A few weeks ago, one of the doors in the (very obscure) hallway in Baker Hall my office is in was left accidentally unlocked -- it's the door labeled "Machine Room" that has some stairs going up into a crawlspace. Because of some details of when I noticed, I didn't explore it at the time, and I only recently remembered. It's unfortunately locked again, so I just have to hope for another mistake that'll let me poke around up there. There are other ways I could probably get up there, but they would involve doing social things with which I wouldn't be comfortable...
I recently picked up Chumbawamba's album A Singsong and a Scrap -- it's rather good - so far I don't dislike any of the songs (which is amazingly rare for me - normally the enjoy-rate for musicians I like is less than 70%). I'm sometimes amused, with their music, that Tubthumper, their most well-known song, is so atypical of their style - I like it, but it's kind of a novelty for rare moods - songs like Jacob's Ladder and Pass It Along are much more representative and generally fun. The Tubthumping album which Tubthumper was on was actually a pretty poor album - I'm surprised (but glad) that I sought out more music from them.
I tried the 61c café's new "Scottish Breakfast" tea yesterday while hanging out with Dmitriy, and it was some of the most awful tea I've ever had. I strongly recommend trying it (once)- it's so exquisitely awful that it's memorable. Unforgettable. Unforgivable. Bad.
- I picked up Final Fantasy 5 and 6 yesterday at the music exchange in Squirrel Hill... so maybe you shouldn't count on new POUND features *too* soon. FF6 doesn't look as nice as I remember on the N16, but that may be rosy glasses, or maybe the Gameboy Player for Gamecube is at fault. I should get another GBA at some point so I can play my GBA games portably... because that's (in theory) kind of the point of them?
- I am very amused at the WTF-ness from BushJr's government as Pelosi visits Syria and Arabia - they seem genuinely disturbed that she's "breaking step" and acting on her own as a government representative. Is this the way things are supposed to work? The executive is just one of the three branches of government, and unlike the judiciary, it presumably has a non-incidental broad intended stake in foreign affairs. More important than the balance of powers bit, I think that while strong leaders are important, I don't think they should ever have or expect complete control over all matters of state policy (this may relate to how I should think about democratic centralism) or especially societal expression - being the sole person with vision (or demanding others coordinate or be quiet while one is in power) leads to transitional difficulties, prevents other strong (possibly incompatible) visions from competing, and leads to Stalinesque doublethink. It's an open issue on how best to manage the coexistence of strong leaders in a grossly-stable society...
- Cameras that recognise littering and the like and prod people not to are being introduced in England. I like this idea a lot. It would be nice if people would make a fuss when friends litter (I'm guilty of being too timid because of the way I was raised - it's something I'd like to work on), but if it takes something that's not a person to be forthright enough to prod people, then that'd still work. People need to be less polite about certain things though. I should visibly pick up cigarettes my friends throw on the ground and throw them away for them, looking them in the eye as I do so. I should.. I really should. I hope I can manage to start doing so.
- I have high hopes for Spanish-South American efforts towards cultural and trade ties - this is helped immensely by Social Democrats taking one of the houses of parliament a few years ago. I would hope that they remove the vestiges of their (restored) monarchy at some point, but royals always have had the interesting property of being more able (in theory) to stand apart from business interests. Leftists in the past have often seen their removal as a first priority - depending on their particular stances, in systems that are currently constitutional monarchies (or even not, if they're very friendly) perhaps they should be isolated less or removed at the same time capitalism is removed.
- The European Community is taking Apple to task for selling songs for different prices in different parts of the EU. So long as private companies exist, I don't think it's a bad thing for societies to collectively negotiate with them - for those who think contracts can't possibly be invalid because of coercive prevailing climate (think needs, like landlord-tenant relations), perhaps I can argue that these kinds of objections are societies negotiating (and renegotiating, whenever they like) a contract with businesses, on behalf of the people. For those (like me) who reject a "right" to "private contract", this is just another example of power politics being used towards ends that benefit people of the EU.
- On that topic, I recently had a conversation about differences between Lassiez-Faire Capitalism and other forms of capitalism (notably those where the state acts to advance/preserve "Ideal Market" conditions). I generally like that kind of discussion - it tends to open eyes.
- Sri Lanka is making major advances against the Tamil Tigers. I'm grateful to Kavita for giving me more background on that conflict and how it ties into regional issues.
- As someone who played String Bass for many years (and Violin before then), seeing pictures of instruments from the "other family" that the Violin-Viola-Cello family eventually beat out seems creepy and weird to me. I was interested to read that the String Bass is thought to have originally evolved from that other family because of its sometimes-flat back, different tuning, and different shape near the neck.
- Tancredo has entered the running for the Republican nomination for the American presidency. Ugh. For maximal ugliness, maybe he could run with Lieberman. I sometimes wonder if Gore lost his race because he chose Lieberman as his running partner...
- A (lightly-modified) TGV breaks speed limits on a conventional track (320mph). Cool! I wonder how traditional tracks compare with maglev tracks as a transport solution.. I only wish the TGV were a bit less expensive -- IIRC, when I took it from Paris to Zürich, it was pretty expensive.
- I was pleased to see that Serenity edged out Star Wars in a poll for best sci-fi movie by SFX magazine. Star Wars always struck me as being overrated (not bad, but inferiour to the original Battlestar Galactica series and irritating because it's tied to juvenile philosophies), and Serenity really was well done (although any episode of the series was probably better than the movie)
- Argentina is rattling its sabre over the Falkland Islands again. Some propoganda from Buenos Aries - I wonder how much warmongering is used as election tactics, and how much people give more heed to patriotism than good sense on these issues. I'll have to remember this the next time I argue about nationalism with someone. I don't see the history as that important for evaluating the claims given that most of it happened over a lifetime away. The people who live there, by polls, wish to remain Britons, and barring a good argument otherwise, I don't see a reason Argentina should be given consideration.
- Gay rights advocates have a victory in Britain over gay adoption - agencies, whether church-run or not, will have to allow gay adoption. w00t.
- Whole Foods bought Wild Oats. Although I don't recall both ever being in the same town anywhere I've been, they generally struck me as being very similar stores.
I kind of miss playing tabletop RPGs and game nights. I need to either prod for the return of the one we had going for awhile or find/create others. Given how I'm more keen to DM than play, maybe creation would be better...
I really need to figure out whether I'm moving soon or not - I probably should at earliest plan to do so after a friend's wedding I've committed to. Am I really ready to go even then? I suppose I'll really know after the current batch of students leaves town, taking a few friends/unfulfilled crushes/etc away.. I dunno. For big life choices, I seem to be increasingly indecisive.
For tonight, hopefully jogging in Schenley, maybe some accordion, and laundry. If anyone wants to get together at my place to watch a movie, that'd be grand.