Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

Powerful Stumbling

On the way to lunch today, I passed by some people who were putting (shower-removable) dye in people's hair to meet some pledges for some recent disaster somewhere. In theory, I have some silver colouring well below my hat-line now - hopefully it looks decent (I'll check the next time I use the restroom). I've occasionally thought about dying my hair the real way, but apart from letting my mom use lightener on it at some point in the past (which got it almost as light as

Katie and Andrea, my youngest sisters)...

Before coming to campus today, I had to pay my rent for this month - I apparently didn't pay at the end of last month like I usually do. After a bit of thought, I remembered that I normally pay my bill by habit by noticing the change of month while randomly checking the date on my cellphone, and that didn't happen this month because I was on the road. I don't think I remember very much directly - while there are a few things I can make myself remember by becoming temporarily neurotic about them (a thread of my mind randomly pops up doing IF_CONDITION(...), and it eventually dwindles well after it's no longer relevant), and for some things I repeat them in my head until I handle them, I'm much better either tying things by habit to conditions that relate to whatever I'm doing, arranging for my reality to be different in a way that reminds me what I'm up to (e.g. when walking towards a store, I can think about other things as much as I like because if I forget, the fact of where I am and the direction I'm going makes it obvious what I'm doing, or if carrying a letter, chances are it needs to be mailed), or for remembering between alternatives, I can temporarily tie them to something abstract, and if needed also temporarily alter my thoughts on that abstract thing to help me remember (e.g. if I need to remember between 2148 and 2147 Fnord Avenue, I might temporarily remind myself that I like even numbers for the first, or decide that I'm in an "odd" mood (or lucky, for lucky-sevens)) because somehow that's easier for me to recall than numbers. I'm not sure how much of it makes sense in a CS-ish way (sometimes it might, based on clever tricks with constraints on address spaces), but then one of the things we know about the brain is that memory is not centrally stored (regardless of mode) in one region. I wonder if other people do the same kinds of tricks (consciously or not) - a moment's worth of daydreaming or thinking about something else is startlingly effective at making me lose track of things, but maybe other people arn't like that. I suspect that all this is tied to my love of wordplay..

Things of possible interest:

  • Conversation with a Falun Gong person on LJ (see comment section). I would not be entirely surprised if some of you (mainly Americans because of some American political tradition that non-Americans tend not to share) disagree strongly with me on this matter.
  • The cupcake store in Squirrel Hill is closing. I am not surprised. It's a pity that, if I overheard some conversation correctly, the Te Café is closing too (although their prices were crazy-high enough to make it not surprising either)
  • Fotoshop's former place next to Coffee Tree is having a (huge) massage parlour move in.
  • Google and a Holocaust museum are collaborating to add information on the mess in Darfur. It's a good cause, although I'm still wondering what average people can do (apart from pressuring their Congressfolk) - how far can donations do, and are they addressing the real causes of the conflict? Without the use of a military to topple the government and exterminate the government-backed militias, I don't see how an acceptable peace will come about (note that I'm not as knowledgable about the Darfur conflict as I should be)
  • Thailand is considering enshrining Buddhism as the state religion. I don't think this is good for humanity, the state, or Buddhist organisations in the country (although I'm primarily concerned with issues relating to large-scale steering of humanity)
  • I was blissfully unaware that Al Qaeda was active in the Arab world outside of their frequent attacks on the Saudi state until I read about their activities in Algeria. I was under the impression that more moderate (but still worthy of strong opposition) groups like the Muslim Brotherhood (of Egypt) were dominant in northern Africa and less international (but as purist) groups were dominant in central Africa. It's interesting to read about this - I wonder how Al Qaeda relates to these other groups, and what their relative supporter numbers are in these places.
  • I knew that de Gaulle had rough relationships with Churchill and FDR, with the Free French movement being sidelined for several years during WW2, but I recently did some digging and was interested to find (from several sources) that France almost became a British-American occupied area, at least partly for the benefit of American/British business interests. Given the long-standing British-French rivalry (what a feather in Britain's cap that would've been, to occupy France) and British colonial abuses across the globe at the time, this isn't a huge surprise. No matter how much I learn about colonial interests leading up to these times, my interests are not sated..
  • Portugal to legalise abortion
  • An interesting legal fight in Britain where a woman was fighting for access to frozen embryos made with her ex-boyfriend (he did not want to become a father for both personal and responsibility reasons, and they had been split for some time). She lost. Sorry for the spoiler :)
  • A friend posted about an awesome cat that learned to regularly ride the bus. Passing it along...
  • I stumbled across WeRelate, a wiki to freely organise geneaology information, through a news article. This is a neat idea - while my interest in the topic is only mild (honestly, it may just be bleed-off from the strong interest from some members of my family combined with curiosity as to if some of the unknown parts of the family tree are Black or Hebrew), the sites for collecting this information charge for access to that information and are irritatingly advertising-centric and businesslike. I believe Wikis will eventually (hopefully) kill the market for gathering of static, needs-no-interpretation-or-refinement information. WeRelate is using MediaWiki with a weird skin and some custom extensions to help with structured information entry. The only thing I don't like is they don't want information about living people without permission (people who care directly about privacy probably would be more ok with it).
  • Citizendium is online. Coverage is fairly sparse at the moment..
  • Harvard Law School is reenacting the Dredd Scott decision. Interesting snippet:
    • Breyer said the case raises not just legal and ethical questions, but practical questions for justices involved in thorny moral legal cases.
    • "For me it immediately raises the question as a judge: How do you talk to other judges and persuade them about matters where you really think they're going to do something quite wrong?" Breyer said. "Do you talk only on a technical level?"
    • "Or," he added, "do you just go around perhaps saying through your words and voices, 'This is a real horror?"'
  • A new version of LSB was announced
  • I am amused when someone makes an argument on a topic I initially don't care or know much about and I'm convinced to a side they're trying to oppose. Mike Elgan, a writer for Computerworld, recently wrote a criticism of planes not being permitted on airlines, saying that the given reasoning is false (which it may well be) and listing some "real" reasons which he then attacks. The problem for me is that one of these reasons seems very sensible to me - cell phones promote rude behaviour and other behavioural problems among passengers. His other real reasons are reasonably convincing too - tactically, his article is a complete flop (and full of other irritating and stupid tactics) :)
  • I'm bothered that Israel is considering swapping hundreds of prisoners for the Israeli soldier militants captured almost a year ago. Making the swap is an invitation to capture someone else next month and would likely lead to a continual exodus of very dangerous people from captivity.
  • More on clerical pressures in Pakistan...
  • This is a certain kind of corruption that I've seen someplace a lot closer to me that I regretfully can't reveal because of confidences.

It seems like a lot of people recently have been too busy to have time to hang out (at least I hope that's the case).. it's a bit of a bummer. There are some friends (and people in the borderland near acquaintance) I haven't heard from for awhile - it's hard to know when I should press to avoid being forgotten and when I should wait for them to contact me (or assume that I pissed them off somehow and acknowledge a break).. Meh.

I've been playing accordion a bit more recently. I wish I had a piano too (and maybe a string bass)... Oh, last night, I had a very vivid dream that one of my personal servers was compromised and being used to send spam, and I was undoing the damage manually (reconfiguring sendmail, removing the large spool of outgoing mail) rather than reinstalling the OS. Weird. I suppose after almost ten years of Unix as my primary OS (with scattered remote use before then), it shouln't surprise me so much to remember the Unix commands I used in my dreams. To my current memory, I don't recall ever having similar dreams about DOS...

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