Busy times, decisions, winds in the hills...
Yesterday: Learned that I am not in fact requested for jury duty tomorrow. Amusement. Also, there was a party, which was, as usual, pretty awkward for me, but it got better partway through. A few conversations - politics (not my politics, actually - those of the person I was talking with - a careful painting of the reasonability of thought on the other side of some lines she drew in the sand), psychology, philosophy (shared frustration at people who don't understand how science depends on and is put in proper context by philosophy - gave her lines of argument to use in those discussions), perl (3 Ps!).. I also made several vile alcoholic concoctions that I drank. Last part of evening slightly blurry - goodbye to DPerkins (on that note - a belated goodbye to Isildur, whom I sent to Google/Switzerland). I vaguely remember talking about universes in Concurrent's CX/UX and parallel concepts in Digital Unix with someone. Hopefully I made a reasonable amount of sense to whomever it was (and hopefully they were interested). In either case, my credentials as a party animal are definitely verified. Obscure Unix conversations? Check! Part-ay! ... I also notice I'm getting a light set of grey hairs near the back of my head. Hmm.
- A bit late to report on this, but there was a bill to add homophobia as a specially prosecuted reason for crime. To remind the reader, as I understand it "hate crime" legislation is designed to give special weight to punishment in crimes that are believed to be part of a larger societal pattern, partly to steer society more clearly against those faults that lead portions of society to accept (or approve of) those actions that the state defines as criminal. This operates on the theory that these are fundamentally different from crimes of passion or those motivated by things like strictly individual passions, and that such legislation in the long run will protect society and adjust societal attitudes in time to the level where by and large that type of crime will lose its role as part of a kulturkampf. If homosexuals, blacks, or politically active women were being targeted en-masse and systematically targeted whenever they became too difficult to control by some kind of social order (in the case of people like Matthew Shepard one can make a very strong case), efforts like this are believed to serve the social good. As with quotas (provided they don't establish permanent privilege - as noted before I think Amerindians in the United States have the awkward position of having both unjust long-term special legal privileges and suffering from horrible cultural/status problems), I think these can serve as a useful tool to shatter old boys networks and other systematised ugliness in society - I think we should accept the low-level disparity in order to accept the benefits of destroying the factors that lead to higher-level disparities (glass ceilings, inequities based on sexual preference, old boys clubs, etc).
- Interesting events in Israel/Palestine - my hopes for a lasting peace are on the rise. Abbas's new government, sans Hamas, seems to be making great strides in getting governmental support from other Arab nations, with talks of lasting peace accords on the wind. This is an example of a less-democratic moment leading to better results - just as Egypt and Pakistan have long banned (through various means) fundamentalist parties from elected power (and thus kept their states moderate), Fatah's dominance in the PA, despite it not being due to democratic means, means a chance for peace. This anti-democratic nature is presumably limited to just marking Hamas and other theocratic elements as outside the pale - talk of third parties and involvement of minor parties continues. Some people disagree that the strong Fatah promotion is a good thing, of course.
- On the other side of the lines - a rewrite of a textbook in Israel is raising eyebrows by being less Zionist-propogandic than is normally the case there. That this small step towards a careful understanding of the foundation of Israel is anything but an "of course, but we should do more" is deeply disappointing to me. Also, more on privileges the Haredim have in Israel. Unfortunately, it looks like Shinui has disintegrated due to infighting, and the progress of political secularism in Israel may be delayed.
- Libya is surprised that Bulgaria pardoned the medics that Libya convicted as part of a sham process and then traded back to Europe for the remainder of their sentences as part of political trading. I am highly amused at this - while under normal circumstances this would be grossly unfair, the legal handling in Libya was based on hysteria and politics and it's fortunate that this opportunity for redressing that is available.
- Two takes on Shambo, a sacred bull in Britain put down due to mad cow disease. This touches on an important point (at least within my notion of appropriate secularism) - we should not grant special consideration to religious communities based on their notion of the sacred that we would not grant to other communities based on their interests (other, nonreligious interests they may have that go along with broader societal interests may be given special attention though).
- New PM Brown takes interesting steps to counter Blair's (US-led) appointment as Middle East liason to the Quartet by appointing his own British liason. As I understand, Russia also objects to Blair, but the United States (as with many such cooperative efforts) managed to call the shots on this matter and Blair's history with BushJr guaranteed him the position.
- More lese majeste (or something like it), this time in New Zealand. Very disappointing.
- I'm interested to see Pat Buchanan praising Obama on his foreign policy stance in the spat with Clinton, although it makes sense given his position in the paleoconservative faction of the Republican sphere.
I am a bit frustrated that Perl6 keeps being described as "coming soon" without any trustworthy signs of progress towards release. What does "soon" mean? I'm also starting to dig through the POUND sources to look for things I'd rather rewrite than refactor. I'm pretty happy with the large-scale architecture (although the code to transform the wikimarkup into various display types is really ugly - I'm not convinced I really know how to do it right.. but maybe there isn't much of a better way.. hmm.)