The kiss is still fully itself though no words were spoken.

And one word transforms it into something less or other—
illicit, chaste, perfunctory, conjugal, covert.
Even calling it a kiss betrays the fluster of hands
glancing the skin or gripping a shoulder, the slow
arching of neck or knee, the silent touching of tongues.

--Dana Goia--from "Words"

I was reading the collection of essays Expansive Poetry ("Essays on the New Narrative and the New Formalism"), and Gioia's entry essay "The Dilemma of the Long Poem" reminded me for the umpteenth time that I have to check out the man's work in concentrated form (I've read plenty off his poems, but all as individual poems in journals and anthologies). I wandered over to his Web site and checked out the sample poems from his most recent volume Interrogations at Noon, from which the above piece. It's very good stuff, even as understated as Gioia clearly intends. I think few contemporary poets demonstrate better than Gioia the fallacy of the Beat era dogma that one cannot write personal and empathetic verse within the structures of traditional craft (or at least that Americans cannot).

Earlier on in "Words" he writes "The stones on the path are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted." This seems to be a common theme in Interrogations at Noon, based on the four samples on Gioia's site (I'll be ordering a copy today). He transmutes the notion from the naturalistic to the pathetic in the very fetching epigram "Unsaid", which you simply must go and read in its (brief) entirety. "Unsaid"is clearly not an elegaic distich in form, but it feels a lot like one in matter, passing from somber observation to sharp evocation in three sentences. The poem is twice as long as a proper elegaic, yet it maintains an impressive amount of bite.

I did notice one thing: the capitalization of each line in "Words" and "The Summer Storm" contrasts with prosaic capitalization in "Unsaid" and "The Litany". I couldn't really sense a pattern to this usage. Personally I prefer poetic capitalization, because I still think that the line is the most important unit in poetry, and the unit upon which it succeeds or fails. Capitalizing each line emphasizes this importance, even where poets have largely shunned alignment of meter with grammar.

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Posting to Pyblosxom with WebDAV

"Pyblosxom: Posting with WebDAV" -- The industrious Eric Gaumer again

Yeah, blog posting to WebDAV occurred to me at some point when I was pulling out my hair (psych. No hair) about the horrid state of blog posting clients. But it seemed too much additional cranial load given everything else I was having to learn and hack on (been a while since I've used mod_dav). Nice to see Eric has it working, and I might head in that direction some day. First of all, though, I might consider working on a plug-in to accept posts via e-mail. Incedentally, Kingsley Idehen was also just telling me today that his blog uses SQLX over WebDAV (I'm still trying to get my head around that). Hey. writing the Web starts at home.

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Aw naw, hell naw they didn't

OkayPlayer-hating on that Benedict papam habiendam

I'm sorry. I shouldn't propagate something bound to offend the Catholic population, but damn, I was rolling. I wonder. When Delia Smith cajoled drunkenly "Come on! Let's be having you", was she really prepared for what she'd get?

On the real, though. People talk about dude as if they expect his first Papal bull to be a consecration of the Shoah or something. You have to do a lot more than slap the hands of some frisky Latino Archbishops to get Sith Lord billing, and he did at least ditch Hitler's army, no? Give the man time.

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As I look back on my life
To get where I am I had to sacrifice
You slammed my name in your magazine
This business gets hard trying to stay a queen
You're checking for me, you need to check yourself
And be someone, not someone else
Don't you know I heard you're trying to take mine
While I shine, you're living fake lives
Don't ya know I heard you tryin' to take mine
But while I shine, you lip and fake y'all styles

[All to the tune of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"]

--Queen Latifah--Paper (featuring Jaz-A-Belle & Pras Michel)

Queen Latifah: "Give me that beat, fool, it's a full-time jack move"
Marvin Gaye: "Alright. This is that next generation I was looking for. Damn my crazy-ass pops"

Just kidding. She didn't actually jack the beat: she used the tune, approximated the lyrics, and then laid it on a spare, sassy, mellow-funky beat. Overall, a pretty tight caper. Dana Owens the Queen is always entertaining (and nice to look at, with that smooth thickness).

I just caught the ridiculously over-done Paul Hunter video for this song (actually a combo of "Bananas/Paper"--clip) on VH1 Soul (what would I do without that channel?) For some reason I'd never seen it, though I used have the song on a favorite mix tape. It's surreal listening to this soothing sound set against incoherent scenes of Mad Max types battling in space, but whateva. It's just nice to hear the track again.

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One Binary XML to rue them all

"Re: [xml-dev] XML-enabled databases, XQuery APIs"
"An Evaluation of Binary XML Encoding Optimizations for Fast Stream Based XML Processing"

"Our results have shown that with the exception of trivial binary encoding strategies, most binary encoding optimizations yield performance improvements in only limited applications or situations, and/or restrict the ability for pipelined XML processing. This supports the contention in [22] that there is not one binary encoding standard that could satisfy the needs of all applications. On the contrary, however, a trivial binary encoding standard would appear to at least provide performance benefits to most applications, without any significant drawbacks other than compromising the view-source principle."

Interesting paper. I think this is what those of us who oppose binary XML understand intuitively, but it's nice to see the emergence of research along those lines.

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Python/XML community: XIST, XSV and a Wiki français

XIST 2.9
XSV 2.10-1
Wiki : Python et XML

XIST 2.9. XIST (simple, free license) is a very capable package for XML and HTML processing and generation. I covered it recently in "Writing and Reading XML with XIST". The long list of changes is given in Walter Dörwald's announcement.

XSV 2.10-1 . XML Schema Validator (XSV) is a GPLed WXS validator written in Python.I didn't see any announcement of the XSV release except on Cafe con Leche, but there it is. The Web page has a host of changes listed for this one as well.

Wiki : Python et XML. Rémi à écrit: «Je me suis permis d'ouvrir une nouvelle page sur le Wiki avec mes, maigres, connaissances acquises sur Python et XML. »

Rémi wrote: "I was allowed to open a new page on the Wiki with the modest knowledge I've picked up of Python and XML."

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Dare on "contract-first"

Contract-First XML Web Service Design is No Panacea

Dare Obasanjo has had a lot of good comments lately on the whole REST/Web Services thing, and here he argues against claims that writing the interface definition first (the "contract") is the key to getting Web services right. I first heard this thinking that WSDL-first is the magic from Tony Hong years ago at one of the old SOAP interoperability derbies. I'd figured this was actually written into the WS stone tablets somewhere.

Dare dwells on the mismatch between WXS schema types and programming platforms, and gets at topics I discussed in "XML class warfare" and "The worry about program wizards" [both Application Development Trends], as well as other outlets. I think the mismatch alone isn't a problem: all modeling involves approximation. The problem is that people want it all to work without leaving the safety of their wizards, and I'm sorry for managers who don't like the smell of engineers, but all modeling also requires expertise. Wizards save some time cosmetically in the cheapest phase of development (implementation) just to charge very usurious interest on that savings throughout all the other phases. Customer problems such as Dare mentions are classic surfeit of the poisoned Kool-Aid, dating back to the 4GL heyday.

Model-first is still the key to solving such problems, I think. WXS and WSDL are too low-level to qualify. The model uses a specification language that expresses the solution in terms that are both formal, and close to the conception of the problem space. That takes collaboration between the subject matter experts and modeling experts during analysis and high-level design. It then requires further effort from a modeling expert to define the mappings between the model and artifacts of th eprogramming environment such as IDL, WSDL and WXS during the low-level design, which flows into implementation. No need for waterfalls or analysis-paralysis: these can all be rapid, iterative steps. But you can't just make a magic leap to low-level problem solving and expect not to pay the penalty in maintenance. This is the oldest advice in software engineering. It's amazing how few pay it the slightest attention.

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Good Olds byes

Was in the Bay Area Thursday and Friday to do some work at Sun's Menlo Park campus, and rented a car for the flings from SFO to hotel to Sun. Wound up in an Oldsmobile Alero from Hertz car rentals. I'm not sure whether I've ever driven an Olds before, but this one is palpable evidence for why that whole division got the sack. The car is crap. The last car to come off an Oldsmobile plant in 2004 was an Alero. They should have just closed with a washing machine instead.

It feels bigger on the outside than my 1994 Hobda Civic (now that's a great car), but it's way smaller on the inside. I felt like I was being fitted for my funerary pine box, or something. It handles like a blimp, and the convenience controls such as the central locking seem to have a mind of their own. It was the first rental car I remember getting with more than 10,000 miles (it had 14,000) and my guess is that Hertz wasn't able to off-load it to any gullible dealer.

On the other end of the spectrum, when it's time to finally give up the Civic (maybe this year; we'll see), I think I'm fiending for that Toyota Prius. My Dad has one. It's a great car. Knocks it out of the park in gas mileage and emissions, has a sterling reputation for quality, and drives smoothly as sweet cream butter (much like my Civic does even now).

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Ils reviendront, ces Dieux que tu pleures toujours!
Le temps va ramener l'ordre des anciens jours;
La terre a tressailli d'un souffle prophétique...

Cependant la sibylle au visage latin
Est endormie encor sous l'arc de Constantin
--Et rien n'a dérangé le sévère portique.

--Gérard de Nerval--from "Delfica"

My translation to English verse:

They shall return, these Gods you always mourn!
Time shall to ancient days order return;
The ground has shuddered with prophetic blow...

Meanwhile the Sibyl with the Latin face
Under Constantine's arc still sleeps in place
And naught has molested the strict portico.

My first foray into French poetry for plaisir (as opposed to slogging through Hugo in fifth form French class) was to get properly at the Symbolistes, revered by my hero Ezra Pound. I started, as all Symboliste studies do, with Nerval. But rather than seeing him as a bump on the road to the greats--Verlaine, Mallarmé, Rimbaud--I was captured by his lunatic vision.

"Delfica" has always been a favorite poem in mine, and it has come to my mind often during this papal interregnum. The heavy marble of Catholic order doesn't exactly recall Delfica's arboreal pagan shrine (from the earlier part of the poem I didn't quote), but in the thread of latin-tongued prophecy, Constantine triumphant, and severity of mission I do find resonance with the somber, perfunctionary pageant constantly being reported from The Vatican.

Not that it stirs any sort of devotion in me. My Catholicism is even more dormant than Nerval's Sibyl. If anything, I read Delfica's two prophetic final stanzas as a window beyond the apotheosis of some odd bureaucrat cardinal, looking beyond the evident crumbling of empire-church. Even in the case (middling likelihood) that the new Pope is fellow Igbo Cardinal Arinze, I'd probably be more stirred by sense of nationalism than religion (and nationalism is very weak in me).

What paganism gets right about religion over Christianity is mystery of the local. No. Protenstantism didn't get this right either. They claimed to be rebelling against the tyranny of Catholic dogma, but they are still chained to the Bible. Paganism derives power not from some dusty logos, but rather from the magic of particular time and place. I think that local mystery is enhanced rather than abated by global communication, and I can imagine a near end to all these crepuscular, ecclesiastical institutions that now seem to dominate our lives.

I see the church as Petronius's Cumaean Sibyl (famous from Eliot's quotation in The Wasteland). She says "apothanein thelo". Yes thelo. Every immortal Sibyl dies, succeeded by symbol, which becomes Sibyl. Et rien n'a dérangé le sévère portique.

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