Notes on a New World Order

Would you like fries with your Universe?

Friday Rant #11: Giving
2006-12-16 00:00

Alright, I’m somewhat mentally drained from a collection of fun that happened a day-ish ago. (When you’re up for longer than 24 hours, “days” don’t really seem to mean the same thing you thought they did.) Two days ago at the most. In other random news, that Kaboodle site is pretty spiffy. Added a bade (that might not stay there) pointing at a wishlist-type thing. Please feel obligated (or not) to buy me things as your relationship with me would dictate….however…<rantMode>The whole gift-giving holiday thing really isn’t. There are very few people who really think that this holiday season (it’s Christmas, but also New Year’s and various other random year’s end celebrations too. I don’t like the idea of enforcing ‘politically-correct’ speech, but it’s not politically correct, it’s inclusive of other tradition.) is actually about giving gifts. Mostly, consciously or not, people thing the holidays are about exchanging gifts. That’s usually what happens, but a spirit of giving has nothing to do with what you might receive in return. Secret Santa is probably the worst perversion of that, but I digress…I think gift giving holidays, in general, are a bad idea. If you want to give someone a gift, give them a gift. If you don’t have a gift for them, then fine. Once a tradition of giving gifts at a specific interval emerges, not only will spontaneous and meaningful gifts become less and less frequent, but gifts following the tradition will become less and less meaningful also. This is especially true when the tradition usually involves exchanging gifts. (Whether by intent or accident of people giving to each other.) If I were to run the world, I’d propose that gifts for holiday celebration be given when they are purchased and without expectation of reciprocation. You should give a gift, because you want to help someone, you want to make their day better, you want to show your appreciation for their existence in your life…not because you feel like you should. Mandatory ‘donations’ are the same sort of useless as the Christmas gift for a large number of people. The holidays are a time of giving, why not give when you feel like it, throughout the holiday season(s)? It makes more sense to me.Also, in the spirit of giving, there’s a lot of room for ‘incidental’ gifts. Just paying for lunch or a movie ticket, or whatever. Really, I’m much better at that than finding some trinket, do-dad, or whatever for someone. And giving money isn’t much of a gift, unless they really don’t have any. Then it can really be the most meaningful gift received.This seems to be a pretty common sentiment, but nobody really seems to ever talk to all their friends, or group of friends, and actually do anything about it. I would urge you all to do so. Ask for help, when you need it, give when you have plenty, and give with an earnest heart. Don’t expect a return gift. Be delighted if you get one.</rantMode>

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No Rant, Kinda
2006-12-10 00:00

Well, if you havn’t noticed, I don’t really have a friday rant up this week. And I won’t. Becaus the thing I would post, is also an essay for a class, and because I’m actually going to edit it, and revise and so on and so forth, I figured it’d be best if I just waited until I was done with the essay before posting it. However, this space is intentionally being pre-occupied by the yet to be finished essay (on the definition of heroism). So, any future rants will be missing a number until this space is filled. I can assure it’s not confusing.

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Broadcast Machine
2006-12-05 00:00

Broadcast MachineThe link is already on my links (to the right), but I figured I’d post it, along with a link to because I’ve been watching random video of the Pro Tour Worlds and the talks from Hope 6 from those two sites recently, instead of, well…actual television. Between that and catching up on the various podcasts I listen to I’ve not really done much besides show up to classes yet, now that I’m back. If you read this and are a techie visit the first one, if you’re also a magic fan, check out the second one too. It’s not exactly engaging television drama, but it’s certainly fun to watch if you understand what’s happening.Not sure why I’m posting other than to point people to free crap that’s awesome online. You shouldn’t have to pay to be entertained. Or something.

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Ah, huh…
2006-12-04 00:00

So, I’m back to classes, if anyone really cares. I’m taking barely enough to be full time, but that’s alright. Two required classes, and two liberal arts/outside area-type classes. Should be good, only been to the technical ones so far. (Pretty nice split, all tech/math, then all philosophy/lit.) Looks like I’m going to be taking it easy this quarter a little, not like last quarter was hard. In any case, I’m back to school, and I’ve had some conversations about my education as recently as 4 hours ago that I wanted to share with the greater body of the world.Though, I’m mostly documenting these thoughts because of something that was thrown around when I was talking with people last night. Writing to your future self. While that’s not the most useful way to maintain readership, though it guarantee’s at least one person will be mildly interested, I decided to write with a “what now” bent and have this preserved in some meaningless way, for the future.I’ve been told about a dozen different majors now that I “should” be studying (the current Computer Science, included). Anything from mathematics, philosophy, computer engineering, new/digital media, animation(ish), etc. Mostly the people suggesting the change have been well-meaning, and it’s not that I just won’t change. It’s that “there’s still time for that.” I can always just learn it later. There’s always more to learn, and I can always just keep getting degrees. My goals are not aligned with getting a job, growing old, and retiring until death. I’m, at heart, a technologist and a futurist. The future isn’t now. The future is what I make it, and I’m gonna make it awesome. So there.That’s my goal. Help me, don’t tell me I need to fit into a box, because I really don’t like cubicles.

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Nothing's Something, I think…
2006-11-29 00:00

Well, no posts for a bit, what with not being in school and being home, and not doing things, or doing things, and all of that. So, I'm just going to run down that I've been doing "stuff".What I've Been Up To:

  • Magic: The Gathering tournament(s)
  • Thanksgiving /w Family
  • Talisman
  • Getting a cellphone
  • Stuff
  • World of Warcraft free trial
  • Other Stuff

—more or less.So yeah. I've been doing a lot of nothing, that's why there's been nothing here.

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Friday Rant #9: Laziness pays off now
2006-11-10 00:00

I’m feeling lazy. Too lazy to write, but I love you, my readers, so I’m writing anyway.I’m not, however, going to feel guilty about not wanting to do much. I don’t need to be doing anything, really. If all I want to do is sit and ponder nothing in particular, then I will. Don’t tell me I’m wasting time, or that I could better spend the time doing something ‘useful.’ Laziness it’s a virtue or vice on it’s own. It’s laziness when you actually have legitimate demands placed on you that is unforgivable. I can’t say, “No, I’m much to lazy to help you not drown.” quite as easily as I can say, “No, I’m much to lazy to help you not fail the class you’ve been skipping.” One’s a legitimate demand (mostly, anyway. If it’s their own damn fault for drowning, not quite as much, but I am at least a little compassionate to someone who’s probably going to die) the other’s them being as lazy as I am. They don’t feel like really doing the work, so why should I do work to help them?Obviously, this can get rather unpopular, especially if you’ve let people walk over you in the past with guilt-inducing whines. Whining is a lazy act. It’s just making some weird high-pitched noise instead of doing the work to actually solve your problem. Therefore, anyone who whines when you don’t do something for them is lazier than you are, because they are so desparate to not do work they are soliciting others to do it for them. This usually means the work is important, and they have no reasonable justification of laziness. (Or really, expectation of the ability to be lazy.)If you notice this sounds a lot like the verbiage used to discuss expectations of privacy, then… well, good for you. I’m not talking about that. Or, I just sorta was, but I’m not anymore.…back on track. Laziness is without judgement. I can be a lazy programmer and be rewarded for it. (cf. Extreme Programming: “Do the least that can possibly work.”) I can be a lazy lifeguard and get sued for it. Just be careful what you’re lazy about, and you can proudly proclaim that you aren’t a(n American) workaholic. I know I’m not. (A workaholic. I am American.)

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Loot! w00t!
2006-11-07 00:00

Well, no friday rant this week. Why? ‘Cause friday was my birthday. So, instead of ranting I’ll let you all just relax and not get annoyed by my overbearing ignorance. I will, however, post a loot list. Here’s what I’ve gotten for my birthday so far:

  • meh. Shirt.
  • Some outdoor pants.
  • Some button-up shirts.
  • Another shirt, long-sleeved, black. (You should know the drill by now.)
  • LED Lightbulb
  • Chai Mints
  • Einstein book
  • Toblerone Chocolate
  • Box of Magic cards
  • Bag of Holding
  • The promise of a cell phone.

So yeah, other than that, if you want details, you’ll have to know me well enough to IM or email me. Oh, and I turned 21, thank you for asking.Done!

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Doctorow on DRM
2006-10-30 00:00

Well, I thought I'd post a link to this. (or Embed it, as the case may be.) It's good stuff. Mr. Doctorow can rant with style. I just rant with random words. Though, I'm sure he's prepared a bit more, and he does this kind of stuff for a living, more or less. The talk is his keynote from Toorcon, and the video is probably put together by the hackaday folks, as their logo starts of the video. Not the most exciting video ever, really, but the stuff should fire you up, at least a little, if you've ever thought downloading music and movies from the internet wasn't all so bad. He puts for the case pretty clearly that "copy-protection" isn't. The solutions, in my opinion, need work, but at least he's proposing solutions. Other links to drop on you if you're looking for more info: Electronic Frontier Foundation, EPIC.

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Friday Rant #8: Who are we?
2006-10-27 00:00

There are a lot of names that get bandied about in the online, offline, and somewhat in-between worlds that encompass the modern technology fiend’s daily haunts. “Geek”, “Nerd”, “Hacker”, “Technophile”, “Maker”, etc. All of these have various shades of meaning, and all of them are nothing more than fancy subcultural labels. What’s difficult about this, is that it’s not a well-defined subculture, it’s an attempt to identify and label something that extends beyond the smaller, unique and creative cultures that developed and continue to develop both on- and off-line. “Geek” has been adopted broadly, and is the ‘new’ “Hacker”, so to speak. “Hacker” has been so vehemently despised by the media that it isn’t always a safe label, even for those who work in computer security. “Geek” is also a broader term, and can include people who have the same personality characteristics as the “Hacker”-type, but who aren’t as computer, or even technology focused. Even “Geek” has negative connotations to some people, though it’s usually an endearing term. The rather neutral “Technophile” has a limited scope, as it doesn’t really encompass the full range of people that the other two terms I’ve mentioned specifically (”Geek”, and “Hacker”) encompass. The very new term “Maker” is derived from the wonderful quarterly magazine Make. The term is good, but the current scope doesn’t fit everyone the term could cover. (And they know. They’re making more magazines. Craft, for one.)What we really need (us …geeks/nerds/hackers/technophiles/makers) is a word that doesn’t have the emotion associated with other meanings that characteristics identify the shared characteristics. Note: I haven’t defined these characteristics, because I don’t know them, and they aren’t exclusive. There’s a lot of ground to cover. We need a word that just conjures up the right images. We have plenty of words that conjure up the wrong images, as I’ve briefly covered above.“Geek” conjures up a little too obsessive and pathologically strange individuals. Not that we all aren’t, but not all of us are either.“Nerd”, even among our own kind is a big derogatory, and directly so. It’s not so endearing. People can cling to it as a badge of pride to be so ‘off the curve’, but it’s generally a word that’s associated with seriously deficient and dysfunctional people.“Hacker”, one of the great words of the modern era. It was originally coined in much the capacity as we seek a word for, but the adoption by the media of the term to be (almost exclusively) a malicious computer attacker has detracted from the ability of this word to serve as a broad representation, though the term “hacks” for clever feats and related terminology doesn’t have nearly the same negative connotations.“Technophile” doesn’t fall broadly enough, and conjures up images of audiophile-like computer setups. Not quite what we’re going for with the broad application thing.“Maker”, despite it’s promising potential, I think is almost inherently self-defeating as a general term because it is too closely tied to the community surrounding Make Magazine. Again, a great magazine, but not a good general term.So what is general enough, and conjures the right mindset into the listener? My opinion: Human.No, there’s nothing special about us geeks, or nerds, or whatever you want to call us. The same passion, drive, spirit, and verve exist in everyone. Perhaps we simply let it do more, or feel the drive a bit more strongly, but whatever makes us stand out is not unique, it is not even, perhaps, stand out qualities. We simply happen to do things that stand out.We’re different. So is everyone else. It’s hard to categorize, because there’s no mold that punches out geeks, as separate from businessmen, or intellectuals. The power to do what we do, it’s human.We’re all human. So exercise your power, and make something.(How about a novel?)

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In my world…
2006-10-24 00:00

things would be different:

  • All public schools will teach computer literacy, first aid, basic outdoors(wo)manship, and actual theory, not just formula. (This includes non-mathematical disicplines, like English.)
  • Anyone who says “gross,” “disgusting,” “ewww,” or any other expression like that at the mention of normal bodily functions or fluids will be hit with something hard. They’re normal, they’re not disgusting. Bodies are useful things, they don’t need much fixing. You have fluids for a reason, and no, they’re not dirty.
  • No mercy will be shown to those who fail to understand the consequences of putting information out on the Internet.
  • No television show will be allowed to air without first passing a literary review by erudite viewers. If it doesn’t at least keep them pleasantly entertained, it will not be allowed on the air.
  • Food will be untaxed only if it is unprocessed, organic, or an “intgredient” (i.e. not ready-to-eat). Anything else is a service stashed in a box.
  • No legal document can be admissible and binding unless an average person could read and understand it in less time than it took to write.

To be continued….(at some later date, to be determined.)And hey, if you’re just checking the facebook notes thing, check out the actual website It’s loads prettier (well, maybe) and has a survey in the side bar I’d like people to answer. Also, it’s good for your soul.

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