September 1st, 2005

Semiformalishmaybe

Solitary Joys

The caravan of controllers rolled from town to town, their rule, as with much rule, based on tricking the people into accepting an invented concept, legitamacy. For the last several hundred years, they had cultivated a legal system whereby their troupe could vote in otherwise local elections all throughout the nation, controlling sufferage and voting eligibility carefully to ensure their continued dominance. They timed voting in local councils so they could vote in every election that was important, and thus maintained, with a population of about 2 percent of the nation, control over the entire thing. The governed learned to live with their new masters, as they reasoned that to rebel would be to break with the law and thus devolve into anarchy. So long as democratic means are present, they consoled themselves, it is immoral to go against them, no matter their failings.

If promoting diversity were that important to Universities, they would compensate for and remove in-state/out-of-state tuition differences. Overcoming regional insularism with heavy mixing would do far more to bring about diversity than collecting people of various ethnicities.

Recently, for work, I was asked to convert a (noncommercial, for those who care about copyright stuff) DVD into a format that iMovie can edit. Easy, I thought... some time later, I find that that's not the case. Apple wants people to pay money to do anything useful with their software, making it essentially shareware. I initially ripped to avi (later trying mpeg and several other formats), only to find that iMovie can't handle that format. Talking with a friend who has a lot of friends high up in Apple, my suspicion that their software is intentionally dense in order to make their pay software sell well is confirmed. I am intent on not paying for this though, so I hopefully will be able to find free software that can convert a DVD into DV (iMovie format) or at least into one of the very very few formats iMovie can import. To my regret, MPlayer, or more precisely MEncoder, can't write quicktime files -- even grabbing the quicktime authoring components from a file sharing network doesn't make a usable file. Sigh.

A hurricane has hit New Orleans, destroying some small dams and flooding the city. A few hundred people were killed, and a lot of property damage was done. Of course, to keep perspective, last year's earthquake in the Indian Ocean killed hundreds of thousands of people and did much more damage, and more recently, about a thousand people died in Iraq due to a stampede as people fled Sunni attacks on a traditional crossing of a bridge. Iraq is the next Yugoslavia, and the damage caused by deposing Iraq's Tito is just beginning.

A few interesting articles that I read recently that I don't have specific comment on:

Well, actually, that last one I have some comment on -- it compares racism and the actions it inspired under the Nazis and under the colonial system. A relevant and fascinating quote from said article:


When the natives of the Algerian city of Constantine rose up against
the French just one week after Hitler's suicide, the French reaction
was swift and brutal. The Algerians counted 40,000 victims of the
repression, but the French admitted to only 1,500.33 As Verges later
recalled, he was horrified by the repression of the Constantine revolt.
"I was still in the Resistance and I was terribly shocked. I didn't
understand how they (the Resistance) could fight Hitler then turn
around and do that."

I haven't finished it yet, but from reading select parts, it looks like a very good article.

I'd better get home. The system maintenance is done, and I'm about to pass out (finishing this article at 03:53)

Semiformalishmaybe

Close Them Borders, Repel the Boarders

I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I don't think that, given the race to destruction promoted by some idiots (sorry Ca.. well, no, I'm not sorry, Catholics. Your religion is stupid and harmful. Bite me.), keeping borders from being completely open, as a form of population/resource usage control, may be a good thing. One of the issues with open everything is that with things other nations and cultures do, they circumvent local laws, introducing harmful competition or promoting irresponsible behaviour. In a world where every nation has responsible laws, open (but not "free") markets/immigration/etc may be a good thing. Not surprisingly, free markets in the real world provide a way for businesspeople to exploit other peoples in ways that it would be illegal to do here, and for irresponsible and backwards people to export their unwanted poor to other areas rather than controlling their birth rates. A "two child" policy would make a lot of sense for developed nations.

I'm amazed that I'm still coming to understand more about how so many of the things I formerly believed in are implicit invitations for "let business do what it wants to society". I think I was blind to the idea that business interests were interests at all, because I accepted that human nature under capitalism was true human nature. Now I've come to feel that there is no comprehensive intrinsic human nature, and that there is no neutral position or government. What human nature we do have has portions that we all fight to various degrees, many of which are harmful to society. National shaping begins with shaping the individual, and the unshaped person does not exist.

Recently, I've been enjoying listening to various recordings of an old Yiddish classic, "Tum Balalaika". I can understand a good amount of it without translation (Yiddish being, like Dutch, a German dialect). One of my favourite versions is by Ivan Rebroff, but he doesn't seem to be singing the actual lyrics (apart from the refrain). The version by the Klezmer Conservatory Band is quite nice, although that version is translated (embellished) with commentary as the song goes on, and while that was amusing the first time, it isn't so good on repeated listening.

Without the refrain, for the interested, here's the song:


Steht a Bokher, steht und tracht
Tracht und tracht a ganze Nacht
Vemen zu nehmen und nicht farshemen
Vemen zu nehmen und nicht farshemen

Meydl, meydl, kh'vil bei dir fragen,
Was kann vaksn, vaksn ohne regen
Was kann brenen und nicht oyfhern
Was kann benken veynen ohne trern

Narisher Bokher, was darfst du fragen?
Ein Shteyn kann vaksn, vaksn ohne regen
Liebe kann brenen und nicht oyfhern
Ein Hartz kann benken veynen ohne trern

Note that I have germanified the spelling a bit, as the normal anglicization of Yiddish (which is normally written in the Hebrew alphabet) is hard for me to look at. I am amused to say that Googlefish does a poor job in translating it to English -- you really should know German and perhaps have a Yiddish dictionary if you want to get a good translation. Because I'm nice, I'll offer my translation below.


Waits a Boy, waits and longs
Longs and longs the entire night
Decides whom to take and who not to bother
Decides whom to take and who not to bother

Miss, miss, I have something to ask you,
What can grow, grow without rain?
What can burn, burn and not be consumed?
What can cry, cry with out tears?

Silly Boy, what should you be asking?
A stone can grow, grow without rain
Love can burn and not be consumed
A heart can cry without tears