An attempt to keep the world in perspective

Welcome to my LJ - do I know you?
This LJ blog is for friends only, with the exception of the list of books I read and am reading this year.  If we know each other - electronically or in person, and you are interested, please let me know.


MacBook Pro stolen
A short while ago (about an hour), deitrich's back pack was stolen at the Diesel.  Among other things it contained a 13" MacBook Pro (early 2011).  The serial number is C02FTC2DDH2H, so if anyone tries to sell you a machine with this serial number please respond to this post.  The serial number is physically printed on the bottom part of the laptop.  It can be also found by clicking on the apple icon on the top left side of the screen, choosing "About this Mac" and then clicking on the "More Info" button.

How to become a Parisian
I am talking out of school here (for reasons that will become obvious in a moment), but something struck me as wrong when I stumbled upon an article about new publications in France that tell you how to be a true Parisian (check out the NYT here -  Now, in all fairness, a true [enter city name here]er type of epithet cannot be applied to yours truly.  I moved out of my birth city to early to acquire an outer state of a Petersburgian (there is a private inner state, but it's not communicable).  My years in Israel were spent in a state of bewilderment, NY and CT in adjustment to certain outer expectation, and only seven years into my MA tenure did I discover what feels a place with which my inner state identifies.  At thirty three, one can create an affinity and develop a sense of belonging to a place.  Identification with a place becomes as hard as learning to speak a non native tongue without an accent.

Being a New Yorker, a Parisian, a Petersburgian or a true member of a geographical locale is marked by a certain lack of awareness of how one becomes "of one's city."  A heightened level of introspection might allow one to observe the qualities within oneself and others - but most decidedly to observe them post factum.  Going about the business of becoming a New Yorker, Parisian, Londoner, etc., by way of looking and behaving as the locals do by actively emulating one's neighbors causes a great deal of embarrassment for said neighbors (and to oneself, provided one acquires introspection later in life to realize how pathetic one must have looked (the introspection must be acquired, since having it at the time would have precluded the attempt to begin with)).

Books read in 2010

"Getting things done " David Allen
"The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana" Umberto Eco
"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" Michael Chabon
"Gentlemen of the Road" Michael Chabon
"Russian Reader" Vail & Genis
"In the beginning... was the command line" Neal Stephenson
"A History of Western Philosophy" Bertrand Russell
"What hath God wrought: The transformation of America 1815-1848" Daniel Walker Howe
"Battle Cry of Freedom: James McPherson
"Random Harvest" James Hilton
"Don Quixote" Miguel de Cervantes
"The Silmarilion" J.R.R Tolkien
"The Lord of the Rings" J.R.R Tolkien

Currently reading

"Philosophy in the 20th Century" A.J. Ayer
"One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" Ken Kesey
"The Confusion" Neal Stephenson
"The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice" Sandra Day O'Connor
"Memories, Dreams, Reflections" C.G. Jung

What happened to encryption
I am somewhat amused by the indignation of many a country/world leader about what other countries' (okay, American) diplomats write about them in cables to Washington - It comes across as posturing, hence it comes across as pathetic. I appreciate the wikileaks posts for a number of reasons, entertainment not being the least of them, though I am curious about what exactly happened to the custom of having diplomatic memoranda written and transmitted in code. My personal entertainment aside, I assume that the US would rather have not seen all of this information available for the likes of us to read freely on the Internet... Unless, of course it was encrypted, but the leak was done after the decryption has taken place.

Oh them blogs
One of my Friday resolutions is to blog on a more regular basis.  A little while back I started a personal Wordpress blog  where I want to ride my hobby horse of distributed personal computing functionality, as well as a current job related marketing blog.  Both are updated now.  Okay, that felt pretty good...

Oh, the colors
 I felt like wearing red today.  The first thing I see when I enter the office is a colleague wearing a red shirt.  Walking to my desk, I see my pod mate wearing a red shirt as well.  Another red shirt wearing colleague passed by.  When the fifth red shirt wearing person walked in and sat at his desk I had to congratulate him about having "read the memo."  For reference, this last guy is a hard core Linux geek, whose standard attire at this time of year is a t-shirt and jeans.  He stopped, pondered for a second and told me with a pensive look (yea, yea) that it struck him that his shirt was actually crimson.  

"You sound like my wife," I retorted, referring to the occasional disagreement K and I have about some hue or other.   A second later, this appeared in my IRC chat window.  Enjoy!
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What makes for a good poem
Avec le livre
This is totally subjective, but it just struck me that a response I have that is common to all the poems I love is the desire to memorize them. 

Delusions of grandeur
Innovation - whether in technology, finance, or politics germinates out of the cliche that the only constant is change.  The world was one way, an innovator saw a better way, applied thought and energy to that realization, made an idea into reality and the world changed.   What often happens, though, is that the innovator, if truly successful, decides that this is the end of history, that the world truly ARRIVED because whatever innovation s/he brought to the world has obviated any further change in its venue because hey, the best is here, so why try to come up with something else.  

Supposedly smart people fell into this trap (I am going to give some examples, so please remember that I said "smart" rather than nice, kind, or anything of that sort).  I remember seeing Bill Gates talking about the world of computing as if there are no products but those offered by Microsoft.  Steve Jobs decided that he has a monopoly on how people are going to use the iPhone's capabilities - that they don't need flash and only want to look at applications that meet Apple's sensibilities.  Not too long ago the Republicans decided that the legislative branch of the government (not to speak of the executive) will be perpetually republican.  Trotsky deliriated about a perpetual revolution that will keep his flavor of Bolshevism in power (at least the Nazi's were realistic, talking about a 1,000 year rather than a perpetual Reich - I guess Hitler's artistic sensibilities made him more in tune with the evanescent nature of goodness and beauty).

To simplify matters (and get to my point), the issue is with failing to understand that any product, system, philosophy, etc., is in place not only because of the innovators but also because of people - people who use the products, accept or submit to a political/economic system, tolerate companies, governments, and other people.   I think that most people look out to the outside world to provide as much of their needs as possible (how many people would work, let alone innovate, if given the choice of having all their needs taken care of by an outside agency?), and view change with a degree of suspicion (look around you).  Further, people would often tolerate a rather high degree of oppression from a political/economic system, if the selfsame system provides them with a way to exist and function that is familiar (q.v., the Soviet Union - it would have gone on for much longer if it weren't for the economics that just didn't do the trick).

When things become unreasonable - from the big to the small - in spite of the thinkers' and idealists' ideas about what is good for the world, the world has its own ideas.  In spite of Mr. Job's certainty that I don't need flash on my iPhone and that everything I need to run on said device is in the Apple Store, I have the option of jail breaking my iPhone, running flash and getting application from alternative stores, such as Cydia.  In spite of what the Republican leadership thought about the political needs of the country, the GOP is in the minority (for the time being) in both houses, and we have a Democratic president in the White House, and we all know what happened to both the Nazis and the Soviets.

Now Mr. Eric Schmidt of  Google is telling me that I can forget about anonymity and privacy on the web.  I appreciate the head's up - I really do.  I am not the most private person in the world, and there are few, if any, pieces of information that I posted or "revealed" about myself in electronic format on the Internet that I would mind being seen by other people.  Telling me that I have no option and no choice does rub me the wrong way.  It is going to be a bit of a pain, but there are ways to have many of the services provided now by companies such as Google, that can be run from a computer at home while being connected to the web.  I can also see such services being offered with privacy provisos.  Somehow, when one ends up being to big for one's pants, one ends up running around with his derrière sticking out, open for kicks by willing and able feet.   

Maybe I will go beyond just shooting
Well, I went beyond shooting a while back.  And I am not talking about my rather short career in the US military that included a completely non confrontational stint at Gulf War I (my only confrontation was with a fellow Devil Dog who decided that driving through the post I manning was okay (it wasn't - you are supposed to stop and present your credentials - I mean, it WAS a war), whereupon I raised my M-16 and some less than pleasant verbal exchange ensued)).  I am talking about computer games.  Somehow anything that went beyond having them come at you and you shooting them had serious negative appeal (absolutely had to have unlimited ammo - could not be bothered with worrying about running out of fire power).  

So, of late I've been observing some of my house mates play, what I believe is, Civilization.  The concept was described to my in general terms, and I found it intriguing (raising the obvious specters of our world being nothing more than an elaborate game, but that topic has been explored in numerous science fiction works).  This morning I found out about O A.D  from an article the technology section of ha'aretz's online Hebrew edition.  An active project that has been 10 years in the making and was open sourced last year is intriguing due the staying power of its community (I mean, what lasts 10 years these days?).  So, I too might be spending quality time while glued to my screen, playing God (or at least Tolkien).


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