 1394b for Firewire 800) — for moving data back and forth on hard drives. In particular, I use a small LaCie Rugged drive to hold my Lightroom library. It has a USB port on it, but I don’t know that I still have the necessary, and awkward, power bricked cord. Will I be able to use my Netgear network hard drive instead? Loyal readers of this log want to know, and so let’s do some math:

The table below lines up the protocol, its claimed throughput speeds in bits, and then a more realistic speed in megabytes. (As a reminder: there are 8 bits in 1 byte.)

table{border:1px solid black}.
|_. Protocol |_. Speed |_. In Use |
| USB | 12Mbps | n/a |
| USB2 | 480Mbps | 20-25 MBps |
| FW400 | 400Mbps | 40MBps |
| FW800 | 800Mbps | 80MBps |
| Ethernet[1] | 1000Mbps | 47 to 60 MBps |

The important difference between USB and FW is that the latter does not require a computer host port, and, I believe, it is capable of bidirectional traffic. Firewire ports can also carry enough power to support 2.5″ drives, which makes it extremely useful for moving large chunks of data by sneakernet. Newer iPods, however, can be powered off USB ports, and so I’m guessing that USB carries enough power for 1.8″ drives. (Time to down-size my portable drives, I guess.)

fn1. These speeds are based on using a wired ethernet connection to an Airport Extreme gigabit router hooked up to the Netgear ReadyNAS Duo drive unit which also has gigabit ethernet.

Two More Text Analysis Tools from HDG

1. Coh-Metrix

Has anyone here experimented with this tool
(http://cohmetrix.memphis.edu/cohmetrixpr/)? It is described as follows:

Coh-Metrix is a computational tool that produces indices of the
linguistic and discourse representations of a text. These values can
be used in many different ways to investigate the cohesion of the
explicit text and the coherence of the mental representation of the
text. Our definition of cohesion consists of characteristics of the
explicit text that play some role in helping the reader mentally
connect ideas in the text (Graesser, McNamara, & Louwerse, 2003). The
definition of coherence is the subject of much debate. Theoretically,
the coherence of a text is defined by the interaction between
linguistic representations and knowledge representations. When we put
the spotlight on the text, however, coherence can be defined as
characteristics of the text (i.e., aspects of cohesion) that are
likely to contribute to the coherence of the mental representation.
Coh-Metrix provides indices of such cohesion characteristics.
http://141.225.213.52/CohMetrixWeb2/HelpFile2.htm

The tool has recently been used to analyse (surprise, surprise) the
language of the candidates in the US Presidential election
(http://wordwatchers.wordpress.com/). It would be particularly
interesting if this had been tried on more demanding text or with more
demanding questions.

2. Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC)

LIWC (http://liwc.net/liwcdescription.php) seems at first glance to be
methodologically much simpler. As far as I can tell from a quick
reading, it computes scores based on occurrences of target words
pre-defined to belong to different affective categories, plus scores
based on counts of sentence length and the like. It depends centrally on
a dictionary of 4500 words:

The LIWC2007 Dictionary is the heart of the text analysis strategy.
The default LIWC2007 Dictionary is composed of almost 4,500 words and
word stems. Each word or word stem defines one or more word
categories or subdictionaries. For example, the word cried is part of
five word categories: sadness, negative emotion, overall affect,
verb, and past tense verb. Hence, if it is found in the target text,
each of these five subdictionary scale scores will be incremented. As
in this example, many of the LIWC2007 categories are arranged
hierarchically. All anger words, by definition, will be categorized
as negative emotion and overall emotion words. Note too that word
stems can be captured by the LIWC2007 system. For example, the
LIWC2007 Dictionary includes the stem hungr* which allows for any
target word that matches the first five letters to be counted as an
ingestion word (including hungry, hungrier, hungriest). The asterisk,
then, denotes the acceptance of all letters, hyphens, or numbers
following its appearance.

Not being up-to-date with research in this area (psycholinguistics?) I
don’t know how this tool compares with affective research via
text-analysis that has been going on for decades. Perhaps someone here
can say. How reliable is such research?

PhiloLine announced on HDG

This is from a recent posting in the Humanist Discussion Group:

> We are pleased to announce the alpha release of PhiloLine, an extension to PhiloLogic designed identify similar passages in relatively large collections of documents. PhiloLine is based on a
simple implementation of a sequence alignment algorithm, a generalized technique used in bioinformatics and other disciplines. This implementation performs an all-to-all comparison of a set of documents loaded in PhiloLogic and generates results which can be linked to and from the database. PhiloLine is an experimental implement of our more generalized PAIR (Pairwise Alignment for Intertextual Relations) implementation which functions without PhiloLogic bindings to be released in Winter 2009.

> Source code, documentationand release notes, links to relevant papers, and a slide show discussing sequence alignment in digital humanities are available at [Google Code][http://code.google.com/p/text-pair/].

> PhiloLine, like PhiloLogic and PhiloMine, are open source systems. Please feel free to contact us at the address listed on the site with your comments, complaints, bug reports (yes, there will be bugs),
suggestions and, always most gratefully accepted, code.