The depression and near depth created a kind of nervous energy in the air.It was all about fighting the good fight -- when the enemy invades, they'llwould certainly win, but not without a damned good fight. Pits were dug,with sharp spikes being fashioned out of the remainders of dead vehicles.11 months until the end. Many of the remnants of society were productive,preparing the last bastion of their civilization for its final defiance.A slow trickle of families left the site every week, deciding to face deathquietly. Noone really minded -- in the face of a certain end, the time forjudgement was long past. Helpful hills, moats of acid, primitive cannons werefashioned. In the basement of the fort, preperations to seal off the bottomfloor were made, and a large bomb was being fashioned, a last tribute tothe transgressors, to be used after all else were gone. The final efforts ofa doomed people.. Finally, the month came, and the people waited, patrolswatching the plains for motion, each person armed, trained, and ready togo out, bringing down as many of the foe as possible.. The days slowlymoved by, the nervous tension rising. The patrols went out further andfurther, and found nothing. An impromptu meeting - had intelligence beenwrong? A vague sense of disappointment.
Despite it being announced on 1 April, apparently Google was serious aboutstarting a mail service. I wonder if the adverts will really manage to pay for it,and further wonder if Google is really making money, and if so, how.. Theyare a cool company, in what they give the net, and from the people I knowwho've left to go work for them. From what I hear, people spend Fridaysworking on something unrelated to their normal job that's of interest tothem, and that's presumably where Orkut came from.Of course, Orkut is designed to get interesting data sets about people, thatthey can do analysis on inall sorts of interstingways.. It's kind of a 'you scratch my back..' situation..
Apparently, in the 5th century, as recorded in a text called Hanno's Periplus,a Carthagean explorer came across some of our hairy relatives (likely gorillas),and described them as savage hairy people.
"Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king" -- Bob Dylan
There's an article on control of the internet that'sworth reading... a particular quote catches the eye,
"They claim all they are advocating is a deregulated environment where the market can reign supreme. But in reality, they are seeking government help to allow a few companies to turn the Internet from a place of completion and innovation, into an oligopoly. Power over the Internet would then reside with the network owners, who could use choke-point power to constrain consumer choices, limit sources of news and information and entertainment, undermine competitors, and quash disruptive new technologies."
Basically, the claim is that a small group of telco companies are attempting tocontrol the internet, dictate standards, and control the internet, in thename of deregulation. In particular, currently there's legislation in placemandating that people who control, metaphorically, a 'pipe' (physical hardwareusable for conveying voice or data, like cable or phone/DSL lines) must allowcompetitors access to these lines at certain 'reasonable rates' in order topromote competition. The people with the pipes naturally don't like this --they'd prefer to have exclusive use of the pipes so they can set prices.No, this isn't at all unusual for companies, large or small -- the theoreticalidea that competition isn't dangerous to a business doesn't work in the realworld. Small companies usually are trying to think of a way to kill or buy theiropponents so they can do some price setting, so instead of competing againstexisting opponents on cost (which is hard), they're just balancing pricesagainst theoretical investors who would swallow the costs of starting fromscratch, and using patents to block that. Anyhow, it'd be unwise for me toname names here, but it's everywhere. The problem with the above quote is thatit fails to understand that the two things are the same -- a deregulated environment,in some markets, with sufficient time, tends to lead to consolidation. Very fewcompanies in a market are interested in promoting consumer choice for the marketthey're in (although some, like pricewatch, would be happy to assist in choice inother markets). Consolidation doesn't happen in all markets -- where there isn'tsufficient economy of scale (there's usually some), the borders to entry into amarket are low enough, patents are hard to use to squash competition, and there isn'tenough money involved to buy politicians to tilt the playing field, the market remainsdiverse. We should be wondering, how many markets are there that don't tend towardsa small number of extremely powerful players crowding everyone else out? How long willit be until the entire .. hmm.. marketplace-world? I don't have a word for the world ofall markets.. until all of that ends up being like Pepsi versus Coke? Further,while it seems likely that this consolidation is inevitable for many fields, are thereany effects pushing things the other way?
I recently was reading about the origin of Jewish lastnames -- apparently, likewith my (Scottish Gael) ancestors, the Jews went for a very long time without lastnames, while they were widely used throughout the rest of the world. Many of theJewish last names had to be purchased from european officials, as they wern'tallowed to pick their last names when they became necessary in the 15th-18th century,which is why many families today have names like Goldmann. Apparently, there's aYiddish joke about this, which goes:
There was a man whose friend consoled him because he hadn't had enough money to buya nice name such as Rosenberg or Lilienthal and ended up with Schweissgeruch.His response was, oi, what I had to pay for the w.
I also found This writing site, which is amazingly cool.
Apparently, someone screwed up in arranging a 'mock rape' on an online bulletin board,and the .. well... mock rape was delivered to the wrong person. It seems reallystrange to me that people would trust someone they've never met to come and'forcibly' have sex with them. Specifically, it seems likely they'll sometimeend up with someone who would kill them, or rob them, or something. I don't knowif it's prejudiced of me to say that though -- these are, presumably, just peoplehaving some fun (well, when people don't screw up).. still, I'd be a bit worriedabout people I knew if they were to get involved in this kind of thing. It reminds meof a recent conversation I had regarding someone letting their kids engage insexplay. I was bothered by this, but at the same time, based on my knowledge ofother cultures that have typically allowed this kind of thing, I feel a tensionin myself -- that it bothers me to the extent that I think it makes said person anunfit parent, but at the same time, I can also see it as a cultural norm that canvary without large detriment to society. Basically, this is a conflict in my interpretationof weak and strong moral relativism -- how can I condemn it in our society, while notcondemn other societies that permit it, and remain a strong moral relativist? I haven'tyet resolved this issue yet, although it amuses me to bump into this kind of thingso soon after suggesting that my readers go looking for it. I guess it's because it'sfresh in my memory.
A little bit of science for you...Speculation on the transition from water-dwellers to land-dwellersYup, a fish with 'fingers'Glass made in magnetic levitationIt's gotten surprisingly little coverage, and, from what I remember from physics,glass is not supposed to be a conductor or in the least way magnetic. I'm really curioushow they're suspending it in midair for it to form. They do promise interesting propertiesfor glass made in this way..German Talking TrashcansAntarctic DinosaursCells on SiliconYes, like with the glass, I'm going to generalize a bit, and say that half of interestingbreakthroughs are breakthroughs in materials science.I'm kind of jealous of this person's adventures...
"War is God's way of teaching Americans Geography" -- Ambrose Bierce
Finally, and note that I'm adding this in as an after-note, I've had thepleasure of starting to conduct psych research for the first time yesterday.I have a flash-based voice recorder, and am recording people talking theirway through solving math problems, in order to attempt to understand changesin mathematical strategy based on specimen^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hubject tiredness.It's neat! I look forward to doing a lot of this kind of thing, althoughin the future, I hope to be tying it to fMRI machines and similar.