"You're all here to understand conflict. We have a lot of instinct relating to conflict, used since before the dawn of our species to help us flee or fight. From the personal to the tribe, some people can smell it coming, from the silence of efforts to coexist being abandoned, to no more jockeying for position. We learn to hear the approach of a fight as mutually stifled wills shift our realities. Some use this chance to prepare to give something up, or to flee long before conflict arrives, and some arrange - learn the weak points of coworkers, friends, lovers, perhaps seek outside aid. Some of you want to learn the approach of conflict to avert it - often this is worse, as the moment of conflict is a sign that the old reality is no longer justified." -- Isa wrinkled her brow, absentmindedly looked up the profile of her professor.
- Wired magazine (not necessarily a great source for advice/analysis of any kind, but sometimes neat for ideas) claims that there are 10 nonobvious ways societies could be steered to help preserve the biosphere. Their specifics are based on "cans" and "coulds" though, and it's possible that the points they make against X might not actually mean X is a bad idea (or even that there is a Y that is better), just that evaluation of X is complex. Their first mention is something that's not particularly controversial - suburbs are bad for the environment (and given that they're also terrible for culture, forcing economic and other shifts that would start their phaseout should be a priority for anyone who cares about either)
- Also from wired, some rich folk want to see micronations on seaborn platforms become more common. Radical individualism is dangerous on many fronts - this is another expression of it that hopefully won't go anywhere. Fortunately, it's likely that they'd likely find themselves the targets of "wars", either from each other or from citizens of proper countries. I'm also bothered that Patri Friedman, associated with one of these things, is quoted here saying how he sees government as an industry and dislikes the "high barrier to entry". The community of nations serves many purposes, from providing ways for nations to be nudged/cajoled/forced into suitable international treaties to pushing each other towards standards of uniform treatment (UN Conventions on Human Rights and such) - the process is incomplete, but valuable, and the growth of radically individualist island nations, especially those that might accumulate large amounts of capital and launder money, pollute, create harmful competition for labour standards (slavery, etc) is something we should be concerned about. All that said, the technological problems and solutions are pretty neat.
- Ars Technicha's Ryan Paul writes why he thinks major free software projects should not accept recent calls to sync up their releases. His arguments hold weight (even though his example of PulseAudio on Ubuntu is possibly spurious and at least underargued), but he passes along an idea (from Aaron Seigo of KDE) that distro-makers instead handle software releases. This is an interesting idea with some problems (or at least major adjustments) - it further alienates projects from the products they produce by making what's shipped in Linux distros much more distant from "upstream". As of present, there is a tension between projects and the distros, but generally software shipped with a distro is very close to a project-versioned release (or prerelease) with some vendor-specific patches tied to QA, customer needs, and specific oddities of the distro (like SELinux) - this holds for anything from the kernel to apache. It's not terribly difficult for users to talk directly with project developers or to shift to stock packages, and communication about what features are ready (or what branches of the source trees are suitable for wide use) is reasonably explicit and well-defined. For programs which use public communication protocols, there is little risk of unintended wide deployment of undecided interfaces or features that might not "work out" in the present model. Shifting responsibility for releases to individual distros effectively creates new project forks for every opensource program commonly in a Linux distro, with the forks managed by people who are likely to be distant from the developers and their plans. Attempting to actively coordinate with the developers poses an additional problem when one considers how many distros exist - the communication level would become a serious burden for each project run that way. There are circumstances where some liberties may reasonably be taken with software packaging (for example, betas of Firefox 3 have replaced Firefox 2 in many recent distros, in the past gcc/egcs has required a lot of custom attention from most distro makers, and few distros ship a completely stock kernel), but even for distro vendors that have a lot of their own engineers, it seems like moving in this direction would be a mess.
- I thought it was interesting that the FBI tried to prevent torture of prisoners by the CIA and US Military. It's a shame that neither torture, unjustified war (in Iraq, that is), an executive branch power grab, nor any of the other numerous abuses by the current executive branch have been enough to bring about impeachment and/or anything more drastic. At the very least it has both brought about an intensely low public approval rating and caused some leading Republicans to call for reinventing their party - a power vacuum within the party was made likely as the Neoconservative branch's big gambles didn't pay off. It remains to be seen if the theocratic branch will suffer as well, as while BushJr's executive was not itself of that branch, it strongly courted them and used their words/imagery to support itself.
- I'm glad to see that MPs failed to protect their expenses from public disclosure. If no other pressing issues dictate otherwise, hopefully the British electorate will not reelect those who tried to keep these matters private. (I am slightly weirded out that MP Martin looks a bit like my deceased grandpa)
- Taiwan elected a Kuomintang president of the faction that pushes the status quo. I'm a bit disappointed - it seems like the only attractive long-term solution for the China-Taiwan conflict would be to maneuver China to accept that Taiwan has effectively long been a separate nation and to recognise it as such, and the status quo does little to resolve that matter.
- I am still bothered by US treatment of Cuba. I would love to see a president here that would halt attempts to topple their government, lift travel restrictions, and prosecute rather than aid ex-Cubans here who have done violent acts against Cuban society and state.
- As bright a guy as he is, I think Randall Schwartz's Useless Use of Cat award is wrongheaded - not everyone thinks about tools in the same way, and having a clean and functional mental representation of a tool is just as reasonable as the pedagogy he suggests - if it turns out to be simpler to think of cat as a generic way to grab content from one or more files and send it onwards on a pipeline than think about how files are handled by other applications, then the slight inefficiency of an extra program on modern systems is worth it. There is, as the perl community often says, more than one way to do it.
Han von Meegeren: an interesting "forger" of the Dutch masters, who painted original paintings in their style, attributed to them in the hopes that once they had received acclaim, he would reveal his authorship and achieve fame. My thoughts: his personal ethics were worthy of condemnation, but he was also a great artist and the works he made were not less worthy of their acclaim by the fraud. Were the conversations and insights made by trying to combine the claimed artists' perspective with the specifics of the work invalid? To what extent is appreciation for authenticity as part of the character of a work overrated or a failing? Should we now appreciate his art under his own name?