Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I've added a bit more to ThoughtStorms: ConspiracyTheories
The Lemur God : DesktopWikis are exactly as they sound, a Wiki on your private PC, versus on a server open to the internet public. I downloaded a few. Many are free, some are rather expensive. I found one that is very good, very free, but also very new. I've used it to enter some info, but am a little worried about how much time I should invest in this program, as it is uber-beta and my prove to be very unstable... especially after mucho info is entered. This program is SdiDesk and has proven to be decent so far.

thelemurgod: WikiPim... DisBlog
SdiDesk hat auch eine hohe Funktionsvielfalt und auch die Möglichkeit der Textformattierung kommt an die “klassischen” Wikis heran. Die Unterseiten und Revisionen werden im Programmunterordner gespeichert. Auch vom “Look & Feeling” erinnert dieses Programm sehr an die bekannten Wikisysteme.

Hmm. Which according to Google is roughly

SdiDesk has also high function variety and also the possibility of the Textformattierung approaches to the "classical" Wikis. The lower surfaces and revisions are stored in the program under file. Also of the "Look & Feeling" this program reminds much of the well-known Wikisysteme.

Peruns Blog - Webwork und Internet ? Desktop-Wikis
ThoughtStorms: ArchitectureAtWar

Monday, December 20, 2004

ThoughtStorms temporarily down. Will post here when it's back up.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Charles H. Ferguson : Until now, competition in the search industry has been limited to the Web and has been conducted algorithm by algorithm, feature by feature, and site by site. This competition has resulted in a Google and Yahoo duopoly. If nothing were to change, the growth of Microsoft’s search business would only create a broader oligopoly, similar, perhaps, to those in other media markets. But the search industry will soon serve more than just a Web-based consumer market. It will also include an industrial market for enterprise software products and services, a mass market for personal productivity and communications software, and software and services for a sea of new consumer devices. Search tools will comb through not only Microsoft Office and PDF documents, but also e-mail, instant messages, music, and images; with the spread of voice recognition, Internet telephony, and broadband, it will also be possible to index and search telephone conversations, voice mail, and video files.

Welcome to Technology Review
At the moment, I'm musing about the differences between ThoughtStorms and a real community like MeatBall

ThoughtStorms: ThoughtStormsVsMeatBall
When I posted this ThoughtStorms had 2374 pages.

How many does it have now?
Sunir Shah is working on a fascinating paper on the history of academia and what effect new media (especially wiki) might have.

Meatball Wiki: OpenAcademics
For those who missed it : ThoughtStorms: PhilIsStupid

(Warning : disturbing photo)

Don't these images look exactly like something out of a video game?

from BBC
David Blunket : Ex-Arse

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Tim Bray : This whole Open/Free software thing, it’s not just one hemisphere or economic sphere or ethnic sphere, it’s, well, everybody everywhere.

First Free Software in Swahili : Jambo

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Now this is Gonzo Marketing.
Japan Today warns : Women who drink can be obnoxious !!!! :-)

Actually, the headline is hilarious. But I'm kind of shocked how sexist this is.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The operation - engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience - is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people's elections.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev

Saturday, November 27, 2004

How the Iraq body count project is counting Fallujah

Just a quick reminder for readers who've been off-planet for the last three years. Some time around the end of 2001 almost three thousand US citizens were murdered by terrorists, mainly from Saudi Arabia and with support from factions based in Afghanistan.

At this point, the US decided it had the right to unilaterally take pre-emptive action against any state that it decided was "supporting terrorism" or which "bred" or "tolerated" terrorism. (This pretty much covers any arabic or islamic state, given that all such states at least have connections with groups who are anti-Israel, and may be channeling money into the Palestinian resistance movement.)

Under this new rubric, and based on some false intelligence which they clearly weren't keen to question too much, the US (unfortunately supported by my own country, the UK) decided to invade Iraq. They declared victory after a short war which succesfully removed Saddam Hussain from power. But the politicians and planners were clearly unprepared for the realities of rebuilding the country. Worse, they appear to have been so blinded by their own self-righteous victim-hood that they either failed to forsee, or simply discounted the legitimacy of, any resentment this would inspire. And these lapses have allowed a swarm of semi-independent resistence movements to form, and the country seems to be bogged down in a guerrilla war.

At the point of writing (November 27th, 2004), according to the fairly conservatively calculated Iraq Body Count project - which counts civilian casualties according to an averaging of media reports - the number of Iraqi civilian casualties is around 15,000.

In other words, the current US (over) reaction is an escalation of 5:1.

So here's the question for anyone who still supports the war in Iraq on the grounds it's justified to protect the US against terrorism. If you're allowed a 5:1 escalation ie. it's OK to kill 15,000 of their innocents to protect 3,000 of yours. Are they allowed to do the same thing? Is (say) Iran justified in killing 75,000 US civilians pre-emptively if it thinks this will protect it from a similar fate (and loss of civilians) that Iraq suffered?

And, if not, why not?

I'm not asking if such an Iranian attack is possible or practical. After all, the invasion of Iraq probably hasn't made the US much safer. But assuming that this was a plausible hypothesis at some point, and that this 5:1 escalation was seen as justified, is a 5:1 escalation by Iran also justified?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Wanna know how white-hot, cutting edge we are at the university of Brasilia?

Yesterday Jon Udell posted his interview with Ward Cunningham and Jack Greenfield about Software Factories (see
ThoughtStorms: SoftwareSupplyChain for more details) ... and today I gave a talk based on the interview as part of my attempt to get a permanent job.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Nooranch domain back ...

ThoughtStorms: RecentChanges
BBC NEWS | Americas | Venezuela prosecutor feared dead
Hmmm. Nooranch domain (and therefore ThoughtStorms, Synaesmedia, Optimaes, TTD and SdiDesk wiki) seems to be down at the moment. Will keep you posted when it's back up.

Unrelated point : I wonder why I don't have adverts on the top of this blog anymore.
Philip Greenspun : Who would have predicted that bad weather, congested roads, and an absurdly high cost of living would lead to unhappiness?
So, thanks to Hilan, I just got back from the Gift Paradigm Conference in Vegas.

Lots of ideas and different perspectives there. I have a huge amount to write up about this. Probably pages on ThoughtStorms plus some kind of more coherent essay. Watch these spaces.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Interesting statistic : China produces 125,000 computer science graduates a year, while the UK only produces 5,000.

BBC NEWS | Business | Brown seeks out global challenge
Huh? Should we expect US potlatch in Falluja?

I think there's a strong need for a major military accomplishment, not as a panacea or culminating victory but to demonstrate military success to both sides,' one senior military officer said. Even if U.S. troops take more casualties in such an offensive, showing Americans are willing to pay the price to do the job 'sends a very different signal, and it's a very important signal,' this officer said.

This gets uglier every day. Continuous lunacy of faith based warfare in Iraq. Tensions Rise Across Ranks In Iraq As Troops Are Told To Gut It Out? by Elaine M. Grossman

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Meu deus! (As we say in these parts)

"The competence and compassion of my marines will mitigate any civilian casualties," said Lieutenant-Colonel Gareth Brandl when asked how he could control where all this firepower would be directed in the narrow streets and alleys of Falluja


"The marines that I have had wounded over the past five months have been attacked by a faceless enemy," said Colonel Brandl.

"But the enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He lives in Falluja. And we're going to destroy him."

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Fixing the problem of Falluja

Saturday, November 06, 2004

By mixing elements of 80s nostalgia with mainstream hip-hop, crunk, dancehall, bhangra, Baltimore club and now even the Favela Funk of Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil, Diplo shines a light on genres and artists that are reshaping our conceptions of music and culture

Ho ho! Bhangra, Baile Funk, Dancehall and - well, assuming it's just the continuation of Deep South hip-hop like Three-6 Mafia etc - Crunk. Sounds good to me. Though a bit of Reggaethon wouldn't go amiss.

Diplo : The Stylus Interview - Article - Stylus Magazine
Andrew Coyne : Bush took 46% of first-time voters. He took 52% of college graduates. 48% of working women. 44% of those earning less than $50,000. 45% of those aged 18-29. Given these are conventionally supposed to be strongly Democratic demographic groups, it suggests the stereotype of Bush voters as middle-aged white guys is equally suspect.

Invasion of the theo-cons
John Robb :
China Checkmates the US in the Middle East
Flemming Funch : A predatory capitalist who has no moral but profit can only survive well in a certain type of environment. Which exists in abundance at this point. But if a sufficient number of people, instead of trying to pursuade him to change, will rather change the rules of the game, he'll have little chance.

Ming the Mechanic
Robert Cringely on the Iraq / Iran war in the 80s.

So I took a taxi to the front, introduced myself to the local commander, who had gone, as I recall, to Iowa State, and spent a couple days waiting for the impending human wave attack. That attack was to be conducted primarily with 11-and 12-year-old boys as troops, nearly all of them unarmed. There were several thousand kids and their job was to rise out of the trench, praising Allah, run across No Man's Land, be killed by the Iraqi machine gunners, then go directly to Paradise, do not pass GO, do not collect 200 dinars. And that's exactly what happened in a battle lasting less than 10 minutes. None of the kids fired a shot or made it all the way to the other side. And when I asked the purpose of this exercise, I was told it was to demoralize the cowardly Iraqi soldiers ...

Now put this in a current context. What effective limit is there to the number of Islamic kids willing to blow themselves to bits? There is no limit, which means that a Bush Doctrine can't really stand in that part of the world. But of course President Bush, who may think he pulled the switch on a couple hundred Death Row inmates in Texas, has probably never seen a combat death. He doesn't get it and he'll proudly NEVER get it.

Welcome to the New Morality.

PBS | I, Cringely . Archived Column

Friday, November 05, 2004

He has not designated a deputy or successor, perhaps fearing that an impatient heir apparent might be a threat to him.

This is absolutely Arafat's fault! If there's major chaos in the PLO after he dies he should be blamed. Same with Castro in Cuba.

Someone who holds on to the top slot until the last is a lousy leader. A good leader tries to build a system which supports and promotes the values she or he wants to instill in the community, and then leaves it to be continued by inspired and educated successors.

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Q&A: What follows Arafat?
BBC NEWS | Americas | Brazil minister quits in army row

The defense minister resigned? But isn't he the person in the best place to put a stop to this. Isn't he in charge of the army?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Doc Searles : The tough lesson for those of us on the Left is learning that those of us on the Right were no less connected — just a lot less obvious about it.

The Doc Searls Weblog : Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Surreal spam of the day :

Official U.S Goverement Program

cavalry urbanalice maggoty jacquesberman bryn cholinesterasederide hurley rocketstarlet animism mechanicnimble opportune bondcopenhagen belittle shuttlepasteboard decadent classicacquit nucleotide sonogrambernardino

Says it all, really ... :-(

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Surprise Announcement!

This blog endorses ...

George W. Bush

for president!

After all, who do you think we,out here in HateAmerica(tm)-land would like to inflict on you? Do we Brazilians, Chinese, Russians, IslamoFascists, EuroSocialists(WhoLetsFaceItAreOnlyOneWordRemovedFromHitlersNationalSocialists) want a strong America? One with the wealth and military might and moral authority to lead the world and tell us what to do? Think again.

Even America's most hated is, by cleverly pretending to promote Kerry, doing his bit for the cause.

Please, people, this is important. Tell everyone you know to get out there and vote for Bush, today. And if any sneaky, patriotic Democrats stand in your way, just show this proof that Bush was right about the Saddam / Al Queda connection and watch their tiny heads mushy liberal confusion.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Gilberto Gil : "A world opened up by communications cannot remain closed up in a feudal vision of property, ... No country, not the US, not Europe, can stand in the way of it. It's a global trend. It's part of the very process of civilization. It's the semantic abundance of the modern world, of the postmodern world - and there's no use resisting it."

Good Wired article on IP in Brazil.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Friday, October 29, 2004

It's happening!

More and more people, talking about AltMoney combined with electronic networks :-)

TheFeature :: Open Source Currency

The Future of Money

Excellent point by Adina Levin : But we don't test what happens when voters make mistakes. Usability testing is critical for all sorts of systems -- particularly systems where user choices have serious consequences like voting.

The lack of usability testing -- and the lack of rigorous security testing -- show that voting administration hasn't yet caught up to the responsibility of electronic voting.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Joel Spolsky asks for the
Best Software Essays of 2004 and gets a great list.
Darkside industrial bhangra :

This cd will feature music and combinations that will be the first of it's kind, original dub versions of bhangra and reggae songs destroyed in industrial and experimental styles. (not gabber /fucking rave jungle mash up)


Sunday, October 17, 2004

Don't confuse the true blah of BlahBlahWorld and Blahsploitation with this faker : Blah, Blah, Blog

(Still, he has some good stories :-)

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Hmmm. Maybe I should have re-read this before embarking on my current career. :-)

As a way of organising part of the labour market, it's got more or less nothing to recommend it.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Richard Stallman went to Tihuanaco and got hooked on quinoa soup.

We did too, about seven months earlier.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Just, a mere, speculative query. If I voted Conservative in the next UK election, would I have the slightest chance of helping overturn the insanity that seems to be going on at the moment? Or are the Tories as keen on this as Labour?


no on second glance, that was a foolish idea.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

If the Americans want to extradite a British citizen, they need only prove he is who they say he is. Once their new law passes it will be entirely legal for them to ship their British victims off to Syria for torture without trial.

In other words, the British government, whose first duty is to ensure the safety of British citizens and their fundamental human rights, can no longer guarantee that we can't be tortured, or that it won't hand us over to another government which will torture us.

Guardian Unlimited | The wrap | A worm's eye view
Questions I wish people would ask me :

Q : Phil, in 2000 you were going on about how important weblogs were going to be. Now they're winning the US election. Two years ago you started ThoughtStorms and told us WikiIsTheNewFrontier. Now everyone is saying that.

So, what do you predict is going to be big another two years down the line?

Phil (impossibly smug) : Why, since you ask so nicely, little literary device, I will enlighten you.

* PollsAndCompasses

* TypedThreadedDiscussion

Q : But Phil, why?

Polls and compasses have been used for fun. But they can do real work a) collecting information about people and b) teaching people about themselves. Now that social networking services are getting lots of people together, polls let them classify themselves.

A new wave of polling software, tied to other social software will distribute and amateurize psychology.

Everyone will try their hand at categorizing and typing people. Some of the classifications will turn out to be bogus. But some will turn out to be usefully predictive of what or who people want to know, or the things they'd be good or bad at.

As to discussion. There are many new venues for it to take place. Blog comments, GMail, YASNs (like Tribe tribe discussions) etc. But they're all using models of discussion which have been around for 20 years. And consequently they're generating huge amounts of new material and knowledge which is still hard to follow or mine.

TTD is the quick hack. A minor variant of threaded discussion which can generate a lot of useful, structural meta-data for almost no extra cost. Wait for one of these venues to discover it and then watch for the explosion of useful knowledge.

Q : But does anyone ever ask you this question?

A : Nah. Everyone's a prophet these days. But you can discuss this using TTD here
Very mysterious.

We can't possibly be paranoid enough to imagine that someone's taken the material and is busily inventing a nuclear program for Iraq, retrospectively, like.

No, we can't. Don't worry, our sanity is intact.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Confusion over Iraq nuclear assets

Monday, October 11, 2004

Eric Raymond : For the first time in my life, I find that I am seriously considering voting Republican in a presidential election.

Armed and Dangerous :: October :: 2004

(BTW : read the comments)
This is bad. Don't do it, people. However pissed off you are. It plays right into Republican hands.
Chavez twists the knife into the US economy.
This BBC story : George W Bush's campaign is running a new attack ad against the White House challenger, John Kerry.

The TV commercial accuses Mr Kerry of failing to understand the threat posed by terrorists around the world.


Correspondents say that Mr Bush, who has called himself a "war president" and part of whose re-election campaign urges voters not to switch leaders while the country remains at war, paints the struggle against militants as a long-term battle that has defined his presidency.

The script for the new ad accuses Mr Kerry of changing his mind on how best to defeat terrorism, and interprets his comments as equating the war on terror to prostitution.


Reminds me of Greg Palast's comment : They don't give a shit about popular support. Bush is running on fear. He's the fear candidate. He's the "you better get scared cuz those guys with the towels on their heads, they're coming to git you" candidate. People have to understand what the game is: pump the fear. His daddy created Osama bin Laden, who came back for us. His daddy created Saddam. And now he's creating Musharraf and all the other crazy bastards, and it's going to be a very fucking dangerous world. They're going to make it so goddamn dangerous that then they'll turn around and say, see, you need us. They're selling fear. That's their commodity.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

How curious. Saddam the geek?

The former Iraqi president also valued science and technology highly, and viewed nuclear programmes as a 'symbol of a modern nation, indicative of technological progress'.

This, the report says, explains Saddam Hussein's wish to preserve the intellectual capacity to recreate weapons programmes.

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Light shed on Saddam motivations
Senator Kerry gave quite a long, detailed answer on abortion, and President Bush was able to pounce and say that he did not understand Mr Kerry's answer.

That's a good move in the debate?

BBC NEWS | Americas | Analysis: Tough fight leaves race open:
BBC NEWS | Europe | Deconstruction icon Derrida dies

Friday, October 08, 2004

Today's big ThoughtStorms posting ... academia, politics and blogging. What more could you ask for in a story?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Brasilia, Cult capital of the world

Oh yeah! It's absolutely true. Brasilia really is new age capital of at least Brazil. We have new age breakfast TV on the local channel on Saturday mornings, we have shops where you can buy spells, everybody I meet believes in astrology (not that Brighton didn't have a lot of this stuff too of course)

Down the road we have a Rosicrucian church and reading room. The other thing is, that this is a big crystal mining area. All those local crystal objects tourists buy at the airport and various hippy fairs, they come from this region.

The big destination for getting away from it all, Alto Paraiso, is a totally new age colony where they have an "airport" where you can go and wait for Flying Saucers (which are meant to be common). All the pousadas seem to be run by Trancendental Meditationists. At sun-set everyne goes up the hill (And some of them climb the TV tower) to watch sun go down accompanied by a guy in saffron robes playing a didgeridoo.

OTOH, remember this is a society of civil servants, in some cases, third generation civil servants. I think this has to be taken into account ...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Philip Greenspun on What's wrong with the standard undergraduate computer science curriculum

Usual cynical stuff, but worth reading. And a couple of tips I'll try to incorporate into my teaching. The really interesting thing is his attempt to tie "industry requirements" with a small scale, craft model. These might not always go together, but it's nice when they do.
John Robb : Bush is Osama's choice for president

John Robb's Weblog

Monday, October 04, 2004

Politics makes strange bedfellows. Arch-austrian / libertarian site publishes John Pilger and this interesting critique of the war-hawk claim that US threats brought down the Soviet Union, and suggests Gorbachev's connections with CND were equally important.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Phil's new first rule of computer science lecturing : don't attempt to demonstrate an imperative quicksort by stepping through it on the whiteboard. Especially when you haven't tried it at home, first.

Firstly it's very long. Secondly it's easy to make a mistake.

A horrible lecture yesterday. I fell into one of those "mumbling into the whiteboard for 20 minutes with my back to the students" traps. Having started manually running through the quicksort, I found, after about 6 or 7 minutes that I'd made a mistake, coming out of the first "increase-the-lower-bound while loop" too early. I appologised and went back to correct it, but it became extremely clear that actually working through the algorithm until the list was sorted would take far longer than I wanted to spend, and the students were already ignoring me and chatting among themselves. Admitedly some were looking at the paper copy I'd given them and trying to work it out. Others were staring glassy eyed at me. So I asked if they preferred to work through it themselves or for me to continue. No one answered. Eventually one guy indicated that I should continue, but as I turned back I could tell perfectly well that even he wasn't really paying attention or following what I was saying. I panicked and took refuge in trying to work through it again for five minutes and then gave up. "It does work" I tried to assure them, lamely. "Let's look at the Haskell version."

But by then I really didn't have the presence to summon their attention back. And my vocabulary and any semblance of grammatical competence had completely disintegrated. Even the recursive version takes time to demonstrate, and the audience were restive. Was I going to expect them to do the exercises before they left? No, I relented. This time they could take them home. That was the basic cue for some to start to get up and leave. "If anyone has any problems understanding this, come up and see me now and I'll explain individually" I invited. No one took me up on the offer.

One student who had already taught quicksort on another course, took pity on me and came up and started to demonstrate that my program ''did'' really work. I let the others drift off without a word. A couple of the students stayed behind and finished their exercise. Their verdict : the Python was very complicated, but the Haskell was interesting and kind of self-explanatory. Guess I was wrong!

So, at the end of an amazing first week, I've given four classes : two in "Advanced Programming", two in "Programing Languages". All, more or less, in a language I can't actually speak. I started terrified. Gained confidence. Lost it all again in that last lecture. The only solution for next week is yet more preparation and I'm feeling totally snowed under as it is. But it is fun! At least for the moment.

Friday, October 01, 2004

BBC : The first uncensored letter from a Briton held at Guantanamo Bay shows he has been tortured, his lawyers claim.

BBC NEWS | UK | Letter 'shows Guantanamo torture'

Thursday, September 30, 2004

TeleDyn : No doubt about it, the workweek should be the two days, the weekend in four, and a day off for blogging.

TeledyN: Harvest Moon

Monday, September 27, 2004

Q : Phil, you've been very quiet.

A : Yep, by some amazing cosmic mischance I've actually got a job teaching in the local university.

Today (in about 5 hours) I'll have my first lesson : Advanced Programming. I'll be giving some basic C programs : "Hello World", "Square numbers up to 10" etc. And asking them to do a simple exercise.

Oh, yeah. And it's all in Portuguese. So of course, I'm terrified. Wish me luck ...

Monday, September 20, 2004

Robert Fisk : And in the days to come I learnt, too, what this meant. Merely to ask why the murderers of 11 September had done their bloody deeds was to befriend "terrorism". Merely to ask what had been in the minds of the killers was to give them support. Any cop, confronted by any crime, looks for a motive. But confronted by an international crime against humanity, we were not to be allowed to seek the motive.

We should not have allowed 19 murders to change our world - Robert Fisk: 11 September 2004

(NB: I'm pretty sure that page title should be murderers. Which is the title of the story. But this mistake seems to have perculated into the blogosphere. :-( )
What is Reggaeton?

A Spicy Mix of Salsa, Hip-Hop and Reggae

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Soros's complaint
I've been trawling through various right and left blogs and news sources today. (Haven't been paying much attention recently.)

And then I watched one of those lousy, straight-to-video Hollywood movies that end up as the big late saturday night entertainment on Globo.

And then I had this thought. "Wow! This is serious. The US is really screwed." Followed by two further thoughts :

* And it's Hollywood's fault.

* And also it's weblogging's fault.

Because on the one hand, it looks more and more as if Iraq is spiralling out of control. The Taliban / Al Quaeda are regrouping in Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan. Stigmergic inspiration is sweeping the islamic world : from Pakistan to Egypt, Saudi to Russia, Indonesia to Turkey.

Now, this lously film had a good cop. With a little hand-gun. And lots of thuggish, scary bad-guys. Good cop goes out into the world, kicks ass. Bad guys blast him from all sides with automatic weapons and he mirraculously survives, by ducking behind convenient obstacles. After which, he pops back, with a couple of spare, elegant flicks of his hand-gun, takes out each bad guy.

Good hearted people everywhere flock to him and help him. No one challanges "how" he does things. Sometimes he does dumb, stupid stuff that end in a fire-fight. Yet no-one ever questions afterwards if he couldn't have thought it through a bit first, and maybe minimized the body count. The girl who's father dies. The loyal buddy who takes a bullet. No-one gets bitter.

And then I remember, the US film industry has been telling this story for decades. At least since Stagecoach. Almost 70 years of the same thing : being the good-guy is more important than how many henchmen you have, how much fire-power in your weapons, how careful your planning or suave your social and diplomatic skills.

So when the Project for the New American Century say you win them over just by kicking out their big bad boss; or when Rumsfeld decides to overrule the military experts and use an undersized army; why should there be any surprise?

The majority of US voters see nothing wrong. We've worried about trashy films inspiring violence. But what about the problem that they inspire bad tactics and failure of common sense?

Like I say, 70 years of this. Three generations of Americans.

Then, on the other side, I'm getting really impressed by the division in the US. Maybe it was like this at the end of the 60s, beginning of the 70s. But the vitriol, the smearing, the absolute disagreement and disengagement between the sides is breathtaking to me.

And maybe blogging isn't helping at all.

Sure, the idea is we all read those we disagree with, and understand them better. And this happens too. But names of blogs become short-hand : the Oxblog "falacy". "Little Green Footballs", "Daily Kos" are used as labels for moral failings, not as places to go to correct your biases and enrich your view. The web lets us see how our opponents think. And often it's so unimpressive we're left with a deep revulsion.

What the hell will happen if and when Bush wins? Will some of the frustrated oponents give up on party politics? Switch to violence? How can US society hold itself together, when it's torn by such passion, and compromised by such stupidity abroad?

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Matthew Yglesias, one of the early war switchers has a good post why Iraq is strategically way worse than Vietnam.

matthew: Iraq and Vietnam
I did most of my writing about the Iraq war on the Critical Cafe mailing list, arguing with a bunch of right-wing Popperians. (Amazing how so many people assume Critical Rationalism somehow justifies all kinds of rightist irrationality.)

Anyway, I copied a basic map of my reasoning to ThoughtStorms: AmericanWarOnIraq. Never updated it, but it might be interesting as a comparison with what's being said today.
More "War Switchers". Am I late to a trend here?

John & Belle Have A Blog: Why I Was So Totally Wrong About Iraq

Anyway, it's a good sign. It restores my faith in the blogosphere as system able to correct errors. I don't have much faith in big media or the US political process. But if at least the warbloggers can learn, then there is some hope for humanity.
Nasi Lemak : While I'm deeply ashamed to have been on the wrong side of the debate about the war in advance, turning out to be wrong has rather shattered my faith in the effectiveness of democratic feedback as a useful (realist?) constraint on policy-making.

Nasi Lemak

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The World's Shortest Blog
Clearly, I'm not keeping up to date with my Royal news.

An earlier royal embarrassment came in June 2003 when a comedian dressed as Osama bin Laden crashed Prince William’s 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle, kissing the prince on both cheeks.

I wonder why a man who looks like bin Laden shouldn't go to Prince William's party?

BBC NEWS | Iraq: Signs of desperation
Hopefully, this coming weekend, I'll make it to our local social forum :

Encontro de grupos autonomos
Huh? Why is the World Social Forum site built with ASP?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Sad day for musick. World Serpent goes under.
In a phone call from Baghdad on Monday, the US military was unable to clarify why none of the TV footage or press pictures showed armed people at the scene or recorded any gunfire

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Media spotlight on Baghdad deaths

Saturday, September 11, 2004

I don't have September the 11th plus 3, thoughts.

But John Robb explains pretty well why the "war on terror" is a totally busted concept. And why sensible Americans, who really want to secure their country, should have nothing to do with it, or the lousy government who got them into it.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Today on ThoughtStorms : I connected ThoughtStorms: MarketsAreConversations with "fractal loading"

This is a term used by L. Andrew Coward and Nikos A. Salingaros in their fantastic paper : The Information Architecture of Cities which attempts to analyse cities as information processing systems. In particular, by looking at the journeys people make within them.

All journeys accomplish a primary information exchange. But ideally (for Coward and Salingaros) journeys have secondary, serendipitous information exchange. For example, a pedestrian on the way to work visits shops, sees adverts, buys a newspaper, encounters a friend and has a quick word, and may have a coffee observing the behaviour and dress of those around her. This multiplicity of dimensions of information they describe as "fractal loading" of the journey with information.

The virtue of cities is this dense, fractal, multilayered information exchange. From it, cities generate economic wealth and culture.

Coward and Salingros derive a, perhaps none-too surprising lesson : urban planners should try to optimize the fractal loading of information within journeys rather than making individual journeys more efficient. This increases the information processing within the cities.

In practice it seems to mean promoting more walking and public transport (especially public transport hubs like stations) and de-emphasizing cars. Driving on urban freeways is particularly lacking in secondary information.

Anyway, today, I was reading the original Cluetrain chapter and was immedietly struck :

The first markets were filled with talk. Some of it was about goods and products. Some of it was news, opinion, and gossip. Little of it mattered to everyone; all of it engaged someone.

These multilayered conversations are, of course, also an example of fractal loading. Each trip to the market, each encounter between buyer and seller has a primary information exchange. But in the Cluetrain ideal, comes loaded with secondary processing.

By extention, this should also apply to the other forms of communication in the contemporary market. Corporate weblogs fractally load extra information on top of an entertaining personal story. Gonzo Marketing demands that interactions between customers and employees have multiple layers. Ruthelessly focused marketing "messages" OTOH are freeways : sorry, one dimensional journeys which do little work.

It's worth noting the important difference. The general impression from Cluetrain is that "voice" is important because people like it. You get through to people by keying in to what they like. An urban planner can similarly suggest walking pedestrianised streets is more pleasant than snarl-ups on M11. And so is better for the inhabitants.

But Coward and Salingaros are suggesting there's a bigger picture.

Cities, in an objective sense, work "better" as information processing systems with fractal loading. If this is true, and the analogy holds, then the Cluetrain / Gonzo / commercial blogging system might have equal advantages.
Thomas Barnett tries to rationalize the invasion of Iraq.

Of course, he's wrong because the notions of "connectedness" and "disconnetedness" are too vacuous. Or rather, too focused on one kind of connection : capitalism.

In reality there are dozens of different ways of being connected. Different networks based on different types of links : capital flow, trade, tourism, cultural inspiration, stigmergic information sharing, marriage etc. etc. One reason the west comes into conflict with Islam is that Islam is also a kind of network. Of shared texts and values, of wandering teachers, and charismatic clerics.

Was Taliban Afghanistan "disconnected" when thousands from around the Islamic world travelled to study there? When it was the connector of Saudi money with Pakistani students and Lebanese tacticians?

But once again, Barnett is fascinating because he makes the raw capitalist agenda so explicit. These alternative networks must be over-ridden. A network of capital flows must be put in their place : "Therefore we must enlist the aid of all the forces of connectedness across the Core—not just their troops but their investment flows and their commercial networks.''

He ought to know better. He says "forces of disconnectedness" will resist. But what a crazy idea. There is no force of disconnectedness. Disconnectedness has no force. The only force comes from ''rival'' connectedness.

Actually, after reading that the US has finally begun exporting security to that part of the world for real It's clear the guy is pretty much mad. Read it and decide yourself ...

Update :

No, I'll continue. The point about China is sort of good. In the sense that there's a real prediction to be had there. The Barnett view is that war with China isn't a danger because connectedness doesn't want to fight. The alternative prediction might be made from an analogy with the FirstWorldWar : a war of growing industrial superpowers jostling for room to expand. If there is war with China, it will vindicate the latter position and drive a nail through the Barnett doctrine. If there isn't, then this might be corroberation of it.

Ooh! Ooh! Admiration for the IMF as good cop "processing" economic bad-kid states. This is too good!

And remind me, again, why anyone should "come when you can" to the peacekeeping?

Like I said. Totally loco!

Also on ThoughtStorms:PentagonsNewMap

Thursday, September 09, 2004

John Robb : This demonstrates the bankruptcy of the analysis done by the current "experts" on the war.

John Robb's Weblog

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Wow! Now that's, framing!
Today I've been thinking about this great TouchGraph Wiki Browser thing. Not the wiki browser itself, but the Link Database : a format representing the links between pages which has become standardized to support it. What other network analysis functions might it be useful for?

So I wrote a quick script to play with it. To pull it in and sort the pages by number of inlinks.

See it in action on ThoughtStorms here. And read more and get the script on ThoughtStorms:AnalyzingThoughtStorms

Monday, August 30, 2004

If RDF-XML is just an XML serialization of RDF triples, why doesn't it look like this? :


Is the reason some kind of premature optimization thing?


Sunday, August 29, 2004

ScaleFree is a new blog I've added to my blogroll. Mainly about network stuff.
BBC NEWS | Americas | Bush says Kerry was 'more heroic'

THis is a bit of a no-win situation. Bush *says* the decent thing. But we can't possibly reward him for it by actually voting for him. So next time, there's less incentive for a politician to do likewise.

How the hell do we meaningfully signal approval for the good things bad politicians do? How do we encourage them in the right direction in a first past the post system?

Friday, August 27, 2004

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Afghan voting number puzzle
Just saw this : M/C Journal - How Free Became Open and Everything Else Under the Sun via Purse Lips, Square Jaw

But the M/C article misses a couple of points.

1) "Free software" from Stallman has always been a political idea. And one which can be understood as straight up "left" ie. a belief in communaly accessable resources rather than private property.

So it's slightly strange to say FOSS is broad enough to have been "adopted" by the left. It was theirs originally.

2) The confusion arises because of the move to the "right" - ie. from "free software" to "open source" - which was a deliberate political action by some people within the movement long before IBM et al became involved.

Look at the explicit writings of key people like Eric Raymond and Tim OReilly. Remember the terms "Cathedral" and "Bazaar" don't refer to FOSS vs. proprietory software. They refer to bottom-up, distributed vs. top-down, centralized ways of developing. Raymond is refering to market economies vs. centrally planned ones. In "Homesteading on the Noosphere" he is trying to assert the primacy of a notion of private property as the way to understand the political economy of FOSS.

3) Lessig doesn't strike me so much as a "Centrist" as someone moving to the left in this domain. Note he's now joined the Free Software Foundation, so is a member of the cathedral.

It's because they miss the *dynamic* history of this story, that the M/C seems to think that FOSS is just a broad idea suitably adaptable to different groups. In fact it's a left idea that's been "spun" for the right.

And remember ThoughtStorms:HackingIsaSickMachoCulture
I think Adina Levin is underestimating Jakob Nielsen.

It's probably only a rough approximation of what's going on, but his collection of points adds up to a theory which pretty much does explain the "mystery" of why 3D interfaces haven't (and in their current form, won't) take off.

And it's a theory which you can use to make novel predictions rather than just fitting previous data. So the accusation that it's "backfilling" what we already know is a bit unfair.

Despite being a self-avowed "text person", I'd point out that clearly our knowledge and knowledge tools use a lot of graphics and 2D spatial reasoning (graphs, GUIs, typography and design, diagrams, facial expressions etc.) 2D space helps simplify and understand very well. It's only 3D which we avoid as confusing.

Games are the exception, of course, because they aren't trying to simplify. They're *trying* to make things more complex and challenging. But wherever we're trying to improve the efficiency / productivity of information work, we'll be trying to squash it into 2D.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Aaargh! Anne Galloway's blog packed with good stuff again. I'm scared to go there regularly, I'd never stop trying to fit all those links and references into ThoughtStorms.
Bill Seitz created a Blogline for ThoughtStorms. I suppose you can subscribe to it too.

Update : But it needs to be showing more than the most recent 10 updates. I often edit 20-30 pages a day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

What a fiendish thing! I just got a mail which claims to be an order confirmation for an 1800 dollar computer. It describes it, and explicitly says not to respond as this is just an automatic confirmation.

I'm 99.99% sure this must be spam. But it's REALLY sneaky. Because there's always the outside possibility someone's nicked my credit-card number and used it to order something. And if you get wind of this, you're likely to really want to get in touch with someone and sort it out.

Now, I've never seen or heard of anything like this. But it must be spam. Firstly, it's pretty strange for an order confirmation not to mention my mailing address and some reference to the card number (the last 4 digits). And the attached URL goes to someone called eurojobsearch.

But I can imagine a lot of people getting freaked into clicking on that link and a) seeing spam and b) confirming their email address for the spammer.
Venezuelan audit confirms victory

Monday, August 16, 2004

Daniel (Davies?) at Crooked Timber : Of course there is now a fairly substantial Catch-22 situation. Part of the reason why Chavez was able to win was that in recent months he’s been throwing around money like water on social programs. He was able to do this because oil was up above $40 a barrel, generating vast profits for the state oil company. A lot of the reason why oil prices were so high was that … there was significant uncertainty about supply from Venezuela because of the impending referendum. Now that some of the uncertainty has been resolved, oil futures have already started tumbling, meaning that it’s going to be that little bit more dfficult to deliver on these promises; if I were a Venezuelan, I wouldn’t be assuming that we were out of the woods yet.

Crooked Timber: Chavez declares victory
Chavez wins the referendum.

I still feel really under informed about this. Parts of the Blogosphere are vitriolicly against him. What I don't know is whether this is just whipped-up prejudice. Clearly Chavez is not the greatest guy. But he is redistributing wealth from the oil companies etc. to clinics and education programs. Maybe this is class-war. But, let's face it. If the situation were reversed and the right were in power, they'd have policies redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich. And that would be class-war too. Or maybe this is their bastard / our bastard thinking.

Miguel Octavio thinks it's probably fraud but is waiting for international observers. If so, how much fraud? How does it compare with Bush in 2000?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Naomi Klein : ... the zealots in Bush's White House are neither insane nor stupid nor particularly shady. Rather, they openly serve the interests of the corporations that put them in office with bloody-minded efficiency. Their boldness stems not from the fact that they are a new breed of zealot but that the old breed finds itself in a newly unconstrained political climate.

Ditch the Distraction in Chief
Brian Eno on the music of the future : There will be more detail. Organic, fine-grain music. It will also become unusual for us to experience music as a stand-alone art form. It's going to become integrated into other fields. Rather like poetry is a minority art form but pop song lyrics and advertising copy are unavoidable. It's in the nature of arts to coalesce as time goes on.

Q - Cash for Questions: Brian Eno

Bill Seitz (quoting Robert Anton Wilson) on Alien Intelligence

The early stages of EvolutIon are never pretty.

I wonder why the later stages should be less ugly?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

BBC NEWS | Brazilians decode coffee genome
A call for non-Venezuelan leftists to oppose Chavez.

Well, I'm a foreign leftist, inclined to give Chavez the benefit of the doubt. So I'd be interested in reasons I, as a leftist, shouldn't.

Unfortunately, the article simply name-checks a bunch of other left-wing groups who oppose him. This doesn't really impress me much as the left is always plagued by infighting.

Most of the actual *reasons* I hear to oppose Chavez are that he's squandering the oil money and ruining business. But that's pretty much what the right will always attack the left for. So what are the left-wing reasons I shouldn't support him?

Update: Miguel Octavio responds in the comments of the above blog.
Rup3rt says : ""I installed SDI desk and it is what i am looking for"

which I'll take as a testimonial. He says it works on XP too :-)
I wonder why so many smart people think that a list of your categories is what you should have on the front-page of your wiki?
Prozac in UK drinking water supply?

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Robert Fisk : I keep re-reading Tony Blair's statement. "I remain convinced it was right to go to war. It was the most difficult decision of my life." And I cannot understand it. ... Going to war in Iraq, invading Iraq last year, was the most difficult decision Blair had to take because he thought - correctly - that it might be the wrong decision.

(My emphasis.)

Occupation Watch:?'Can't Blair See that this Country is About to Explode? Can't Bush?'
And while Watergate created the precedent for the impeachment of Bill Clinton a generation later, the Clinton impeachment made it more difficult for Congress to impeach a future president.

How curious ... and convenient.

BBC | Watergate: Watershed or water under the bridge?

Friday, August 06, 2004

You want to see what it's like in the high-energy intellectual particle accelerator that is ThoughtStorms?

How about this, discussing ThoughtStorms: ManagementByMarkets

Usual problem though. You have a set of outcomes and their prices, but who defines these outcome / commodities. (Like who decides on the input nodes in the NeuralNetwork?) Or how do you decide the categories? (ImmanuelKant : 'Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.')

This is actually a sort of Modularity issue isn't it? How do you draw the boundaries around tradable commodities. So see also OnModules / PropertyModules.
Big topic today ... ThoughtStorms: PredictiveMarkets
I wonder whether oil running out is one of Shell's scenarios?
Look, I really believe that there's a terrible genocide going on in Darfur. And that poor blacks are being murdered by evil "arab" nomads.

But does anything raise more doubts about that basic model than this?

(Especially given stories like this.)
Why Hire Great Hackers?

Here's one possible reason you want to hire great hackers. GHs are motivated by more than money. The fact is, if you don't hire them, they're going to go off and hack anyway. If you don't hire them, they might even just go off and hack up a free competitor to your product.

So maybe you need to hire GHs defensively (a bit like Software Patents), as insurance. At least you'll focus their attention on your product / ecosystem. Even if they don't do much for it, they're unlikely to do anything against it.

More insights : ThoughtStorms: GreatHackers
Joel Spolsky interviewed (one week only )

Thursday, August 05, 2004

George Monbiot : By the time we have lost our freedoms, we will have forgotten what they were. The silence with which the new laws were greeted last week suggests that the forgetting has already begun.

Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | A threat to democracy
Speculative thinking over on the AltEnergy tribe (by Roy, but it sounds cool to me so I'm copying it here) :

I've thought up a better system, at least for the humid tropics. Make a large artificial marsh to purify ag runoff water. This needs swamp type plants to do this job. So we plant taro, an arum that rapidly produces huge starchy tubers. There's the starch to make sugars to ferment. The distilling fuel is methane gas but we'll get to that in a moment. The spent mash from this ethanol producing operation is part of the feed for a hog operation. This operation produces two valuable products, pork (and hides) and pig manure. The manure goes into a large biodigester, along with the taro leaves and other wastes, which, of course, produces the methane for the distillation process. Also the biodigester produces solid fertilizer for other operations and waste water to be purified in the artificial marsh. This waste water is rich in fertility for the growth the taro. A closed cycle with little expensive input other than labor. Comments?

Tribe Discussion: Solar Power and Alternative Energy -
Bill Seitz calls me out on my remark about MTV's role in the cycle of povery.

ThoughtStorms: MTVAndCycleOfPoverty

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Are people all over this amazing analysis of Apple, yet?

His point is that Apple are misleading everyone when they say Apple use iTunes to sell iPods. Instead, the long term game is for iTunes to become a DRM platform for all kinds of streamed and downloaded content.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The BBC has a couple more details on the trade agreement thing :

* Countries must submit offers to liberalize their service industries as soon as possible

* No service sector should be excluded from liberalization

* It should be made easier for people to work abroad

I guess this means liberalizing banks and other financial services. Which easier access for foreign speculators.
Just uploaded a new version of SdiDesk. This is a really minor trial fix. Taking advice from a couple of people here. But I have no idea whether it's actually going to make things work on NT/XP until I get my hands on a machine with these and try it.
Cringely : Does Sveasoft (Or Anyone Else) Have the Right to Make a Living From Open Source Software?

Answer : anyone has the right to make a living out of free-software, as long as they don't violate the rights of users that were explicitly intended by the original authors.

Have Sveasoft violated the letter of the GPL? Maybe not.

Have they violated the spirit of the GPL?

Yes, if $50 for a CD is unreasonable for a copy.

I'd say it's unreasonable. Not because that's unreasonable for a CD, but because they are obviously running a server from which you can download older versions of the code. And there's no obvious reason they couldn't put the new version on the same server, except that they are trying to restrict distribution.

This is the most egregious point : What people don't like is ... the restriction that you can't continue to use your $20 subscription rights once you have ... violated the development group rules by giving away beta code to those who aren't qualified to receive

This is a blatant attempt to prevent you from giving away the beta. Now the restriction isn't in the license for the software, as that would certainly be in violation of the GPL. Putting it elsewhere in a bundled service may be a legal loophole but it's absolutely bad faith.

Cringely asks, in wide-eyed innocence : The question that is being neither asked nor answered here is how can one make an acceptable living from Open Source?

To which the correct answer is that it's not being asked because it's not relevant. Open Source is first about protecting my rights. And if you can make a living while respecting my rights, I support you. If you can't, then bad luck. But violating my rights in order to get paid isn't an option I have any intention of respecting.

Nor do I respect Cringely's plaintive : Those who are upset with James Ewing and Sveasoft don't generally begrudge him the right to make a living, they just wish he wasn't doing it this way. At the same time, they don't want the progress that his work has created to end. You can't have it both ways.

I absolutely can have it both ways. If people don't want the progress Sveasoft are creating to end, they can make donations to Sveasoft. If they aren't willing to, perhaps they don't want the progress that much. But Sveasoft is presumably deriving it's "progress" from someone else who explicitly asked that their work would be available with these rights. If Sveasoft didn't want that, it was their choice to write from scratch under a different license.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Why is it that when I want to see the books of visual design guru Edward Tufte, I go to a page which shows only one book. (Very nicely, I admit) But with no way to navigate to any of his other books, except through an obscure list marked :

Book 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

floating in a non-standard / hard-to-hit location in the middle of the page?
ThoughtStorms has lots of good notes and links about hierarchies and networks. But I suddenly realized there wasn't a good overview. Now I've added it. Hopefully, this new super-index can help with your hierarchy vs. networks needs.

ThoughtStorms: NetworksVsHierarchies

Sunday, August 01, 2004

This is utterly incomprehensible to me.

(Allegedly) I am "da man" :-)

(Not that I'm egosurfing or anything. ;-)
Henry Louis Gates Jr. : Are white racists forcing black teenagers to drop out of school or to have babies?

Dunno. What proportion of MTV shareholders are white racists?

TeleDyn : who would have suspected a snail of being a predator?

No More Angels

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Good lord! There's hope for the world, yet :

an internal IMF report criticised the fund's relationship with [Argentina] over the past decade.

The report said the IMF had exacerbated the country's economic crisis, which struck in December 2001.

(Big up the IMF for this, even if it is very little and very late. Still an encouraging sign.)

BBC NEWS | Americas | Argentina blames IMF for crisis
BBC NEWS | Business | World trade deal 'within reach'

Although ...

it became clear there were still major problems with the text.

Several countries raised objections to the section covering agriculture - the issue which many have seen as the key to this framework deal.

The problems centre on subsidies and tariffs and - as the hours passed - smaller groups met to try to iron out their differences.

How close does that sound?

Negotiations also focused on plans to open up markets to industrial goods. Here the text dates from the failed meeting last year in Cancun.

Yes, but the real question is what about the opening up financial markets to s/the global casino/much needed foreign investment/g ?

Update : Seems like an agreement has been reached. No details yet.

Friday, July 30, 2004

My vision for Tribe just keeps growing :-)

If members of a tribe want to collect money to buy and preserve a bit of endangered forest, maybe Tribe can co-ordinate that, too.

The same discussion ...
Seems like OpenACS is still a going project.
A discussion on Tribe has started wondering where the Tribe magic went. My take is that I don't agree with either of the earlier posts who suggest Tribe got less exclusive or people got jobs / lives. I think Tribe (as with other YASNS) is a kind of "first day in the new school" phenomenon.

When you join, you don't know anybody. The first instinct is to hook up with some groups. So you run around trying to find other new kids who also don't seem to know anyone and seem a bit like you.

You make "friends". You hang in the same tribes. You talk about the things you have in common. And at this point it's intoxicating, because you really are meeting new, interesting people. For me Tribe was definitely the fastest way I ever had of making good online aquaintances.

But then, once you have your group, the pressure falls off. You know who your clique is on Tribe. You aren't so attentive to the new face with only one friend, who says something interesting in one of your tribes.

You start to have a *history*. Conversations with some people have spread over months and multiple tribes. Newbies and strangers are less interesting. The barrier to entry for new people in your social horizon is higher.

But beyond social networking, Tribe is just another discussion forum. Once you stop chasing around looking for new freinds, then the forums may or may not be particularly different or better than others. I read blogs from or have wiki discussions with some of my Tribe friends more than I interact with them on the service.

So Tribe's character changes as you change. And possibly it's value falls off as you "mature". Maybe that's a flaw with Tribe. Perhaps it needs to take it to the next level, offer more services for those who want to create deeper communities.

For example I admit I lost touch with Wendell's Matador P2P filesharing project. And I haven't seen much activity in it's Tribe. I guess this has moved to a web-site. But if Tribe offered more SourceForge type facilities like a CVS tree, would Matador have continued there?

Tribe Discussion: Glocal Conversation -

Thursday, July 29, 2004

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Man who helped unlock DNA dies
Today's burning question. Was Unix floating freely around in the 70s because this was just the "obvious" and "natural" open culture before software became valued in it's own right. Or was it due to the beneficience of government anti-trust regulation?


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Gotta love the way that Halliburton are ripping the US government.

Just Well Mixed

More importantly, this story might have legs. Could be the kind of story to unite left and right bloggers to stir up serious trouble.
One way to keep the blighters quiet.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Teachers 'spiced up' school meals
A good quiz to assess your knowledge of energy efficiency

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Energy efficiency - how do you measure up?
Today's big disagreement

ThoughtStorms: DisagreementAndDishonesty
Well it can't all be Fafblog fun and games. Lance Knobel points to what he calls the best explanation of Darfur he's read.
What with Land of Hope and Glory and Darth Felix, it's clearly a Fafblog day. And, behold, Fafner has an important warnin about DESTRUCTIVE GAY ENERGY SWEEPING HETEROSEXUAL AMERICA.

Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog.
Bill Seitz's free association of the day : has anyone else noticed that the first line of the Star Wars Darth Vader theme tune is like a minor-key version of the Felix The Cat song?

Darth Felix
Huh? I'm sitting here, mid-morning in North Wing, Brasilia and someone in the neighbourhood is playing "Land of Hope and Glory" on the radio. Bizarre!

Friday, July 23, 2004

In light of the 9/11 report John Robb reminds us of his predictions about the Bush doctrine. After which, he suggests :

At some point in the next 3 years we are going to hit the ignition point for a global bazaar of violence with groups armed with advanced global guerrilla tactics. At that point, it will be too late and the life we lead today will be fundamentally changed forever.

John Robb : Useful being pesimistic
Huh? Mandelson to be Euro commisioner?
Dave Winer linked through to a disturbing story of misogeny which I've heard rumours of before.
Just to point out, it is only on ThoughtStorms that you could get a list of recent changes like this

* (diff) GayatriSpivak 11:12 pm . . . . .
* (diff) LionKimbro 10:12 pm . . . . . PhilJones
* (diff) LongNow 10:11 pm (2 changes) . . . . . PhilJones
* (diff) LibertarianismAndConservatism 9:54 pm (2 changes) . . . . . PhilJones

Juxtaposing Gayatri Spivak with Lion Kimbro with the Long Now Foundation and discussions of the similarities and differences of Libertarianism and Conservatism.

Proof : Search it on Google

(Update : this post is actually a bit dishonest because the pagename on Gayatri was spelled wrongly. That's been fixed and I've updated this post to reflect the real spelling. But of course, the list as spelled above never actually occurred. A minor variation did.)
Mythbuster Michael Fumento says :
Probably the most prestigious science journal in the world is the British magazine Nature. Nature's view of Myth ran quite early, something journals will do when they are making a conscious effort to affect how a book will be received. The reviewer was Duncan Campbell, who, among many other things, asserted:

Only a writer whose prejudices deny humanity could write in such bad taste as this:

"Although AIDS is no joke, there is good news and bad news about the length of HIV infectiousness ... the 'good news' is that the great majority, and perhaps almost all, of HIV-infected persons will develop debilitating symptoms or die."

In fact, what the book says is:

The "good news" here is actually terrible news for anyone infected: Originally, it was thought that only a small percentage of those infected with the virus would go on to develop the disease. While this was reassuring to infected persons, it made the long-term outlook for the spread of the disease look bad because it meant that large numbers of healthy persons would be spreading the virus to others indefinitely. But a consensus of opinion has now formed that the great majority, and perhaps almost all, of HIV-infected persons will develop debilitating symptoms or die.

How different, I wonder, is this from taking a statement like, "Judaism is not a gutter religion" and presenting it as "Judaism is . .. a gutter religion"?

Well, as far as I can see it's very different.

Campbell says Fumento says P(x)


P is "the good news is that"

x is "most people who are infected will die of Aids"

Whereas what in full Fumento says

P(x, x->y)

where y is "developing full blown symptoms will allow us to see symptoms and identify the infected earlier"

Fumentos analogy with changing from

z to not z is wrong

Is Campbell's assertion that Fumento is in "bad taste" wrong?

Personally, I don't think that bad taste is a problem in making scientific claims. (Witness a recent argument for scientific conjectures being independent of moral considerations.)

But it's perfectly possible on whatever criteria taste is decided that this is bad taste.

A more interesting question would be to ask whether, given the still fairly long time it takes for symptoms to express themselves, the benefit derived from sufferers dying and stopping more infections is realy very significant in reducing the spread of the disease.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Basically Microsoft is going to use the legal system to shut down open source software, and for all of its cleverness, the GPL makes it fairly easy unless a white knight steps in.

NewsForge | HP memo forecasts MS patent attacks on free software
BBC : US admits 'bounty hunter' contact

BBC NEWS | South Asia | US admits 'bounty hunter' contact

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Phil Booth is blogging at infinite ideas machine
This Report recommends that all UK higher education institutions establish institutional repositories on which their published output can be stored and from which it can be read, free of charge, online. It also recommends that Research Councils and other Government funders mandate their funded researchers to deposit a copy of all of their articles in this way.

Big up the UK government committee which wants to free science.

House of Commons - Science and Technology - Tenth Report

via Graham
BBC : A US citizen arrested in Kabul over an alleged freelance counter-terrorism operation says he was working with the knowledge of the US defence secretary

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Kabul 'bounty hunter' accuses US
A couple more additions to BeatBlog: The New BeatBlog

These are fairly basic, to get back into the swing of things. But might always inspire. Especially the "Heavy Tardis" riddim.
ThoughtStorms: CrazyBrazilianInvasion
Tribe Voters (beta) has 128 members. Go Paul!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Another newbie wikinaut gets it. :-)

Jonathon Delacour: Wiki epiphany
I Love Music dicusses Russian Church Bells
Music blogging

For a couple of years I Love Music was my definitive online community for talking and arguing about (mainly pop) music. I don't go there so much now. And I've realized I'll never have anything very interesting to say about music.

The ILM community was originally hosted courtesy of Phil Greenspun's ACS server and had several great music writers. And, of course, Momus writing about urbanism and being petulant about bad reviews.

Now, a lot of ILMers have blogs, and when I occasionally tune in, there's a scarily erudite debate ranging across every pop sub-genre you can think of, cultural identities, ruralism, politics and more.

My touch-points on this world :

  • Robin Carmody who makes surprising connections between music, politics, ruralist politics and classic children's television from the BBC.

  • Simon Reynolds who's a professional music journalist for The Wire etc. I confess his intuitive taste is very close to my own. If he likes something, I'm pretty sure I like it. And when he hates something, he's generally spot on about that too.

  • K-Punk is one I've just started noticing.

  • drip*drop*drap seems to be a newbie they're all getting into.

Anyway, all good stuff. On my recent trip to England I failed to discover much about what was going on. (Big up Daniel though for lending a bunch of CDs which I didn't get enough time to listen to or copy ...)

I bought only two CDs. The Rephlex "Grime" compilation, which Reynolds mentioned a couple of months ago. My first impression was "what a rip off" ... just more braindance latching onto the UKG bandwagon. But after a bit I started to appreciate that it is definitely different. Something has advanced. Lot's of tricky syncapations. But a sad lack of MCing.

The other thing was a £1.99 sampler from True Thoughts / Zebra Traffic which was playing in record shops around Brighton. Phi-Life Cypher's "Over" stands out. The rest ranges from forgettable to pleasant downtempo rap / soulful vocals. It gets filed next to Aim and similar in my shelf. OK for the money.

Back in Brazil I'm finally back on DSL and downloading. I wanted to check out this "crunk" thing that Reynolds seemed so approving of a few months ago. After downloading a couple of Lil Jon tracks, my verdict is pretty much "so what?"

Maybe I haven't heard the right stuff. It's a development, but it's not surprising or exciting me the way people like Three-6 Mafia and OutKast did a few years ago. Musically it reminds me of Dungeon Family. Which is I guess damning with faint praise.
The International Journal of Community Currency Research publishes real academic research into

And they need more submissions ...
Ten stories the world should hear more about

Monday, July 19, 2004

I am 100% Kant

(and 98% John Stuart Mill, and 91% Bentham)

OTOH, Select the right programming language is a 100% pants, as it just recommended me Java :-(

Bleah! I'll have write my own one of these to set the record straight.
I'm back in Brazil.

On a related note. I see Orkut is the YASN of choice for Brazilians. So much so that Anglophones are complaining about all the Portuguese. ;-)

Wonder what the Blogalization crowd make of this.

Traducao portugues (Desculpe eu nao tem accentos neste teclado. E meu portugues e aindo ruim. :-)

Estou voltando no Brasil.

Seguinte, eu percebou que o Orkut e o rede social preferido dos Brasilieros. E os anglofones estao reclamado porque o Portugues. ;-)

Desejo sabe que o Blogalization pensa sobre este.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Dave Winer asks if Bush should have the power to postpone the US presidential election?
I'm pretty sure it was that bastard George Tenet who scrached my car, too.