January 19th, 2004

Semiformalishmaybe

Sphere of Vision

This morning, on waking up, I remembered biking through my oldhigh school.. mostly. Somehow, all my prior pre-university schoolswere connected, and I was heading through them to get somewhere..I kept on worrying that I would be caught biking in the halls..there were no rules about it, but I was sure it wouldn't be kosher.

I got a Livejournal account, initially because I wanted tobe able to comment more easily on friends' blogs (Leon, Quealy, Dubin, etc),but now that I think about it, I'd like to try an experiment -- a sci-fi BLOGfrom the future .. well, without so much fictionalistic stuff, anyhow. I thinkit'll be set about 600 years from now (time enough for societies to change a lotwithout becoming unrecognizable), and at the slight nudging by Debb, the maincharacter will be female. It might touch a bit on politics, societal issues,and all sorts of things. I'm still working on the shape of societies,and my first entry won't be placed until I have at least a bit more aboutthe world and my character fleshed out. It's gonna be fun..

I'm disappointed to hear about the recent incident in Sweden.Apparently, two artists from Israel, of the liberal persuasion, had anexhibit that was intended to bring eyes on the phonomena of suicidebombing, and the Swedish ambassador, at a function at the gallery inSweden before a peace conference, became enraged, attacked the exhibit,and was kicked out of the museum. Two additional points of data are relevant --firstly, it was stated that neither the conference nor the function was goingto get involved in political statements on such things, and secondly,Sharon and some wacko right-wingers in Israel are publically approving of whatthe ambassador did. I'm very irritated to find about the first, and just reallysurprised about the second. It's incredibly rude to invite someone to an event,promising not to talk about a sensitive topic, and then shove that kind ofthing in their face. Of course, that doesn't mitigate descending intobarbarism, actually attacking an exhibit. Despite what the linked article blathers about 'jewish souls', and the jingoistic 'israelier than thou'statements, there's no excuse for attacking an exhibit in a museum. Art ismeant to engage, to fascinate, perturb, disturb, stun, and sometimes to whisper.When it disturbs one too much, it's time to leave. Show me performance art ofa geek falling down a set of stairs, bleeding and guts pouring out, or perhapsa statue of my scottish barbarian ancestors impaled on a spike, and if youmanage to disturb me, I'll just leave. It's one of the lessons people usuallylearn before they get past kindergarten. In sum, it's disappointing that thepeople responsible for the museum visit decided to 'ambush' the envoy,stupid that the diplomat lost control, and really disappointing that instead ofissuing an apology, the diplomat, and then Sharon decided to embrace the rashact. Embracing those emotions is like borrowing lots of money for day-to-dayexpenses.. sure, it might feel good, but eventually, it brings a painful mess.

On the upside, apparently, Israel is *wink* *wink* working to make thewall a bit more acceptable and less of a land grab. I'm not sure if the wall is a goodidea, but yes or no, having it drawn more equitably is a good thing if it'sgoing to be there. Sharon is doing an impressive job balancing his governmentgiven the wide political divide in Israel.

A friend pointed me at iSketch, although I'm reluctant toget what might turn out to be another addiction..Leprechaun 6, the latest in that horror-comedy series,is out.Some people on MMORPGs are unhappy about the way the systems arebeing run. It's very interesting... in these cases, I'm pretty committed tothe system operators (sysops) being able to do what they want on theirsystem, although that might be because I was a sysop of a bulletin boardyears ago.. Depending on personality, it can be fun to be the boss..

Defending the McDonalds kids' way of life...Now with joysticks..

I recently had the delight of watching the famous attentional blindnessbasketball-passing video on TV with Debb, and she, like me and most of my psychclass last semester, didn't spot it the first time either. It's reallyeye-opening to have it pointed out so blatantly that one's attention can be sonarrowed as to ignore such things. I'm looking for a mpeg of it.. I'm not goingto describe it any more though or the effect might be ruined for you.

Na klar, if you've been following the space plans BushJr has, you'll see thathe's both cancelling maintenance of hubble and wasting time/money on another moon landing.I'm bummed about it -- Hubble continues to do good research, and is the onething NASA does that has left the biggest impression on me (ISS being thesecond). I agree with analysis suggesting NASA go right for Mars.

Finally, while watching some soccer last night, Debb and I spotted someonewho looks a bit like her -- Maggie Tomecka (although that picture doesn'tshow that strong of a resemblance). There were parts of the videocasette whereI really might've thought it was Debb on there.

I found a site with some pretty funny Political cartoons.This isn't comedy, but it might be.. It would be funny if the stepsthey say they're taking would be to take away their weapons..

The progress of AI has always been typified by a lot of progress in smalldomains, with correspondingly less progress as larger domains are attempted.However, at the University of Wales, some researchers have created a systemthat they say is capable of much of the fairly large domain of a type ofgenetic research. Although I find the 'expert system' approach not thatinteresting, as it captures domain data that could simply be learned by asufficiently openminded system, it is impressive to see yet another domaintransformed that way.

It's been said that democracy only lasts until people realize they can votethemselves money from the coffers. This seems to be a step in that direction --BushJr is working on some major changes to tax law, replacing IRA/SRAs withnew, simpler plans (good) and at the same time offering people a tax-free newtype of plan called a Life Savings Account (LSA) that would accept $7500 a yearand be retrievable at any time, sans penalty. The danger is that it'll reducethe tax base, and put the government further into debt.

Two thoughts are haunting me today..A friend gave an interesting perspective on his blog:A car company can move its factories to Mexico and claim it's a freemarket. A toy company can outsource to a Chinese subcontractor and claimit's a free market. A major bank can incorporate in Bermuda to avoid taxesand claim it's a free market. We can buy HP Printers made in Mexico. We canbuy shirts made in Bangladesh. We can purchase almost anything we want frommany different countries BUT, heaven help the elderly who dare to buy theirprescription drugs from a Canadian (Or Mexican) pharmacy. That's calledun-American!There's still a part of me that really wants to find a hole in that argument..I guess that's the thing when one's occupied nearly every point on thepolitical spectrum at one time or another.. one's head is a noisy place..The second is from "La Internationale",Freedom is merely privilege extendedunless enjoyed by one and allI've argued against that so many times, and still, to a large extent,do. I do think it's meaningful to talk about freedom of speech and press,even if it's hard for people to afford to publish or dangerous for them totalk. One thing I do sometimes wonder, however, is if/how free associationshould extend between workplace and out-of-workplace activities. And socialismdoes seem to act as a slow tug on me..