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Derivative Works from Daniel X. O'Neil

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Don't Try

OK, this is definitely Picture of the Day:

Don't try.
I am sleeping
inside with
a big dog,
an ugly woman,
two shotguns
and a claw hammer


Evolution is a Fact

So today I taught a first grade CCD class. I read the Genesis creation story to them. One of kids said, "well, when the Earth started there were a lot of volcanoes." I took this as an opportunity to tell the children that "evolution is a fact" about 8 or 9 times. I'm not an intelligent design guy at all. Just a Catholic with an anthropology degree. And I can read a bunch of kids a story about the start of the world while planting a deep seed to be opened when (hopefully) some teacher first tells them what evolution is.

Chicago From Not That Afar

Here's an awesome picture of Chicago taken from  Fermilab, which is 35 miles west of downtown. It gives a new perspective on where I live-- how the towers rise from such flatness, how the green is not far, how east/ west is our orientation. The building just to the right of the Sears Tower is actually about 10 miles west of it. (via)

The Opening of the NYT Archives

KtSo I just learned this week that, as a subscriber of the New York Times, I will be able to download up to 100 articles per month from the NYT Archive. For free. Here's a good summary of what it means from Paid Content.

As usual in the online world, there's a world of whining about other provisions of the program, mainly that certain op-ed columns from the daily paper will not be accessible from the website. I see it as a fine tradeoff. It seems they're rewarding the people who send them cash every month for home delivery and trying to induce more to do the same.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: God Bless the NYT

Sad Mannequin

Bad Hair Mannequin
Bad Hair Mannequin,
originally uploaded by juggernautco.

Mannequins are weird windows into culture. They indicate the value that we place on physical characteristics at any given time.

And as times change, you can guage the health of a business based on their mannequin spending. If they've got old mannequins, they probably don't have enough revenue to buy new ones.

I took a picture of this mannequin through a shop window in Wheaton. Note the stray hairs and the bad 70s haircut. The wall of ties and the shipped-paint skin. a sad state of the business.

Best mannequin story ever? The Twilight Zone "The After Hours" episode.

Dan Barry is Our Domestic John F. Burns

My fondness for the writing of John F. Burns is not a secret. But he is a foreign correspondent and doesn't turn his typing to the cares at home.

Dan Barry seems to be our domestic Burns. He takes the same warm stare, the same courage at putting the obvious, but painful, things into print. And he isn't afraid to note w/o apology that he is human, and present, at the story's centerpoint. Here's more of him:

In New Orleans as It Did in New York, X Marks the Pain

A disturbing question comes too quickly to the mind. Which was worse: the attacks of Sept. 11 or the attack of Hurricane Katrina?


THE overwhelming loss of life, of course, and the crippling tolls to the economy, to the infrastructure, to the community's sense of self. But more than that: the denial of that basic, sacred need to claim and bury the dead. Four years have passed, and 1,152 of the 2,749 victims of 9/11 have not been identified. Two weeks have passed, and who knows how many bodies still bob in dark waters.

Which is worse? Let the question go.

Just know that emergency telephone numbers and wrenching news updates trickle across the television screens here, just as they did then. That volunteers from across the country are here to help out, just as they did then. That people here vow to rebuild, just as we did then.

One night four years ago, a city sanitation worker started sweeping the debris of chaos from Church Street. And one afternoon this week, a shopkeeper on deserted Royal Street did the same.


trut.Complete text of my 1997 essay, "Trut: The Star, The Globe, and the Missing H in the New Veracity"

So every once in a while I coin a new term or phrase. No one ever notices a whole lot, as this weblog is not exactly slashdot or metafilter, but the coining continues apace. As far as I know, there's no buzz ablaze-- nobody ever uses them except me. Not exactly an etymological success.

However, one of my fondest dreams is to be mentioned by William Safire as the coiner of a word or phrase. So the only way to do that is to get a mitt and get in the game. Here goes:


Trut is the mutable concoction of facts employed for an ulterior purpose. Trut consists of exactly 4/5 of the stuff of truth. Four out of five letters lined up as a reasonable facsimile of truth.


FEMA Director Michael Brown says he was "an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." Here's what TIME Magazine says:

In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, Brown was an "assistant to the city manager" from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees.


Brown says he was an assistant city manager, others say he was an assistant to a city manager. Brown wants to make people feel a certain way about him, and he plays with language to do so. "Assistant", "Assistant to", what's the difference?

The difference is just an H. Brown dropped the H from truth and delivered the trut.


Thank you for your support.

"We're the people they need to be coordinating with."

Here's a look at some people who believe in Open Source Emergency Response: Holdouts on Dry Ground Say, 'Why Leave Now?' - New York Times.

They have a dog to protect them, a car with a full tank of gasoline should they need to leave quickly and a canoe as a last resort. They said they used it last week to rescue 100 people.

"We're not the people they need to be taking out," Mr. Kay said. "We're the people they need to be coordinating with."

Here's a Long Poem I Read This Morning

I am a poet. At least I used to be. I've got the books and the performance tapes and the tour posters to prove it. I write lots of stuff every day, but I don't write a whole lot of poems anymore. I never read books of poetry-- I honestly cannot stand what passes for modern American poetry. It's mainly anger-cadence slop from the performance scene or neurotic detailed description from the Academy. No thanks.

But every day I read the New York Times. It is my daily poetry book. My advice to any young poet out there: if you can't write a better poem than the one I read this morning-- the one delivered to my door at about 4:30 AM, the one that was just a set of observations yesterday afternoon, the one that was printed on newsprint last night, then try harder. Try much harder.

All hail Dan Barry. Here's a bit below, but read the whole thing.

Macabre Reminder: The Corpse on Union Street

Scraggly residents emerge from waterlogged wood to say strange things, and then return into the rot. Cars drive the wrong way on the Interstate and no one cares. Fires burn, dogs scavenge, and old signs from les bons temps have been replaced with hand-scrawled threats that looters will be shot dead.

The incomprehensible has become so routine here that it tends to lull you into acceptance. On Sunday, for example, several soldiers on Jefferson Highway had guns aimed at the heads of several prostrate men suspected of breaking into an electronics store.

A car pulled right up to this tense scene and the driver leaned out his window to ask a soldier a question: "Hey, how do you get to the interstate?"

Maybe the slow acquiescence to the ghastly here - not in Baghdad, not in Rwanda, here - is rooted in the intensive news coverage of the hurricane's aftermath: floating bodies and obliterated towns equal old news. Maybe the concerns of the living far outweigh the dignity of a corpse on Union Street. Or maybe the nation is numb with post-traumatic shock.

Daley Plaza Wi-Fi

Daley Plaza Wi-Fi
Here's a look at the fountains at Daley Plaza, where the City of Chicago offers free wi-fi to all.
Daley Plaza Wi-Fi,
originally uploaded by juggernautco.


Daniel X. O'Neil: Chicago-based writer and internet developer. I am a co-founder of and the People Person for EveryBlock, a site that pulls together local news and public information. I run dozens of personal projects and websites for clients, and also own half of a poetry book company.


EveryBlock: A news feed for your block.
CTA Tweet: Unofficial Twitter tracker for the Chicago Transit Authority.
CityPayments: Database of all vendors, contracts, and payments that have been posted by the municipal government of the City of Chicago
Wesley Willis Art: Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
Wide Right Turn: An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.


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    • Wesley Willis Art
      Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
    • CTA Alerts
      Wireless notifications about service on the Chicago Transit Authority.
    • Wide Right Turn

      An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.
    • Derivative Works Art Manifesto
      Humans own their experience of copyrighted content.
    • Y!Q Link Generator
      Simple form for creating Y!Q links to add relevance, annotate text, and provide more sophisticated layers of meaning to web content.