Somehow, despite seeing more new (to me) local music this week than I had all summer, I didn't manage to get too many good pictures. Probably because I forgot my camera on all but one of the shows.. and it wasn't even a show so much as a party in the woods with homemade mac & cheese and beer, booze, and bonfire.
Here are some pictures of The Pub Crawlers
, an appropriate name for an irish band.
The beauty of reading a lot, as a writer (or at least someone who spends time organizing words into sentences - we'll call them 'writers' here), is that you experience a whole lot of different styles, as many musicians no doubt listen to lots of music. The problem, however, is that inputs effect outputs and you end up with words on the page that aren't necessarily yours and yours alone. Sometimes they sound like somebody else and sometimes they even are
somebody else's and it might all be through no fault of the writer. We aren't quite 'borg* but that doesn't mean we don't assimilate everything around us - both consciously and unconsciously. If I stopped to record the origins of every unoriginal thought I have and the off-shoots of previous arguments, I would never have time to record the unoriginal thoughts. You see?
Plagiarism is rampant and not exactly a pretty example of a human trait but is not all of life borrowed upon the works of others? Where, in the big scheme of things, would we be without all of evolution's history behind us? Humans are not one offs - we are version 20,000,000.1.5.2b - a design in a long line of designs that continue to change.
Meanwhile, we're backwards in our thoughts on this matter, believing every originality should be protected, secured, monetized, and locked away behind thick glass. Even the venerable old Mark Twain hated intellectual property pirates
Earlier this week, it was announced that the Supreme Court is looking into a patent dispute between South Korean LG and chip maker Intel
. The general gist of this news is as follows:
Intel licensed a set of patents from South Korean firm LG, then used some of the licensed patents to create parts of the chipset technology it sold to Taiwanese computer makers like Quanta. LG then sued the computer makers in a US court, claiming that the patent license to Intel specifically did not extend to combining Intel parts with non-Intel parts, and that the computer makers in question each needed to obtain licenses from LG.
In english, this is a case of (IMHO) double-taxation. Certainly, the exact legalese of the license may have limited Intel's freedom and perhaps it is their fault to have a) agreed to the license and b) violated it.. but the bigger question is whether these sorts of issues are even worthwhile. Is there any legitimacy in hoarding the innovative powers of our collective intelligence to make a buck? Is that where we, as a society, really want to go?
Nature seems to have worked quite well allowing a free exchange of ideas. DNA and RNA flowing freely, bits and pieces being swapped and replaced and moved about. Anyone not amazed by the amount of complexity that has arisen from chaos should be examined.
At the end of the day, all large global issues (besides, perhaps, war - which itself is a kind of greedy i-want-and-you-can't-have
endeavor) have much to gain from a tearing down of patent law. Hunger, environmental problems, trash, you name it. By organizing our knowledge and technology and expertise into bins closed tight and owned by individuals or large corporations we are limiting how quickly we are able to innovate and, perhaps, bringing ourselves closer to the brink of self-destruction because of it.
As a general rule I am a small-scale cynic and a large-scale optimist but I don't walk a party line; I'm willing to think freshly on each debate. This is a large-scale problem and I sound pretty cynical here.. does that mean we can't solve the problem? Of course not. Does this mean there even is
a problem? Maybe not, but remember that it is difficult to see the forest through all those trees. By considering each of the angles, by mulling the possible ramifications, and logically stepping through the potential arcs that an issue could follow, you're allowing for the possibility of new ideas. You're willing to consider what you had not thought before. And that is true innovation.* yet
With all the usual caveats about relying on statistics alone, here is yet more map fun:
The World Freedom Atlas is a geovisualization tool for world statistics. It was designed for social scientists, journalists, NGO/IGO workers, and others who wish to have a better understanding of issues of freedom, democrazy, human rights, and good governance. It covers the years 1990 to 2006.
Late last night - or, rather, early this morning around 3am - someone posted the lyrics of Rod Stewart's Mandolin Wind
on the previous post (just below this one). They did so anonymously, leaving me wanting for reasons and identities; I know the when, but who-what-why?
I'd be lying if I didn't admit to being interested in who reads this blog. I'd be lying if I thought there were many who bother, too, but those few who stop by on a daily or weekly basis intrigue me as much, if not more, than I apparently intrigue them. Somewhere in all of this is a sweet and indirect form of communication that was invented by cavemen and it has been going strong for thousands of years - aha, the blog as modern day cave art? Sure, we laugh because in our own time we're required to be funny and sarcastic, witty and light-footed, but its true. To imagine a caveman scraping out a buffalo on stone an eon ago and think of him as a true artist
compared to a mere blogger of today (a self-centered, egotistical outlet if there ever was one?) is easy, but is it fair? All of it discounts the fact that there is individuality in everything we do - even the copycat diaries of a million unloved acne-faced teen girls hoping to one day be loved (themselves separately loved from afar by a million unloved acne-faced teen boys creating their own special kind of lonely art in lonely spaces surrounded by lonely things). Or not; maybe it is all the same. Perhaps there is no individuality, and that is in fact exactly why
we revere Shakespeare, Kerouac, Springsteen, and B.B. King
: they describe the melancholy of the human condition in such a way that we can all feel and identify with it. We do not love them directly for their words, but for their ability to describe those feelings which we, too, have and are feeling. Kindred spirits on the stage acting out our own lives for us: something we can identify with. An anchor of hope, for among others we find similarities and can come together, bands of brothers, seeing that we share things, dreams and fantasies and nightmares too.
Today, it is almost as if we are no longer allowed to identify with anything because you're either a radical or you're making fun of everything around you, and only the radicals want to be radical and only then only some of the time. It is a tight rope we all walk and in order to stay atop it we steel our nerves and harden our emotions, and then snidely remark about the idiots around us (indeed ourselves, as well - self-deprecation being the ultimate form of art here in the 21st century, the human as a completely fallible creature, imperfect amid the shine and glare of plastic computerized robots). And what do we get but shells of people with complex validation routines
that define when they are allowed to show themselves and when, mostly, to show their cold hard exterior: plastic, shiny.. happy people.
Who knows the social climate of Dostoevsky's 19th century Russian world, but were he alive today and even able to produce Notes from the Underground, would anybody read it? I suspect not, people instead spending their days whittling away at the factories of Eggers, Coupland, and Robbins
.. Consuming the vitriol of today's standard.
It is a shame, is all. I feel this way. My emotions tell me so. It seems like a horrible existence to judge everything around us as more chotchky and insincerity. It erodes my own sense of self worth to think of my peers as raving idiots worthy of nothing more than biting commentary and witty comebacks. Am I right or wrong or, with copious logical gymnastics could I convince myself to emote differently? Of course I could. Practice makes perfect after all. But maybe, from this vantage point, I just don't feel like being happy and shiny. Maybe I'm ok with not perfect
. And maybe, just maybe, I'm more interested in seeing that in all of us: our beautiful and individual imperfections. That which is plastic comes from a mold and copies can always be made again. A song I don't recall hearing before but, given my current lack of a working laptop with which to listen to a majority of my music collection, I appreciated for what I was given: only its lyrics, slowing to ponder the words of each line much unlike what the me of a few months ago would have done: never have given such creedance to words alone, if only because there is no replacement for music when music is available. Granted not everybody enjoys B.B. King or Springsteen but there is enough of the population that reveres them to consider them "popular" and "appreciated" in a widely-arching theme. As a computer scientist one tends to talk in these technical and unemotional terms, gearing psychology up to be some sort of logic game, ignoring the sheer ambiguity that emotions create. We'd like to believe that decisions are choose-your-own-adventures where each step is simply picking what page to turn to, but it isn't that easy. There is no internal state represented within a choose-your-own-adventure, no sense of self or feelings or emotions. "You are in a small dark room," and you are not given the choice to feel happy or sad - much as you are not given this choice (in so many words) in real life.. despite the very real-to-you existence of your mental world and the duality that it creates with the world around you, the two are only tenuously connected and the rules in each realm are completely different. Can anyone actually say they control their own moods and emotions - able to become sad when they are happy or happy when they are sad simply because they make a logical choice to do so and, if this person exists are they not, in some way, just a fleshy blood-filled robot? Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the contemporaries as much as I enjoy the classics. All I mean to say here is that Dostoevsky would not be as famous now, were he alive and productive, than he was then.
Yet another website I stumbled across that I sure hope is a joke
- if only for the eye comment.
Cool: lots of scanned images of old maps
. Really old maps. Check it out.
I've been silent for a few days for the same reasons I'm always silent; I can't figure out what I should be posting here. It is all discombobulated, with personal photos and technology news, financial double-speak and internal ramblings spilling forth from the spaghetti brain behind these eyeballs. Each one with its own audience, or maybe none at all. I can never do things right
and this has always been a point of contention that I have had with myself. By `right' I mean to say `clean', `simple', and `directed' - the whole web should adopt this motto, like the covergirl tagline: Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Cover Girl
Instead, you get this: it is like my room in high school, only worse. Piles of clean clothing heaped in the corners getting dirty and wrinkled, books and magazines piled high atop dressers and nightstands - and trinkets, oh so many trinkets
. A keychain watergun. An old dog collar. Three or four portable alarm clocks - I'm not kidding - and I'm not talking about this website yet (which you can now see is the epitome of direct metaphors, with its many links to new and bizarre renditions of the alarm clock, tic toc).
The point is that this website is a hodge-podge, I am a hodge-podge. All of life
is a hodge-podge and clean, simple, specific things kind of freak me out as much as I'm drawn to it like a moth to the flame. Nobody is so compartmentalized so it is all a show - a facade, a stage. A window doesn't do anything
but limit the view. What is out there doesn't change and what is out there is a big hodge-podge mess.
So I'm going to give up on my dreams of shiny things built simply for singular purposes and I'll go ahead and post the link I was intending to this whole time, another column by the well-known Joel on Software
The trouble with the [early stages of PC development] was that there were no clear UI standards… the programmers almost had too much flexibility, so everybody did things in different ways, which made it hard, if you knew how to use program X, to also use program Y. WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 had completely different menu systems, keyboard interfaces, and command structures. And copying data between them was out of the question.
And that’s exactly where we are with Ajax [web] development today. Sure, yeah, the usability is much better than the first generation DOS apps, because we’ve learned some things since then. But Ajax apps can be inconsistent, and have a lot of trouble working together — you can’t really cut and paste objects from one Ajax app to another, for example, so I’m not sure how you get a picture from Gmail to Flickr. Come on guys, Cut and Paste was invented 25 years ago.
The third phase with PCs was Macintosh and Windows. A standard, consistent user interface with features like multiple windows and the Clipboard designed so that applications could work together. The increased usability and power we got out of the new GUIs made personal computing explode.
So if history repeats itself, we can expect some standardization of Ajax user interfaces to happen in the same way we got Microsoft Windows.
That is the argument, anyway, and I can't say I completely disagree with him. The real questions lie in who gains control of this cesspool of design they call the web and what do they do with it. We've seen countless examples of fairly horrible design become the standard (*cough* windows *cough*) and that has probably hindered productivity and efficiency in the end, compared to what we could have got instead.
Think of it this way: we wouldn't have butt plugs otherwise.. but we do
eta really means b
egin using in a production system now
On Willard Beach
The Monday sail on Labor Day weekend was the best sail of the season thus far, with good company, great weather, and just the right amount of wind. The wonderful mood was only slightly tempered by the ongoing body search in Portland Harbor. In fact, a fellow our age had fallen into the drink the previous evening - off one of the party boats that ply the harbor, filling tourists with a different drink.Yawl in the Willard Beach mooring field
The coast guard was doing its best and divers were scouring the area around the ferry terminal where he was last seen. Even the folks on the beach were asked to bring their kites down, so as not to interfere with the helicopters.My boat and a smaller day sailor on the hook with a Coast Guard chopper circling to the left
We got the sails up and headed out towards Portland Head Light in an attempt to catch some bigger wind, but we didn't really have any destination or route in mind. After a relaxing sit, we broke out the beers and had a day of it. We even had a few impromptu photo shoots.
The traffic was interesting, too, with a lobsterman working the middle of the channel and tankers heading in and out of the harbor. At one point, a fishing vessel approach us from astern and got so close that I thought I was doing something wrong or that perhaps they needed something. Pirates?
After they got close enough, someone stepped out of the pilothouse and informed us that they were just swinging past our stern and, in the end, they snapped some up close disposable-camera pictures of us.. Maybe Galatea looks better, less dirty, and more polished from a couple dozen yards away.
You can see a tanker in the background making its way out to see with the Spring Point pilot leading the way. They got awful close to us too, the pilot, and then the tanker disappeared over the horizon a whole lot faster than we would have guessed she would.
We even have some silly hats on board now, left by the Canadians who visited, so we can pretend we're real sailors..
Or just real silly..
The farthest out we got was a few miles from Portland Head Light. Not too far, but given that it was basically a three hour tour..
When the Coast Guard helicopter had enough of the search and needed to return to Cape Code, it thundered directly over us.
Now that it was getting later in the evening, the sun was setting and the colours were a bit warmer and we had a little bit more privacy.. the perfect time for another photo shoot.the bottom of this picture was cut off due to the inappropriate nature of the subject matter that was going on "down below"
And that, my friends, was the end of a beautiful day.
Galatea at the mooring - Friday, August 31st, 2007
So far, this is the best photo of the Galatea sitting at her mooring. It was taken right before our steering debacle and, not surprisingly, the serenity of this picture does little to suggest the nonsense that would follow. This was snapped on a point-and-shoot by a friend - I have a few distant shots myself but nothing worth posting. This is the ultimate problem with the boat and photos, of course. As the one who is most often rowing out to the boat, and if not the pilot than at least always one of the crew while on the boat, it isn't easy to get nice pictures of her in action other than from the deck itself. Perhaps some day I can convince a fellow sailor to drop me off in the dinghy while they dance her around me.. a fashion photo-shoot of another sort altogether.
My friend emailed me today, out of the blue, and started quoting a Paul Graham essay on creating wealth
This is a good plan for life in general. If you have two choices, choose the harder. If you're trying to decide whether to go out running or sit home and watch TV, go running. Probably the reason this trick works so well is that when you have two choices and one is harder, the only reason you're even considering the other is laziness. You know in the back of your mind what's the right thing to do, and this trick merely forces you to acknowledge it.
The response that came from my friend was that he felt obviously melancholy or disheartened by what he considered his lack of "making the hard choices" in life.Watching the setting sun at Skyland in the Shenandoah National Park
For whatever unexplained reason, this caused a stir upstairs in my fuzzy brain stuffs and I replied:
You may think I'm crazy and, indeed I can be a lazy bastard (in the running for laziest worldwide).. but I'm honest when I say this is a philosophy I've tried to stick to throughout my later years. Even when I first started at university I was choosing the "Manly Physics" (The student's given name for the harder, physical sciences physics) even though I was told by a number of people that I didn't really need to take it. Indeed, it later proved unnecessary. Same for chemistry.
Looking back on my hiking experiences I find my best friend, who had hiked hundreds and hundreds of miles of the Appalachian trail (whereas I had limited experience in comparison), still thinks I was crazy to have pushed us so hard. We went from a practical stand-still (much time in front of a TV that summer) to cranking out over 20 miles a day almost on our first day, and this with ridiculously heavy packs (mine was about 58 lbs. when we started). To me, this is how you did it - hike like a banshee and get where you're going. In the end, we never completed what we had planned - but at the time I didn't even let my brain realize that stopping before the planned end was an option.
Then, when things were starting to seem complacent at work, I forced myself into a masters program - something that, while perhaps not hard, required me to lose my awesome ocean front apartment, pack everything up, and move to another country (again).. Okay, so maybe that wasn't hard but it was most certainly a pain in the butt and inconvenient. Given the choice, the lazy part of me would most certainly have rather sat in front of the TV.
Now? The sailboat so far it has been a huge amount of hassle and the impending hard labour is daunting (sanding, ugh).
Okay, so I named a few instances where I've made the hard choice. This isn't to say there are not hundreds of instances of me making the easiest choice. But we're humans, and humans... well, we'd like to watch TV sometimes.
The reality, for me, is that I have no real desire to be Sir Edmund Hilary. My bones are brittle, not made of bronze. I have no ache to become my own Frodo. Would I like to make intelligent choices that both challenge me but also allow me the occasional sit to relax and enjoy the beauty of this world? Exactly. The phrase "stop and smell the roses" was not conjured up for nothing - it is apparently advice that needs to be given.
Perhaps that is why I will never be a "Great Man"(tm) in the way that most people think of that term. But perhaps, by making the decisions I do - to sometimes
work hard, to sometimes challenge myself, but to also sometimes enjoy the good life - I am choosing a very pedestrian life.. and maybe, just maybe, in this age of over-saturated media and average folk being risen to the heights of celebrity status through 15 minutes of fame (or 15 episodes of reality tv).. well, just maybe I *am* choosing the harder.
There are millions and millions of hard working Chinese, Japanese, Americans, Europeans, Mexicans, Canadians, Jamaicans, Australians, Africans... you name it. There are billions of people on this earth. You can go virtually anywhere - to any corner of this world - and I assure you that you can find an everyman there. These people are not heralded, and they do not make a lot of money. What they do have is work ethic and, if they are lucky, loving families.
I'm not so sure that is a bad thing.
We got well out past Portland Head Light on Monday. It was nice to actually get out of the harbor a little bit and get into some good swells - even if they were pretty timid in the grand scheme of things.Way off the starboard: Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park
We discovered a tiny little beach right to the north of Fort Williams Park, in a neighbourhood called Cape Cottage. It was a cute little spot and I was a bit jealous at how close some of the home owners must be to their boats. Then again, they probably paid a heck of a lot for those houses so I shouldn't really be complaining.
Pipe + Tiller + Sunset + Sail
At the end of the day (no pun intended) we had a pretty sweet sail, even if I wasn't able to step off the boat and onto a private dock that led to my multi-million dollar home.
One more reason that I love my country, and most authority figures that are supported by it* - botched police raids. Botched in the form of, you know, entering the wrong house (read: smashing unlocked doors down) and killing innocent people.* - note: heavy sarcasm intended
This topic has been dredged up from a Salon.com article on The killing of Jamie Dean
, which describes the stand-off between police and a disturbed veteran of the Afghanistan fighting. He is eventually shot by a police sniper - the result of extreme military-like escalation by the police in trying to, you know, take care of a post-traumatic stress disorder soldier who was having a bad day.
I'm not making any judgment calls on whether the soldier in question was right or wrong or fucked up or incoherent or crazy. That is a moot point. I think the old saying applies here: two wrongs don't make a right.
I am going to quote a comment from the metafilter post on the story
, which outlines a number of botched police raids in the US in the past:
October 5, 2005 - RI
On October 5, 2005, a North Providence, Rhode Island SWAT team raids the home of Paul Foley and his family, including his 14-year-old daughter. Foley tells the Providence Journal that police came "bursting through his front door, yelling and screaming at everyone in his house." They had the wrong home.
Despite the raid, Foley would later profess, "I totally support Mayor Paul Marino and the North Providence Police Department, 100 percent and without reservation."
These are the people who aren't concerned about PATRIOT.
May 22, 2006 — WI
On May 22, a narcotics SWAT team storms the home of Kristina Radke and Kenneth Berhenke on a no-knock raid. They shatter the couple's window, roll in a diversionary grenade, then break open the door. Radke and Berhenke, who were preparing for bed, are apprehended, handcuffed and held at gunpoint.
What happens if you shoot a police officer executing a no knock warrant on the wrong address? In say Florida or Texas? Does your next of kin get to sue the department? If you manage to survive do you go to prison?
September 6, 2005 — KS
In September 2005, police in Bel Aire, Kansas raid the home of the town's former mayor after mistaking sunflowers in the mayor's backyard for marijuana plants. Police took pictures of the plants, and showed them to a district attorney, who showed them to a judge. All agreed that the photographed plants were marijuana.
The sunflower, incidentally, also happens to be the state flower of Kansas.
I wonder if they can find the US on an unmarked map?
May 9, 2005 — NJ
Five state police officers in masks, bulletbroof vests, and donning assault weapons break into the home of Philip Petronella as he's watching television. Though the front door is unlocked, they break it down anyway. They handcuff Petronella, and sit him on the couch while they rifle through his belongings.
The search goes on for hours. Police finally reveal to Petronella, a 63-year-old retiree, that they believe his home is being used for prostitution. "I told them, 'You gotta be kidding. I ain't getting any. Nobody else is getting any out of here,'" Petronella told a local newspaper.
Police later realize that the suspects they were looking for had moved out months earlier.
Hoods and assault weapons? Just how tough are the hookers in NJ?
I'll also point you to a google maps mashup of the same - Botched Paramilitary Police Raids
Now go read, and get as disgusted as I am.
Setting politics, money, and fear aside, DRM just won't work. Want to know what it inherently wrong with DRM? Cory Doctorow has a pretty good article at the Guardian
that sums things up for the layman.. and I'll sum the summation up for you here:
Say I sell you an encrypted DVD: the encryption on the DVD is supposed to stop you (the DVD's owner) from copying it. In order to do that, it tries to stop you from decrypting the DVD.
Except it has to let you decrypt the DVD some of the time. If you can't decrypt the DVD, you can't watch it. If you can't watch it, you won't buy it. So your DVD player is entrusted with the keys necessary to decrypt the DVD, and the film's creator must trust that your DVD player is so well-designed that no one will ever be able to work out the key.
This is an obvious "design flaw" that renders DRM basically hopeless. To me this is clear but I realize that if you have no idea how cryptography works (and I only know the very basics) then these things might not be so intuitive. Read the whole article, its short and to the point.
As I wrap up my day I'll leave you with one more picture. If you zoom in to the full size you can see the Coasties inside looking down upon us. I'll outline the full story about why
a Coast Guard helicopter was flying over us later, but if you whip out your sleuthing skills you can probably figure it out quick enough with a google news search.
This weekend was a whirlwind of sailboat activity. A number of Canadians arrived on Thursday and we quickly got down to business. We had a brief motor-tour that evening with storm clouds ominously rolling in over land from WSW but promised ourselves plenty of sailing the next day. Friday came but the nice weather did not. Nevertheless we bravely climbed aboard with more geographic representation than you could shake a stick at - we had residents of Ontario, Quebec, Japan, Maryland, and of course Maine.
It was at this point in the weekend that the wheel-steering on the boat decided to give its final sigh and give up the ghost, leaving us circling the shipping channel while dark rain clouds glowered overhead. I sprang into action, with wrench and pliers in hand, and squirmed my way past the engine and down under the cockpit flooring. The problem was pretty obvious but without a second set of hands underneath it was going to be difficult to fix so I requested a helper down below. In the end this simply resulted in two people crammed under the flooring with one stuck near the exit and the other (me) becoming more claustrophobic by the minute with no clear escape route. Above, Appleton Estate Rum was passed around and laughter could be heard floating down to my dark tomb.. this despite the sounds of heavily flapping sails, and other disconcerting noises. The folks seemed far less disconcerted.
Repairs were abandoned at this point. I fully disconnected the wheel steering and the emergency tiller was attached to the rudder post, resuming our cruise.
The rest of the weekend was perhaps the most beautiful and tempered as one could hope for, with temperatures in the 70s and almost cloudless skies filled with nice relaxed winds of 12 to 14 knots.. and we made a point to use them. The tiller has proven much more effective and, in fact, its performance seems to suggest that the wheel steering never had full range of motion in the first place. This could explain the previously horrible turning radius and pointing abilities, as well as the horrible tacking performance.
Monday was by far our best day, and I made a point to bring my camera, so many pictures will follow. Here is one to wet your appetite - he kind of looks like Neptune's creepy womanizing son or something, doesn't he?