Saturday, September 08, 2001

dave winer is at it again. this time he writes, "Let's have a Gender Balancing Summit. Equal numbers of women and men representing all social classes and countries. A five-day conference in Switzerland." so let's see, there are about 190 countries in the world, and at least two or three classes in each country, and we'd need both women and men, so that's at least 760 people we need to contact and transport to switzerland. which is not so bad, until you consider that many of those people don't even have a functional communication system. and then there's the task of getting them all to switzerland, when most of them couldn't afford the plane ticket with a year's wage - assuming they even have an airport. but it's still a nice fantasy.
(via robot wisdom:) the skeptic's annotated bible is rather critical of much of the good book, but they took the time to filter out all the violence, insults to women, false prophecy, etc. and get down to the good stuff, which reminds me of "all i really need to know i learned in kindergarten".

Friday, September 07, 2001

i've liked google since the first time i used it, but i just thought it was a search engine. i had no idea it could do so many useful things.
i'm using netscape 6.1 right now - it's nice. it's not as nice as internet explorer 5 (in my opinion anyway), but it's nice enough that i'm not going to use internet explorer anymore just because i don't trust microsoft. dave winer doesn't trust microsoft either , and now that the bush administration seems very microsoft-friendly, he's thinking about not voting for bush in 2004. apparently when the bush administration gave up on environmental protection, then peace, and then equality, none of that really concerned dave.
some interesting connections:

yesterday i listened to a speaker (ann jansen?) from the european union. she spoke about a very wide variety of issues, all very interesting. for example, i learned that britain has no constitution. during the question and answer period, she made a connection between the genoa g8 protests and the oklahoma city bombing, which i found surprising. her connection was that in both cases, the people responsible took action outside of the existing institutional (and she used the word "democratic," though i suspect genoa protesters would object to that claim) framework because they were not willing to wait for the often slow process of institutional change. it seems to me that democratic institutions are intentionally structured in such a way that change is a somewhat slow process.

on a somewhat related note, i was watching a video in my civil rights class earlier this week which showed US marshals entering the university of mississippi to secure the admission of james meredeth (and integrate the school). there were white (segregationist) people shouting at trucks full of soldiers, indignant that their own nation's military would turn against them. i was reminded of watching very similar film of the chinese military entering tiananmen square. the difference is that in america the military was "the good guys" and in china they were "the bad guys."
(via liberal arts mafia:) tom zucco writes, "The cartoonist who creates the slice-of-life strip For Better or For Worse brings back a gay character." a really enjoy the reference to "Lawrence, one of the first openly gay characters to appear in a nationally syndicated comic strip." i really think charlie brown should have come out of the closet years ago - it was so obvious.
(via arts & letters daily:) carla spartos quotes dr. james o'callaghan, "If you truly believe MDMA is bad, then why would you give [Adderall] to your kids?" i've often wondered similarly, if you truly believe heroin is bad, why would you give your children tylenol?
(via interconnected:) if you're looking for naked photos, be careful. you might become someone else's joke.

also, historical fact is interesting. i'm not sure if it's all true, though.
i just read about (current) segregation at the university of alabama in my "history of the civil rights movement" class, so i did this google search, which turned up the information i was looking for, as well as some related history and some local (u of a) commentary

Thursday, September 06, 2001

(via memepool:) which state boasts the most dedications to ronald reagan? california and illinois are tied with twelve each. that's what you get for escalating an arms race.
(via scripting news:) paul howson writes "Why not a revolution based around the idea of refining and simplifying what we already have?" i think this applies not only to writing tools, but to all software (and even physical tools as well). i find the most common things i want software to do these days are to do the things it already does, only better, and to allow integration with other software - mostly for when the first goal isn't fulfilled.
(via interconnected:) an exquisite corpse is a semi-collaborative digital image.
(via liberal arts mafia:) clinton's anti-draft letter - a good read.

also, on cbs news, "Americans' approval of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president has declined: 50 percent now approve, the lowest rating since he assumed office." it's good to see someone is paying attention.

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

finally for today (i'm spending too much time doing this - but it seems like a healthy enough hobby), (via robot wisdom:) stephen kinzer writes "Now that President Bush has nominated Negroponte to be United States ambassador to the United Nations, his record in Honduras is coming under new scrutiny...Most people who lived or worked in Honduras during the 1980s saw a nation spiraling into violence and infested by paramilitary gangs that kidnapped and killed with impunity. Negroponte would not acknowledge this. He realized that the Reagan policy in Central America would lose support if truths about Honduras were known, so he refused to accept them." oh - that reminds me, i found the whitehouse website frightening until i realized it isn't real (sorry to spoil the surprise), but then it was funny.
(via arts & letters daily:) sara brewer writes, "Surprisingly, children develop a preference for sex-stereotyped toys months before they can identify their own sex...Why is this? No one really knows." but doesn't she answer her own question: "From the moment we are born, our brains are bombarded with sex-related information, starting with face shapes, voice pitch, hair styles, height, gait and the colour and shape of people's clothes." it seems to me that biological tendencies are frequently overestimated - not only in gender but in nearly all aspects of behavior. it doesn't seem biology can explain very much of the diversity of humanity at all. brewer almost agrees: "Children may be born with an innate bias towards male or female behaviour, but this is almost certainly enhanced or diminished by their experience of the many sex-related cues in the outside world" (emphasis mine).

also interesting: "boys seem to tackle some types of problem using only one side of their brain, while girls use both." i went to the president's convocation at my university today, where they honored the presidential scholars. 13 of 14 were female, which seemed odd to me, but no one else seemed to notice. so are girls just smarter than boys?
(via unknown news:) first, in cannabis culture magazine: "Two prominent Michigan marijuana activists were shot dead Labor Day weekend". is the war on drugs worth it?

and at yahoo news: "Irate Protestants hurling stones and abuse terrorized scores of Roman Catholic girls for a second day Tuesday as they walked to school under massive security in Belfast.". i particularly enjoy the unknown news headline: "Christians hurl stones, insults at children of other Christians." this looks too much like this.
(via liberal arts mafia:) first, g8 genoa photos are very much worth looking at, so go do that right now. it's 26 pages of great photos of a circus turned riot. things turn ugly on page 7.

next, today's commentary shows us the actual text from the world conference on racism that the US and israel called "hateful".

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

the nando times: "Janet Reno will make her first official move Tuesday to join the race for Florida governor, setting up a possible matchup between the former attorney general and the president's brother." neat.
this is what i was thinking yesterday - labor day: i was reading "continuity and change in world politics" (better than it sounds) by barry b. hughes, and i got to a section on changes in sectors of labor over the years. agriculture was once the largest sector, but it was then replaced by industry, which was later replaced by service.

and then i was thinking about how much of the service sector can be automated by comptuers. so what are we all going to do for a living when the service sector declines? art. when i say "art", i mean everything we do when we don't have to - which involves some segments of service, industry, and agriculture. for some people publishing may be art, but for most writers it is not, and weblogging software allows writers to automate the service task of publishing and focus on the art of writing.

this led me to reconsider dave winer's statement that "Art and war are the same thing." i certainly hope not. it seems to me that art - or "successful" art - is essential constructive, creating new connections between ideas and things. war, on the other hand, - or "successful" war - is essentially destructive. both, however, do require, as dave points out, creativity - something that is used increasingly as we move from agriculture to industry to service to art itself.

happy labor day.
in other racism news, bbc news reports: "The Americans, followed by Israel, pulled out on Monday after failing to have 'hateful' language about the Jewish state removed from meeting documents." the "hateful" language accused israel of racism toward palestinians. i listened to this story on npr about an arab-israeli women's soccer team this morning. the mother of one of the players commented about how the jewish soccer fields were so much better than the arab's fields. it reminded me of a quote i read in john dittmer's book "local people": reverend h. h. humes said of school segregation in mississippi, "the real trouble is that for too long you have given us schools in which we could study the earth through the floor and the stars through the roof." is it racism in israel? i'm not sure, but it sure sounds familiar.
on, eric weiner writes "As a foreigner living in Japan, I am constantly reminded of my foreign-ness." i found that true as well. it never occurred to me that this might be a result of racism in japan. not that i didn't think racism existed in japan - i'd read all about discrimination against koreans before i went. but, as weiner writes, "We Westerners are at the top of the heap." he explains this odd form of racism: "If it's possible for a nation to have a superiority complex and an inferiority complex at the same time, than that nation is Japan." this also strikes me as very true. but weiner's decision to "enjoy the slack that we foreigners are afforded" doesn't strike me as much different from poor white southerners who supported their own economic disparity so long as they enjoyed the benefits of white supremacy.

Monday, September 03, 2001

norman solomon writes "If the Green Party enters the next presidential race, it will largely appear to a lot of prospective constituencies to be a political party locked into a counterproductive tactic." counterproductive because it would take votes away from the democratic candidate. when this issue was raised last year, i just dismissed it thinking no one in their right mind would vote for bush. obviously i was wrong about that, but the idea of a candidate not running for fear of taking away someone else's votes seems no less ridiculous to me now. when i was younger, i was taught that people vote for whoever they want to win. when did the process of voting become a strategic game?
(via NORML: "Jamaica Commission Recommends Decriminalizing Marijuana" and usatoday: "The [US] poll found that 34% favor legalizing marijuana use while 62% for legalization is highest among 18- to 49-year-olds, people in the West and independent voters. Opposition was greatest among the elderly, regular churchgoers and Republicans. " i'd like to see more detailed numbers by age. i'd guess that about 85% of people i know under 30 support legalization (more often passively - they just don't care what other people are smoking). i wonder how many of the younger generation will change their mind as they age - or how many of the 62% currently opposed to legalization were previously in favor of it - or how many had previously used marijuana.
(via sarah groube writes: "it even implied that you shouldn't bother if you don't have an interesting life, and even if you do, you have to be able to write about it in an interesting way." i had this conversation with my brother who looks forward to the day when he can search the internet and filter out any results from personal webpages.

my view is that the fact that my mom could create a webpage about her cats that probably only three or four people in the rest of the world would be interested in reading is precisely what makes the internet so great. the real beauty and creativity that will define the future is something you're not going to find at yahoo - you're much more likely to find it on the open directory or on somebody's weblog.
yesterday i was working on a REALbasic application using amar sagoo's XML toolkit, and i wanted to do something with XML that amar's toolkit couldn't do. after about an hour of trying to find some round-about way of doing what i wanted, i realized that i could just edit the toolkit and make it do what i wanted it to. maybe two minutes later, i had a working solution to my problem. i was so happy with my solution that i emailed it to amar to include in future releases of his (her?) toolkit.

this was really my first experience with open-source software as a developer. i was reminded of the days of using an apple IIc - when i would edit games to make them easier for me to win. programming was a lot more fun then - not only because i was working with games, but i think more importantly because there weren't a lot of restrictions keeping me from making my software and my computer do what i wanted them to do.
i must admit, i don't believe i've ever heard the work of recently deceased aaliyah, nor had i ever heard of the artist until she died, but new york post columnist rod dreher apparently has heard her work and called her an "undistinguished singer of forgettable pop songs," which some feel makes him a racist. i personally don't see what musical talent has to do with race, but it does seem to be in bad taste to criticize the recently deceased.