Last night, I had a strange dream -- Trotsky and Lenin weredancing in a dark theatre, a beautiful song that wistfully moved itshand across the past, and an uncertain future... and then Stalinappeared, standing still, just moving his knees up and down. I laughedat how stupid he looked, and the audience laughed with me, but Stalin pulled outsome guns, shooting Trotsky and Lenin (Cinderella syndrome?), and then turned tothe audience, and blood sept from the walls. I felt really guilty for leadingthe audience, my flock, into this bloody laugh... Stalin faded, andalong came Putin, doing a Cossack dance while wearing a .. let's call it a kilt.Every few minutes, he'd pause, and move his knees like Stalin, giving me alook that felt like he was dissecting my soul. I wasn't sure if it was afriendly gaze or a hostile one..
I'm not a big fan of those faddish quizzes people pass around, butJeff has one that I'll do..
Political survey (I've added some of my own things)
- Abortion - Should be legal until significant and unique brain development
- Death Penalty - Should be a confession first, or an actual recording of the act that warrants it
- Prostitution - Legalize it. Not my cup of tea, but *shrug*
- Alcohol - Deregulate it (except in high-risk situations like driving, flying, surgery, etc). Also not my cup of tea..
- Drunk Driving - Too dangerous for society to permit. Lock 'em up as being grossly negligent. Better public transit might help.
- Marijuana - Legalize it. Tea....
- Other Drugs - Legalize them. Tea..
- Gay Marrage - Marrage is cultural -- should not have state involvement. "Personal Unity" should replace marrage as the legal institution, and be nondiscriminatory. Marrage should be the way "marriage" is spelt. Tea..
- Illegal Immigrants - In an ideal world, immigration would be open. I don't know what it'd take to make that practical.
- Smoking - Deregulate it. Should not be legal in areas with fire risk (e.g. parks). Tea....
- Cloning - Should be legal. Still, it's a pity, because there are already so many unwanted kids in the world.
- Population Controls - Yes. I'm not sure what form they should take (taxes?) though
- Racism - In the northern united states, it's not that big, but that's an swfully small part of the world
- Nationalism - Very dangerous, as much so as racism (and the two are often tied together)
- Premarital Sex - With appropriate education on disease avoidance, it's a good thing
- Religion - Has embodied much of human beauty and reprehensibility over many years. It's time to bring it to an end, and replace it with the honesty that philosophy brings us (which, while equally capable of such embodiment, at least usually does so more honestly)
- The War in Iraq - BushJr and his cabinet belong in jail for starting it. Now that it's started, we have an obligation to fix things, ideally under another president, and ideally as part of a coordinated U.N. effort
- BushJr - A would-be crusader, with the naive mentality associated. Surrounds himself with plutarchs that see only profits and churches everywhere
- Downloading music - Information shall be free
- Legal Drinking Age - Europe does it earlier and better. Most Americans are spoiled, sheltered, ignorant folks, which explains why BushJr got elected
- Porn/Masturbation - It's a good thing, especially for people too young for sex to be an option, or for people who find themselves single
- Suicide - Ok by me. It's a personal decision, perhaps the most personal decision possible. It happens to be taboo, and people who decide for it are often called insane, but I think that's just humanity's insecurity at being unable to definitively decide why it shouldn't be done, and it's general discomfort with death.
So, I've been working most of the week on two papers, one in Neuropsych (thatI'll be turning in in about an hour, and that I largely completed last night),and the other in Cognitive Research Methods, which I did a presentation onyesterday. Two nights in a row with hardly any sleep. It's tough on me.Fortunately, I rearranged my apartment's furniture so we now have two desks inthe living room (one for Debb, one for me), giving us a bit more lebensraum(*wink*) for our studying, and that helped a lot. Also, for a break, yesterdayand the day before, Debb and I watched a film about segregation-busting inthe south, Mississippi Burning. It's an incredible film, but it'salso hard to watch -- the things one sees make one very angry. It's easy tounderstand, given the context, how the black power movement got so strong.Time to send it, and the other film we saw, a funny 80s camp movie called"Just One of the Guys", back to NetFlix.Speaking of which, it's odd how NetFlix's opening page is so slow, but onceyou get past it, the site isn't that slow -- I wonder if it has a lot ofoff-site images that slow site load. Oh, I finally found the third movie thatI lost for awhile -- once I watch it, I can go back to having three, ratherthan two, movies cycling through the mail with netflix.. it's like juggling.
Oh, an old friend is back -- Mathematica arrived from Wolfram research.CMU has a nice site-license, and so I got a personal license and media for free.I'm very happy about this -- Mathematica is one of the tools I most fondlyremember from my undergrad years, just as the TI-85 and TI-92 were my mostprized posessions from my high school years. It's funny, thinking about themathematica interface and wiki interfaces at the same time ... could there besomething in the intersection? Mathematica was also the first tool I've beenexposed to that did folding, which is a really nice feature in documentediting (and code editing). Another important innovation in editing issplit-screen modes with 2+ views on the same document (or different ones) --emacs and vim do this kind of thing well.. views and folding both have thesame overall goal -- making it easier to manage information by changing how'windows' into the document(s) you're working with work. Are there otherobvious ways to do this sort of thing that arn't shaped like hyperlinks (whichthemselves are very cool)?
Wikis are a technology that seem to me to be the "Hello, World" for the midlevelprogrammer. Programming a Wiki is the perfect project. Really! That's why thereare so many Wiki engines. There's no parts that are super difficult, one caneasily do it partway and work on the fine details later, they can be done withor without databases, in almost any language. You want to hire someone? Theperfect test of their design and implementation skills is to have them write awiki in a day. It's the perfect project. If only there were a way to have wikisdo folding and views ... maybe there's a way for folding, but views would behard, which brings us to the next topic.
A lot of companies use the web as an application layer for their software,gluing CGIs, Jakarta, mod_perl, and similar to the user through their browser.This works decently well, but the interfaces possible through a browser arefairly limited -- you get dropboxes, clickable buttons, simple text widgets, andimages, but control over them is limited, and they really arn't designed forapplication-type things. Retrofitting and spit'n'glue are responsible for whathas been done. Microsoft has come up with an interesting idea -- a markuplanguage called XAML which provides a decent way to manage widgets inan XML-type way for web (and web-like) applications. Na klar, you need to glueyour XAML to an application for actual work to get done, but it doesn't seemlike a bad idea. Microsoft seems to want to use it for all apps, eventually.It's reminiscent of NeXTStep's .nib files, which were a seperate interfacefile that were glued via hooks to the actual application, cleanly seperatingthe GUI and the program logic. Maybe this is the future again.
I'll write more later -- I'm still resting from all the paper-writing and such.