July 2nd, 2008

Semiformalishmaybe

Coinshy

To get whenever I have income again:

  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2
  • Nintendo Gameboy DS to play it on
  • A new linux laptop - this one is getting physically beat up, and while not yet falling apart, probably should be retired into desktophood. The HP Pavilion XDX looks prety nice with its 20" screen... I would be reluctant to buy Intel rather than AMD, but my options are limited by my love of huge screens and keyboards.
  • Possibly a new windows laptop as well, although I am reluctant to do that as it's for a single game that is only slow because the developer chose flash (instead of something more suitable) as their implementation platform. Still, this is a game that I really like, and being able to run it more smoothly would be nice. Very occasionally I've grown readdicted to Civ3 as well, but it runs smoothly on the laptop as-is, likewise with occasional needs to use real MS Office (ugh) or Adobe Photoshoop (also ugh - I much prefer GIMP's interface)
If the "book" other OLPC device isn't ever sold directly to customers or made available through a donation programme, I'll have to see if personal ties can get me one of them.
Semiformalishmaybe

Men of the Coin

Debate in meaning of democracy: between people who are chosen to perform the task of representing the will of the masses (by means of polls and talking with the people) and those who are chosen by the masses because their existing principles are appealing to the masses - pollsters versus statesmen.

In a market system, by and large we have the equivalent of statesmen - the "invisible hand" in theory selects producers that are likable to the consumer as measured by money flows (in practice, almost always price is the main or only factor and society controls gross undesirability and manages structured negotiation through laws). Unfortunately, these statesmen are even worse than real statesmen as they almost always seek little but profit for themselves. Amusingly sad when "duty to the shareholder" becomes a legal mandate against deviation from being maximally selfish - more companies should presumably lose their public charter through plebicite or other means of determining that they no longer serve the public interest, or possibly they should have to be approved and renewed every ten years or so through a process more discriminatory on those criteria and more prone to electoral input (ideally remote from the executive and judicial branches of government, possibly self-managed and not part of legislative either).

Either way, I think the "I select the one I like from a variety by some principles and other characteristics they have" versus "I want someone whom I can control" division is a particularly important measuring tool for understanding power relations and choice.

Market systems based on more of a control system would be quite interesting - although as mentioned we have some elements of control (via laws and regulations), they occur in a highly mediated, nonspecific form. For individuals, traditions of rule of law act to protect the unpopular from being punished for being unpopular for nonspecific actions, but do corporations need the same protections? Most employees in most companies probably are "at-will employees" -- whenever they are thought not to serve a positive role/purpose in the company they can be fired. Perhaps corporations should be treated as coldly as that as well.

Semiformalishmaybe

Tomato Decour

Thinking about the various foods we take for granted - so many of these recipes are very "high hanging fruit". We might easily imagine the discovery of cooking meat, but other things like gelatin (pulverised bones/hooves), bread (ground, baked grain), cheeese, etc etc, all seem amazing and implausible to have been invented/discovered.

We could imagine this amazement to be a cousin to that used by those who don't hold with Natural Selection because of irreducible complexity, haha. "But who would buy a half-baked cake?"

What nonobvious foods (of complexity of production within reasonable distance with what most people eat nowadays) have we missed out on so far?

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