December 7th, 2005


A Time of Sharp Contrasts

Today is so far a good day for visual experimentation. When I was getting ready for work, I packed my laptop bag with my eyes closed, just as an experiment. It was interesting using touch to navigate what I normally do so much by sight, but in doing so I realised that a lot of it was habit too, and didn't depend very much on visual cues. On the way to work, suffering the cold air, I did what I've sometimes done over the years, sometimes to deal with bad weather, sometimes for amusement -- I closed my eyes while moving, and opened them every few seconds to catch a new glimpse of where I am and how to guide myself so I don't walk where I don't want to (e.g. into signs or the street). This time, I kept my glimpses shorter than I ever have before, and I noticed a really cool visual effect -- with a half-second blink, after closing the eyes for another half second I got a sepia-coloured afterimage of the landscape in my visual field, which hung and faded like a ghost (quickly to go away when I opened my eye again). I repeated it many times to dismiss it possibly being a strange mental effect. I wonder if this afterimage was kept in the rod/cone cells or if it was data hanging around in the visual cortex.. It was not completely reliable -- it seemed to work best when the contrast was high between the things I was looking at, and occasionally didn't work. Still, very neat.

I am very very irritated at CMU's Dell Sales rep -- he has never returned my phone calls or emailed me back, and half the people I talk to at Dell tell me I must place all CMU orders through him. Fortunately, there's that Texan guy I might've mentioned that handled it before handled this order too. I think in the future I'll have to ignore our sales rep and just deal with the Texan. I expect that at some point I'll maybe actually speak with our sales rep -- perhaps eventually he'll call me back, in a few weeks, about the order I wanted to place.

Insights from discussions between Communists (namely me) and Anarchists (some friends) --

  • Anarchists believe that government and corporations are the problem, and that eliminating government will sweep corporations aside as well
  • Communists believe that government organised along capitalist values is the problem, and that new forms of government, social organisation, and new values will sweep corporations aside
    • Note that I deviate from Orthodox communism in this sense, because I do not believe Communism will or should lead to a stateless society, just a very different one. I further worry about religion in the same way that I worry about capitalist values
  • Anarchists suspect the state that Communists would set up would be as oppressive as states run through Capitalist values
  • Communists suspect that the stateless society Anarchists propose would be dominated by corporations and other conglomerations of power
  • Anarchists (especially anarcho-primitivists in a different form) feel that less developed and organised societies are a good goal, and are suspicious of technology
  • Communists feel that highly-developed societies are a good goal and better than past societies, and push technology
I am getting rid of the playstation2 I a month or two ago. It was a poor choice to purchase it. If anyone I know who's in town wants it, they can have it if they contact me really quickly. Otherwise I'm taking it to the used videogame store or posting on soon (which I just did for the Behemoth).

Schedule for Spring Semester 2005

Next semester, I am signed up to take Computational Biology. This is exciting!

The kind-of course description:This course covers the application of computers to solve problems in biology and medicine. Since computers are increasingly used in biological research, the course is valuable for all biological sciences majors and interested students from other departments. It is intended for students without computer programming experience (students with a desire to apply programming methods to these 03-201 Undergraduate Colloquim for Sophomores problems should take the more advanced course 03-510, Fall: 1-3 units Computational Biology). Topics covered are computational molecular biology (analysis of protein and nucleic acid sequences), biological modeling and simulation (including computer models of neuron behavior, biochemical kinetics, and simulation of mutation), and biological imaging. Course work consists primarily of homework assignments making use of software packages for these applications.....

The kind-of is that I'm taking the mentioned more advanced course, 03-510 which involves programming but lacks a course descripion.



According to a co-worker, Adelaide, and Australia in general, is like a mix of Texas and Canada. That's .. an amusing thought. Adelaide is where CMU Australia is being set up.