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{Saturday, August 02, 2003}

interficial intelligence

Greg Ritter - Why RSS is (or should be) as irrelevant as HTML
"Phones, electricity, cars, CD players -- these are mature technologies that have abstracted their guts behind common, usable interfaces. Why should we expect less from syndication/aggregation software? Or software in general?"

Gene J. Koprowski - Socially Intelligent Software: Agents Go Mainstream
"Beyond consumer applications, agents are even routing and scheduling warplanes on aircraft carriers ..."

Paul Newman: Interview - 18th December 1998
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Paul Newman: "Viagra for the brain."

Sam Vaknin - A Brief History of the Book
"In many respects, audio books are much more revolutionary than e-books. They do not employ visual symbols (all other types of books do), or a straightforward scrolling method. E-books, on the other hand, are a throwback to the days of the papyrus. The text cannot be opened at any point in a series of connected pages and the content is carried only on one side of the (electronic) "leaf". Parchment, by comparison, was multi-paged, easily browseable, and printed on both sides of the leaf. It led to a revolution in publishing ...
At the beginning of the 19th century, innovative lithographic and offset processes allowed publishers in the West to add illustrations (at first, black and white and then in color), tables, detailed maps and anatomical charts, and other graphics to their books. Battles fought between publishers-librarians over formats (book sizes) and fonts (Gothic versus Roman) were ultimately decided by consumer preferences. Multimedia was born."

RAND: The Information Age and the Printing Press: Looking Backward to See Ahead
"Eisenstein argues that, while the medieval Catholic church was a prolific user of printing, the changes it wrought were outside the control of the church. The proliferation of different biblical texts eventually cast into doubt the existence of a single infallible text. This led to alternative interpretations such as Luther's, but the ability to publicize those interpretations by the same means of printing kept them from being crushed as were earlier heresies.
As for the Renaissance ...
Eisenstein points out that the Italian renaissance differed little from earlier ones until the printing press "fixed" it and helped spread it north of the Alps. "Typographical fixity" refers to the preservative power of print. Ideas recorded in only a few manuscripts were always in danger of being forgotten or lost by the intellectual community. Put those same ideas in hundreds of identical printed copies, and they were much more likely to spread and endure."
James A. Dewar

Treasured Koran goes digital
The work is a masterpiece of Islamic calligraphy
The British Library in London has made a digital version of a 700-year-old copy of the Koran, so that visitors can browse it without damaging the original.

"What is the Future of the Book in the Digital Era?" [also here]
"The book remains one of the most robust, useful, and universal technologies ever invented. It comprises a bundle of technologies -- alphabets, type, codices, indices, paper, printing and distribution tools. The last three technologies are running up against the resource limitations of the planet: even if an effective organic substitute for paper could be found, arable land will never get cheaper. The cost of imprinting ink on paper (compared to the cost of displaying electrons on a screen) and the increasing costs of using petroleum and other energy sources to move bundles of paper around the world are the other limiting factors. But the user interface of a book is unlikely to be surpassed in an affordable form for decades and probably centuries." Howard Rheingold

Cultures of the Book: Bibliography
James J. O'Donnell writes: "I am fond of B. Messick, The Calligraphic State, on modern Yemen, which survived as a handwriting-based culture into contemporary times ..."

Diamond Sutra: The World's Earliest Dated Printed Book
Jin gang ban ruo bo luo mi jing. (The Sanskrit Vajracchedika-Prajnaparamitasutra, translated into Chinese by Kumarajiva.) The Diamond Sutra of AD 868.
Although not the earliest example of blockprinting, it is the earliest which bears an actual date. The colophon, at the inner end, reads: 'Reverently [caused to be] made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong [i.e. 11th May, AD 868]'.

Johannes Gutenberg and the Printing Press - Mary Bellis
"The earliest dated printed book known is the "Diamond Sutra", printed in China in 868 CE. However, it is suspected that book printing may have occurred long before this date. In 1041, movable clay type was first invented in China. Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press with replaceable wooden or metal letters ..."

Update - World's First Metal Type Born in Korea
"In Koryo, a state which existed in 918 - 1392 AD, the world's first metal type was invented and put into use in printing already in the late 12th century.
Based on the highly developed wood-block printing technique which had already been in practice since the time of the Three Kingdoms in the 7th century ..."

Adam Brate - Technomanifestos: Print
"Until writing was invented, man lived in acoustic space: boundless, directionless, horizonless, in the dark of the mind, in the world of emotion, by primordial intuition, by terror. Speech is a social chart of this bog.

The goose quill put an end to talk. It abolished mystery; it gave architecture and towns; it brought roads and armies, bureaucracy. It was the basic metaphor with which the cycle of civilization began, the step from the dark into the light of the mind. The hand that filled the parchment page built a city.

Whence did the wond'rous mystic art arise,
Of painting SPEECH, and speaking to the eyes?
That we by tracing magic lines are taught,
How to embody, and to colour THOUGHT?

Printing, a ditto device, confirmed and extended the new visual stress. It provided the first uniformly repeatable "commodity," the first assembly line - mass production.

It created the portable book, which men could read in privacy and in isolation from others. Man could now inspire - and conspire.

Like easel painting, the printed book added much to the new cult of individualism. The private, fixed point of view became possible and literacy conferred the power of detachment, non-involvement."
The Medium is the Massage - Marshall McLuhan
(Penguin, 1967, pages 48-50)

Johann Gutenberg - Wikipedia
Gutenberg's methods were certainly efficient, leading to a boom in the production of texts ...

The Gutenberg Bible - Printing - Printing, a ditto device
"In the fifteenth century Johannes Gutenberg invented a way of producing movable metal type, as well as printer's ink and the printing press, leading the way to mass production of books. The Gutenberg Bible, printed in Germany in around 1455, was the first substantial book to be printed using moveable type."

The Development of Print Technology
"The printing press is not a single invention. It is the aggregation in one place, of technologies known for centuries before Gutenberg."

The Printing Press - Re: wine press
"Gutenberg's key invention was the moveable metal type. The press had been in existence for centuries in the form of the common screw press, which was used to press oil from olives, wine from grapes, or water from newly made paper. Printer's ink was also a completely new development. Unlike ink applied with the pen, printing ink had to be highly viscous, like a thick paste. Gutenberg's ink formula, oil paint with a high copper and lead content, is still black and glossy after 500 years.
The type used to print the Gutenberg Bibles is called B42. B standing for Bible and 42 for the number of lines of print per page the type allowed."

Illuminating the Renaissance
From 1400 to 1550 European manuscript painting enjoyed a glorious final flowering � particularly in Flanders (part of modern-day Belgium and Northern France).

Resisting the Psychotic Library - Grant Williams (pdf)
"In an effort to assemble a collection of international reputation, Oxford's famous library, the Bodleian, aggressively sought benefactors and employed book agents to make purchases at European book fairs. Moreover, upon the counsel of its librarian, Thomas James, the Bodleian arranged in 1610 with the Stationers Company - the London publishing guild - an agreement that would grant to the collection a copy of every work printed by the guild's members. Not only did the presses produce more and more English books for a burgeoning home market, but stationers also gravitated to novel topics out of a conviction that any publication�s success would erode the demand for similar books.
Yet the library could not accommodate market forces and still maintain a bibliocentric orientation based on the pressmark system. Since the late medieval period, the development of pressmark systems had reinforced the fixed space of the book. Certain disciplinary subjects were kept in certain cupboards or presses; a pressmark on the volume or the bookpress itself would indicate the specific bookcase, the specific shelf, and the book's exact position on the shelf. The system presupposes that the order of knowledge is immovable: inserting a new volume into the order would mean modifying many other assigned press numbers at best or at worst modifying the existing space of knowledge. To overcome the impasse between accommodating market forces and maintaining the pressmark system, Thomas James reoriented the conceptual matrix of the library. The Bodleian's books were for shelving purposes arranged according to three sizes - folio, quarto, and octavo, with subdivisions by the four faculties. Whereas folios, chained to the shelves, had specific pressmarks, the quartos and octavos were stored differently. To make room for an ever-growing collection, James dispensed with designated shelf positions and arranged each volume under the author's initial and a consecutive number. The librarian could assimilate a new acquisition whenever he wanted, without needing to change any pressmarks. All he had to do was add the next number to the appropriate open series. This method, known as relative location, forms the basis of all modern shelving arrangements. By embracing relative location, the early modern library inscribed within its limits the possibility of infinite expansion. Consequently, James's preface to the 1620 catalogue advised librarians to employ subject divisions in the catalogue, not the library itself. It seemed that the Bodleian's arrangement would always resist a totalizing classification, because the collection on the shelves was subordinated to a numerical series arbitrarily related to any epistemological disposition. The symbolic order of the early modern library was no longer structured around the fixed place of the book, or the fixed nature of authority."
Grant Williams notes:
"An early example of the principle of fixed location may be found in Cassiodorus Senator, An Introduction to Divine and Human Readings, translated and edited by Leslie Webber Jones (New York: Columbia University Press, 1946, page 93) who refers the reader to a Greek commentary in the eighth bookcase, as if the library's arrangement will never change."

Bruce Jones - On Manuscripts
"For all their beauty ... the manuscripts of the monasteries did little to affect life in Europe. Primarily this comes about as a consequence of the inaccessibility of the monastic libraries. Instead of books being openly available as they are today, manuscript books were mostly locked up in monasteries strewn across Europe. Given the amount of time and energy and financial resources that went into their production, books were far too valuable to make available to the general public. So there was no way to use them for scholarship, even the few secular texts that may have been available.
This problem was compounded by the lack of a uniform cataloging system in the monasteries. So, even if one did have access to the library of a monastery, there was no way of knowing what was in the collection, or where it might be located."

John Banville reviews 'Adam's Navel' - NYTimes - Sunday 27 July, 2003
Sims describes ''Adam's Navel'' as ''something of a hybrid,'' which is something of an understatement. (Entering into the Simsian spirit, I cannot forbear to note the source of the word ''hybrid'' according to Chambers Dictionary: ''L. hybrida, offspring of a tame sow and wild boar.'')

Time Wounds All Heels: [Isadora] Duncan, Ballet, and Bataille - Joanne Pearson

"When Plato classified the human race as featherless bipeds - demonstrating why he is not remembered as a taxonomist - Diogenes supposedly presented a plucked cock to the Academy with the remark, 'This is Plato's man.' The academicians were forced to extend Plato's definition to include a qualifying clause: 'with broad flat nails.'"
Michael Sims - Adam's Navel (Penguin, 2003, page 297)

As We May Communicate - Carson Reynolds
"The computer interface's capacity for polymorphism is one of its strongest advantages, and yet, interfaces have been modeled upon static objects ... "

user mythology - quinn norton [via matt webb]
"people are continual myth creators. their interface with technology is no exception - the body of use mythos is incredibly rich and voluminous. it is an organic knowledge base, shifting and changing continually. it is highly gestaltic, and little can be gleaned from this knowledge base through reductionism and careful measurement. as a result the formal sciences which have influenced the field of user interface neglect this body of information."

A Saint for the Internet?
"The saint who wrote the well-known 'Etymologies' (a type of dictionary), gave his work a structure akin to that of the database. He began a system of thought known today as "flashes;" it is very modern, notwithstanding the fact it was discovered in the sixth century. Saint Isidore accomplished his work with great coherence: it is complete and its features are complementary in themselves."

Alex Mauron - Is the Genome the Secular Equivalent of the Soul?
"The human genome has been labeled the "Book of Man" and its decoding likened to the search for the Holy Grail ...
If one sees nature as structured by sharp borders between species, by clear-cut differences between specific genomes (each genome being the eidos that cleanly defines the species), then it is easy to see how mixing genes from different species would be considered a suspicious and unclean hybridization. The very existence of recombinant DNA technology thus provides a kind of cognitive dissonance around taxonomic borders that could and has resulted in moral disapproval."

Gutenberg machine creates books - Wed, 4 December, 1455
Modified wine press stamps words onto paper, threatening employment of monks and scribes in document production. But may be work of Devil, experts warn

A Taxonomy of User-Interface Metaphors
"In particular, orientational metaphors tend to be used for quantification and navigation."

The Centre for the History of the Book
Gif of a Book Wheel

WWW and the Demise of the Clockwork Universe
"The traditional "clockwork universe" view of the world which was advanced by Newton and Laplace was based on the execution of a few simple laws (e.g., F=MA), starting from complex initial conditions (the position and momenta of all particles in the universe). Although physicists gave up on this idea at the time of Heisenberg, its analog has carried forth in many other areas of thought. This "divide and conquer" mindset has lead us to [create] 'divide and conquer organizations' in economics, other sciences, education, medicine, and information technologies, as well as other places.
Computer science has been subject to this kind of thinking, which has resulted in many different levels of reductionistic thinking: hierarchical decomposition, structured analysis and programming, various systems engineering approaches, etc. These approaches work in some domains which can be characterized as having complex initial conditions (expressed as requirements), executed with simple laws (the variants of structured programming). We "normalize" our data by structuring it into densely packed rectangular tables; data which doesn't fit these rigid conditions are considered "unnormalized", which is somewhat akin to the pope calling all people not in his church "non-catholics." Indeed, the prefix "hier" means sacred or holy. Hierarchical decomposition of systems into functional components has become the sacred quest of today's computer systems architects.
The model presented in this paper presents a radically different view of the information system. It begins with simple initial conditions: as simple as possible, and then allows the system to evolve as a complex adaptive system which is adapting to its environment."

History of the Book
Plow me with a point of bone

Built for Use
"It is about time that designers of digital experiences thought hard about why a dog has so much more interface intelligence than any computer."
Nicholas Negroponte

Finnegans Wake 1.1.18
(Stoop) if you are abcedminded, to this claybook, what curios of signs (please stoop), in this allaphbed! Can you rede (since We and Thou had it out already) its world?

In love with what we see before us - Melody Herr
"Alice wasn't the only adventurer to discover the doorway to Wonderland. Aztec priests and Greek philosophers, Renaissance painters and Shakespearean heroes, vaudeville magicians and modern astronomers have also gone through the looking glass."

New research aims to catch liars in the act
"In the quest to build a better lie detector, scientists are seeking to go beyond the body's indirect signals to the very seat of deceit: the brain."

Bioethics & The Brain
"Brain fingerprinting may seem similar to a polygraph (usually called a lie detector), but it differs in important ways. A polygraph measures physiologic responses such as heart rate, sweating, breathing, and other processes that are only indirectly related to brain function. Brain fingerprinting's information comes directly from brain function. It and other related tests do not measure truthfulness, but seek to determine whether the subject has a particular memory."

The Unreliable Superego - Adam Phillips' revealing new edition of Freud - Adam�Kirsch
"... Freud's approach to jokes, slips of the tongue, dreams, and memories is that of a literary critic. He contends that any "text," from a nightmare to a six-digit number chosen at random, has an "author" in the unconscious; and like a good "close reader," he is always asking why something is expressed in just these words and images. In fact, one might say that Freud's innovation was to treat all of human consciousness as a book, where nothing is written down without a reason."

Worldview Commitments
Freud was supremely confident of his ability to discern secrets hidden even from a patient's own consciousness: "no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore."

Snape for Dummies
"The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure. Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader."
J.K.Rowling - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Bloomsbury, 2003, pages 468-9)

Intentional Systems - Daniel C. Dennett
"Let the introspector amass as much inside information as you please; he must then communicate it to us, and what are we to make of his communications?"

Intel Researchers Teach Computers to 'read lips'...
"Today's speech recognition algorithms work well when background noise is eliminated or a well-tuned headset is used, but their accuracy rapidly degrades when applications have to cope with noisy environments, such as public places. Combined with face detection algorithms from Intel's OpenCV computer vision library, Audio Visual Speech Recognition (AVSR) software enables computers to detect a speaker's face and track their mouth movements."

Hidden in every brain there lurks a poet - Brad Evenson
"The brain's desire to bend language is universal, regardless of what form that language takes. Being creative -- whether with paints, a violin, written metaphors or ASL poetry -- is somehow central to our mental equilibrium."

Chomsky's (mis)understanding of human thinking - Yehouda Harpaz
"I gazed at the emperor's trunk, which was packed full of doublet & hose."

The Emperor's New Clothes
"It never seems to have even occurred to Freud that an individual man's 'unconscious mind' could be anything but a 'somewhat' lodged inside the box of his bones. Representation, as a principle, is accepted by him as a matter of course; inasmuch as a great variety of dream-imagery is interpreted as symbolizing physical functions. From the perception that physical functions and organs are themselves representations, he is, however, cut off by all the assumptions of idolatry."
Owen Barfield - Saving the Appearances

"The hard-hat model of an objective reality has had to yield to a growing perception that the objective is, in form at least, a construct: what we appear to see is a function of the manner of seeing (hardly a new idea to Greek philosophy), but with the awkward complication that the cogitating I arises from the structures which it sees and orders."
Alex Comfort - Reality & Empathy: Physics, Mind, and Science in the 21st Century

Doorknobs, steering wheels, spacesuits - these are all interfaces.

Contemplation & Application - Medieval & Modern
"Bacon was more impressed by the meaning of print as applied knowledge than anybody else except Rabelais. The entire Middle Ages had regarded Nature as a Book to be scanned for the [vestiges of god] vestigia dei. Bacon took the lesson of print to be that we could now literally get Nature out in a new and improved edition. An encyclopedia is envisaged. It is his complete acceptance of the idea of the Book of Nature that makes Bacon so very medieval and so very modern. But the gap is this. The medieval Book of Nature was for contemplatio like the Bible. The Renaissance Book of Nature was for applicatio and use like movable types.
... Erasmus directed the new print technology to the traditional uses of grammatica and rhetoric and to tidying up the sacred page. Bacon used the new technology for an attempt to tidy up the text of Nature. In the different spirit of these works one can gauge the efficacy of print in preparing the mind for applied knowledge."
Marshall McLuhan - The Gutenberg Galaxy (Mentor, 1969, page 223)

Music 'makes the brain learn better'
Music lessons enrich the brain
Music Training Fine-Tunes Memory
Music Instruction Aids Verbal Memory

Music boosts kids' memory - Geoff Maynard - Daily Express, 28 July 2003, page 23
Dr Chan ... cautioned that it was too simplistic to divide brain functions strictly into left and right.
"Our brain works rather like a network system," he said. "It is interconnected, very co-operative and amazing."

Hart Seely - 'Rumsfeld's free-speaking verse - The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld'
"Rumsfeld's poetry is paradoxical: It uses playful language to address the most somber subjects: war, terrorism, mortality. Much of it is about indirection and evasion: He never faces his subjects head on but weaves away, letting inversions and repetitions confuse and beguile."

Inside the Skull House - A Neuropoesis - Joel Weishaus
In its quest to understand itself, Brain is set adrift on a stormy vocabulary. There are promising landfalls, numinous adventures, and a beckoning horizon that serves as a learning curve, "linking acts and footsteps," conjuring a mind that describes a journey while unpacking a life.

The Language Police Live Inside of My Head - Bernard Chapin
Last year I was previewing a textbook that I was about to use in a Human Development course I was teaching. The book was the usual flamboyant montage of facts, grids, and pictures, but then I suddenly ran across a most unusual sentence. It read, "As a folksinger once sang, how many roads must an individual walk down before you can call them an adult." I was stupefied.
Of course, I realized that they were quoting from a Bob Dylan song that was a hit on its own and later one for Peter, Paul, and Mary. The lyrics in actuality are: "how many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man." At first I wondered how they could legally get away with doing what they did, but then I noticed that they had not identified the singer or used quotation marks around the line they cited. I wondered why anyone would do such a thing. I quickly realized that their rationale for brutally changing the words of one of our finest songwriters was due to their desire to be "inclusive" and not exclude women from the realm of adulthood by saying "man" alone. This kind of "Pamperfication" (my term) of students and treating them like Faberge eggs ...

The Seven Liberal Arts
"Originally the liberal arts were seven in number. They were divided into the three-fold Trivium of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric, and the four-fold Quadrivium of Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy. These words mean, respectively, a three-way and a four-way crossroads, implying that these paths of knowledge are fundamentally interconnected -- and, by extension, that all other paths can be found to intersect here, as well."

New Encyclopedia Gives Cool-Hunters a Road Map for Ads - Edward Rothstein
"Advertisements are a form of communication, not mere manipulation: they help make sense of the world, defining its differences and essences, filtering through its variety, making claims and constructing images. The final task - discerning knowledge amid the claims and images - makes us all cool-hunters in training."

Opaque Melodies -Darren Tofts
"True compilations, like collage, are eclectic, bringing together items drawn from different contexts, different locations, into a contextual dislocation. That is, to dislocate is not to separate or disintegrate, but rather to re-locate something in another context, often, as in collage, in surprising, even disturbing ways."

'The Lion's Grave' and 'The Sewing Circles of Herat' reviewed by Veronica Horwell
"And beyond the door of the "Golden Needle Ladies' Sewing Classes" in Herat, Lamb is awed by that cultured city's resistance, which was appropriately literary: young women clandestinely studying Shakespeare, James Joyce, Nabokov and Persian poetry, with a child to watch in the lane outside for a Taliban raid. Two girls confess to doing mathematical calculus in secret for fear their brains would die and risking their lives for a smuggled video of Titanic ..."

Lion of the Panjshir - Ahmed Shah Masoud
"Masoud had an ornately bound volume of the works of 14th century Persian Sufi poet Hafiz. He asked Khalili to recite over and over again a favorite verse about friends sitting, talking, enjoying a night like many nights to come, though this night "will never be repeated."
The two friends gazed out at the village of Khodja Bahauddin, the stars, the Amu Darya River -- until about 4 a.m. Masoud was barely asleep when his personal secretary delivered news that Bismillah Khan's front line had held."

The New York Review of Books - The Last Humanist - by Clifford Geertz
"Ernst Gombrich ... was the last of the great Central European humanists who sought to realize the dream, first set forth by Jakob Burckhardt in the 1860s, of a Kulturwissenschaft: a comprehensive, "scientific" study of Western high culture that was at the same time a defense of that culture against the terrible simplifiers of modern barbarism. Ernst Robert Curtius, Erich Auerbach, and Leo Spitzer in literature, Ernst Cassirer, Karl Popper, and Paul Oskar Kristeller in philosophy, and Erwin Panofsky, along with Gombrich, in art history, most of them refugees from Germany and Austria to Britain and the United States in the late Thirties and early Forties, produced a series of formidable works, synoptic, self-confident, and astonishingly learned, that sought to reclaim the heritage of European scholarship after the fascist catastrophe and to reestablish it in the, as they saw it, thin and directionless postwar world. The words with which Curtius, who stayed behind in Bonn quietly writing his way through the horror, prefaced his grand, unbending study of Latin literature in the Middle Ages - begun in 1928, finished in 1948 - could have served as motto for them all: "This book does not content itself with scientific purposes; it attests to a concern for maintaining Western civilization."

Edward Said - A window on the world
"As a humanist whose field is literature, I am old enough to have been trained 40 years ago in the field of comparative literature, whose leading ideas go back to Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I must mention too the supremely creative contribution of Giambattista Vico, the Neapolitan philosopher and philologist whose ideas anticipate those of German thinkers such as Herder and Wolf, later to be followed by Goethe, Humboldt, Dilthey, Nietzsche, Gadamer, and finally the great 20th-century Romance philologists Erich Auerbach, Leo Spitzer, and Ernst Robert Curtius.
To young people of the current generation the very idea of philology suggests something impossibly antiquarian and musty, but philology in fact is the most basic and creative of the interpretive arts. It is exemplified for me most admirably in Goethe's interest in Islam generally, and the 14th-century Persian Sufi poet Hafiz in particular, a consuming passion which led to the composition of the West-Ostlicher Diwan, and it inflected Goethe's later ideas about Weltliteratur, the study of all the literatures of the world as a symphonic whole which could be apprehended theoretically as having preserved the individuality of each work without losing sight of the whole."

Finnegans Wake Concordex - Part:1 Episode:1 Page:24
"And would again could whispring grassies wake him and may again when the fiery bird disembers."

"The basic theme of mythology is that the visible world is supported and sustained by an invisible world." Joseph Campbell

Simple Cells React Quickly To Membrane Voltage Change
Since cells move with voltage, and movement produces sound waves, Sachs predicts that the brain emits sounds during activity ...

posted by Andrew 8/02/2003 04:27:00 PM