Saturday, September 30, 2006

Podcasting, not tough

If you're saying that writing or publishing or making videos and podcasting is too difficult for you, get another think. 13- and 11-year old kids are doing it.

To suppress or to deal

I believe there are two basic reactions to things we dislike:
1: to face with it and communicate about or with it.
2: to beat it with a stick, hoping to kill it, or try to put a lid over it.

The first one is far more difficult, for every person on this planet, as well as mankind itself, has many demons, and they are real, made of real energy. But. It is the only one which works.

The horror movies know it well: the real monsters can't be killed with force. And they keep coming back from the grave. The only solution is to find out how they work.

Featured comment by Laurie (the female one):
I'm reading this book now entitled "Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say" by Warren Farrell. I am very interested in the topic of how men and women communicate (or not). Warren Farrell makes clear the point that men have been programmed even biologically, definitely culturally, to suppress feelings, to protect the woman, to kill the "enemy." Vulnerablity is considered "the enemy." Women, we say we want men to express their feelings, to communicate in words more freely, but in truth this makes us nervous, and we dish up a double standard. We distance ourselves or get into a fighting mode when men express their feelings or criticize us (even kindly). So, To suppress or to deal? Since the 60's, women are liberating themselves not to suppress themselves, and asking men to support us in this. But let's be honest, are we women really making a safe emotional environment for our men "not to suppress"? I'm not bashing women here, I'm wanting to grow in understanding of men, and the male/female dynamic.

Featured comment by Pascal:
More seriously, the recent U.S. laws regarding Guantanamo and stuff inspired me this thought : convict rights are meant, first of all, to protect THE INNOCENT. To ensure that somebody who's only suspected will not be inhumanely mistreated, and convicted in advance by the simple fact of his indiction.

Besides, what kind of civilization are we, if we declare it okay to be barbaric toward some people "because they deserve it"? How does this make us different from them, who always consider their victims "deserved it" too? It is illegal toward animals for a reason, you know.

Should we do like Zarqawi, and decapitate with a knife those we deem unworthy of living? I wouldn't do that to Zarqawi himself, if I caught him! Otherwise, I would disgust myself. Lock him away for life, throw away the key, he's harmless for good, end of problem. Let God judge and punish and make him suffer later, since we believe in divine Justice after death! Spite is like dirt : to inflict it, you get yourself dirty too. It's a vicious circle. Would you become a vampire to gain the power to destroy vampires?

The bottom line is : we can argue till the end of time about whose beliefs are right or wrong. Only actions, not justifications, are undisputable and set us apart from those who are, potentially or definitely, barbaric. Everybody will treat well those they like (in theory!). It is how we treat those we dislike or don't care about that tells who we really are, and may make them reflect. "Love thine enemy"? Hey, it's not just a hippie "spaced out" thing, dude. It is extremely deep and meaningful. We do not treat them well/decently to please them, but to keep our souls unsoiled from savagery. If we stoop to their level, then Evil wins, and everybody is a loser no matter who's finally in charge. Why do you think Christianism spread so widely? Because it gave some amazing new principles that were incredibly ahead of their time.
(Note : I'm certainly not claiming it was the ONLY intelligent belief, nor that the Church always stayed true to these beliefs.)

I am reminded of the film "Fortress" with Chris Lambert, a futuristic prison where the DREAMS of the inmates are monitored, and they are punished when they have one that is "not allowed". Punished painfully.

Total freedom of speech makes me uneasy too. I once read a presumed incest story that was both irresistibly explicit and nauseating. (I couldn't reach the author, "silentalltheseyears", to find out whether it was based on an actual trauma, it WAS very disturbingly convincing.) But one person's fantasy is another one's education.

At worst, consider it like this : Know thine enemy. The nazis were not incomprehensible extra-terrestrial robot mutants, they were "ordinary" hateful racists who just went too far. Ignoring that fact puts us at risk of falling straight back in the very same horrible error. It can happen again, to you, to me, if we aren't wary of our natural tendancies. Everybody is capable of hating.

I believe Bin Laden is a blessing in disguise. His shameless hate and violence lets the cat out, and reveals what many hypocrits would love to conveniently conceal : that religion (islam in this specific case), can be and sometimes is hijacked to justify the worst. His hate preachers should be forbidden from "teaching" their crap in religious schools and mosques, especially to the young and trusting minds. But they should NOT be silenced entirely and everywhere (merely driving them undergroud, d'uh!). Let them warn us that there exists such madmen who are ready to murder unknown innocents anytime and anywhere. Knowledge is power, ignorance is weakness.

To somebody who's able to withstand his nausea, a child-abusing fantasy will, at worst, be a useful insight to how the real criminals think and act. (To the others, just don't read it! Me, I can't stand Barbara Cartland.) Doesn't the police have a special section to read all crime stories and learn from them? In France at least, they do.

The whackos responsible for the Columbine High School massacre played violent videogame "Doom". Does the game make you violent? I believe it was just a symptom : they didn't become violent because they played it, they played it because they were violent and liked to fantasize about it. Let's not ignore the importance of education, people. Banning Doom will only deprive us from a warning dign. "Grand Theft Auto made me do it"? Sorry buddy, but if you're not clinically psychotic, the only devil that made you do ANYTHING is the one within you, answering to your name!

Restrict hazardous stuff from those too young and immature to handle it, like porn for the under 15, but PLEASE stop finding excuses for treating the whole adult population as if they were eternally babies in diapers!

Controlling mere fantasy/fiction is very dangerous. A zombie movie like "Night of the Living-Dead" has no practical interest whatsoever, it teaches nothing, it's just there to give you a good (and cheap) scare. Okay, so it's clear and pure bad taste. Is "nobody in their right mind will miss it" an excuse for forbidding it? Think of the implications! Think of China and the USSR.

In most muslim countries, reading the Bible or the Gospel is prohibited and may have you jailed. Changing religions for a muslim is assimilated to the crime of apostasy, deserving death under the Charia. Fundamentalism has instated the absolute thought police. I don't want to be like that. I want to give them the opposite example by my sensible deeds, and maybe this'll give the brightest of them the idea to try and make reforms. "Doing like the other does" à la G.W.Bush is no way to inspire amending.

Peace and goodwill to all mankind. Even the jerks.

Justice or revenge?

From a comment by Pascal:
"what kind of civilization are we, if we declare it okay to be barbaric toward some people "because they deserve it"?"

You said it.
I just saw in an episode of "Monk": A black woman shot and killed a guy who many years earlier had been a drunk driver killing her parents and blinding her. She said: "That guy getting a year and a half for vehicular manslaughter, that is not justice. This is justice!"

No darling, that's not justice, that's revenge.
Though you're not the only one who gets them mixed up. As evidenced by the fact that there are still a couple of countries left in the world which have the death penalty.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Interest and money

Ronald wrote: As for money being good or bad, I think inherently it's neither, but it is a dangerous thing to handle. And I seem to remember that the bible (as well as the Koran) is quite clear in its damnation of interest, which I also believe to be the root of most, if not all, our current economic problems.

I admit there is little love lost between me and banks or credit card companies. They are pretty durn soulless. For instance, their handing out credit cards like candy to poor populations in the third world (and the first and second), indebting those people for life, is evil.

But on the other hand, if charging interest was made illegal, it would only drive money lending underground, with all the wonderful benefits that would entail!
After all, there will always be bad debts, so why would anybody want to ever lend money to anybody (except family or friends) if there was no interest?

And while I think that in an ideal world nobody would ever have to borrow, I also think that world is not exactly right around the corner. Not this century, methinks.

Thought Police, OK or not?

From the newsletter of the Free Speech Coalition:
PITTSBURGH, PA -- A federal grand jury has handed down a six-count obscenity indictment against Karen Fletcher, 54, of Donora, Pennsylvania, based only on fictional, fantasy, text materials, which Fletcher wrote and offered for sale on her Red Rose Stories website. The fantasy themes specified in the indictment featured the kidnapping, molestation, torture and murder of very young children. These are not themes likely to create sympathy in jurors. This indictment, along with the recent obscenity charges against fetish film producer Danilo Simoes Croce, of Sao Paulo, Brazil (see X-Press report, „Brazilian Fetish Producer Busted,‰ 9/15/06) is in line with the apparent Justice Department strategy of prosecuting extreme forms of sexually explicit materials; except in this case, by choosing to go after text-only materials, the government has ventured down an even more slippery slope than in its vendetta against photo and film materials. Erotic photo imagery, while a form of expression subject to First Amendment protections, does involve behaviors and actions of models and actors, whereas written fiction, however extreme, however repulsive, is pure fantasy, pure thought. This effort by law enforcement to penalize the sharing and distribution of fantasy comes very close to thought control. The grand jury indictment, rather than the fact that some people share child torture fantasies, may be the scariest part of this story.
"I find it very troubling that a fictional account, somebody's fantasy, could be considered a crime when there is no indication that anybody has been exploited," said Joan Bertin, executive director of the New York-based National Coalition Against Censorship.
"I can't defend this material because I haven't seen it, but I question the role of government in deciding when material, even if most people would consider it over the top, is appropriate for adults to write or read," Bertin said.

... Reading the first part of this, I immediately thought: well of course, she had to expect it, and she deserves it. After all who defends somebody who apparently fantasizes about torturing children?
But then I realized: what about your belief that free speech is absolute?
What about your belief that freedom of thought is absolute?
Where is the victim?
If they can make these stories illegal, can't they make a serious novel illegal, if it includes something sufficiently distasteful?

And after that, where is the exact limit for which thoughts are so distasteful they must be illegal and punished?

Meg Lee Chin

By the way: newly discovered artist and song:
Heavy Scene with Meg Lee Chin. Wock and Woll!!

Sad rock

I used to get irritated, many years ago, when people said: "I like Bowie's early stuff, but I think he lost it," or some such. I felt they were refusing to listen with fresh ears.

Now I have to admit I am saying the same thing about David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Anything they've made since the Millennium or there abouts, I bought, and it's just sad. Iggy's songs are flat and uninteresting, Bowie is sounding whiny and wailing. Am I alone here?
Update: Glad to stand corrected, I checked out, and they have a video of the excellent track Little Know It All from his album Skull Ring. This does rock, I am looking at buying that CD (or download from iTunes).

Kate Bush, umm, I am still undecided on her new one.
Al Jourgenson (Ministry), well, his last two are maybe not his most original, but they sure do have the hard core energy only he can deliver.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Another Kate

Item the first: I was not aware of Kate Beckinsale, until Karen in Will And Grace said "it's acting, how hard can it be? Kate Beckinsale can do it!"
I wonder why the writers of some comedies can be so nasty sometimes to people who really don't deserve it. (Like the writers of Family Guy acidly attacking Friends and Dharma And Greg, both wonderful shows.)

Item the second: I have not seen her in Pearl Habor, and really don't intend to. For the same reason I don't intend to see Metallica, sorry, Titanic: how can it possibly be good?

Item the third: I do intend to see her in Underworld. Despite mixed reviews, at least it is supernatural and eye candy.

Item the fourth: I just rewatched her in Shooting Fish. I saw it neigh a decade ago, and remembered it partly for the desperately cute and charming female lead.
The film is a lot of fun too. Though it again left me wondering how it is that we are so willing to take thieves and con men as heroes, so long as they only steal from "people who can afford it", to quote the producer.

Item the fifth: I am always wondering what is the percentage of people who notice and get less obvious references like the title of that moving referring to the expression "shooting fish in a barrel", meaning really easy prey. I have a feeling not many.


Do you want to win the game or do you want to keep the game? You can't do both.


Like Pascal points out, marrying a Hollywood celebrity is not exactly a long term investment of time and effort.
And one more risk: tabloids and color weeklies (what's the generic terms for those? Mostly consisting of photos and gossip?) (Maybe those mags are a European phenomenon.) I could think of few crueler fates than being featured regularly in such rags. Except becoming president. Man, you have to be an idiot or a glutton for punishment to want that.


New words department:

Enigmorance, n.
Uninformedness or stupidity so profound that it defeats understanding.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


There is this great expression: "Penny wise and pound foolish".
Like a person who will go out of his way to save five cents on flour, but will then buy a boat that he won't even use.
It is often used about somebody who will refuse to make a small expidenture who could give a large payback. (Example: one of my neighboring apartments stood empty for long periods until the owner finally realized that it would pay off to replace the very ratty carpet and furniture.)

I'm wondering if many of us don't have a similar affliction in other areas. Like putting a lot of thought into what color shoes to buy, but never really reflecting too much on the big things, like our overall direction in life, and what we believe.

Kate Hepburn

Without discipline, there's no life at all.
-- Katharine Hepburn
Great quote when taken seriously.
And also when not... I wouldn't have minded disciplining her a bit myself!

But really, I never fall hopelessly in love, but I could have with her: gorgeous, unique, intelligent, powerful, headstrong.

This picture is from 1993. She would have been 86 years old!

The changing Egg

By Silvia Hartmann:

Today, we have only a simple Change Metaphor for you to read through as the exercise.

If you read it out aloud and it "becomes yours" with that first person phrasing, it'll be even better still.

Here we go:

I often have this feeling of stress and desperation because I am quite convinced nothing has changed.

I look around myself and all I see is what I always see.

Same house, same furniture, same pile of bills, same everything.

I work so hard and NOTHING is changing.

Thought that again about something the other day, and this large egg came to my mind.

It just sits there in its nest of straw.

It doesn't DO anything.

It doesn't change shape, it doesn't change colour.

It doesn't pulsate. It doesn't roll around.

You could look at it for DAYS AND DAYS and you'd come away thinking that it was just that and there was NOTHING GOING ON.

And yet, and if one was to extend one's feelers in a different way, one might become aware of the RIOT OF CHANGE that is taking place INSIDE the egg, a storm of re-organisation, feeding and growth, of total unfoldment as a bunch of random cells become a fish thing, which in turn becomes ever more defined and more complex, more organised in every way, more mature, more fantastic with every heartbeat, every breath that passes.

One day, and we know not when, the egg that lay so motionless for so very long and seemed to be nothing but an inert shape will begin to rock, and then it will crack, and the newly born dragonet will emerge, spread its wings for the first time and take its first small steps.

Yes, there was change.

Even if we thought there wasn't.

Now, over to you. Think of a thing that you think is NOT changing and think again. All things change, all the time. It's just us people who don't get with the programme...

Forward and forward,


Monday, September 25, 2006

Muzak Dogs on YouTube

Some of you have seen Muzak Dogs before ("love is in the air"), but I just uploaded it to YouTube just to try out the service.
Interesting how that service is booming. It is being used for all kinds of stuff, including promotion for big companies, like Pentax's very promising new camera.

Me, I'm wondering, do the ads on that site really pay for development, running, and colossal bandwidth use?

Ego and holes

Adam said in a comment:
"Whatever your obsession - be it money, sex or power it is impossible to satisfy. It's a spiritual impossibility to satisfy the human ego. "Once you have understood this the question then becomes how to get rid of the ego, so you can live comfortably and at peace."

I think Adam is right. I was thinking recently about why is it that the Ego will never be satisfied?
I concluded that the Ego is the outward result of a missing part of the soul or the Self. When you have a hole deep in yourself, you don't see it, but you keep trying to fill that hole, for instance with getting attention, confirmation, or possessions. And of course that will never work.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

No new sitcoms?

Aargh, Will and Grace has also ended now, like Friends and Frasier.
Somebody please tell me there are new American sitcoms being made? Good ones? (Not like "Martin" or "Roseanne" please.)


Using a way of watching TV that does not make me feel like a slave to the tube, I am watching it via iTunes. Right now an episode of "Extreme Engineering" called "Tokyo's Sky City", about a planned vertical city in Tokyo.

That's interesting in itself, but I noted this small fact: according to the program, most of Tokyo's residents commute two to four hours every day. Most of them. Two to four hours. In those horrible over-filled trains. That is just... evil.

Why don't more people telecommute? I know that I'd take a pretty hefty pay cut to avoid a three-hour commute every day. (Heck, I'd take strychnine.) It must surely pay off for companies to do this for all those employees who don't have to be on site physically.

Featured comment by Wonko Outside the Asylum:
I'd telecommute in a moment, no question. This is mainly because that's what I did for the past two years. Unfortunately I now have to actually commute into and out of London every weekday. It eats between three and four hours of my life and over £1,500 of my hard earned, but none-the-less extremely limited cash. I hate it. I loathe it. I would rather cut off sensitive parts of my anatomy with a blunt and rusty spoon than do it. Sadly, at the moment I have no choice.

What did telecommuting require? A home broadband connection (that worked - see my blog for details - arrgghh!), an ADSL firewall router, a cable and the laptop that my employer already supplied me with. It didn't cost any money (on broadband), I didn't have to travel contributing at least one fewer sweaty person on already over-crowded public transport, I didn't have to fork out for the travel either, I had a life and some energy after work. And best of all, my colleagues and customers all said that they couldn't tell the difference.

So, I have to agree with Eolake; if you can get into your work e-mail system, filestore and any other systems they have, and have a 'phone number to be called on (I had a mobile 'phone provided for me), why do you need to be in an expensive office and waste all of that time getting to and from it? Fair enough sometimes you do need to meet with people face to face, but increasingly that is less and less of an issue.

Dammit, I want to work from home again!


While we're talking about money... I said Apple's downloadable movie price is too high, especially the fifteen bucks for new movies.
Why does Apple so far only have Disney? ... it turns out the movie industry thinks fifteen bucks is too cheap! Amazon Unbox downloadable movies are mostly twenty dollars each!
What the frig is wrong with these people? Have they not been to business school? Don't they know that there is a relation between price and sales? And if price too high your profit drops just like it does if you price too low?
Why does everybody want 99% profits on downloadable products when they accept 3% profit on physical items? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Money makes the world spin in its grave

Pascal said:
"It's okay to be rich. Even VERY rich. It's just wrong to become rich by exploiting/robbing others. Which is frequent, but NOT universal. (For instance, what's wrong with being the lucky winner of the Lottery?)
If Microsoft's software was less infuriating, AND monopolistic to make matters worse, I wouldn't even bother dissing Bill Gates. Bitterness is just a waste of your lifetime's serenity."

Yes indeed. I've worked actively in dispelling bitterness and anger from my life, and I am much, much better for it.

Now consider Steve Jobs. Unlike Gates he seems to work for greater causes, and not prone to dirty business tactics. And yet he is a billionaire too. Also I don't think he gives a caca whether he is or not, he is much more interested in making new, cool and important things.

I often hesitate to promote or endorse commercial products. The gut feeling is, why should I help somebody become richer without getting a piece? And yet I never have problems endorsing Apple's products. I guess the moral is that if somebody puts so much work and love into a product, you want to give something back beyond just paying the fair price for it.

Oooh, by excellent coinkindink, Silvia Hartmann just originated sending me some quotes of hers, and the first one I looked at was just on this subject!

"The wealthier you are, the more you have to give."
- Silvia Hartmann

Sentience, originality, and the Turing Test

Can machines think?
I think it is more important whether they can be (or become) sentient.
I think the biggest downfall of the Turing Test is that it only measures responses. A machine complex enough can have responses for almost anything. Viewed this way it shows us that humans have a long scale of sentience too, many people just have reactions, and may thus cynically be viewed as 'meat machines'.
The real test is if a being originates anything. Does he/she/it say or do anything which is original, which was not a response or reaction to some input?

Of course this quickly becomes really deep, for how can you ever prove that a thought or action is not a reaction so something in the near or far past? But I think the question still holds.