Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Mon Jan 19 13:58:10 2004
Sphere of Vision

This morning, on waking up, I remembered biking through my old high school.. mostly. Somehow, all my prior pre-university schools were connected, and I was heading through them to get somewhere.. I kept on worrying that I would be caught biking in the halls.. there were no rules about it, but I was sure it wouldn't be kosher.

I got a Livejournal account, initially because I wanted to be able to comment more easily on friends' blogs (Leon, Quealy, Dubin, etc), but now that I think about it, I'd like to try an experiment -- a sci-fi BLOG from the future .. well, without so much fictionalistic stuff, anyhow. I think it'll be set about 600 years from now (time enough for societies to change a lot without becoming unrecognizable), and at the slight nudging by Debb, the main character will be female. It might touch a bit on politics, societal issues, and all sorts of things. I'm still working on the shape of societies, and my first entry won't be placed until I have at least a bit more about the world and my character fleshed out. It's gonna be fun..

I'm disappointed to hear about the recent incident in Sweden. Apparently, two artists from Israel, of the liberal persuasion, had an exhibit that was intended to bring eyes on the phonomena of suicide bombing, and the Swedish ambassador, at a function at the gallery in Sweden before a peace conference, became enraged, attacked the exhibit, and was kicked out of the museum. Two additional points of data are relevant -- firstly, it was stated that neither the conference nor the function was going to get involved in political statements on such things, and secondly, Sharon and some wacko right-wingers in Israel are publically approving of what the ambassador did. I'm very irritated to find about the first, and just really surprised about the second. It's incredibly rude to invite someone to an event, promising not to talk about a sensitive topic, and then shove that kind of thing in their face. Of course, that doesn't mitigate descending into barbarism, actually attacking an exhibit. Despite what the linked article blathers about 'jewish souls', and the jingoistic 'israelier than thou' statements, there's no excuse for attacking an exhibit in a museum. Art is meant to engage, to fascinate, perturb, disturb, stun, and sometimes to whisper. When it disturbs one too much, it's time to leave. Show me performance art of a geek falling down a set of stairs, bleeding and guts pouring out, or perhaps a statue of my scottish barbarian ancestors impaled on a spike, and if you manage to disturb me, I'll just leave. It's one of the lessons people usually learn before they get past kindergarten. In sum, it's disappointing that the people responsible for the museum visit decided to 'ambush' the envoy, stupid that the diplomat lost control, and really disappointing that instead of issuing an apology, the diplomat, and then Sharon decided to embrace the rash act. Embracing those emotions is like borrowing lots of money for day-to-day expenses.. sure, it might feel good, but eventually, it brings a painful mess.

On the upside, apparently, Israel is *wink* *wink* working to make the wall a bit more acceptable and less of a land grab. I'm not sure if the wall is a good idea, but yes or no, having it drawn more equitably is a good thing if it's going to be there. Sharon is doing an impressive job balancing his government given the wide political divide in Israel.

A friend pointed me at iSketch, although I'm reluctant to get what might turn out to be another addiction.. Leprechaun 6, the latest in that horror-comedy series, is out. Some people on MMORPGs are unhappy about the way the systems are being run. It's very interesting... in these cases, I'm pretty committed to the system operators (sysops) being able to do what they want on their system, although that might be because I was a sysop of a bulletin board years ago.. Depending on personality, it can be fun to be the boss..

Defending the McDonalds kids' way of life... Now with joysticks..

I recently had the delight of watching the famous attentional blindness basketball-passing video on TV with Debb, and she, like me and most of my psych class last semester, didn't spot it the first time either. It's really eye-opening to have it pointed out so blatantly that one's attention can be so narrowed as to ignore such things. I'm looking for a mpeg of it.. I'm not going to describe it any more though or the effect might be ruined for you.

Na klar, if you've been following the space plans BushJr has, you'll see that he's both cancelling maintenance of hubble and wasting time/money on another moon landing. I'm bummed about it -- Hubble continues to do good research, and is the one thing NASA does that has left the biggest impression on me (ISS being the second). I agree with analysis suggesting NASA go right for Mars.

Finally, while watching some soccer last night, Debb and I spotted someone who looks a bit like her -- Maggie Tomecka (although that picture doesn't show that strong of a resemblance). There were parts of the videocasette where I really might've thought it was Debb on there.

I found a site with some pretty funny Political cartoons. This isn't comedy, but it might be.. It would be funny if the steps they say they're taking would be to take away their weapons..

The progress of AI has always been typified by a lot of progress in small domains, with correspondingly less progress as larger domains are attempted. However, at the University of Wales, some researchers have created a system that they say is capable of much of the fairly large domain of a type of genetic research. Although I find the 'expert system' approach not that interesting, as it captures domain data that could simply be learned by a sufficiently openminded system, it is impressive to see yet another domain transformed that way.

It's been said that democracy only lasts until people realize they can vote themselves money from the coffers. This seems to be a step in that direction -- BushJr is working on some major changes to tax law, replacing IRA/SRAs with new, simpler plans (good) and at the same time offering people a tax-free new type of plan called a Life Savings Account (LSA) that would accept $7500 a year and be retrievable at any time, sans penalty. The danger is that it'll reduce the tax base, and put the government further into debt.

Two thoughts are haunting me today.. A friend gave an interesting perspective on his blog: A car company can move its factories to Mexico and claim it's a free market. A toy company can outsource to a Chinese subcontractor and claim it's a free market. A major bank can incorporate in Bermuda to avoid taxes and claim it's a free market. We can buy HP Printers made in Mexico. We can buy shirts made in Bangladesh. We can purchase almost anything we want from many different countries BUT, heaven help the elderly who dare to buy their prescription drugs from a Canadian (Or Mexican) pharmacy. That's called un-American! There's still a part of me that really wants to find a hole in that argument.. I guess that's the thing when one's occupied nearly every point on the political spectrum at one time or another.. one's head is a noisy place.. The second is from "La Internationale", Freedom is merely privilege extended unless enjoyed by one and all I've argued against that so many times, and still, to a large extent, do. I do think it's meaningful to talk about freedom of speech and press, even if it's hard for people to afford to publish or dangerous for them to talk. One thing I do sometimes wonder, however, is if/how free association should extend between workplace and out-of-workplace activities. And socialism does seem to act as a slow tug on me..