never let a tragedy go unexploited, blue winter wallpaper, treating literature as data

Time really got away from me today. I’ve been trying to work and keep up with the Sandy news. The storm seems to have created some data bottle necks for me for stuff I get from the northeast. It hasn’t stopped, it has just been slow. That’s not a complaint, just an observation and concern. I’ve read the NYSE floor has been closed for the first time since 1888. That again is nothing to panic about since so much of trading is done digitally anyway. Though this report says it is costing traders money, Sandy’s Damage So Far: More than $20 Billion

The storm has already disrupted the U.S. economy in dramatic ways, paralyzing mass transportation on the East Coast and leaving millions without power. The Associated Press reports that more than 13,500 flights have been canceled already, and New York’s three major airports remain shut down.

The storm has also brought to life a potential economic nightmare by flooding the New York City Subway system. In what MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota called the worst disaster in Subway’s 108-year history, seven tunnels beneath the East River were inundated. Depending on how long it takes to restore the system, that damage could cause billions of dollars in additional losses.

Time has some real photos of Sandy’s effects, In the Eye of the Storm: Capturing Sandy’s Wrath

Never let a tragedy go unexploited: Romney playing campaign videos at ‘storm relief events’. As Josh Marshall notes any reporter who is repeating the Romney campaign saying they have shut down to help with emergency relief is turning a blind eye to the reality. Conservative Republican Strategist Defends Romney’s Plan To Dismantle FEMA. if you grew up in the USA you grew up with the message that conservatives are against big gov’mint. That has always been a lie. Conservatives and government are joined at the waist and always have been – that was the reason that K-Street exists. What conservatives are against is government that works, government that does any good. As one pundit has already noted, he should be shocked that Sandy is already being exploited, but he is not. This is just one of the ways, 7 Fake Hurricane Sandy Photos You’re Sharing on Social Media

a blue winter day without you wallpaper

Literature is not Data: Against Digital Humanities by Stephen Marche

But there is a deeper problem with the digital humanities in general, a fundamental assumption that runs through all aspects of the methodology and which has not been adequately assessed in its nascent theory. Literature cannot meaningfully be treated as data. The problem is essential rather than superficial: literature is not data. Literature is the opposite of data.

Data precedes written literature. The first Sumerian examples of written language are recordings of beer and barley orders. But The Epic of Gilgamesh, the first story, is the story of “the man who saw the deep,” a hero who has contact with the ineffable. The very first work of surviving literature is on the subject of what can’t be processed as information, what transcends data.

The first problem is that literature is terminally incomplete. You can record every baseball statistic. You can record every trade over the course of a year. You can work out the trillions of permutations and combinations available on a chessboard. You can even establish a complete database for all of the legislation and case law in the world. But you cannot know even most of literature, even English literature. Huge swaths of the tradition are absent or in ruins. Among the first Anglo-Saxon poems, from the eighth century, is “The Ruin,” a powerful testament to the brokenness inherent in civilization. Its opening lines:

The masonry is wondrous; fates broke it
The courtyard pavements were smashed; the work of giants is decaying.

The poem comes from the Exeter Book of Anglo-Saxon poetry and several key lines have been destroyed by damp. So, one of the original poems in the English lyric tradition contains, in its very physical existence, a comment on the fragility of the codex as a mode of transmission. The original poem about a ruin is itself a ruin.

Literature is haunted by such oblivion, by incipient decay. The information we have about the past is, in almost every case, fragmentary. There are always masses of data which are simply missing or which cannot be untangled.

If you can get by some of Marche’s attrition errors – this caused this and definitely had this effect – there is a lot worth pondering.