Sunday, May 30, 2004

Revisions and a pet peeve

I've been busily revising the links to search engine submission pages that I maintain on my Words in a Row website. With the recent changes at Yahoo, Overture, Google, AltaVista, AllTheWeb/Fast, and many others, I've come to the conclusion that the only way to keep these current is to do the changes as they are observed or reported to me. Submission pages have changed in the last few days for AltaVista and AllTheWeb, for instance. They have new addresses, and they don't automatically forward you to the newly named page if you try going to the old page. You just get a not-so-helpful "404 Page Not Found" error.

The pet peeve is that it would be so easy to set up a 301 permanent redirect so that bookmarks, links from other sites, and so on are sent to the new page when the old page isn't found. I do that every time on every site I design or re-design, to help the visitor get where he's trying to go. My own site contains hundreds of such re-directions, as pages have changed over the years. You'd think a company with enough resources to put together a search engine would be able to at least do that right.

Basho Rocks

I'm still fascinated with reading Basho's haiku, and Blyth's notes about them are fascinating in themselves. Here's a selection from Blyth's notes:
...where Basho is at his greatest is where he seems most insignificant; the neck of a firefly, hailstones in the sun, the chirp of an insect, muddy melons, leeks, a dead leaf, -- these are full of interest, meaning, value, that is poetry, but not as symbols of the Infinite, not as types of Eternity, but in themselves. Their meaning is just as direct, as clear, as unmistakable, as complete and perfect, as devoid of reference to other things, as dipping the hand suddenly into boiling water. The mind is roused as with the sound of a trumpet. When you read one of the following it is just like opening a door and being confronted by a tiger. It is like suddenly seeing the joke of something. It is like being unexpectdly reprieved from the sentence of death.
The melons look cool,
Flecked with mud
From the morning dew.

Just washed,
How chill
The white leeks!

The hail-stones
Glance off the rocks
Of the Stony Mountain.

By day-light
The firefly has
A neck of red.

On the mushroom
Is stuck the leaf
Of some unknown tree.

Now that's the way of haiku.

If only the reporters speculating about our forces in Iraq could be so succinct, so truthful. Here's my imitation haiku on the subject (this is the wrong subject to be an actual haiku, which are classically limited to certain themes - this is not one of them):

Talking heads on the TV,
Each pitches his lies;
Chaos merchants, every one.

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