Sunday, February 29, 2004

I was linking through the many different art sites that I enjoyed. Sadly many seem to have disappeared. One of my big hopes was that web would help revitalize the arts community. During the dot com boom, many artists were able to supplement their income with design.

Anyway, I've always liked the texture used on the pages of Salt Clay City. This is a site for a Utah potter. She did a great job of capturing dimension with just a few simple textures. I am sad to see the site doesn't have that much more information from several years again when I added it to my collection of favorites.
That was embarassing. I almost lost a site. I went to check my email and I couldn't get to my main address on I discovered not only had the site expired, but that it was still registered with Network Solutions. I thought I had rid myself of all Network Solution domain names ages ago. Fortunately, while Network Solutions makes just about every activity as hard as possible. They've streamline the renewal process. As for domains, I retiring This was a domain I inherited.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

This just in:

Landmines are Okay!!!!!!!

For some reason unknown to the sane, the United States is now unilaterally pursuing an aggressive landmine campaign (See The United States is now firmly standing against Vietnam Vets, the United Nations and other liberal organizations, and is pursuing the development of safer landmines. These new mines will be easier to detect...decreasing the number of MILITARY casualties, and will have deactivation devices that will cause them to self destruct after a preset time.

I suspect that in Rumsfeld mind, anyone opposing the proliferation of landmines is un-American.

I have no doubt that the landmines created by defense contractors will be technological wonders. A good contractor will have an answer on paper for every criticism leveled at the use of mines.

This is bad news because the world had a very workable landmine ban on the table.

By actively thwarting the ban, the US has just given defacto persmission for every rogue state to follow the United State's example and start an aggressive campaign of building and stockpiling *cough* *cough* "smart" landmines.

The really odd thing is that the current landmine ban gave the US an decided edge in military campaigns. Landmines are a low tech device that rogue nations can mass produce. It is the one weapon that poor nations can use against the United States. Saddam Hussein had destroyed a good portion of his stockpiles. If he had not, then he could have planted his stock piled mines in Sh'ite and Kurdish areas in the final days of the battle.

The landmine ban gave the US a decided military edge. This absurd game where the Bush Administration automatically rejects all work by the international community is insane.

It is sad, all of the effort that people have invested in removing landmines is now lost and worthless. Without the landmine ban, then landmine removal is just a circular game where armies plant mines and charities run themselves ragged removing the mines. Landmine removal is now a round robbin game. The economics are simple. It costs a country $3.00 per mine to mine villiage. The international community will sink $300.00 per mine in the country to remove it. Planting mines means big business.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Yep, creating community sites means a lot of work. The categories on Salt Lake Sites have grown too large. So, I've been trying to figure out how to break things into subcategories. Today, I've been working on the photo section. I've decided to break the section into art photos, scenic photos, fashion and photographers. I have a feeling the process will backfire. I put the best galleries in the Salt Lake City Art Photo gallery. I am worried, however, that everyone will end up visiting the lower quality galleries.

In the culture department, I loved the PBS Series on the Medici. My work on mathematics starts with Brunelleschi's rediscovery of visual perspective. The Medici documentary does an excellent job showing the important role that patronage played in the development of Renaissance arts, and I was delighted from start to finish with the production.

The goal of the production was to give the world view of the Medici's. As such, it tends to overrate their contributions. The documentary gives the impression that the Medici's created the Renaissance. I see them more as a product of their time. For example, the Medici's were able to rise from obscurity to power because Florence was a republic. In allowing more freedom and active participation in the government and economy, Florence opened its society to merchants and bankers.

As for the patronage of the arts, again the Medici were very much a creation of their times. The patronage of the arts was not simply the Medici's being wonderfully generous. With the Catholic Church in a major cathedral building mode, art creation was an extremely vibrant part of the economy. Creating public art was like film making today. The Medici's came into the art and architecture world because that is where the money was. Buying and trading art work was the pinnacle of high finance in the 1400s. The documentary seems to imply that the Medicis created the republic in Florence and that they created the grand masters of the Renaissance.

I suspect that the real dynamics of the economy was much as it is today with the creative agents needing capital and bankers finding clever ways to snag the lion's share of the rewards from the creations. In other words, the Medici's were a leach with a symbiotic relation to the creators. In all likelihood any other banking family would have become rich. The fact that Florence was an open society that allowed Brunelleschi, Da Vinci, Giotto, ..., and the Medici's to pursue their own intellectual thoughts was the cause of the Renaissance. Add to that the work of Roger Bacon and St Augustine that helped promote the sciences of the ancients, and you have a formula for success.

In some ways, I dislike how the Catholic Church was portrayed as reactionaries throughout the work. I personally think a better description of the day is that both the CC and the people at large were finally in a position to recover from the invasions and plagues of the dark ages. The CC was the primary funder for the arts. It was trying to find a way to progress.

It is interesting to note that the conservative elements that persecuted Galileo got into power in raction to the corruption of the Medici popes. When you look at that ugly little nest of politics, you see a lot more going on than the rift between science and religion.

BTW, I was very pleased that the documentary did not go into the Machiavelli worship that is common in many modern universities. My personal take is that Machiavelli wrote the prince just as Scott Adams draws caricatures of pointy haired bosses. Machiavelli saw the collapse of the Republic that brought so much to the world. Machiavelli's The prince was not the recipe for subjegation that Mansfield falls over to worship, but a description of the horrible things that the powerful were doing to gain power.

The Medici's destroyed the republic that allowed the Medici's to rise to power. Just as Bill Gates seems to be doing everything in his power to destroy the economic foundations that allowed businesses like Microsoft to be born and flourish. It is called kicking down the ladder behind you. Nothing new there.

Anyway, the Medici, Godfathers of the Renaissance is an absolutely supurb documentary.

In the burning up time department, I took a trial of the community. Wow, they've got a really cool site in the works. Basically, you are an avator and run around communing with others on a tropical island. I prefer this model to the dark shoot up worlds of unreal.

Friday, February 20, 2004

About every six months, I actually do add a feature to the web sites. I added a new page that shows any new entries for the community directories. For example, here is the new listing for Grand Junction, Co.

Realizing that I was getting a penalty for using excessively long site maps, I cut the full directory listing from the site map, then put a link back to the original map. I exclude the original map from the search engines: Here is the new site map for Salt Lake City. Here is the old map.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

It is always strange when I find sites that I've added to the Internet. While trying to track down some old friends, I happened on my Back Flip site. I am really happy to see that Backflip is still up and running. Like Blogger, BackFlip is a large public site that lets people build their own personal link list. It is like the favorites on your web browser, but shared publicly.

What you can do with blogger is add links to all of the sites that you think have good content (or links to all of your friends). The search engines read BackFlip, and your little directory becomes your vote for the sites that you think merit note. Unfortunately, its been a while since I had visited my BackFlip folder. I had to remove about a dozen broken links.

Although I didn't find what I was looking for this morning, it was fun finding my backflip account again. I hope the site sticks around.

Monday, February 09, 2004

The webtrends program that comes with my web host never seemed to answer the important question: What is the main entry point for my site and where does it come from? So I wrote my own database? This is really odd...but the search engine entry point for my Salt Lake site is the page: Sears Home Center.

In an attempt to pay for web hosting, I made a page for each of the affiliate programs I joined. The idea was to minimize the impact of the ads. Why the search engines like this page, I have not a clue. About 1 in 80 of the people who see the site click on the ad. My guess is that the rest are disappointed.

My new thought is that I need to go through each site. Figure out the main entry points then redesign from there.

BTW, I am completely unprepared for the IIES meeting tonight. I am getting better at the communicating on the internet where the format is open, but not that good in the face to face stuff.

Friday, February 06, 2004

I penned a garbled blob about spirituality in the free market. The main goal of the article is that the free market allows people the freedom to pursue both spiritual and material ends. For that matter, allowing both spiritual and material pursuits is one of the big distinguishing features between the free market envisioned by the founders of the US and Capitalism defined by Marx.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

I finished reading New Spring: The Novel by Robert Jordan, and placed a blurb in the Science Fiction Review section of my site.

New Spring is a prequel to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I think Robert Jordan is extremely smart in giving young readers a second entry point into his epic series. The story involved in New Spring happens before The Eye of the World. That means people interested in the series can start their quest with New Spring.

Best of all, New Spring is one of the shortest books in the series. Readers who have been intrigued by the Wheel of Time can read this book and get a good feel for the entire series.

As for someone who accepted the challenge of reading the whole series, I simply hope that the release of New Spring is a sign that Mr. Jordan is finally getting around to wrapping up this over sized tale.
I fixed the broken links on my Geocities site: A Venture Through the Grand Canyon. It is amazing how many things end up breaking on a static page. The web statistics show the page has has a total of 10,000 visitors to date. Of course, most of those are probably robots. Anyway,the site simply contains pictures of the Grand Canyon. It has been up since 1999. Geocities doesn't charge for pages. It makes me wonder how long the page will survive, and if it will continue to get a steady dribble of hits through time.