Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

  • Music:

Milliard, Lakh, Myriad, and Score

Braved the weather and bus-infrequency to go to Joseph-Beths and then the Beehive (where I am).. acquired:

  • Well, failed to acquire new editions of Middle East Jorunal and Far Eastern Affairs (two academic journals I've mentioned before)
  • Middle East Report - A less academic journal on developments in middle eastern society. I was initially put off by the editor's frothing language when talking about an injustice, but a quick skim of the articles suggested it to be worthwhile. Being mostway through confirms:
    • Article on how Arab societies are dealing with having a large populaton bubble of ages 15-24 and how misconceptions in the West on rebellion/protest lead to serious confusion - the particular things they're rebelling against are not necessarily pushing them closer to western values
    • Tension between various subcultures and notions of Shari'i propriety in Lebanon, and how different groups are providing societal infrastructure to promote cultural growth within their notions of propriety
    • Background on Beitar and Sakhnin, two football (soccer by American terminology) teams in Israel that have considerably richer societal context/symbolism than I've heard of before. The first is tied to Mizrahim (Jews from Arab lands and eastwards, as opposed to Ashkenazim and Sephardim, being of East-Central and Western Europe, respectively), who have created a tradition of being extremely (disturbingly) anti-Arab as a way to affirm their Israeli-Jewish identity and partially break with their recent origins, and the second to Israeli-Arabs - I had heard about their recent matches in Israel's sporting leagues -- YNet reported recently that Beitar, because of the chanting of extremely racist/dagerous things by their fans, was sanctioned by Israel's sporting authority to play two games without fans - I didn't understand the context of this before. The article describes how a Russian Jew now owns both teams and is both pouring money into them while attempting to shape them as a tool for peace.
    • Info on how the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt) is using the Internet to organise itself and present its views. Still reading this..
  • Lakoff's Moral Politics - What looks to be an attempt to provide analysis on how family structure and early upbringing lead people to ways of looking at the world (in American society) that lead them towards identification as Republican or Democrat. Appears to have some substance, look forward to reading it
  • Vali Nasr's The Shia Revival - Historical, cultural, and theological differences between Shia and Sunni, and how they shape current and (potentially) future conflict within Islam. I know the basics of this - hoping the book will assume roughly my level of knowledge and go further

Some media goodies I stumbled across recently:

  • Apocalyptica - Hope - A pretty song - Cello bands are generally amazing and this fits that pattern. The video mixes in a French noir Vampire film called Vidocq which on first glance looks very American-in-the-bad-way-but-pretty -- I might try to see it anyhow.
    • For those who watch other Apocalyptica videos and see what the band's about, I think it'd be particularly hilarious if young kids get the idea of Cello as a badass rock instrument and request leaning more "hardcore" riffs from their poor traditional cello teachers.. (presumably one learns classic/orchestral ways of playing before adapting it to rock, right? It's presumably not like learning to play violin in fiddle style, where one might concievably do that first..?)
  • It's Jerrytime, a series of humour videos that made me laugh loud enough to scare the cats.
  • Tom the Dancing Bug's recent comic on the topic of race is amusing.

And some not-exactly-newslike stuffs:

  • Link Courtesy jwz's LJ, an association of British deaf people want the right to use genetic screening to screen in favour of deafness. In cases like this, I'm comfortable enough to say "No, that's a defect, screening for it would be abusive and against the societal interest - if you do it, you should be locked up". Genetic screening is a wonderful opportunity to wipe out disease, and the possibility of using it for positive manipulations is exciting (provided such advances are consistent with social justice/interests) - as genes define basic issues of the individual and that opens opportunities for abuse and significant social harm, it will need to be regulated. It's unfortunate when people are born with or acquire disability in life, but redefining disability as a positive identity is wrongheaded and should be slapped down (similar to pro-ana groups).. The article notes that this type of screening has already happened in the United States - hopefully we'll see a ban on this here soon.
  • Ken MacLeod (IMO one of the better modern sci-fi authors) mentions an interesting book and phonomenon in a recent blog entry - the phonomenon is Young-Earth Creationists finding ways to quietly slip through University, getting degrees to give credence to their theories. I am tempted to consider this an example of a new concept - getting a degree based on false intent. Is the purpose/meaning of an advanced University education/degree simply understanding present theory, or does it encompass some type of acceptance of the leaning and commitment to the goals of learning? Rephrased, is it kosher to accept into programmes and grant degrees to people who are going for a Masters/PhD in order to directly oppose scientific advance in the field? A certain dissent is part of how "science culture" works - paradigm shifts require a certain willingness for acts that may be construed as heresy, although in those cases there's still intellectual honesty and responsibility to the truth. At the Bachelor level of University Degree, a significant number of people move through the system while considering the result being merely a piece of paper (if they still feel that way at the end and literally get nothing from University, both they and the system have failed on some level). I haven't thought it through entirely yet, but presently I'm inclined to think that Y-E creationists generally merit degrees in fields that touch on geology/biology/etc.
  • Just like Ron Paul, another bad idea floating around in political circles recently - FairTax. Here's arguments *for* it by a foundation devoted towards its implementation. He sounds like a snake-oil salesman :)
  • I don't recall where I saw this, but I had a discussion a month or so ago with someone who's been pushing me to give Haskell another try, and this started the conversation. Getting systems people and computational theory people together becomes more important...
  • On that note but not, Perl 5.10 has some nice new toys.
  • The advertisements in Facebook are really beginning to get to me, I may delete my Facebook account at some point..

For the turning of the year, I shall attempt to pry myself out of my apartment and be at India Garden again, partly because of the promised free champagne and lightly festive atmosphere. Anyone else in town who lacks anywhere better to be can join me there if they like - I imagine I'll probably show up around 23:30 and leave around 0:30.


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