(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Some notes on blogging

I've been a casual blogger for going on three years now, and I feel like I've learned a few things. For example: the people you want to read your posts will read them regardless of length; however, if you only post text, you limit the medium of blogging.

I've p-lurked around a few of the Parasites blogs (a more or less full list can be seen here: http://nanotexts.blogspot.com/), and I'm liking what I'm seeing. Ideas are flowing. There isn't quite as much feedback as any of us would like, but I think that's a continual problem in a class like this. But I wanted to share something with the parasites.

Watch this video:

Blogging as a way of disseminating information opens possibilities because you are not limited in the way that a hard copy paper is limited, which is one reason I really enjoy that Tony utilizes it as a main format for writing.

Hyperlinks, embedded videos and pictures all offer the possibility of a greater, and here I mean that in the sense of greater as larger, experience for the reader. I'm not saying it's necessary to include these things, but I think it would be foolish to neglect them as available tools to work with. You wouldn't use the heel of your shoe on a nail if you have a hammer within reach, would you?

So post, play and explore the possibilities of this medium known as blogging. Especially if you're feeling stuck on what to say next.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday is just not my day.

Had to stay through my entire class, so i missed the 2:13 bus. Running late for my youth 4 REAL mentoring where, oh, i'm supposed to lead the opening activity. Nobody is answering their phones. Homework. Crew. Everyone else seems to be having bad days.
AAAAHHHH!!! *takes a few deep breathes* okay, i'm doing great. Everything will be fine.
Good news though, i found out i got an RA interview. Assuming i can find the time to fit that in.

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/picture.

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

Asks a question: a poem

What becomes of the blog untouched?
The final update, months if not years old,
it corrodes in the neverending
cached and saved on the servers of our Search overlords
zombies still standing
perhaps to come back and bite us when we least expect it
content builds character
context puts us in our place
But relevance forever holds them irrational
What becomes of the blog untouched?

Monday, January 25, 2010

So I'm reading this book, The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr.

And it's made me think.

Love is a parasite.

That interrupts your thoughts.

"'Oh, Chiara - my Chiara!' he cried out in the most painful grief. " Abraham is infected as he debates with Madame Benzon, and his love cries out, interrupting his statements against the frailty of the woman's heart.

We find examples of this same kind of interruption as we explore more of the happenings surrounding Julia and Princess Hedwiga, even our dear Tomcat Murr as each is interrupted by thoughts of Kreisler or Herr Hector or Kitty respectively.

Like the earworms I discussed in an earlier blog post, this love wriggles its way in and replicates itself, replacing what thoughts you would otherwise have. It is virus. It is an infective agent.

In parallels to the blood parasite of Shivers, it overrides rational thought.

So I now wonder, what is the parasite we're dealing with in Tomcat Murr? Why would Tony choose this as a text? Merely to bring up Toxoplasma Gondii seems a great deal of work for a rather small reference.

I can't shake the thought that there is a parasite hiding in this text that I'm missing. Something bigger among the ideas and tropes presented. Perhaps I'm infected with it already.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Tale of Two Gauntlets

This is an instructional blog post dedicated to Redspool. May your needles never bend or break.

I take no credit for this design, it's a simplified version of a project I read about in the book Knitting With Balls by Michael del Vecchio.


  • a set of size 8 (7? I can never remember, I've had them so long) double pointed needles (so 4 of them)
  • yarn in your choice of color (I realize I could be more technical here, but as a poor college student only now beginning to explore the world of handspun and local yarn, I've been limited to your basic, mass produced, acrylic or acrylic blends which usually have about the same worsted weight no matter which kind you buy.) For a pair of ittens, you need probably about one skein or an ounce each. Again, I've never really paid attention to that part.
  • a piece of scrap yarn in a different color from your project at least 5 inches long
  • Yarn needle (optional though recommended)


Cast on 40 stitches. Using the Long-Tail method.

Distribute the stitches amongst your needles so you have 10 on one needle, 20 on the next needle and 10 on the last needle.

You will be knitting on the round. To start, circle the last stitch, where the yarn connects needles to ball, to the first stitch you cast on. Knit 1. Purl 1. Repeat. Continue with this basic rib all the way around until the itten is about an inch long. This will be the cuff.

From here, knit through the back loop in a basic stockinette stitch until the itten measures 4.5 to 5 inches long depending on your preference.

When your itten is long enough, it's time to set up for the thumb hole.

On the next row, knit two stitches, then switch to the scrap yarn and knit for 7 stitches.

Swap the seven stitches back onto the original needle and continue knitting in the stockinette for 9 more rows or until the project measures about 5.5 to 6 inches long.

Cast off.

Rather than cutting the string here, what I usually do is cut it with 3-4 yards to spare (again, I've done this so many times I just measure out a few arm lengths and pray that it's enough) to use as the thumb. Then I weave the spare yarn through the project until it come out the rightside near where the thumb hole is supposed to be.

Remove the scrap yarn so you have 14 loose loops.

Pick up these 14 loose loops with two of your empty needles.

Knit 6 then switch to your fourth needle. Knit 1. You should be at the end of one of the rows of 7.

Using your spare needle, pick up 2 stitches out of the finished itten. Knit these.

You should have reached the next row of 7. Knit 3 then switch to your open needle. Knit 4 and when you reach the end of the row of 7, pick up 2 more stitches out of the fabric.

You should have 18 working stitches. Knit in the round like you did for the rest of the project for 9 rows (which is long enough for the thumb to be as long as the palm).

Cast off. Here you can either tie off or as I like to do, use whatever extra yarn there is and weave it back into the itten before tying it off.


You've finished one half of a pair of ittens, gauntlets, fingerless mittens, whatever the hell you feel like calling them. Don't succumb to second sock syndrome, finish the second one and you'll be golden.

When making the thumb hole of the second one, I wait until I'm at the end of the row (so the needle with 10 stitches that comes after the needle with 20) before I make the thumb hole. While this isn't necessary as I've described the project, if you do any kind of cable work or fair-isle designs, this step keeps you from making two left or two right ittens.

One thing I like to do with this as a variation is to add some cables at the beginning and end of the itten. So after knitting for stockinette for 5 rows, the next time I reach the 20 stitch needle, I knit 1 and make a leftward cable of 8 stitches (so 4 over 4) knit 2 then a rightward cable of 8. Knit 1 to finish off the needle, then continue in stockinette until 2 rows after the thumb hole. Then repeat the cable process (only do the rightward before leftward) so you end with a kind of x shape pattern on the finished project.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Earworms, soundbytes and other afflictions of the mind

If you're familiar at all with Doctor Who, you did indeed hear that in your head in the voice of David Tennant's tenth incarnation of the Doctor.

The power of suggestion in these sorts of situations is strong. Words and images are agents of infection.

William S. Burroughs says it very succinctly here: Word is virus.

And the virus is the infection of thoughts and ideas.

It's not quite so sinister as

but, what if I were to post something like this:

I'm guessing you saw the title and had some sort of visceral reaction of "No way in hell am I clicking on that." Whether you watched the video or not, you've just been Rickroll'd. The power of suggestion.

I started exploring this idea earlier in a plurk: http://www.plurk.com/p/3cle13 and you can see from Betzi's reaction exactly how powerful that kind of suggestion is.

All it take is the small seed, the idea of an idea to make you think.

Now, you ask, how does this relate to parasites? That is, after all, why I'm blogging about this.

It has to do with two trees and two serpents.

The first pair shared a parasitic relationship. Nidhogg lays at the base of the world-tree Yggdrasil, gnawing at the roots, sucking the life out of the very world he inhabits.

The second serpent roosted not at the base of the tree, but dwelt amongst the branches. Revelations called him Satan and the Devil, but so far as I know, no name was officially given in the stories of Genesis. He -- and I use this pronoun loosely -- offered us the fruit of the tree of knowledge. He infected us with ideas.

And though these two serpents are reflections of each other from very different mythologies, it is their parallels that lead me to believe that within certain contexts, they can represent much the same thing. Namely, the serpent-parasite as knowledge. If they can be taken as the same serpent, one attains knowledge directly from the tree. He is parasite to the tree, but the tree reacts. He becomes infected with this pathogen of words. And as is his imperative then, he spreads it, furthering the contamination of the tree itself.

And perhaps the tree as a source of ideas by "God" is meant as a warning, which is why it would be made forbidden, which is why as the world tree it would encompass anything and everything.

We live such internal lives, creating false realities of the mind, much like this blog or plurk. Each timeline could then represent the internal reality of the plurker, specifically the internal reality as formed by their ideas.

This brings me, finally, to earworms.

Earworm: a song that gets stuck in your head. The earworm wriggles its way in and aggressively holds its place against any and all challenges. They feed on our thoughts, replacing them with lyrics and melodies. And sometimes the mere suggestion of a song is enough to implant the worm in your mind.

They are parasites upon the parasite of our thoughts.

Earworms are contagious. But as Betzi said in the above linked plurk, "It does beg the question, though: why share an earworm?"

Perhaps it is not the decision of the host, those afflicted by the song in question, but the earworm itself, wishing to replicate itself as ideas are wont to do. All I had to do was post a link to the Rick Astley song, make you see the title and it was enough to put the entire song in your head (assuming of course that you know the song or internet meme). Music is never a "mere suggestion" after all, if you know the tune it is almost instantly playing in your head.

Earworms are our modern snakes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Avatar or an exploration into the word gratuitous

I realize that I say this at risk to my own well-being, but I did not like Avatar. This is not to say that I did not enjoy myself or find it entertaining, but it did not live up to its hype and as a work of cinema I found it overly epic.

To be honest,  parts were pretty damn good. I will admit that. I'm impressed that they spared no expense to get what they got right, right. The Na'vi language was an impressive linguistic endeavor (I await the day people start speaking it like they do Klingon/Elvish). The graphics and animation were by far some of the best I've seen  in quite a while, but…

watching it in 3-D didn't really add anything to it. Sure there was depth, and?  I cannot justify why any movie would ever be 3-D. I think I'll wait until someone comes out with a full on hologram image movie before I spend the extra money on this again.  Do something new, something interesting with the medium or spare me your special effects and keep it flat. If it's good, it should speak for itself.

A plurker, angst4less made some pretty good points here: http://www.plurk.com/p/3bae0d

This was a movie made to appeal to the masses and to get their attention with its message. It did this, the whole environmental thing was played off far better than the cutesy Disney-Pixar Wall-E, but would it kill them for some subtlety? Ooh, wow, big bad militant corporate machine is gonna kill the beautiful world. Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but give me a twist, give me a story, give me something unexpected! I'm spoiled from my literary endeavors, I need depth.

What bugged me the most though was that the entire movie was such an etically spawned creation of the xenoist humans that made it. Yes, it's a fucking movie, get over it, Danny, but if you're going to realistically depict an alien culture and ecology, stick with that. Why do the sentient species have to be so goddamned human?

To explain my displeasure, if you paid attention to the biology of the fauna on Pandora you would likely have noticed a few common traits amongst the various species shown that do not translate over to the Na'vi. Most noticeably it can be seen in the eyes and legs. Almost all the creatures encountered are hexopodal and had four eyes. The fact that they all have some kind of tentacles/antennae  carrying a  direct cerebral interface of nerves suggest a common ancestor. So why do the Na'vi look so human?

To quote a Wikipedia article on the creatures of the movie:
"In addition to feline features, the species was redesigned to look more like humans so audiences could relate to them better. Cameron said that Avatar was more "science fantasy" than true science fiction and said that he would explain in the novel for the film why in the fictional universe the Na'vi look like humans."

Someone please get me this book adaptation, because it bugged the crap out of me. The way I see it, they're watering it down for their mainstream audience that can't stomach something being different and original and, oh yeah, maybe a little realistic in their fantastic little playworlds.

Still, I did get something interesting out of this movie, and that was the idea of the moon essentially being a giant neural network. It was a superorganism of the most badass kind. Based on the movie, it seems Avatar's creators claim the planet is not conscious, that as the character Neytiri said at the Tree of Souls, Eywa does not choose sides.

This may be well and true, but as an interconnected ecosystem, the natural response would be to fight back against intruding systems. It's the immune system of white blood cells and lymphocytes, etc on a macro scale. Stir the ant's colony or the hornet's nest and they will swarm you. 

Feed them with pretty imagery and empty plots and they'll remain the docile creatures they are, shelling out money for more. Insert some culturally and universally exhausted "message" that people might respond to because they've been conditioned to agree with it otherwise they're horrible human beings, and you're golden.

Okay, now that the ranting is out of my system, let's take another look at this.

Humanity are the bad guys in this movie. Ooh, now that's different. Usually in alien movies, it is the outsiders with the giant machine coming in to wipe out the technologically inferior human race. But it's a harsh truth on our Western culture that we are the destroyers. If history has proven anything, it's that we live up to this capitalist image. We are the invading conquerors.

And so the only enemy we face is ourselves. If nothing else then, this movie puts up a fun house mirror showing humanity at our worst. But the question is, do we see this? Like the animalistic vampire, are we incapable of the introspection necessary to overcome our downfall? Are we, as a race, as a species, blind to our own capabilities?

For a movie like this to come out, clearly not on the individual levels, but what of the superorganism of humanity? Governments and societies and cultures. I think enlightened, or gaining that enlightenment. We know something is wrong and needs to be fixed, but as I'm learning in my health class, fixing the problem is only a temporary step. For there to be long term, sustainable change, you must change attitudes and all the small actions that led up to the problem in the first place.

Taken on the macro scale of a civilization, it means we must start with ourselves. It is why I laugh at all this news about Peace Talks and Environmental Summits. They won't work because they do not address the issue at hand. And we see this in Avatar. Diplomacy fails and the two clashing cultures resort to war.

So war is the only answer we have. Or rather, the only one we choose consistently. So no, we are ignorant beasts no better or worse than the savages we claim to lord above. But at least we know what we are.