Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
<Previous Next>
Mon Oct 6 10:42:15 2003
Drumbeat of recess

I woke up this morning with a splitting headache, and was rather late to work because I waited for it to die down before I left the house. It might just be another of my regular headaches, but it does seem stronger.. maybe it's my body's reaction to absorbing so much cigarette smoke after so long a hiatus (Outland is *very* smoky).. It actually was kind of disgusting -- only after this morning's shower (yesterday's didn't do it) am I free of the cigarette smell.. Ugh. I don't think outland would be as cool of a place if they banned alcohol and cigarettes.. lots of the interesting people wouldn't show up, and the nonclear air does add to the ambiance of the place, but it still puts my system through a lot of unfun stuff when I'm there (I remember occasionally needing to go outside and let my eyes tear up to expel the painful smoking residue from them, back when I went there often).. Actually, it might just be my body's reaction to driving 7 hours over the weekend..

A conversation with someone I know online floats to mind -- he was very keen to apply the 'insane' word to Islamists, and I was irritated that he couldn't put himself in their head, and adopt their values just for a second.. if he did, he'd see they're not insane, they're just very different, in ways that lead to irreconcilable differences. If you can't put yourself into your opponent's head, you really arn't making much of an effort at being a good political activist. I think what it is is that people have trouble putting themselves above their opponent if they understand them, and without claiming the moral high ground, they're reluctant to act.

I recently had an interesting conversation with a psychologist who happened by my tabble at Coffee Tree -- we talked about a number of topics in psychology, finally settling on free will, where we went back and forth for quite some time. I like taking a defensive role in arguments, largely because I find that people generally have pretty common attacks, and because of my exposure to a wide swathe of the sciences, I can generally field all their attacks. It really does help to be well-read on a lot of the sciences, and contrary to what a former mentor in AI suggested to me, I do think that Computer Science does give very practical insight into deep, layered abstractions that is not as accessible elsewhere. I think a dual-major in psychology and CS really is probably the best predecessor of graduate studies in Cog Sci, as well as defense of science against the ignorant and the religious.

Oh, this paper is really interesting -- it suggests that, by abusing networks in clever, innocuous ways, specially-designed computers might be able to keep state on other computers because of the way internet standards are written. It suggests a few decently clever ways to do so, although I can think of a few that are much more clever.. Still, clever as it is, it's a very bad idea, and to be discouraged as strongly as possible. If I ever noticed this, I would make tweaks to the software running on systems I control to intentionally pervert the data.. the thing is, this is exactly the same thing as a call to notice that the commons are open, so why not take as much as possible.. If everyone did this, all it would do is slow down the net and overburden servers everywhere, and those who are abusing would be equally abused. To quote that old Rowan and Martin's laugh-in show, "Very Interesting, but Stupid" ...


I have two things left to write about, but I want to get back to work. Break's over -- maybe later.