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Semiformalishmaybe

The Whole Nine Yarns

Today was a surprisingly good day. Still lonely, mostly, but good. I've been thinking about Batman and moral philosophy, at least partly because a legal blog I follow wrote about it recently and that happened to converge with a recently-frequent set of topics in my thought (blog entry is forthcoming on this when I feel like writing about the topic, so no more spoilers). I also am starting to do some contextual research before I read Sartre's 「Nausee」 for the first time; I'm hoping it's good (I really liked 「Huis Clos」).

I took the train to 30th Street Station but our train was stuck about 50 feet outside the station for about half an hour due to mechanical failure; got into some random chats about public transit with others on the train while waiting. There was also a senile old dude who kept trying to do what we all wanted to do; open the doors, hop off the train, and walk the few feet over the tracks to the nearby roads. The conductors kept telling him no, but he didn't seem to fully understand and kept opening the train door again. Our hero. Kind of. Comedy is occasionally about envy and it's often about tensions between our instincts and our repressions. We knew we couldn't get away with just marching off the train, which is why it was awesome to see that old muddled man try to do it over and over again. You go, dude! Live out our desires, and we'll live through you.

Anyhow, a short trek to Mugshots later, I settled in, turned in a holiday scratch-off card they were handing out in late December for the holidays, and was delighted to win a pound of coffee. It smells wonderful. I've been on a month-old bag of grounds that I probably should've tossed long ago; it's hard to grind and lacks the good smell it once had; this bag smells better than that one ever did. Also had a wonderful tempeh sandwich (which I am coming to be a big fan of) and some tea; sketched a bit, played with ideas for stories, programmed a bit, and checked my email half a dozen times hoping to hear from TED.

And then the String Bass showed up. I always like seeing String Basses. Part of it is that I remember how hard it was for me, in high school, to lug "my" bass all over town and I appreciate anyone serious enough to do that. Part of it is that I love the sound and the look (and the smell of rosin and wood). As I was getting ready to go, I stopped by the part of Mugshots where they were playing and sat for what I thought was just going to be a moment. I initially thought it was a bit odd that in the quartet, the Bassist was conducting a bit, and I also found it a bit strange that I didn't recognise some of the songs but some of them were breathtakingly beautiful. Having been in orchestra for most of my pre-university schooling, and generally liking classical music, I was pretty sure I would've remembered this stuff before (it was classical music with a bit of jazz mixed in) had I heard it, and reasonably sure I would've heard it had it ever been big, and reasonably sure it would have been big because it's so great. Unless, that is, it's very modern, which was where my intuitions were going. The music being informal, I leaned in and asked one of the violinists (2 violins, a viola, and the Strong Bass were their quartet), and the String Bassist heard me and told me that he wrote the piece. So I stayed much longer than I expected, had a conversation with the Bassist, bought his last CD, and had a good time listening to his original compositions as well as his arrangements of various pieces, all played by a slightly-rotating set of people who had gathered there to play with him while he's in town. He's from Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and on tour, working his way back west playing with local community members the whole way. He goes by the name of Mister Cuttime.

I stayed until Mugshots closed, then walked back to 30th St St, barely missed the train I wanted, and waited for an hour to catch the next. On the train I saw one of my co-passengers from earlier in the day.

Tired now, but I got to help someone I used to know with a Perl problem (how to write a custom sort functions for slightly tangly data structures) and am thinking maybe I should brew a cup of the new coffee before I go to sleep.

Oh, hey, you get some "news" too:

  • Pleased to see that France has banned denial of the proto-Turkish genocide of Armenians. Turkey's been disgustingly under denial for this (part of their whole national myth rubbish) for far too long, there is a very strong historical consensus on the matter, and it's time they face up to what everyone already knows.
  • I just heard about this: a judge required that a defendant decrypt their laptop. I'm not sure what I think about this; it's an area where a traditional legal distinction is hairy in the modern world. Should judges be able to force people to undo their encryption? What are the issues? Traditionally, if there's an investigation underway of the residence of a criminal (or other crime-relevant place), police have the ability to search it. That's a good thing. People under investigation also have the right not to self-incriminate; they cannot be required to make statements that incriminate themselves. That's a good thing too. Is decrypting a laptop a statement? Is providing a password a statement? That's the hairy bit. I am leaning towards no; the statement of a password or act of decryption does aid investigation, but its content is not itself incriminating, just the function that the act has. What we have is essentially a language key that unlocks the equivalent of a place that the police would like to search, that key itself having (probably) no hint of criminal behaviour, but rather a strict function of providing basic access. Under this reasoning, I can understand the judge's ruling. Provided, of course, that my understanding of self-incrimination is correct. There may be relevant case law, but if there is I don't know about it.
  • I recently came across this, an awesome video where young-earth creationists were trying to make fun of atheists but accidentally made us look awesome instead. FUCK YEAH. The irony here is that anti-intellectuals and intellectuals will see this thing very differently. Maybe.
  • A nice opinion piece taking down libertarianism using some of the better, clearer, more persuasive arguments we have.

Still a lot on my plate to write about... likely will head over to Chapterhouse tomorrow.

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