New archaeological finds sometimes can be surprising in what they tell us. This in particular shows that high-level Mayan civilisation stretched considerably further back than previously thought. Apparently the linguists are having a ball trying to translate the text.
This morning I realised another thing about why having a cat as a pet is so much more emotionally satisfying than an Iguana -- cats have a really good face sense, looking people in the eye. Iguanas sometimes look at human eyes, but I don't think they're as good at spotting them nor do they do it for the same reasons. Eye contact is, psychologically, a big deal.
From a recent conversation, again came up the different way people come to relationships. Like the ladder theory that describes how some people work, the conversation revealed another perspective, in this case not dissimilar to how another friend views relationships - to this person, friendships are a necessary prerequisite to relationship, and romantic feelings tend to naturally follow from being very and eventually uniquely close friends. I think I was wrong earlier when I assumed that, when some people say they love their close friends, it could be dismissed entirely as a terminological difference that disturbed me. I suppose I was actually disturbed by a real fact. It seems that, even prior to the recent family issues and disillusionment/detachment/essentially sitting shiva for a family member, I've always had a fairly conservative, protective, exclusive view of relationships (although my perspective has evolved a bit over time). To me, when I meet someone, I almost immediately know if there's a chance I might ever date them (that is, if there's a spark), and it would be nearly impossible for me to create it if it were not there already. Most people I know don't have that spark, and that's not a problem (it's actually a good thing because being around them does not require any management of my emotions/attractions/etc). If there is that spark, then if I and they are single, I would pursue a relationship with them, reality permitting. If I am not single, I generally tend to avoid them, and if they are not single, I generally either avoid them or find one way or another to snuff the spark. Simple, right? In theory. Keeping things simple is a good goal in life, I think - many people put themselves in sitautions where short-term drives lead to temptations that lead them against long-term better judgements, thinking themselves too adult to need inner guards against bad behaviour. I believe this to be, amusingly by these terms, intellectually childish. People are complex beings, with drives that can occasionally be very strong if not managed, and while self-control at-the-moment is a valuable quality to have, it can't be the only tool people use to be what they want to be. Not enough people take an effort to structure their lives on a larger scale due to exaggerated self-importance, and this leads to disaster in many flavours.
I think I've changed my position on casual sex - I still think that it is emotionally complicated, but I no longer consider it to be unwise as a blanket statement. Casual sex, as always, to me means sex outside the context of a relationship (usually exclusive or near-exclusive dating). Casual sex should be considered carefully for the emotional health of the participants though, because built into our biology are, probably, mechanisms for jealousy, and certainly longing -- self-deception mixed with these kinds of cues can lead to all sorts of pain.
I've recently been re-tagging all my MP3s, because some of the software I use doesn't like the bizarre differences possible in ID3 tagging. This is extremely irritating, because for the same reasons, it's hard to automate fixing the tags. Right now, I have a script that, given a list of MP3s, will list any that either lack a tag or have any of a number of tags it doesn't recognise, and mixed with my other tag management tools (mainly wrappers to id3v2), makes it not terribly painful to fix a number of tags at once. It's a pity that MP3 tagging standards are such a mess.
- Advice like this is partly why so many IT people are stupid. Mark Fagerholm, your bad advice will irritate the clued people who see yet more idiocy handed down from above. Shame.
- Lawrence Lessig on why he lost Eldred v Lessig (a very disappointing court case failure where copyrights were extended and will continue to be extended to infinity)
- Wikipedia gegen Brittanica
- More on Ahmadinejad's statements on the Holocaust. It's a pity, because some of his other ideas/positions in that article seem sensible.
- ESR shows Christianity to be morally incoherent by analogy. Nothing particularly new here -- I've been making such arguments for years. The most unique thing about Christianity is that, unlike most other religions, it's central theme/event is deeply incoherent. It's possible to, with a bit of twisting of the brain, make a number of other faiths make sense, but the "sacrifice" of their main character really makes no sense - not only is the idea of transferrability of goodness odd, but the great depth that people mention in the death is made meaningless by the fact that, like a wibble person (wobbles but they don't stay down), he pops right back up again like an Egyptian god. What a sacrifice. Wow.