Time to change

…the subject, and then go for a walk to sooth my inner savage beast. Besides, I think there are still some needy ticks out in the woods, waiting for a meal.

I had a chance to look at this site in Safari last night, and I can’t believe how horrible it looks. It’s time that I finally re-designed this site using CSS rather than the old HTML table design.

Any suggestions in how I’m going to be able to re-create this rather table-driven design into CSS? Just like it is?

People Political Weblogging

Not one word

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I am trying not to focus too much on Iraq because frankly the situation over in that country makes me so angry that I want to break something. But it’s hard to ignore the reports about our abuse of Iraqi prisoners in the very prison we have used as a model for our justification of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. This abuse is not rumor but has been proven to be fact and pretending that it doesn’t exist does no one any good.

But that’s just what’s happening among our warblogging compatriots. They cannot see a way to spin this into being the fault of terrorists or the Iraqi people themselves, so they just pretend–like Sinclair in the previous post about the soldiers who have died in Iraq–that it doesn’t exist.

For instance, nary a word at Glenn Reynolds weblog that I can see. That wouldn’t have bothered me much, or surprised me really, except that he also chose this particular time to run with a posting about our forces being too soft in Iraq. And then he has the unmitigated gall to say that there is a ‘consensus’ among webloggers that we all somehow agree with this, that we are too soft in Iraq.

Over 10,000 Iraqi have died in this little ‘rightous’ war of yours, Reynolds. Over 600 in Fallujah, alone. When you say ‘consensus among webloggers’ you’re saying you speak for all of us, and that we want more people dead in Iraq.

Other pundits might like to take the more intellectual route on this issue in refuting you, and more power to them. My response is more simple and direct: fuck you, Reynolds.

Beg pardon. What I meant to say is: Instafuck you, Reynolds.

Media Political

Two and two equals zero

Thanks to Sheila Lennan I found out that the local St. Louis ABC affiliate is one of the few that will not be telecasting Ted Koppel’s April 30th Nightline show, featuring him reading the names of the service people killed in Iraq to this point.

I called the station twice, and was put through to the comment line, to listen to a prepared talk by Tom Tiptom, who is some kind of station manager. I found it antagonistic and pugnacious–an attitude I would expect more from an amateur warblogging site rather than a professional news organization. In addition, I found the arguments presented to be confusing.

According to Mr. Tiptom, the reason that Sinclair is not telecasting the show is because Koppel is not also reading the names of the victims of the New York terrorist attack, and all terrorist attacks since. This, then, makes this a political statement.

All I could think of when I heard this was: huh?

What does the terrorist attacks on 9/11 have to do with the reading of the names of the soldiers who have been killed in Iraq? How can Ted Koppel’s reading of the names be seen as ‘political’, and the stations choosing not to broadcast the show not be seen as equally political?

Are we going to now spend the next several months before the election in this country denying that people are being killed in Iraq, because to acknowledge this is somehow political? Are we literally not going to show broadcasts that demonstrate the costs of our actions? Are we going to pretend that all is well in Iraq and that because of our actions there, terrorism is being held in check, when it’s been proven that there was no connection between Iraq and the attacks in New York?

When I responded on the comment line, I was angry. I am still angry. If the station had chosen to make a comment disavowing the nature of Koppel’s broadcast as political, but then showed it anyway, I would have respected that. And the station. But by not showing the broadcast, they’ve removed my right to make my own opinion about the broadcast, Koppel’s right to be heard, and these soldiers’ right to be remembered, separate from any political movement.

Worst though is that the station thinks people in St. Louis are so stupid that we can’t form our own opinions about the political nature of this broadcast, and therefore we must be protected from ourselves. Or perhaps what the station is saying is that we can’t be permitted to form our own opinions, outside of those it seeks to foster. And that doesn’t make me angry–it scares me.

Just calling the stations doesn’t seem to be enough. What I’m thinking of doing instead is driving down to where the station is located, and during the time when Nightline would normally be broadcast, standing outside the station and yelling each of the service people’s names, myself. Empty gesture? Perhaps. But better than empty complacency.

updateLetter from Senator McCain to Sinclair.

Art Books

The Art of Book, Volume One

A month or two ago, Steve at LanguageHat pointed out a New York show consisting of Art Deco book bindings by Pierre Legrain and Rose Adler. I was mesmerized at the beauty of the bindings, and the concept that book binding could actually be considered an art form.

I’m not an arts and crafts type of person. I don’t knit or sew, embroider, build things out of wood, make things out of straw or glass or sculpt out of clay or rock. I did try jewelry making in San Francisco, but unless I create a forge and build a press in my kitchen, it’s not necessarily the type of craft one can pursue in an apartment. Frankly, I have little patience for most crafts.

But the concept of bookbinding was different. I started researching it and found several books at the library on the subject, as well as resources online. The more I researched, the more fascinated I became.

For instance, pages in a book are not just stacked and glued at the end. They are usually folded into groupings called signatures and most hard cover books consist of several of these signatures sewed together, usually through the use of tapes. You can actually see these groupings if you look closely at the spine of most of your books. The term itself was from a time when a small signature was placed at the bottom of the first page of the grouping to assist in the collation of the book.

Single Sheet Tunnel Book

As for the binding itself, there are so many varieties, that I’m still researching some of the more esoteric, such as the dos a dos, and the complicated star tunnel book. The ‘book’ above is a training exercise in folding and cutting (decent folds, lousy cuts), and is a single page tunnel book. The ones most familiar to us, which is the stack of pages and a cover, usually with writing, are known as codex, a word from ancient Roman times used to describe tablets joined together on edge. This style is not to be confused with pamphlet binding or album binding, though all three look similar.

Bookbinding is now usually referred to as book art, and some universities, including Washington University here in Missouri offer Fine Arts degrees in the book arts. One of the more well known artists who specializes in bookbinding is Richard Minsky, one of the guiding lights behind the Center for Book Arts in New York. His Bill of Rights exhibition is both an inspiration and intimidation for a newly interested practitioner of this old, old art.

However, I think I will pass on incorporating live explosives in any of my work, though the use of book art as message has definite appeal.

I don’t think it’s surprising that many of those who practice book arts also like to write, which adds to the personal appeal of this beautiful craft. At this site that covers ancient Japanese bookbinding techniques, the artist, Graeme, recounts his early introduction to hand bookbinding:

One evening my father came home from work and held something out to me. It looked a little like a book. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a school geography text book, bound in green cloth and with erratic gold lettering on the spine. Perhaps it had been in a traffic accident at the mobile library.

‘Lionel at the office did it at his book binding evening class. It’s not bad is it?’
I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be kindest to take it to a qualified librarian? He could give it a lethal injection and put it out of its misery?’ No, I didn’t really say that, what I said was, ‘Mmmm, yes. Mmmm.’

It was important to sound neutral. My father could be unpredictable, and any trace of enthusiasm in my voice might encourage him to take up book binding himself. Without warning, all my school text books might suddenly be transformed into green-bound grotesques like the one in my father’s hand. I was responsible for those school books – I might still be in detention when I was thirty.

As said earlier, my libraries have several books on book arts and bookbindings and I’ve checked most of them out, including an old one from turn of the century, when bookbinding was considered a useful skill to teach in schools. Another of the books focuses on increasing your own self-sufficiency by creating your own paper and books, including excellent demonstrations of some of the equipment used by bookbinders, which I’ll get into more at a later time.

One can spend a lot of money starting this hobby, but you can also start small, with a minimum of equipment such as an awl for punching holes in paper, tapestry needles, linen thread, greyboard for covers, a bone folder, used for folding pages, and, of course paper. Luckily the art store near where I live not only has bookbinding supplies, but it usually runs a special on paper every week. I’ve spent three days there this week picking through the bins to match end papers to signature sheets to cover papers, and then on to the fabric store to get complementary thread. I never get tired of going through the papers and fabrics. Or the satisfaction of creating something unique with my hands–something that’s not wired to the Net, or plugged into the wall.

Books aren’t just thrown together. You have to have a basic idea in mind, and then you carefully find the material to create the book. I currently have five book projects in the works, including a codex, two Japanese stab binding books, and two star tunnel books, one of which is going to feature some interesting and perhaps even hauntingly familiar photographs.

I am now in the midst of finishing my first significant work, a journal bound using the Japanese stab binding technique, one of my favorites, and consisting of several sheets of handmade ‘weed’ paper printed with photos, with five sheets of bond paper in-between each to act as blank journal pages. The weed paper is a light golden green with flecks of plant material, which does an amazing job with the photographs. The cover is a rich tomato red, nicely textured on one side, and flecked with gold silk threads on the other. I’ll use the textured side as the outside cover, and the flecked side for the end papers. All I need to do is find the right combination of gold/green threads for the binding and I’ll be finished.

One thing that makes this journal stand out is the last page contains instructions on how to remove the binding, take out the white bond journal paper, use it as pulp for new homemade paper, and then put the book back together again with the homemade paper sheets in addition to the existing photographic sheets. A journal in perpetuity, unless one wants to keep the writing; a statement about the ecology of bookbinding in addition to the beauty. Every book tells a story, and it isn’t always to be found in the writing.

This book is a present for a dear friend, for his 60th birthday (there, the cat’s out of the bag). It’s not an expensive gift nor a glamorous one, and it probably won’t even be all that polished, I imagine–I am new at this. But it is a gift from my hands and my heart.

Makings for Japanese Stab binding journal

Just Shelley

File under timing

A legacy from the walk through the weeds was several tick and insect bites, and what looks like plant allergic reactions. Let me hear you folks:

Way to go Shelley! We knew you couldn’t go one year without being invited to lunch!

Ah well. Best get the ritual over and done with and now that I’ve had my annual feeding of the indigenous citizens, I should be clear the rest of the summer.