De omnibus dubitandum
12 Oct 2006
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the ideas of the Technological Singularity and its cousin Transhumanism. David Brin has written an insightful essay about possible roads towards, and away from, the singularity, and expresses hope in the eventual outcome (and manages to sneak in some criticism of current government policies in between the lines). It’s a long essay but definitely worth a read if you’re in to the subject matter. I linked to the printer-friendly version as the original web version was horrifically mutilated by dozens of useless links.
4 Sep 2006
I hate flying. It’s not that I’m afraid of it – contrary to the idiotic masses of humankind I’m not particularly intimidated or brainwashed by fear mongering authorities and rating-craving media channels. If one plane fell out of the sky every fucking week I’d still merrily get on one, since it’d still be infinitely safer than getting in my car and driving to work.
No, I hate flying because it’s cramped, noisy and mind-retardingly boring. I’m a big fellow and airplane seats are fit to spec for smurfs. When I manage to ignore the screeching engines, wailing children, snoring elderly and bitching flight attendants, I’m still faced with the task of entertaining myself for eight hours straight strapped into a tight seat with a jittery screen ten rows ahead featuring whatever passes for inflight entertainment. Four hours I can manage – eight hours is a stretch.
Not to mention having to deal with airports. An airport is a focal point of the typically human concept of waiting. An airport is a place where you go from waiting for one thing to waiting for the next. It’s a succession of waiting experiences. You wait to check in. You wait to pass security. You wait for boarding. You wait for take off. You wait for landing. You wait for unboarding. You wait to pass customs. You wait to get your goddamn luggage. You wait to get your connecting flight. You wait and wait and wait until waiting itself seems to be the whole fucking purpose of existence.
Airports do their best to make you forget that you’re nothing but human cattle waiting to be shipped out, but it’s all commercially inspired. Ridiculously overpriced stores try to sell you shit you know you don’t need but you still feel urged to buy just because it distracts your attention from having to wait. Flatscreen TV’s show you Fox ‘news’ channels that specialize in terror-stories intended to scare your fucking wits out so you’ll happily comply with a body cavity search by a fat black woman in a crumpled uniform who always picks well-dressed white men out of the security queue. Airline personnel kindly remind you how happy they are that you chose to fly with their airline because they realize you do have a choice, but I don’t really have a fucking choice because my company selected the cheapest fucking airline they could find so I’m stuck with the smallest seats, the crappiest inflight food, the worst inflight entertainment and a collection of ridiculously gay or 50-year old flight attendants (or both!) who couldn’t get a paying job at a proper airline!
So yes, I hate flying.
10 Aug 2006
The recent news about the foiled terrorist plot in the UK has left me enraged, frustrated and desperate. Not because of the actual facts – kudos to Scotland Yard for stopping this particular batch of would-be martyrs – but because of the incredible amounts of fear, uncertainty and doubt the media and authorities are creating. Instead of rejoicing that deaths have been prevented, what is happening is exactly what the terrorists wanted. People are afraid, international air traffic is in chaos, and all over the world headlines are filled with it.
We are handing victory to these terrorists. We are doing their work for them. They don’t need to succeed in blowing stuff up anymore, they just have to get caught and we’re doing the rest.
Especially in light of the paper I linked to in my previous entry, what is happening now is enough to boil my blood. Can’t the media see what they are doing? Don’t the authorities realize that by imposing these ridiculous ‘security’ measures they’re creating the same chaos that the terrorists wanted to create?!
We should all calm the fuck down.
8 Aug 2006
This is something every American should read, and everyone else whose government is curtailing civil liberties in the name of ‘security’ and the ‘war on terror’ and whose media are fanning the flames of fear.
The paper was written in 2004, and it’s discouraging to see how we’re still being manipulated and abused by our governments in the name of a minor, insignificant threat.
11 Jul 2006
Someone wrote a compelling review of An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary where Al Gore explains in no uncertain terms that unless we do something about global warming soon, we’re doomed. An excerpt from the review:
In my darker moments, it sometimes seems as if the entire world is in the middle of a fierce backlash against the Age of Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution and the ideological challenges they posed to the old belief systems. The forces of fundamentalism and obscurantism appear to be on the march everywhere – even as the moral and technological challenges posed by a global industrial civilization grow steadily more complex.
4 Jul 2006
Pet peeve: HTML pages that don’t set their background color properly.
I have my browser set so that the default background color, when none is defined in the HTML code itself, is a light gray. So every page that fails to have a proper background color tag shows up with a light gray background to me. It’s a common error, and to me a sign of a lazy web developer.
Take this site for example. With a project like this you’d expect the web developer to make sure his code is in order, the intended audience being of above average geekitude. The background color is obviously supposed to be white, but the color isn’t set, so it’s gray to me.
Yes, most people’s browser settings show the background as white by default. That’s not my point. If as a web developer you want your page to look right, with the colors and fonts that you picked, you need to code that into the page. If you don’t you’re being lazy or ignorant or both.
So set your damn background color, people.
29 Jun 2006