Last night, I went to hang out with J/R at their place again, and they have a new dog called Pinkerton that's partly Pit Bull. Pinky seems to be pretty nice, but he's not yet fully comfortable in his environment, so it's hard to tell what kind of personality he'll have. At the end of the evening, after having a long conversation on upbringing and responsibility, I started to hoof it home. Partway there, I saw one guy chasing another down the street, the chased shouting "Leave me alone", so I called the police. I made it home uneventfully after that. It has been pleasant but worrying that the winter has been AWOL so far. I was considering napping out in the sun on Friday because it felt more like a mild Summer day than a Winter day.
My textbook for the class I'm taking next semester is titled Bioinformatics: Sequence and Genome Analysis. I'm enthused that it mentioned perl on the back, although it's not unexpected because Perl apparently is widely used for that kind of thing (I've spoken with a few people working on such things over the years). My first class would be on monday, but that's Martin Luther King Jr day, and all classes after 12:3 are thus cancelled. As that's my only class, .. I'll have to wait until tuesday.
I have been continually concerned about the end effect the passing of Ariel Sharon will have on the middle east. I think that in the end, I have come to judge heads of state, in actions they do, differently than ordinary people. People like Putin, Ataturk, Sharon, and others that come to define a nation and lead it in a new direction have responsibilities and pressures that no ordinary person can understand, and while this does not exempt them from judgement (people like Idi Amin and Stalin are definitely worthy of harsh condemnation), there are times in history where selective harshness, as part of an effective plan to improve the human condition, is needed to protect civilisation. In the end, I think that Sharon has made significant steps towards mitigating his barbarous acts in the beginning of his career with the efforts towards peace in the end. I hope that his party and his plans are not stillborn, not because I think they're the best plan (a single integrated secular state would be ideal, I think), but instead because I think they have a chance at creating a more solid peace. I believe that without the Arab-Israeli conflict as a propogandic centre, the Muslim militant Fundamentalist movement will begin to wither.
From a recent conversation on IRC, someone made a point to me about most Marxists and leftists that seems fair -- adhering strictly to the materialist conception of history blinds one to other human motivation. For those not familiar with the discussion, the Materialist Conception of History is a means to analyse historical events whereby economic relations are seen as the driving forces behind large-scale human behaviour. This is an enlightening perspective in many cases, and making an effort to understand events in this light will often lead to a better understanding of how things really work, but to rely solely on it mischaracteries people as having no passions but for class struggle. This position is no doubt useful for Marxists and other leftists (with which I fit), but it is blinding self-serving propoganda.
I am pleased to see that Florida has killed school vouchers. I've thought about this for several years, and have come to the conclusion that school vouchers are a bad thing and should not be done. School taxes are intended to promote the public school system specifically, not to pay for a child's education, and while they may amount to the same thing, there is a subtle difference. The latter implies transferrability in a way that government services have not been -- if, for example, someone decided to hire bodyguards for protection, they may decide they don't need protection of the police, but they do not have protection vouchers that allow them to stop funding the police (nor should they), and like with school vouchers, allowing this would effectively slowly strangle the public service, as those who can afford to mix their private funds with what they have withdrawn from the public sphere will do so, leaving the public institution without the economies of scale of service that keep them functioning. It is accurate that this may lead to people paying for a service that they will never directly use, but this is intrinsic to government -- a number of taxes go towards projects that benefit people other than the taxpayer.
You may have heard that Miguel's Mono project is to be included in future versions of Fedora. This is a bad thing, strategically, for Fedora because Mono promotes Microsoft technologies in Linux (in a move that is both legally iffy and not very helpful). It would be slightly less bad to only include apps developed on Mono using something like this. I decided, in a rare moment of deciding to be a pain in the ass, to file this request for enhancement. If you want to similarly have fun, reopen it and add your comments.
I am amused to find that Wall-mart, destroyer of communities and bane of small business, is being dealt with using highly unorthodox means.
I am not one often to side with the FCC, but in this case, I feel that they threaten an existing border that is good to keep. The issue is that the league of women voters wants to have political essays read on publically funded radio, and the FCC feels that that's unacceptable. Although in the end, I am not convinced that neutrality from politics is possible, maintaining the principle bears some utility, especially given that taking down the barrier will lead to much greater harm. For example, right now, churches lose their tax-exempt status if they delve too heavily into politics because neutrality (or at least, not intervening much) is a condition of that status. The situations are not precisely analogous, but they are based on the same principle.
This is worth reading, and in fact would probably be a good thing to hang up on the wall where/when KGB meets.
Someone figured out how to get 3d acceleration working on my laptop. Hurrah. Now my screensavers will be fast and pretty.