Friday, October 29, 2004

When you’re advertising your laptop for sale. . .

Please list more than the model and price. PowerBooks and iBooks come in a variety of sizes and configurations. If I can't guess from your ad whether you're selling a battered Wallstreet or a brand-new 17" PowerBook with a gig of RAM, I'm much less likely to email you about it and ultimately to hand you my hard-earned cash. Same goes for Windows laptops.

Some ads are short enough to count as haiku, though most ads omit the obligatory reference to the season. This is Craigslist, not a newspaper. You are not being charged by the word for your ad. Go, tell me alllll about it. It’s easier than answering 17 emails or telling the same information to a dozen callers.

Here's a basic list of specific features to put in your ad:

  • Processor speed: 333 MHz? 1.33 GHz? Is your laptop a tortoise or a hare?

  • RAM: 128MB? 1 GB? RAM’s a lot cheaper than it used to be, but today’s computers gobble memory like potato chips. I need to know what I’ll have available and whether I can run Quark, Word, Excel, and a chat window simultaneously.

  • Hard drive capacity: 235 MB or 80 GB, this is one place where size does matter. When I got my Lombard, I wondered how anyone could ever fill up a 10-gig hard drive. I learned.

  • Communications capabilities. Modem? Ethernet? Wifi? If I have to find a freaking phone jack whenever I want to check email, I need to know -- and you need to adjust the price accordingly.

  • Screen size, type, and condition. The 17” monsters have some allure, but there are good things to be said for a more compact, lighter laptop. There’s also a difference between passive matrix, active matrix, and TFT. Are there any dead pixels? Any strange red vertical lines? Does the image waver?

  • CD drive details. Can I burn CDs? Watch DVDs? Burn DVDs?

  • Any extra drives. Got a Zip drive? A floppy? Tell me about it.

  • Operating system. If you’re still running System 7.1, I would like to know about it.

  • Non-standard configuration. Tell me about anything else you’ve added to the machine -- upgrades, replaced parts, what have you. If you’ve overclocked it and done a killer case mod, brag about your achievement.

  • What else is included. Installation disks? Commercial software? If so, what? Cables? Speakers? Packaging? The vague promise of "extras" does not count as actual information. Does that mean it comes with one hyper-violent game installed? or a full licensed version of Adobe Creative Suite, a wireless keyboard and mouse, a 22" flat-panel display, and an address book with useful blackmail material on seventeen prominent hiring managers?

  • Case condition. Scratches? Dents? NaNoWriMo stickers?

  • Anything that doesn’t work. If half the keys stick, I will not buy it, and you can save us both a lot of time and trouble if you come right out and tell me.

I want to buy your laptop. I crave that big, full hard drive. I yearn for a speedy processor. I ache for the millions of colors on your screen. I want to pay a fair price, get a machine in good condition, and leave us both feeling happier. But you’ve got to cooperate. You’ve got to communicate.

Cross-posted to Craigslist.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

All-American Baseball Values

Tonight, under the first total lunar eclipse ever seen during a World Series game, the Red Sox may well break the curse that has kept them from championship since the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.

Ordinarily I’m a National League loyalist; I blame the American League and its designated hitters (along with Astroturf) for drugs, violence, high real estate prices, bad movies, the rise of illiteracy, and the decline of moral values in this country. I may not believe in their responsibility, but it makes a good rant.

However, I have powerful inducements to cheer the Red Sox. For more than a decade, I’ve been a fan of Curt Schilling’s elegant ferocity on the mound. This post-season he’s been playing with a ligament stitched up before each game -- and with his white leggings gradually turning scarlet as the wound reopened. And of course both he and Red Sox manager Terry Francona used to work for the Phillies. I also have a sentimental feeling for the Red Sox, based on my family’s historic links to the Bay State and the large numbers of dear friends who are Bostonians.

Then there’s the curse. I have a sense of solidarity with those who feel themselves profoundly, unjustly unlucky. So their status as perennial losers also argues that I should keep cheering the Red Sox.

Yet are not greater issues at stake here? If the Red Sox win, are we doomed to four more years of mad-cowboy disease with the former owner of the Texas Rangers in the White House?

Election Fun Fact: Presidential Candidates and the World Series

Is there any correlation between who wins the World Series and which political party wins the White House every four years?

Since 1908 (the World Series was not played in 1904), when the National League team won the World Series during a presidential election year, the Democratic candidate won five times and the Republican three times.

When the American League team took the World Series, Republicans grabbed the White House eight times and Democrats seven times.

So a slight edge goes to the Democrats when a National League team wins, and a tiny edge to Republicans with an American League victor. That may be fitting given that Republican George W. Bush once ran the American League Texas Rangers.

Now, this article was published four years ago, before the Yankees beat the Mets in five tight games -- with at least one bat thrown. The outcome then confirmed the trend: the Republicans and the American League win together.

I’d like a split decision: the Red Sox to win, George W. Bush to lose decisively. And if it comes down to choosing one or the other, I’d rather see Curt Schilling hobble home with a scarred ankle and no World Series ring than see four more years of the most corrupt and incompetent administration since Warren G. Harding.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

October 12, 1998

Six years ago today, Matthew Shepard was murdered for being homosexual.

What will you do to end the silence?

Click here to post this on your own page or weblog

Saturday, October 09, 2004

TRANSITIONS: "the epigraph and breathless sarcophagus of my discourse"

Jacques Derrida has passed into the past tense.

Some quotations:

Monsters cannot be announced.
One cannot say: "Here are our monsters,"
without immediately turning the monsters into pets.

The only attitude (the only politics--judicial, medical, pedagogical and so forth) I would absolutely condemn is one which, directly or indirectly, cuts off the possibility of an essentially interminable questioning, that is, an effective and thus transforming questioning.

To pretend, I actually do the thing: I have therefore only pretended to pretend.

That is what deconstruction is made of: not the mixture but the tension between memory, fidelity, the preservation of something that has been given to us, and, at the same time, heterogeneity, something absolutely new, and a break.

This is the stricture of media: though they always lag, their speed is still increasing. And as the speed increases, it becomes less and less and less evident which to believe: because there is no time to react, filter, assess, analyse. Can you believe your eyes?

Deconstruction is not a memory which simply recalls what is already there. The memory work is also an unforeseeable event, an event that demands a responsibility and gestures, deeds. This act is caught, however, in a double bind: the more you remember, the more you are in danger of effacing, and vice versa. Deconstruction cannot step out of this aporia, of this double-bind, without diffidence.

At any rate one never reads immediately. I know very well that one always reads from within certain schemes and mediations, so I do not demand that one read me - as if before my texts you could put yourselves into some kind of intuitive exstasy - but I demand that one be careful with the mediations, more critical regarding the translations and the detours through contexts that very often are quite far away from mine.

Perhaps given the time and the forces, I might say more, but I am not so sure about that.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004