Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Tue Jan 27 10:45:25 2004
The nose as a platform.. and wrinkled wings

This last weekend was a lot of fun... so much so that the entry I meant to write, titled "Wrinkled Wings", is going to be rolled into this one. I went to a fun atheist/agnostic conference in Florida, by plane with a friend, and heard a number of interesting presentations, swam in the ocean in January, hung out with friends, went to the clubbing area of Tampa with some people from the Cincinnati and Florida groups, and had some interesting conversations. I'll put some pictures up eventually. One of the neat things was that because I stayed at a Days Inn nearby instead of the conference hotel, I saved a lot of money and also had a nice enjoyable 2-mile walk each morning. I think I got more of a feel for the city because of it. My hotel was right by the entrance to Busch Gardens (which, AFAIK, nobody went to).. The main theme of this meeting was cooperation with religious folk on the left, and the interaction there was explored pretty well. There were, of course, people who would minimize the differences to nothing (one presenter suggested that those who criticize religion in the general case, instead of just right-wing religion, are insecure...). Still, it was a lot of fun, and was a pretty inexpensive trip. It wasn't quite as fun as Hypatia, but I'm up for both.

Life is, generally speaking, going well. So, now some more pointers..

The Joy of Sales is a story of one part of consumerism.. actually, kind of a tale of 2 car places... the second place sounds a lot nicer. I tend to worry when I see the world pushing towards hypercompetitivism -- it yields greater efficiencies, but then that kind of life, which is a kind of a sprint, becomes the norm. When the sprint becomes the norm, we all lose -- people who are naturally slower-paced (like me) end up looking bad, and the people who do sprint end up either burning out or being unhappy in life. I do value the memories of lots of things crammed into a fun short time(like this weekend), but I value more the more slow-paced, gradual fun things. There's little room for that in ubercapitalism, and what's worse, ubercapitalism's increasing dependance on every advantage means that rolling the changes back will be very painful.

This is a funny idea along those lines jwz pointed out that we can now buy candicates via amazon. Not quite accurate, but funny. Kind of like jwz in general.. It's unfortunate that you have to register to read it, but it's free. Go read this NYT article that talks about the issue of Intellectual Property very clearly, and describes the un-IP movement that flows alongside the free software movement. It's important that more than our movement and the corporations on the other side understand the issue, so read it.

From the company that moved to XML after making a big deal over how it would make them open and interoperable..

We're covering medical ethics in my Research Methods class, and covered the Willowbrook study. I'm not sure why, but I generally tend to find professional ethics to be fascinating, and I don't seem to have as much of a push to conform to externally-imposed ones as others do. Everyone else was sitting quietly in class, and I asked some questions, and after I did, it was like I was stirring a soup -- slowly, and then more and more, other people were asking questions about why certain rules and guidelines are the way they are. I think most people arn't accustomed to the idea of evaluating systems of rules, and will accept any such thing they're given. It's interesting seeing what happens when these ideas are stirred in them, and I think having the dialogue helped them, and me, to understand the reasoning behind some of the ideas, even if I don't agree with all of them.

I'm not sure how accurate it is, but if true, I'm pleased to hear another report of a human clone. I am very saddened by the efforts to ban such research, and hope that it happens often enough that people are forced to deal with their superstitions about souls and 'creating humans'.

Here's a fascinating possibility: distributed "computation" in plants. Of course, life in general involves a lot of ... at least 'delegated' action. The internal operations of every cell are not, and because of bandwidth, cannot be managed by the brain. A central part of the Gaia Theory is that such processes exist as various equilibria, with guiding processes correcting for imbalances. In my Cognitive Neuropsych class, I'm learning ways that semantic processing in the brain appears to fit this model on a neural level, with new possible equilibria being learned associations/concepts, and forming a N-dimensional landscape that various lesions can distort.

Oh, and a big lawsuit is over: DeCSS is no longer under attack. I wonder if the newer DVD formats that're being cooked are responsible for them giving up on this front.

Unlike the joystick I write about earlier that claimed to get people in shape, Dance Dance Revolution is a real form of exercise. It's cool too. It reminds me -- this coming weekend is both the Super Bowl, which I hope to watch with Debb on Sunday, and SCS Day, a geek thing CMU is holding on Saturday. I hope I can go.

I'm thinking of making a CGI to handle making proper citations for all the different citation formats, so I don't need to think about the stupid differences between, for example, psych and medical formats. There was a new york times article about an automatic paraphraser I wanted to link in here, but it expired. Oh well.

On my other BLOG, I have a lot more worked out than this, but I'll give you this teaser... Her name is Isa (Isabelle) and she's 17. The year is around 2610 (Left my note sheet at home).