February 17th, 2005

Semiformalishmaybe

Lipid Bilayer Dance

I was walking home from someplace a few days ago, and remembered some adviceI had heard from someone regarding dealing with potential assailants at night.An effective strategy is to appear to them to be completely insane and not atall afraid. As I walked through the neighbourhood, I let out a chuckle,imagining what one must do to appear that off-kilter, and the things I wasimagining and the kind of weird energy some crazy people have caused the laughto turn into a kind of worryingly nutty, and yet strangely satisfying .. thing.I'm not sure if that means anything or not.

I'm heading to Texas with my parents in March to visit my Grandma on myDad's side. I haven't been there for awhile, and haven't traveled with myparents for at least 10 years. It'll be interesting, I'm sure.

On Wikipedia, for two reasons, I've decided to finally run to be one of theirtoo many administrators. I wasn't running before because I really didn't needany of the added tools that admins get, and didn't really think that I couldcontribute to things that the other admins couldn't do. I also, as noted above,think there are too many admins, and that the status is given out far tooliberally. As someone who's been active for about two years, this places mein the minority, I think -- most admins nowadays are made after about threeor four months of active editing. Recently, a few things have convinced me torun. Firstly, I've heard that there are some pending tasks that needadministrators to do that nobody's doing. Secondly, Wikipedia is coming underfire from a group of nazi-sympathizers. These people are organized through asite called Stormfront, and are makinga serious attempt to push Wikipedia's content around. People are naturally worried,and Jimbo, who started/runs the site site but generally isn't prone to declarethings by fiat, has threatened to personally block them all if they continuetheir efforts. I might be able to help things out more if I'm an admin.Back to them though, there's something that seperates them from other problemusers -- they're clearly not vandals, and focus more on spin and presentationthan on actual lies. They also seem devoted to understanding our rules andpractices, and have a fairly organized and possibly effective way of abusinggood faith without breaking rules. One of the problems with communities boundby rules is that the rules tend to work better if there's a good deal offlexibility within the rules themselves and if said rules generally assume goodfaith from everyone, especially assuming that the community as a whole will makedecisions that are good through democratic means. Unfortunately, concertedefforts by intelligent voting blocs that seek to topple the system can interferewith the system to a greater degree than they can with more legalistic systems.As the system adapts to keep them out, it can thus split the system as peoplebecome less comfortable with the increased legalism. I might be able toregeneralize this to comment interestingly on Liberal versus Conservative viewson society, perhaps to repeat an old mantra that if a society is to fail tosinister neighbours, the maintaining-liberties way has it fail by democraticmeans, handing the primitives the keys to the city because it won't accept theidea that they will destroy, while the preserving-society way instead revertsto measures that would destroy the openness of society, in order to fight them.I hope neither of those fates comes to pass here.

For those of you who are interested in keeping track of development of POUND,I've prepared a tarball of the next version,still under heavy development, for you. It's very user-beware at this point --there isn't enough documentation for end-users to set it up (developers mayneed to read the source or email me), a lot of things are still stubs, and thecode has a lot of cleanup needed. That being said, if you know Perl and wantto play with it, feel free. Currently, it'll display and let you edit wikiarticles online (if you enable that in the config), and there's a commandlinetool to post new articles, which people can reply to through the web interface.It's all pretty ugly -- I just finished adding CSS per-user and CSS themesupport into this version (a very careful migration/cleanup from the old code,with some things reimplemented), but I have no sample themes, so it's prettyugly. Authentication works, but as for now logins don't do as much as they will.You'll need to manually insert some stuff into the database to get some thingsset up. Anyhow, have fun with it if you like. I'll make more releases astime goes on.

No surprise, BushJr is altering science to meet approval ofindustrialists. Also in the news, the Kyoto treaty, which BushJr pulled the USout of as one of his first acts in his first term, recently passed. I hopenone of my readers have beachfront property -- if they do, I hope they don'tmind the idea of rising ocean levels. sigh..

Howard Dean now runs the Democratic Party. This isactually a savvy comprimise -- the Democratic Party is a centre-right party inAmerican politics (Republicans being right-wing), and Dean represents athreat to the established order. I believe that his appointment as head of theparty was done because the powers in the party feel he's better kept in theparty than as a potential outside threat, and if that takes accepting that hemay shift the party a bit leftward, they're willing to make that sacrifice.

Mohammad Ali Abtahi, who has one of my favourite BLOGs, apparently moved itwhile I was in Europe, perhaps because of new internet controls in Iran. Itnow can be found here.

Oh, and apparently next in the line of companies to line up and beat me up formoney is Time-Warner communications. Apparently, they think I should pay $243.50in bills for cable service. I know I cancelled every single utility I had whenI left Columbus, but apparently the people who lived there after I did openedmy mail(!!) and kept paying the cable bills for a time, and then stopped, andI'm back in this mode of sending registered letters to credit agencies, my oldlandlord, and the like telling them that I'm not paying anything. What a pain.At least this time I think I can probably arrange for really bad things tohappen to the people who were paying the bill in my name, in theory, as I thinkit's a big crime to open someone else's mail.Still, this sucks, because my finances are really bad right now after theEurope trip, and I have a number of other really critical things to spendmoney and time on. I literally can't afford to fix everything I should fixat once.

Speaking of mail, I have 7509 messages in my Inbox as of this writing.It's probably time to take care of that, and to see if I can get that downto a few hundred or less.