Yesterday, I skipped soccer to go to the protest (partly becase I didn't feel well enough to run around). Normally, at protests I see a mix of young anarchists from POG and a smattering of old labour. The anarchists tend to be low key most of the time, some of them handing around sign-up sheets to become high-key and "get arrested" on an hourly schedule (almost as if they're planning a field trip), most of the time just hanging out. I generally get along reasonably well with them - I feel some distance from them, mostly mutual, because of different perspectives on government, my valuing education and a strong society/organisation, and .. I don't think they put much effort into understandng the world or philosophy (they, in turn, would be free to say that I waste my time trying to justify the existence of the state which by necessity must oppress to do its job). I don't particularly like the chants and mob mentality nor the not-very-intellectual vibe I get from them, but I like them reasonably well. The Old Labour people I tend to get along with better - I've had some good conversations on tactics, philosophy, and values with some of them. They tend to be pretty quiet on some level (I wonder if they're the people who, by and large, run the Thomas Merton Center). Occasionally, other people show up to these events - small groups of latin-american protestors, pro-palestinian groups (which I occasionally get into arguments with, depending on their views), and skinheads of various sorts. I never really get along with skinheads - although I know they vary widely in politics (SHARP members sometimes joined ARA in their direct action in things I've seen), but .. I know it's not particularly fair of me given the exceptions I've made with people I've gotten to know, the nuanced use of words like "power" (perhaps as much a codeword for them as the word "solidarity" is for socialists and anarchists) and their stance towards intellectual development seem, among other things, to be fairly common across the broad skinhead culture, and they creep me out. Combining them with the other societal group known to have very short-cropped hair (the military) means that I have a gut dislike for people who have their hair cropped down to nothing or almost nothing. It's something I try to be aware of and tone down when I meet people though..
The joke essay beneath today's Dresden Codak was amusing. I am amused to say that were the main character of that webcomic a real person, I would probably have asked her out.
A few horrible neuropsychology-themed limericks that popped into my head yesterday:
There once was a Corpus Callosum,
whose performance was simply quite awesome
It relayed some signals
All the lines and the squiggles
And resolved was the sight of a 'possum.
Probing at Brodmann area one,
Some neurologists, having some fun
by sending impulses,
the subject convulses,
and later comes back with a gun
Once beheld a cat's visual cortex
A drain that was full of a vortex
The water, quite fast
was likely to last
So the cat put on gloves made of Gore-Tex
- I can never remember how to mark text in vim except by using the mouse. I need to figure this out so I can apply regexes to select areas of text without needing to switch to graphics mode
- Google Mail offers to open attachments one receives in mail in google office. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to modify them and send them back without saving them to local disk first. Their attachments dialogue needs some work on this front.
- John Howard (PM of Australia) is really frustrating - fairly conservative, supports BushJr in all his adventures, etc. I thought it was interesting though that he used Youtube to get in touch with the Australian public to ask them not to protest the APEC summit in Australia. Considered with the US Democratic Party debates, this may be part of a Nixon-Kennedyesque shift in how politics works in western countries.
- Another Scientist uses self as guinea pig in an experiment that may have been attacked as unethical to perform on even the most consent-form-signed people one could arrange.
- I am delighted to see that the Church of Scientology may have a meeting with justice in Belgium.
- Chris Morris (the actor playing the former company head from the IT Crowd) is planning on doing a film satirising suicide bombers. I'm intrigued (and moderately offended - not that I sympathise with the cause of islamic theocratic suicide bombs nor would I like them to succeed, but their willingness to die for a cause is on some level precious .. but then, this isn't the kind of offense where I'd say "stop" - universal mockery/mockability is worthwhile). It certainly takes guts to step up and possibly become the next Salman Rushdie - he's painting a big bullseye on himself..
On the chance that some of you may not have heard of Vannevar Bush (no relation to BushJr, AFAIK), he was a public figure in the field of science from shortly before WW2 until a bit afterwards. He was active in the murky ground between the beginnings of the American Military-Industrial Complex, Academia, and Government, oversaw the Manhattan project until it was transferred entirely to the US Military, and had his hand in a lot of other theoretical and practical work. One of his frequent topics/efforts made the case for systems similar to France's Minitel and later the world wide web. Here's a copy of one of his more visionary papers: "As We May Think". His writings have a sense of wonder and potential for great societal change - was that more characteristic of the times or his character? Two select quotes:
One:Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, "memex" will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.
Two:Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified. The lawyer has at his touch the associated opinions and decisions of his whole experience, and of the experience of friends and authorities. The patent attorney has on call the millions of issued patents, with familiar trails to every point of his client's interest. The physician, puzzled by a patient's reactions, strikes the trail established in studying an earlier similar case, and runs rapidly through analogous case histories, with side references to the classics for the pertinent anatomy and histology. The chemist, struggling with the synthesis of an organic compound, has all the chemical literature before him in his laboratory, with trails following the analogies of compounds, and side trails to their physical and chemical behavior.