Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Between a Rock and a Sandwich

There was an article in the Journal of Higher Education that was out on the table of the psychology break room on The site aims to show the unfairness behind online poetry contests, particularly the personal ties that lie behind the awards given. Poetry contests have long been known to be a sucker's game -- there are a lot of companies that offer poets the "opportunity" to present their work to the world by publishing them online (costs the company pretty much nothing) and then attempts to play on their vanity by offering them bound books with all the free poetry they get this way, their poem included, for a hefty cost. It's not hard to set up a company to do this, and by exploiting poor poets this way, one can make money decently well. If one wants to be even crueler, one sets up "conferences" where these same poets can come to read their poetry, and of course said poets pay their own airfare, housing, and on top of that pay a conference fee. Again, not hard to set up, and exploitave. Slightly less shady (slightly being the operative word) are the contests Foetry is about, where there's the academic connection. Foetry's operator did the homework and found that a large percentage of the time, judges in these contests know/taught/are married to the people they give prizes to. Apart from a certain person I know who would say that they earned those social ties and so it's not a problem, pretty much everyone I know would disapprove of such things. The author of Foetry also got rather angry about the whole situation -- money extracted from exploited poets, and distributed in the form of prizes to friends/relatives/coworkers of the judges, and so he poked fun at the people he was exposing. This leads, of course, to an excuse for the people he's exposing and the people who benefit from their corruption to attack him. Note that the article isn't quite taking this slant -- I am because I am aware of how social ties work and how they act on society.

Again, a reminder -- I need a few of you to send in the time and place you were born (down to the minute if possible, and just down to the city for place) so I can present the stuff to girl-who-claims-astrology-is-real (she does have a name, but let's keep her nameless on the BLOG). Just email it to me.

BushJr has backed himself into an interesting corner with this anti-terrorist crusade. His simplistic idea of "terrorism bad for any purpose" has been met with a Cuban request to turn over an anti-Cuba terrorist that the CIA funded for numerous attacks in the 70s. Of course, the cuban "exiles", a political community that I dislike almost as much as the political fundamentalists who are out to ruin Kansas's education again, are screaming for Castro's head so they can go back and exploit Cubans again, and approve of anything that hurts Castro, complicating things further, at least in the world of politics where their ill-gotten funds make a difference.

This interview with John Perkins is worth reading to find out about how oil interests are perverting politics to exploit poor countries. Hopefully eventually countries will learn that when they borrow from the United States, there are serious and nasty strings attached. Better yet, perhaps someday business interests can be shoved out of politics.

There's a fascinating article on a new use for Second Life -- demonstrating the subjective effects of schizophrenia. There's the hope that it can be eventually used to create some kind of a therapy for sufferers. Fascinating.

Although Newsweek retracted the story about flushing the Qu'ran, there might be good reason that they only retracted it for political reasons, and that it was indeed accurate. From my perspective, the fact that torture occurred is far more important than flushing down the toilet what is, essentially, a book. Then again, I am an atheist living in America. I do find it interesting that, with all the word games going back and forth for awhile, we finally have settled, in American public discourse, to calling it torture, and yet noone really seems to mind very much. I find myself wondering what other things the complacent American public would accept if it came down from above, given that we've got torture now. Racial discrimination? Government jobs that mandate christianity? Trials for blasphemy? I wonder..

On the local level, this is a proposal to reform Pittsburgh government to presumably fix a lot of things. I'm not so convinced that all their changes are good. More transparency in government? Pretty clearly good. Splitting the transportation group into bus and train divisions? Probably bad. Dozens of new positions? Probably bad because of cost. Reform the Library? I don't see the point. Also, they don't call for merging the county and city governments, which I see as being a big imperative.

I've been using GreaseMonkey with Firefox a lot recently -- there's a nice library of scripts, some of which deal with irritations in sites I frequent (IGN, google), others being nice in general, that I find incredibly useful. Hurrah. Here, in case you're interested, are the other Firefox plugins I use.

  • GMail notifier
  • Web Developer
  • User Agent Switcher
  • GCache
  • Wayback
  • Wikipedia
  • Download Manager Tweak
  • PRGoogleBar
  • US Department of Homeland Security Idiocy Level
  • Live HTTP Headers
If China gets its wish and gets snuggly enough with Taiwan, there might be a chunnel between the mainland and the island. I still would hope that reunification doesn't happen until the Communist system in China is repurified, and Taiwan has its own revolution that isn't dependent on it merging with the current corrupt Chinese system (that honestly never was as liberal as any Communism I would accept must be).

The Apache group is thinking about doing an open reimplementation of Java. The project, if it ever happens, is called Harmony. It'd be cool, but it's a big undertaking, and it'll be a challenge keeping up with sun. I hope they're up to it.

This is strangely interesting -- while it's easily initially dismissed as science fiction, it actually has interesting political philosophy content. Read, consider.

The 6T raid came in at work. On one hand, I'm happy that it's here, because I won't need to shuffle data with so much difficulty. On the other hand, it's going to take me a long time to get it ready and to move all our existing data onto it. In case you're interested, I went with the SATA-SCSI 6T unit from RAIDWeb.

A few, more personal notes, and then bed.I'm still addicted to grape juice, and with my recent purchase of a single bottle of the stuff at the supermarket, I can't stop thinking about the stuff. It's frustrating. I also made the mistake of running while wearing loafers and no socks instead of tennis shoes and socks. It has done numerous bad things to my toes/feet/legs. Dumb.

Tags: politics, tech

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