Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Thu Feb 17 13:03:50 2005
Lipid Bilayer Dance

I was walking home from someplace a few days ago, and remembered some advice I had heard from someone regarding dealing with potential assailants at night. An effective strategy is to appear to them to be completely insane and not at all afraid. As I walked through the neighbourhood, I let out a chuckle, imagining what one must do to appear that off-kilter, and the things I was imagining and the kind of weird energy some crazy people have caused the laugh to turn into a kind of worryingly nutty, and yet strangely satisfying .. thing. I'm not sure if that means anything or not.

I'm heading to Texas with my parents in March to visit my Grandma on my Dad's side. I haven't been there for awhile, and haven't traveled with my parents for at least 10 years. It'll be interesting, I'm sure.

On Wikipedia, for two reasons, I've decided to finally run to be one of their too many administrators. I wasn't running before because I really didn't need any of the added tools that admins get, and didn't really think that I could contribute to things that the other admins couldn't do. I also, as noted above, think there are too many admins, and that the status is given out far too liberally. As someone who's been active for about two years, this places me in the minority, I think -- most admins nowadays are made after about three or four months of active editing. Recently, a few things have convinced me to run. Firstly, I've heard that there are some pending tasks that need administrators to do that nobody's doing. Secondly, Wikipedia is coming under fire from a group of nazi-sympathizers. These people are organized through a site called Stormfront, and are making a serious attempt to push Wikipedia's content around. People are naturally worried, and Jimbo, who started/runs the site site but generally isn't prone to declare things by fiat, has threatened to personally block them all if they continue their efforts. I might be able to help things out more if I'm an admin. Back to them though, there's something that seperates them from other problem users -- they're clearly not vandals, and focus more on spin and presentation than on actual lies. They also seem devoted to understanding our rules and practices, and have a fairly organized and possibly effective way of abusing good faith without breaking rules. One of the problems with communities bound by rules is that the rules tend to work better if there's a good deal of flexibility within the rules themselves and if said rules generally assume good faith from everyone, especially assuming that the community as a whole will make decisions that are good through democratic means. Unfortunately, concerted efforts by intelligent voting blocs that seek to topple the system can interfere with the system to a greater degree than they can with more legalistic systems. As the system adapts to keep them out, it can thus split the system as people become less comfortable with the increased legalism. I might be able to regeneralize this to comment interestingly on Liberal versus Conservative views on society, perhaps to repeat an old mantra that if a society is to fail to sinister neighbours, the maintaining-liberties way has it fail by democratic means, handing the primitives the keys to the city because it won't accept the idea that they will destroy, while the preserving-society way instead reverts to measures that would destroy the openness of society, in order to fight them. I hope neither of those fates comes to pass here.

For those of you who are interested in keeping track of development of POUND, I've prepared a tarball of the next version, still under heavy development, for you. It's very user-beware at this point -- there isn't enough documentation for end-users to set it up (developers may need to read the source or email me), a lot of things are still stubs, and the code has a lot of cleanup needed. That being said, if you know Perl and want to play with it, feel free. Currently, it'll display and let you edit wiki articles online (if you enable that in the config), and there's a commandline tool to post new articles, which people can reply to through the web interface. It's all pretty ugly -- I just finished adding CSS per-user and CSS theme support into this version (a very careful migration/cleanup from the old code, with some things reimplemented), but I have no sample themes, so it's pretty ugly. Authentication works, but as for now logins don't do as much as they will. You'll need to manually insert some stuff into the database to get some things set up. Anyhow, have fun with it if you like. I'll make more releases as time goes on.

No surprise, BushJr is altering science to meet approval of industrialists. Also in the news, the Kyoto treaty, which BushJr pulled the US out of as one of his first acts in his first term, recently passed. I hope none of my readers have beachfront property -- if they do, I hope they don't mind the idea of rising ocean levels. sigh..

Howard Dean now runs the Democratic Party. This is actually a savvy comprimise -- the Democratic Party is a centre-right party in American politics (Republicans being right-wing), and Dean represents a threat to the established order. I believe that his appointment as head of the party was done because the powers in the party feel he's better kept in the party than as a potential outside threat, and if that takes accepting that he may shift the party a bit leftward, they're willing to make that sacrifice.

Mohammad Ali Abtahi, who has one of my favourite BLOGs, apparently moved it while I was in Europe, perhaps because of new internet controls in Iran. It now can be found here.

Oh, and apparently next in the line of companies to line up and beat me up for money is Time-Warner communications. Apparently, they think I should pay $243.50 in bills for cable service. I know I cancelled every single utility I had when I left Columbus, but apparently the people who lived there after I did opened my mail(!!) and kept paying the cable bills for a time, and then stopped, and I'm back in this mode of sending registered letters to credit agencies, my old landlord, and the like telling them that I'm not paying anything. What a pain. At least this time I think I can probably arrange for really bad things to happen to the people who were paying the bill in my name, in theory, as I think it's a big crime to open someone else's mail. Still, this sucks, because my finances are really bad right now after the Europe trip, and I have a number of other really critical things to spend money and time on. I literally can't afford to fix everything I should fix at once.

Speaking of mail, I have 7509 messages in my Inbox as of this writing. It's probably time to take care of that, and to see if I can get that down to a few hundred or less.

Thu Feb 17 23:45:33 2005

"An effective strategy is to appear to them to be completely insane and not at all afraid."

FWIW, drunks get mugged all the time. Not being afraid is not a good defense. Looking confident and alert probably is.