inessential by Brent Simmons


Mariners face AL West rivals the Texas Rangers tonight. Update: Mariners got trounced, 10-1.

I help administer a bunch of servers, both Frontier and Apache. One of the beautiful things about Frontier servers is that they're easily scriptable via XML-RPC. Making changes, getting status reports -- all this can be and often is done via XML-RPC.

But when it comes to Apache, I'm editing a config file via emacs. As peaceful as I find this to be (I really do enjoy switching into this mode), it's too slow. First I have to switch which computer is in front of me, then open the file, then make a change, then save the file, then stop and restart Apache. I'd like to be able to script Apache from Frontier, to send an XML-RPC message saying, "Please map this new virtual host to this folder." Or: "Give me stats on this server: how long it has been up, what are the last 25 hits, how much memory is free, how much disk space is available (etc.)." Or: "Enable PHP for this virtual host, so that all .phtml suffixes get processed by PHP." And so on. Then we could build a web application that manages the several Apache servers we maintain. We'd get easy-to-use status and configurability from a central location.

Update: I wonder if Tenon's iTools for Mac OS X supports XML-RPC? I couldn't find anything on their site about it.

I've gone back from News Items to the traditional way of doing Manila home pages. I like the News Items feature very much -- but it doesn't fit with the style of this weblog, which is both personal and outward-linking. It makes sense for sites that are more strictly news-oriented, but this site is not so strict.

From Susan Sontag's "The Aesthetics of Silence":

The narratives of Kafka and Beckett seem puzzling because they appear to invite the reader to ascribe high-powered symbolic and allegorical meanings to them and, at the same time, repel such ascriptions. Yet, when the narrative is examined, it discloses no more than what it literally means. The power of their language derives precisely from the fact that the meaning is so bare.

Nabokov, in his lecture, writes about the role of the number three in Kafka's "The Metamorphosis":

So, the only emblematic or heraldic rather than symbolic meaning is the stress which is laid upon three in "The Metamorphosis." It has really a technical meaning. The trinity, the triplet, the triad, the triptych are obvious art forms such as, say, three pictures of youth, ripe years, and old age, or any other threefold triplex subject. Triptych means a picture or carving in three compartments side by side, and this is exactly the effect that Kafka achieves, for instance, with his three rooms in the beginning of the story—living room, Gregor's bedroom, and sister's room, with Gregor in the central one. Moreover, a threefold pattern suggests the three acts of a play. And finally it must be observed that Kafka's fantasy is emphatically logical; what can be more characteristic of logic than the triad of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. We shall, thus, limit the Kafka symbol of three to its aesthetic and logical significance and completely disregard whatever myths the sexual mythologists read into it under the direction of the Viennese witch doctor.

John points out that three's the magic number.