IndyHall is making serious steps towards not meeting my needs anymore, not through any mismanagement, but because they're becoming successful enough that the full-time members (who have dedicated desks) have grown numerous, leaving few desks for the medium-level members. This is my second time using the uncomfortable high-tables (meant for meals breaks?) as a workstation; I expect I'll cancel my membership if I have to do this a third time. No real fault to them, but they need to expand if they want my business.
The overwhelming impression I get of Israel is that it has terribly bad racial policy that gives racial privilege to Jewish folk (not surprising; it has this reprehensible "ethnic homeland" thing going on), but it pairs it with an almost bizzarely light hand in foreign policy. Some militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit some years ago, and just now, a deal was reached where his custody would be traded for 1027 palestinians who were in prison for a variety of things (much of it violent). Shin Bet (Israel's intelligence agency) claims that this was the best deal possible, and the PA is disappointed that some of those released will be exiled from the West Bank while some lawyers are concerned over the basic legality of such exile. This still strikes me as amazingly foolhardy on Israel's part. A 1:1027 ratio is not sensible, and while Shalit may have willingly been part of the military of a particularly problematic state, this hardly amounts to the actions of the worst who are to be released as part of this trade. In my view, there are and were two reasonable responses to the kidnapping: 1) Declare war and send in the military to entirely subdue militants where he is until he is released, or 2) Leave him where he is until and unless a deal can be reached that would see Israel release a militant who had actually done as little in struggle as Shalit had (if Israel even bothers to hold such people).
It's weird to see things like this; Israel's policies are often wrong, and they're hard where they should be soft and soft where they should be hard. Forcibly evacuating the settlers would be a good step towards peace. Not doing insane trades like this would be an appropriate way to uphold their notions of sovereignty/rule-of-law and prevent very bad precedent from being set (how profitable is it to kidnap an Israeli? Apparently VERY profitable! Will it happen again? Probably, given results like this). Ending building in East Yerushalaim and recognising it as Palestinian would be enormously productive in allowing talks to continue.
Recently heard about Sifter. I'm hoping it's a reasonable thing to be part of without living on the west coast; although my family has always encouraged me to join Mensa, the gatherings of that I've been to haven't felt very welcoming. I hope that if I'm accepted (just applied), I'll find that it's a pleasant, intellectual, open-minded crowd, and that it's not overrun with libertarians.
Because the job-I-wanted-more at MIT didn't work out (or at least they didn't get back to me yet), I'm putting together a code sample for a Perl shop in NYC. One of the things I've decided is that I should stop applying to jobs unless I'm really sure I want them, and I need to decide if I want this one, but this is kind of a cute project; it scoops a bunch of files into a database, automatically thumbnailing the images, and creates a tarfile on-the-fly for them when requested, with-or-without those same images. Nothing particularly amazing, but every few years I'm finding my programming style improving (my Perl intially started very C-like, and has grown more LISPy and more disciplined, at the same time, over the years). I'm also doing things with stored-procedures that I've never done before, so it's a learning experience. I should be able to abstract a fair set of useful things out of this project when I'm done.
I'm thinking about writing an article for slashdot advocating the forking of GNOME; given that Linus has expressed his distaste for GNOME3, and how many respected developers and Linucers are finding GNOME2 to have been far better than GNOME3, I think I could make a pretty good case for it.