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Fri, 5 November 2004 13:00:00 GMT
Sometimes I come across intelligent stuff on the net that challenges me. This is one such diatrade, well-written and very well thought out, a good read, one you should approach with an open mind.
In my own clouded brain, with the Kerry loss, I feel the world is a more unsafe place to be, and that things will only turn to worse. I had the same feeling after 9/11. The US enemies will be furthering their hated campaigns against the war president "over there."
The truth is often a biased choice. We choose what to believe in. The ultimate ideal of ultimate truth does not actually exist. Even science recognises this, pushing the truisms of theories towards Empirical Truth. But it isn't ultimate truth. It is a pipe dream. Forget about it.
George W. Bush is the frontman for a US government that I find despiccable, make no mistake about that, but lately I've been thinking that the problem isn't in the various political fractions of the US, it is in the dynamics of the US as a culture. It is cowboy country, in a very literal sense; smarter people on horseback herding kattle. The political system of the US, which isn't about to change, has big elements of gambling in it, where big cowboys are playing poker with the kattle at stake. "I'll raise you 400.000 kattle for WMD!", George might say. And each state folds at the 51% mark. Very odd to me, but probably quite good if you're a gambler.
Politics is a game that is taken really serious and is laughable at the same time. The stakes are both high and low; no matter what important political agenda we've got now, history will sweep up any leftovers in its wake. History just goes on, no matter what we do. Some people think democracy works this way too, by slowly molding itself into a better system of governance over time as history passes and disbandon laws and regulation. The only constant is change. People change, political ideas change, agenda change, countries change, wars change. Theocracy yesterday, democracy today, fascism tomorrow, and back again.
So let's talk about the pain that people feel, because that is the true reason I feel sad. People who love Bush's way will be happy, and people who hate it will be sad. And then the polarity turns, but nothing much changes; there will still be pain. It is pain in passing, yet we feel it now. We feel it because the universe around us is not in our agreement. Yet we go on.
What disturbs we most about the Bush way is that it relies on proof by opinion and rethorics. And a lot of people accept rethorics as evidence, as long as it follows their own. Such as the people in the diatrade that challenged me. Such as kattle. Or people at the poker-machines. "Truth" and "lies" are words that we fling emotionally around too easily, words we substitute for balanced centrist views. And the biggest problem in US politics is just that; emotional rethorics win over cold hard facts. Such as that the truth shall set us free. It won't. We are already free, always will be, no matter what. It is our physical space that is restricted by the local king.
The king is dead. Long live the king. As always.
Read the full story at < Political challenge >Permalink (Fri, 5 November 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (2) | Opinions
Fri, 22 September 2004 13:00:00 GMT
A tale of two metadata postulates, and the snapshot mentality of software development
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. The thick metadata fog lifted into a bright sunny day of calm and peace, and the land of Software Engineering was buzzing into life again. As the morning sprang from its long sleep, so did I, opened the windows and breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
It wasn't that long ago I had walked down littered alleys and dirty roads. Never had I been so hungry as I was walking the streets of Metadata City. It used to be a promising place, you know; nice clean abstractions and good clear labels on every door, road, trunk, box and tub, but all of that changed as more and more people expanded and exploited those plans. It could have been a wonderful box of chocolates with a simple label 'Chocolate' on it, but people soon started this whole 'Sjokolade' / 'brand' / 'I like white not brown' / 'small bits of cocoa powder mixed with milk and caking agents, having different flavours including caramel, truffles, marsipan, liqurish and brandy, sometimes with filling' labelling all over, and noone could agree on the best label.
My hunger was for clean, straight-up metadata. I had seen the idea as a bright shining lighthouse on the infoglut horizon, and I wanted to find my way to that glimmering place of 'simple and elegant means of finding what I wanted.' I know now that ideas are king, while the joker is ... well, us. No matter how good a plan, it takes only one simple glitch to render it useless. I am such a fool.
There were a few wise men and women that sometimes got together to discuss these problems, but as committees went, they went the way committees usually go; against the grain of the intended purpose. They said 'Strict Standards!', and as people started using those standards it became quite apparent how those standards didn't work or even worked together. It became the hotch-potch stew that we know Metadata City to be today.
But things are changing. People have started taking things into their own hands. Strict standards are being replaced by human and loose standards. Since we can't agree on the best label, why not accept them all? I drifted into a recap of old snapshots ...
In the old days, software programs were developed by the snapshot mentality. A specification is a formalisation of a given set of requirements that tries very hard to be a roadmap for developing a specific program. It of course can't be right, but since we all think in todo-list terms, it's the best we've got, and we do it repeatedly so that at least some of our attempts works out good enough to be called success. The fact that most fail doesn't seem to pursuade us away from the comforting thought that it "works well enough."
A specification is a snapshot. It is an attempt to freeze time. "Now! Nobody move! This is our specification, and we will build a system based on these needs! Quick; write everything down, and make sure we all agree to it!" And off they go thinking they've got it down pat. Then time and life goes on, everything changes, and the finished product ain't what they want now. This is known as scope creep, but I dare say that that is a misguided label; it is the wrong approach alltogether. Isn't it funny that there is a progrom in the world that states; "The only constant is change." And isn't it funny why don't we embrace it?
The only constant is change
There is some ultimate truth to this; things change all the time, be it systems, people, societies, needs, wants and desires. The latest onslaught of so-called 'social software' really taps into this paradigm; if you design your software for change, embracing it, then there may not be a need to change it when the change comes. Let's see an example;
Someone designs and develops an online store. It uses a specific database and a specific framework written in a specific language. It has specific requirements, such as viewing, selecting and purchasing items, and then handle the communication between customer and seller, let's say email and fax, using a creditcard such as VISA and American Express.
Now what happens if the customer wants to call? Or use a credit card not listed? Or something else changes, as they will do over time? What happens? Well, the people in charge lay out some new requirements, pass these on to the developer, who develops the new feature, rolls it out, and everybody's happy ... provided the customer hangs around for that long and hasn't gone to your competitor that does support whatever feature you needed.
Note that I said needed, not wanted; there are many things in this life we want, but to do certain things you need certain things to do that. For instance, to buy something with a VISA credit card, you need a VISA credit card. It doesn't matter that you have a Fumbles Daily Credit card at all. Pretty self explanatory really, but traditionally we haven't designed systems with this in mind. Instead, we used to say "to use this online shop, you need to have a VISA or an American Express credit card." And that's the flaw; it is us telling people how to use our system, instead of them telling us how they'd like to use our system.
Back to Metadata City and social software; the thing here is that it isn't software telling the users what standard to use and exactly how to use it, it is the users who are free to use the software they would like to use it. It isn't a fixed specification of an idea, but a loose concept of a tool. We're going from specific to abstract tools, daring to trust their users to use it outside a given specified way.
Metadata is reaching that same thing these days. In Topic maps we speak of fixed points of reference, of persistant identifiers, but the new Topic maps standards are taking a more flexible turn, saying that the identity of something is a process more than an ID badge. In the RDF and Semantic Web world, the fuzziness of what a resource really are may have - and I think quite unintentional - pushed them in the same direction. More and more systems out there are starting to understand this very progrom;
As the world is fuzzy, design for fuzzy.
Basically, we must design for change, with change in mind, changing the mindset of our changing world. Anything else is a costly legacy hog that will be costly, painful, wasteful and outright stupid.Permalink (Fri, 22 September 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (2) | Opinions Topic maps Knowledge and information
Tue, 12 October 2004 13:00:00 GMT
What are you? What am I?
Lately, I've had to do some work up in the ceiling of my mind, fixing a leak. It lead to a question; to patch or to open up?
Some people who read this blog may have noticed my rants about politics, society and philosophy of late. There is a good reason; I've been challenged on these areas on several occasions, and I have been forced to think hard about issues that so often gets lost in the daily hooha of work, eat, sex, sleep, repeat.
I take all opinion from people I judge 'intelligent' (just my version of 'not stupid') with some seriousness; should I open up to these ideas, or patch up the hole to stop stuff like this leaking in? I had this thought presented to me;
If we sterilised all stupid people, the human race would progress.
There are obvious flaws to this thinking; what denotes stupidity? What are stupid people doing? What is progress? Even, what is the human race? Some very simple questions that are not easy to answer, even though we deal with these issues every single day.
It is stupid to walk across the road on a red light, because a) it's against the law, and b) you can get hit by a car. (And do notice the order I chose here) Hmm, hang on; what is the law? It is generally speaking a set of rules that our society has agreed to. So then, what is society? In general, it is a cluster of humans and interactions that weave a net of dependencies and, mostly, agreement on such. And suffice to say, there are litterally millions of societies around the world, and even if they share some of the same properties, they are all different. All of these different societies are loosely called 'the human race', and we speak of its advancement when these societies have certain qualities, such as food for all and rights to do this, that and the other. And when one of these societies don't follow the conventions, such as free speech, it is said that this society is working against the better of the human race.
Ok, conventions ... what are they? Invisible rules that we can clearly see but not define. Just like ethics and morals, but with more practical implications. Here is such a convention; if you break the law, you will be punished. This perticular convention is often the very thing that shape us humans into either the good or bad category; the ones that will advance the human race and the ones that will not.
So, back to the thought; should we try to get rid of this bad category? Think about it; it is they who rob banks, steal from our homes, do drugs, beat up our kids, piss in our water supplies and otherwise do all sorts of terrible things to our society so that we need more police to get rid of them, and so forth. Do we want this crap? No, of course not, so let's get rid of the problem.
My brother used to do drugs, but he's alright now. I almost ended up in prison for not doing compulsary military service in Norway, but got away doing community work instead. My wife has done something that's bad according to the bible and the law in vertain countries, yet she's the nicest and most loving person I know. My granddad refused arrest during the second world war, and got away, becoming an underground guerilla fighter against the Norwegian government, yet we think he did the right thing and praise his actions today. I once stole fruit from a fruit-truck, got cought and threatened, but the fruit was half rotten and was going to be dumped anyways. I know one guy who's shot a man by accident (flesh wound, nothing serious). Someone very close to me once cheated on his taxes due to difficult financial situation, and yet got away with it.
Are we bad? Are we up for sterilisation? Are we even stupid? What if you're stupid in one thing and brilliant in another? What if you used to do drugs but now are clean? What if you cross the road on a red light when there is an emergancy, and you need to reach a hospital as soon as possible? What if? What if? What if smart is 'kick the ball that way', and your name is Stephen Hawkins?
We invented the court system for some of these reasons, for all those gray areas. But the point remains; are we stupid? What is stupid? Stupid is, generally speaking, something done or said that sounds stupid to that person, something that they wouldn't do, at least not recently. Obviously that person is a lot smarter than you. The idea to sterilise stupid people came from someone very smart and very convinced. He knows they can't and never will be enforced, but he believes this is the best solutions, regardless. His mindset is out there though, every day, thinking that you should die if you do stupid things. According to him. According to some notion in his brain that decides what is "right" and "wrong". What the fuck!? What is right and wrong, even inside the law? We all know the law fails from time to time, sometimes in quite dramatic ways, so how can we even begin to jot down "right" or "wrong" outside the most proven "right" or "wrong" system know to 'the human race'!? We all know that at the end of the stick sits someone with an opinion, someone who decides, based on various sources on what is right and wrong, on exactly what is right and wrong; a judge, a god, a person who thinks sterilisation is a good option for stupid people. Who the hell do you think you are?
No, my friend, stupidity is not what you should jugde on. Try something deliberate instead. There is no such thing as stupidity. Thinking otherwise is, well, stupid.Permalink (Tue, 12 October 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (0) | Opinions
Mon, 27 September 2004 13:00:00 GMT
A letter to a dear friend who just got the news that his liver might need replacing
Dear Mr. Library,
Let me first of all say that I respect you very much and I've watched your work for years with great interest and enthusiasm. I've always held the library as the pinnacle of culture, the Persistant Identifier for "knowledge", I feel honoured that I've had the chance to work with you for the last little bit.
Over the last little bit I've had a growing concern, a nagging rash on my patient elbows, causing me to re-evaluate the value of the services you're giving. I'm of course not referring to the underlying principle of giving access to books and information about them to the wide public, although I do brush upon it. I don't mean the basic concept of free information, although I'm brushing on that too. I'm not really talking about the cultural implications of a sivilized society losing its foothold on those titles ... oh, hang on, I am talking about that.
Culture is important, in the meaning of "what we are and what we're about is really what we are and what we're about", regardless of what that's all about. It's called "culture." Throughout history, we've had many cultures, and we call it "history." Many cultures have failed, and we claim to learn from those mistakes, just as we think our current culture must be winning, because it hasn't failed yet and so it must be good.
I've had many thoughts on current affairs and how its evolving, shaping our people and - waaaait for it! - our culture, and it is because "our culture" is not anyones culture anymore; it is a ever assimilating entity that transponds the world on so many levels. Some try to be specific, saying "western culture", which really means "the way they do it", which means nothing at all, really. Some try even harder to specify what culture they're thinking of, saying "modern western culture of social democratic Norway", for instance, knowing that there are subcultures and twists and turns and nothing at all that can be pinpointed to that title apart from vague notions of stuff that might be some demographic statistics of a local and highly specialized part of Oslo, the capital. That is hence the problem; "culture" is a cloudy word, meaning nothing specific. How can we talk about cultural important issues when we're all talking about fluffy clouds?
I'd say that books are important, even in the age of the Internet. Some people think the book is the pinnacle of man, the very thing that made everything else excel. They dub this a cultural paradigm shift, but is it really? Is the book a shift in any culture, at least any specific culture? or is it the very notion of development that happens in all layers of human adventures? Again, we're drawn towards the definition of the word "culture" to see if anything can discussed and talked about with that word;
Main Entry: 1cul·ture, Pronunciation: 'k&l-ch&r, Function: noun
1 a: the integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thought, speech, action, and artifacts and depends upon the human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group
2 a: the act or process of growing living material (as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media b: a product of cultivation in nutrient media cul·tur·al /'k&lch(-&)-r&l/ adjective cul·tur·al·ly /-r&-lE/ adverb
Only 1 is important to what I'm talking about, and again we're faced with another buzzword; "pattern", which seems to be the word that tries to explain everything these days. In the fluffy speak of culture, we're trying to talk about certain patterns of "thought, speech, action, and artifacts" and patterns of "customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social groups". Patterns, just like a checkered board.
Dear Mr. Library, you're a result of a given pattern, and that pattern is about to change. In the good old days, people were willing to spend time and effort in trying to find the information they sought, but that pattern is changing, as information wants to be free and fast and now! In the good old days, people trusted given institutions and were willing to pay for that trust, but that pattern is changing, as trust seems to be mistaken for habit and loyalty. In the good old days, people saw the library as a place to seek information because librarians were really good at sifting through collections, but that pattern is changing, because computers are better at sorting, indexing and finding keywords and linking all of these results with other resultsets to create quite superiour results.
In other words, Mr. Library, you've got to change to keep up with the times, otherwise you'll be presenting us with services we don't need, at a rather high cost. Not only would the initial services be deemed worthless and silly, but the real danger comes when politics become aware of the stupid way of using the money to the point of not giving you that money anymore. In politics, only one thing is the credo; give the users what they want. Period. Never give them what we think they need. Please, mr. Library, listen to me; you've got to change before it is too late! Most people in the library world understand the value of metadata, MARC records and the want and need to give patrons the best service possible, but even if the underlying basic ideas are still intact, the medium and the service they're given through has changed quite dramatically, and unless you snap out of your conservative ways (pardon the pun), you will get conserved in the annals of cultures everywhere as an interesting cultural phenomenon now gone forever. You must embrace new technology and new patterns of social behaviour in order to have a right to live.
I really like you, Mr. Library, but you must not grow old and conservative and cautious. You must be on-edge, leap on new ideas, be brave and innovative, sinking your teeth of knowledge into the neck of new generations before TV gets them, like a Dracula giving them the kool-aid bug in their blood for proper guidance and that Draconian style of innovation libraries were famous for. (I mean, for crying out loud, stop using that abomination called Z39.50 and think it is a great innovation coming out of the library world; It is abysmal!) I know funding is a problem, mostly because politicians don't understand what you do and the general people only understand how a school stores books in the library to avoid having to buy them again the next year, but without the innovation and especially the passion for solving these problems in new exciting ways, there will be no more funding. A shoestring budget can only walk so far, if not only up to the annals for final submission as something that "seemed like a good thing at the time" but failed shortly after Alexandria burnt down. I mean, we don't really have to juxtapose this any further. Our culture (whatever that might be) is changing, and the library must too. Quickly. Now. With a passion!
Alexander JohannesenPermalink (Mon, 27 September 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (0) | Opinions
Mon, 27 September 2004 13:00:00 GMT
Once again I went to a Salut! Baroque concert (on friday), this time sporting an Italian theme, giving us concertos by Vivaldi, Caldara (personal favourite), Scarlatti, and of course the man himself, Corelli (another favourite). These guys all perfected the concertino (and hence, the Concerto Grossi) form, the "bigger version" of a trio sonata.
The concert was - as always with Salut! Baroque - splendid, played well. In fact, fridays concert I didn't notice any faults in anyones playing, quite a rare phenomenon when playing with baroque instruments that requires retuning between each concerto. The viola was a bit low, but violins were excelent, played in two distinct styles. Both Nicole Forsyth and Elizabeth Pogson (both on Baroque Violin) I felt did a splendid job, no faults I could notice, and played a lot more relaxed than I have seen them before. I was especially impressed with Nicoles natural way of playing and rythmic phrasing without sounding staccato. Valmai Coggins (on baroqe viola) was a good background player.
Deeper in the string section was Tim Blomfield on his bass violin, always adding a perfect continuo. The lovely Anthea Cottee impressed me yet again on her baroque cello; she was the designated italian on this occasion, emotional and warm and concentrated and leading all at once. Not only is she playing with impressive skills, but her presence on stage is wonderful, a joy to behold, and - I have to admit - a somewhat opposite to the unenthusiastic and sometimes bored-looking Tim.
The recorder pair of Hans-Dieter Michatz and Sally Melhuish both did their usual good job. Hans-Dieter pulled off some really largo sections with impressive results, although I've seen him do bigger miracles before. Also, the harpsichordist Monika Kornel was warm and subtle in her playing, always on key, never exploiting her many keys, although I did miss her in the lower end of the keyboard.
The first part of the concert was good, good phrasings, very on-time and sometimes emotional, but as we often get when non-italians play italian, a somewhat streamlined approach. But after the break they did losen up a bit, and as they did Corelli (an adaption of my favourite Concerto III in C minor, here in D, I think, to fit the recorders in ... ), Caldara and Corelli again, they really sparked. It was a bit of a shame we had to wait a bit for it all to click into place, but once they got there, they were brilliant, and yet again I'd like to point to Nicole Forsyth and Anthea Cottee for being brilliant players and for having an emotional and natural approach to both playing the music and being on stage.
If I have only one thing to say about the conert as a whole, it is the same as applies to all of their concerts; there is a great distance between the audience and the music played. For instance, there is no talking, no introductions, no history, no reason for why they did their music in this or that way. The program does make up for bits of it, but I would love to hear it from the musicians themselves why they're doing what they're doing, talk about their passion and share the joy of the music with us, apart from the given performance. I know this is simply a personal preference though; a lot of people love just to sit back, gets something presented, and not have to think or really pay attention to it.
Once again, I thank the group from the bottom of my heart for coming to Canberra; they make my life here seem worthwhile because of it. Thanks!Permalink (Mon, 27 September 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (1) | Opinions
Thu, 23 September 2004 13:00:00 GMT
Market economy : Where don't I sign up?
Sorry for the short break, but I've been acting branch head for the last two weeks and holding a 4-day XSLT course at the same time, so I haven't had much time for opinions or tidbits (for tidbits, look to my other RSS feed). But lately I've been thinking hard about a number of things - as you do, and as I do - and they are all about business management. Oh sure, I've been thinking a bit about Padington Bear as well, but let's leave that one for bed time.
"Business management" you might think, "How utterly boring!" And you're probably right, but if you're anything like me, it affects you as much as it does me. In fact, there are not very many people in the world who are not affected by it, wheter you're a regular Joe or working for a company or a home-mum or a bum on the street or a child in someones tummy. "Business management" traverses and seeps into the fabric of any and all consumers, and the evil-twin of it is in politics. Yes, I know, we're all fed up with politics these days, so don't worry, I won't go into the stupidity and crazyness of US - but I'll mention that God wants Bush out of office! - nor Australian politics. I want to talk about global ideas.
Because we're now a global globe (as opposed to the old times when we were local farm-dwellers who got legs and boats), it is assumed that the only way to do business is to go global. If you're not a part of global business, you're not a proper business. This beautiful nugget of wisdom stems of course from the miracles of capitalistic ideas, where the notion of "market and demand" should also be the practice performed by both states and corporations. It is said that the market - being an organism in itself and won't be controlled - shouldn't be controlled at all, but in fact let the market decide for itself what price it would want for what service or product. this way, we're all competing at the same level.
Now anyone with a bit of brain realise the flaw in this logic, but if you state so, you'll be dubbed anything from "politician" to "communist". My favourite is "socialist". (It is of course a given that people who resort to this kind of categorisation don't know shit about neither politicians, communism nor socialism, but I digress.) Let me then for the record point out a few of those flaws by pointing out some basic things needed to even have a market;
Business management that is embraced in commercial corporations are seeping into the public service. Some aspects of it have already been there for years, and for me, proving the demise of the public good. I've seen it in every country I've worked and lived in. They all proclaim that any service or product should be converted to a market economy, and our success should be meassured on how good its doing in these markets. But why should we embrace these markets? The commercial corporations obviously want to control it as much as possible, without political influence, so that they can reap its benefits, because once you're big, you've got a big market. Small players gets squeezed, unless they catch niches. The driver for market is advertising, and advertising is driven with money. It is a circular thing; we get money to use on advertising which brings more money. The product becomes second. Quality is not as important as quantity. When you create something for a market, you create as many as possible, not as good as possible.
I chose to leave the commercial consultant market and go working for a government body, because I want to create quality; I want to focus on the needs of things that don't have a great return of investment. I want to serve people good services where they don't have to pay for it. I believe in a state system that actually benefits the people.
I guess its a the usual cry of "A given operation has a market value of 1000$. When you've got 1.000.000$ and pay 1.000$ for an operation that will save your life, you still got 990.000$ left. If you've got less that 1000$, you die." I feel that health, education and social benefits should be quality driven, not market driven. The human race has been in a market driven economy for thousands of years, and only gradualy built up a better system to fix the flaws in the inhumane market theories, and now we're all retorting back to it ... and it is wrong!
Who can I vote for to fix this? *sigh*Permalink (Thu, 23 September 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (0) | Opinions
Fri, 3 September 2004 13:00:00 GMT
"Either you're with us or against us."
"Either you're with us or against us." What idiot came up with this nonsense? Sure, we can dive into basic human psychology and find out how truisms combined with intimidation work on the human mind. We all even know that there are more colors to right and wrong than black and white, and yet we embrace this boolean way of deciding what's most important to us.
Allow me to rant a little in these highly political days, with elections coming up in both Australia and the USA;
With my broad sweeping brush, let me ask; How stupid are the Americans to think that either you're a democrat or you're a republican? How stupid are the Australians in thinking you're either a Liberal or you're a Labourer? In fact, how stupid is the human race to think that we have to choose an explicit banner or flag with its meaning set down in policies, as a means of "controlling things in the best interest of the democratic modern society." It is truly sickening.
My old grandfather, which I loved dearly, clinged to his red flag of Arbeiderpartiet, the norwegian Labour party. He fought during the second world war, and he was one of those who "built the country from scratch" after it was over. His loyalty to the party was overwhelming, and wouldn't move even in the light of evidence going against it. How stubborn a man that won't see the errors of loyalty.
We're all loyal to something; a party, a principle, a law, a set of directions, our wallet, a wife or a car, a brand, a way of thinking, and so on. It is not so much about being reasonable and critical about options that makes us do what we do. it is all about loyalty.
When I was young, my dad bought Technics electronic music equipment. He was a musician, and when he proclaimed that Technics was the good stuff, both his and my loyalty was forever bound to that seal of quality. If lesser quality was later found in a Technics item, it was because of a fault in that item, not the brand. We were loyal beyond the belief that Technics as a brand could change over time.
Think about something your loyal to; why are you loyal to it? Why are you forking out your monies and trust on this particular thing? Let's have a few more of my examples;
I belive that "Love conquers all", and it is inscribed on both mine and my wifes wedding rings in Glorious Latin. I've been loyal to this idiom all my life, even when it makes no sense to do so and in fact has proven itself wrong on several occasions. Love doesn't necesarily conquer all at all, but you can't degrade your principles down to mere "possible fun meme"s. That would be humiliating.
I now live in Australia, but as a norwegian I buy Jarlsberg cheese, not Coons Tasty (Those crazy Australians! If you got red hair, chances are your nickname is 'blue' ...) or Bega or any other such nonsense. Why should I? I know that Jarlsberg delivers the goods just the way I like it, and it is a norwegian cheese. Can't fail ... except that Jarlsberg really isn't worth the importance I give it. First of all, I don't really eat much cheese at all, and when I do it is in cooking, and pecularities of it is lost in the swag of other tastes. And the price is high for import cheese. And Coons or Bega ain't that horrible. And my tastes are changing. What the heck is my problem? Loyalty.
Now, all these little diversions are fun little experiments to think about, but let's dig into the politics of things, because that's the reason I started this in the first place.
In Australia there are Liberals (who really are conservative quasi-republicans) and Labour (which really are neo-liberal democrats) and if you vote for anyone else you're wierd, and even if you're alright with being wierd, your vote might still end up in either of the two piles because of the wierd voting rules in this country. In America there are Republicans (who are conservative republicans) and the Democrats (who really are neo-liberal Republicans). Now I ask the crucial question; who are you?
Pardon me while I laugh. First off; what is a republican? Someone who hates a democrat? And what the hell is a democrat, apart from someone who obviously want royalty or a sovereign power to rule the USA? Someone that believes in democracy? Ok, then; which democracy? The original greek idea? The original Greek reality? The pre-Weimar model? The actual reality of the Weimar republic? The socio-communist democracy of Czecoslovakia? Or the faschio-socialist Yugoslavia? They all held various dreams of a democratic model. How about the post-WW2 socialist democracy of Denmark? Or the 1960's socialist democracy of Norway? Or the 1980's alternative democratic-conservative Icelandic version? A mix of them?
How about none of them, because there is no such thing as a democratic notion to any modern version of the way we use that word. And why should there be? We're talking about political systems that affect millions upon millions of lives. The same applies to republicans, or labourers or liberals or whatever. The basic idea of a political agenda attached to a word such as these is truly a waste of time; you need to spend a lifetime working out what a political partys impact on everything might be, and given that the parties change constantly makes this task ... impossible. No, a better word for it is stupid. Bloody stupid. This is why all these parties have the notion of "either you're with us, or you're against us" because you can't possibly understand the implications involved anyways, so we better gang up and think we're all thinking the same.
Hey, let's get uniforms! That will keep "us" and "them" clearly apart. This way, the republicans (dark blue), nazis and neo-conservative (brown), liberals (blue), democrats (pinkish, maybe?),labourers (red), communists and socialists (both obviously blood red) and anarchists (yellow, although they would like to be red, too) and Greens (obviously green) all apart. This way we can see from a distance that a Free Thinker (I'll give them a lofty beige color) is coming my way, and I can avoid any contact with him by crossing the street or something.
What idiot follows this strawmans logic? I mean, apart from politicians and people who thinks that political ideas and ideals are catalysed through a group of people called a Party, channeled through "western democratic systems" and done for "the good of the everyday man."
In my world, a party is a bunch of people having fun while drinking and talking politics. Party politics is the drinking and fun taken out.Permalink (Fri, 3 September 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (3) | Opinions
Fri, 2 July 2004 13:00:00 GMT
Time is the mind-killer ...
Where does the time go? Is it our brains that speed up and down according to fun and boring stuff? I think I need to take some time-management course, as I'm neglecting e-mails that I really want to respond to, can't find time to write tutorials and articles I want to write, I'm slow to start programming the projects I want to get going, and tired of feeling that I can't get stuff done.
Um, not that I don't do things and don't get stuff done, but I so really wish to fit more in, because after the mundane busy stuff is done (which, of course, is what I get paid to do ...) the really interesting bits, the fun and the thrills, gets left behind.
Anyways, anyone know of any good ideas, techniques and / or courses I should be looking at in these respects?Permalink (Fri, 2 July 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (2) | Opinions
Thu, 10 June 2004 13:00:00 GMT
Yes, you were right about that book
In a previous chapter I ranted about how I had come to a stand-still, and needed some mental furtiliser from ... anywhere! Tom and Donna (who even lent it to me, bless her heart) suggested , and let me tell you that it was right up my alley; just the thing I needed, and I'd like to now recomend this book to anyone doing any kind of cognitive science, from information architecture to information systems to project management. It is a great update into this fascinating world.Permalink (Thu, 10 June 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (0) | Opinions
Fri, 28 May 2004 13:00:00 GMT
Why won't you laugh with me?
And now for something completely different...
I was revisiting my growing-up environmental influences, and stumbled upon an old pondering; why doesn't people laugh at the same jokes as me? Well, if you think that sentence is as funny as it sounds, rest asured that I don't find it funny at all!
I was - by some undocumented feature of my daily fiddlings - stumbling through some Monty Python related stuff ... old movies, remembering gags, pondering their impact on humor, life and everything. And I was taken back to the days of when I was old enough to drive (I'm finally taking a drivers license these days, only, er, like 14 years later ...) and remembered a funny fact (funny as in interesting, not as in Haha!) I've pondered about before. Visualise, from Quest for the Holy Grail, King Arthur anf gang coming to a castle, engaging in friendly chatter with the occupants of said castle who claim to have the Holy Grail;
ARTHUR : Well ... can we come up and have a look?
MAN : Of course not! You are English pigs.
ARTHUR : Well, what are you then?
MAN : I'm French. Why do think I have this outrageous accent, you silly king.
At this stage, some people already laughs a bit. But then, the moment where I hold my breath;
GALAHAD : What are you doing in England?
MAN : Mind your own business.
And I laugh out loud, and giggles like a silly schoolchild for minutes afterwards, only to discover that noone else did, neither laugh nor giggle. Why is that? I'm easy to blame cultural elitism or humor snobbery - that I'm just so much smarter than my peers - but it more probably is a symptom of my bad humor and poor taste. It always impresses me that rather similar people, of similar political opinions, similar taste in women and in cultural backdrop, such as my viewing companions of the time, can be that fundamentally different in a context reference like this. Oh, it may only be a couple of lines from an old and mostly forgotten movie, but ... but ... this is important!
It is important because relating to that gag and not getting it is almost (I know I'm reaching a rather long way here, of course, but take pity on me; my shoes are one size to big, causing endless pain and torture) like relating to a cultural issue and not getting it. In life, watching a movie with your friends, it means little. In a international political climate, it can mean war. Communication is more than getting a message from A to B; it is also realising that what you're communicating will have many many facets of your intended message, some of them completly wrong.
And all of this of course gets me thinking that context is more than what we normally mean by context; there is a lot of hidden layers of context that we cannot address, and we somehow need to address them too. the same apply to creating systems; there are aspects of it we cannot prepare for, cannot put in context, cannot guarantee works the best way for all. And, we need to make sure we prepare ourselves for all of these "cannot"s, and that is where the human aspect of creating systems will prevail and the outsourcing and manufactored mania will fail. I'm not really too worried about the future, after all, am I?
And besides, what were they doing in England? (And if you need the answer to this, I need to slap you with a trout. Seriously.)Permalink (Fri, 28 May 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (3) | Opinions
Thu, 20 May 2004 13:00:00 GMT
Binary philosophy stand-still : I don't know how to procede
I'm stuck in a traffic jam created by roadwork somewhere on the information and knowledge highway between computer languages and the philosophy of science. I struggle these days with finding the way to go forward, because my philosophic musings are no longer compatible with my computer actions. Back in the days when object-oriented programming was devised, we all hailed it, and said it was good. And it was, only it is still touted as the Credula Ultima of programming techniques out there.
My own philosophical musings of late tells me a different tale; object class and object instances are a narrow way of going about things. It was a good step from functional abstractions, but what ever happened to the next step? We want to corrolate human understanding with computational logic, yet our current abstractions are in trying to create something viable with our old tools. A class : person. An instance : me. A : problem.
I am not an instance of a class, I am a class. There really is no classification that is true to human cognition; it only mimics it, creating an abstraction that seems to work. My "seems to work" does not equate "does work" or any form of truth. To equal cans of Coke is not exactly equal. The are both unique, as everything else in the world, and thus deserving of being a class all of by themselves. And as such, there really are no classes, only instances. Makes sense?
The class hiarchial systems we create are abstractions so that computers can come close to how humans work. Or, even the other way, they are created as philosophical constructs so that we can understand them, and a nice side effect is that we can put them into a computer and make some logic sense, too.
It is hard to shake the notion of a class system; it is permuted through our language ( a bike, the bike ) and, in speaking of my own profession, our computer languages ( class Bike, instance aBike ), and since it makes almost perfect sense, it must be true? Well, I don't think so. Let's look at the class Bike or the expression "a bike"; it is a non-specific construct of two wheels, you usually sit on it, it has a nice bell, you ride it to go from A to B, and you use your feet on pedals to make it go. Umm, fine, but aren't there enough bikes out there as exceptions to this general idea that the idea shouldn't really be general? In fact "bike" for me means a whole range of constructs, from one, two and three wheelers, lying, standing, tilting, motorised, pedals, water, land, air ... on and on, bikes and bikes. "Yes, " I hear you say, "class inheritance is what you use for these things." True, but is the seat you sit on a property of some sub-class or is it a class of bikes? Ah, enter the wonderfulness of multiple inheritance, that solution to all things.
Multiple inheritance also appeals to us because the most flaglant example of it is very close to us; we all have a mum and a dad; we inherited bits from both. But any similarity between the computer language construct and nature ends there, because even if the basic idea is the same, the reality totally bangs out; I didn't inherit my mums blue eyes. My biggest problem with multiple inheritance is that it is a hack, a cludge, jolted on to the class-instance solution in trying to solve the notion that the class-instance model is flawed. Multiple inheritance is an abstract construct created to make classification work. Why?
When classes came along it was meant to make it simpler to create datatypes and encapsulation of code to work on those datatypes. As we all know, the datatype is fundamental to our programming languages. There is no such thing in real life, mind you, but computers being invented by people we needed a few kludges, and datatypes fitted the bill. It makes sense too, I'm not bashing the construction of the datatype; it was nescessary then and probably still is, as we need simple abstraction to work with and to fit into our bits and bytes of our given problem. But there is no such thing in real life. None, not even the atom is a fixed datatype, if you want to meddle in such a level of detail. Can you see the link here between how we try to classify things and how there is no real life datatypes?
There is no "a bike", but "that bike" exist. Yet, when we see a bike, we think "that is a bike." The classification "Sonata for two recorders and Basso Continuo" is broken the instance someone dares to play that sonata with two flutes. Do we call Bach's keyboard concertoes for Piano, Cembalo, Harpsichord or Keyboard concertoes? I've heard it played on guitars. Is it then a "originally keyboard concerto that can be played on other instruments as well"? What if someone hums it? What is it in notation form?
Classification is a human invention of quick guiding us from a general class to a specific instance, but is - in my opinion - not the way we do cognitive thinking at all; I think it is much more evolved than that. In this old way of thinking, our cognitive minds are reduced to keywords and associations between them, and they are - and note this! - words. I think we hear a word, picture something in our minds, and do visually lookups for similarities in "word - picture" until the right picture comes along, and we nail the final word. Studies with blind people show they have a very active inner minds, and they always have an idea of what things look like, even though they've never actually seen anything. How come?
Humans are visual beings. The reason we are able to think about complex things stems totally from being able to visualise what you're talking about. How many times haven't you heard something being explained, and uttered "I'm trying to visualise what you're saying ..." Maybe you see a figure or graph, and Wham! it hits you. A picture says a million words, because words are secondary, at least at our stage in the evolution of things. Maybe it will change, but right now we are highly visual beings.
Which bring me back to the beginning; a class and an instance are things - words - we use to describe what things are. We can visualise instances just fine, but abstractions like classes are harder to get. So why are we doing it? In knowledge technologies we're obsessed with classification, almost seeing it for the Holy Grail, yet no one has proven it to work very well, after how many years of high-tech AI research? The psychologists of the world are in agreement that classification is the way we work, but I am not convinced. It is all instances, and properties don't exists in as so far you don't want to call certain instances for properties. What is really the property "brown" of my eyes? In the instance of "Alexander" it is this specific combination of colors, patterns and tissue that makes my eyes. The "brown eyes" section of my passport is not more specific than "bike", yet it is the best we've come up with so far for identification.
Things are just instances in a geographical environment, nothing more. The troubling thing with this, and which is why we're trying to meddle in all these abstractions, is that the world is in constant change, and things move about, and change, and we want to stop the world, if only for a second, so we can write it down and record it. of course, the problem is that the world moves again, and a lot of our work is futile. Things happen in real life a long time before they happen in the computer abstractions; my homepage says my daughter Lilje is not yet one year, however she had her one year birthday yesterday, and I haven't updated the page yet. What's up with that?
So what's my problem? What's this stand-still you're talking about? It is just that; for the world to work in the way we do programming now, it needs to stop. The computer languages I use in attempts of trying to express the information and knowledge I want to express are not designed in such a way to probmote these goals, they are created to express something lying down, stopped in its tracks, or even dead. I create classes and instances and multiple inheritence and all the OOP marvels of the world and yet can't seem to get any closer to the core knowledge of my highly moving data.
I'm gonna go away for a few and have a think on what to do next, which way to go, what computer language and constructs to create. I need to find some more human way of doing things, or else I'll lose my mind. Again. Another paradigm shift in the making. I can feel it. The air is thick with mositure, and the cold is embracing me as I face the outdoors.Permalink (Thu, 20 May 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (11) | Opinions
Mon, 17 May 2004 13:00:00 GMT
My 17th of May speech
Yesterday I held the yearly 17th of May speech here in Canberra in celebration of Norways national day, and since the topics addressed are highly on-topic for the happenings of the world, I thought I'd publish it here.
Ladies and gentlemen, fellow countrymen and our scandinavian friends, sheilas and blokes,
My name is Alexander Johannesen, and I am a believer in modern democratic rule and the freedom of the individual. Oh, and I'm a Norwegian, too. I came to this land of dry promise in persuit of love and happiness, and somehow ended up in Canberra, and today, in Corrobeeree Park here in Ainsley. It is with great pleasure that I've been given this oppertunity to speak about two things that stand very close and important to me; the wet and the dry; Norway, and Australia.
The Caledonian rock on which Norway sits on is millions of years old. The area on which it stands was laid bare by ice-caps just 10.000 years ago. Norway as the country I know from history is about a thousand years old. Norway as the modern nation I know today is 100 years old next year. The Norway I just recently left is that of a modern socialist democracy. Once we were peasants and vikings. Now we are international democratic individuals. This contrast between the old and the new lives strong in norwegian society and culture; we don't take for granted that we are free and that we are part of a collaborative democratic system, and our history tells us the tale so far with certain milestones that stand out a little more than others. Let us have a quick look.
The year 872 AD, the first gathering of all the little kingdoms of a geographical area called "Norway", the way north. Then the year 1030 AD - The battle of Stiklestad; Norway becomes one kingdom. The year 1380 - The union with Denmark. Then a 400 year period of Danish rule, until the year 1814 when we declared ourselves our own nation, a short-lived but massivly important independance, on the 17th of May that year. Then 100 years of Swedish rule, until the year 1905 when Norway as we know it today was truly born.
Norway was never a nation to hold a grudge, and our new nation of 1905 needed a king, and he was found in the brother of the King of Denmark (hello, Denmark) and the grandson of the King of Sweden (hello, Sweden), who married - for convinience sake - the youngest daughter of the king of England (hello, Australia and the Commonwealth). The king was the perfect royal flush that was to carry on our thousand-year old tradition of waving to the people from high balconies. A thousand years. That is a long time. Many ages.
There is one common theme through all of these ages; the belief in democratic rule and the freedom of the individual. It stretches all the way back to its creation in 9th century Iceland, the Tingrett system, probably the first democratic system in modern terminology. In the old times, those very rights were respected by the kings and queens. Our history tells us tales where the will of democratic forces fought stronger than any single king with his threats and armies. Our tales even tells us that the great thinkers and politicians that created and continued to evolve these crude democratic systems, were in fact often the kings and queens themselves. Oh sure, they were most often brutal, but they respected and evolved the freedom and the rights of their people, against all European better knowledge.
Now, it has to be said that the biggest probable reason Norwegians always have enjoyed their freedom is that no one really cared much about what they were doing up there - even less going all the way up there to find out! - isolated from the rest of the world in a cold, wet and harsh environment. Maybe that harshness is the very thing that kept the spirit of freedom alive. Maybe it is that harshness and our survival in it that stand as a red thread that guided us from the dawn of the land up till the nation of 1905, kept on guiding us through two world wars and their after-math, through times of oil and riches, up till our present day, and will quite possibly continue to guide us in the future. The harshness that left us to our own devices, left alone to ponder and evolve, to discover modern democracy and the freedom of the individual to say, mean and act in open ways without percecution.
I see modern Australia in much the same way, and as such a country of modern reality, albeit hot and dry instead of cold and wet. The common dominator between these two nations, the harshness and the isolation, created very unique societies with a strong sense of identity and sharing of both the cries and the laughters, the wet and the dry. If you don't like the wet, you won't be happy in Norway. And if you don't like the dry, you won't be happy in Australia. Both countries are stuffed with a challenging nature that man has found many and various ways of coping with it. In Norway, for example, we invented the cheese slicer and the paper clip, and in Australia they invented the hills hoist and washable bank notes, all great inventions that made sure that we were able to cope in environments from the Simpson deserts +50 to the Kautokeino plains -40, or such as today, the +16 degrees of Canberra.
As cliches go; sufference lead to great art, harshness lead to great thought. The current thought and practice of democratic rule and liberal freedoms must not be taken for granted; it has taken a long harsh time to come to this. Many people have fought for it, and many people have died for it. We all now appreciate it, continue to evolve it and we celebrate it, be it on the 26th of January or the 17th of May.
When I celebrate 17th of May, I celebrate the evolution and practice of modern democratic and humanist thought, the right to freedom and justice for all, just as much as the birth of our nation itself. The symbol of modern democratic birth is there for all to enjoy, just like the national celebration of any other modern democratic country. As such all of Scandinavia and Australia - and all of us here today - are runners on the same team, in essence celebrating the very same thing. So, congratulations Norway on this 17th of May, "gratulerer med dagen", and congratulations everybody else, where ever or whoever you are. Ha en riktig hyggelig dag.Permalink (Mon, 17 May 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (0) | Opinions
Wed, 24 Mar 2004 13:00:00 GMT
The promise of the Semantic Web (TM) is a good one, albeit I'm getting more and more to the point where I think it won't fix what we want, and it will fix what we didn't think needed fixing, and it will create more problems and challenges, and is only a small part of the evolution to whatever Really Good Technology (TM) that we really need. But what do I know? "Prove it!"
First off, the state of RDF today, deomnstrated through a mail snippet from the RDF interest mailing list with Bin Zhu asking the most basic question ;
I have a very basic question. RDF statements are
all triples. But if I want to express "Tom borrowed
a book from Mike", how do I express this sentence
using triples? Thanks in advance!
Basic, simple and should be trivial to get done. Here is the reply from Benja Fallenstein (who seems to know his stuff) ;
The usual thing is to have a bnode ("anonymous node") that has connections on different properties to Tom, the book, and Mike -- for example:
_:a rdf:type x:Borrowing
_:a x:who prs:Tom
_:a x:fromWhom prs:Mike
_:a x:what _:b
_:b rdf:type x:Book
Of course, if you just want to say that Tom borrowed *some* book from Mike, you could also have a special property, like so:
prs:Tom x:borrowedBookFrom prs:Mike
but I don't think that's what you're looking for.
The "borrowing" may be a bit of a strange concept -- i.e., so see the-book-is-borrowed as an object. An example where this maps a bit easier to familiar concepts would be "Anna met Ginny at the office on 2004-03-14". This could be represented as
_:a rdf:type y:Meeting
_:a y:person1 prs:Anna
_:a y:person2 prs:Ginny
_:a y:where y:office
Here instead of the concept of a "borrowing" between Tom and Mike we have the more familiar concept of a "meeting" between Anna and Ginny. But really, the two are very much the same thing conceptually: representing the relationship between different things as an object that we can make additional connections to.
Clear as glass, ain't it? It is not that I don't understand what is being said, but this is not the easy way to do the Semantic Web. Heck, this was an easy question, which should have an easy answer. But RDF is centralised around the triplet notion (because someone once said you can explain anything through triplets and it seems to have stuck to the SemWeb community like moss to rocks, and while logically true, it ain't the simplest nor the best way). What should have been done was ;
#Tom borrowed #Book from #Mike.
A car doesn't borrow, neither does the sky. Heck, wasn't this all about logical deduction? I'm sure it started out that way, but that ain't what it is turning into; yet another item-property jungle.
It is the promise that RDF declare what is not declared, hence using namespaces like prs:Tom, and if not defined in our statements, it is assumed that there is a person named Tom. Looks good on the surface, but what if we several namespaces for almost but not identical persons? Enter OWL which could clear this up, but really muddles the waters further. Entering another namespace, declaring ID for the new items and a whole heap of predicates isn't going to make it clearer that prs:Tom, person:Tom, spr:Tom or p:Thomas is or isn't the same person, what he is or isn't. It is all about ... (wait for it) ... interpretation, and - as the promise goes - the intelligent agents of the Semantic Wec can use some order of logic to deduct who the person really is. But that ain't interpretation, that is deduction.
Interpretation lies with people. We have to do it. In the end, all errors and logical disomalities require a person to come in and save them from total logical backlash of context. Here is some nice RDF ;
_:a rdf:type x:Person
_:a x:Person prs:Tom
_:b rdf:type x:Person
_:b x:Person _:a
Recursive, bloaty and misinformative nodes traversed by strictly logical agents will fail. For RDF to work, all input must be "correct" (as in be in terms with what the logic agent wants to deduct) and all references must be unique, a pretty simple thing to pull off on your own machine in the lab, but applied to the world at large ... um, no. It takes only a few wrong nodes of info to corrupt a whole graph. It ain't hard at all. Sneak in a little;
_:a rdf:type x:Person
_:a x:Person prs:Thomas
And already you need several nodes of information to verify if prs:Tom and prs:Thomas are related. And even then you've got to figure of in what scopes they are and are not related, and so on. You'll need rather big machines to figure out the tiniest and insignificant data. To do loops through massive (and one can boggle at the shere thought of just how massive) amounts of nodes and data you need quite large guns, a lot of patience, some killer "fuzzy" logic apparatus and bucketloads of data integrity tools to help you out. Not quite the dream of small PDA's with agents doing the grunt work for you so that you can have your favourite pizza ordered in the area you're currently in. Yeah, yeah, centralised services, and all that jazz, and yet another step out from the one thing that was to bind them all; simplicity.
And to top it off, some random references; . Thanks for listening to a tired pratt. I'm sure I'll get back to creating triplestores in a couple of days.Permalink (Wed, 24 Mar 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (3) | Topic maps Standards Opinions
Fri, 27 Feb 2004 13:00:00 GMT
Feeling personal : Circadian Shift
There is a number of sites that are important to me, from geeky blogs to cultural hogs to mainstream smogs. But there is one site that while going through my "saved blog items" seems to generate more saved items than anyone else.
Circadian Shift is the online braindump of the following Blogchalk : Canada, Ontario, Toronto, The Annex, English, Jen, Female, 36-40. But that's what I know about her. I don't even know how I got to subscribe to her feed in the first place, but she was the one who got me onto Bloglines through simply linking to her public Blogroll there. Her links are all over the place, and all the time interesting, never boring, never trivial, always spot on. Her interests match mine very carefully (and sometimes that is a bit scary, but again it proves the whole social network thang I guess, how the network grows strong from the similarities in people), and letting my nosy nose sniff out her holy most innermost secrets discover that yes, there are more people out there who think that J S Bach should be an official religion. Oh, and I play drums, btw.
I've noticed in blogdom that bloggers are not always very good at pointing out why they read a certain blog, so here is my go at it. Picking my favourite was easy. What about you?Permalink (Fri, 27 Feb 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (1) | Opinions
Tue, 3 Feb 2004 13:00:00 GMT
Noam Chomsky's latest book
If only 10% of what Noam writes about is true, then we're in a lot of trouble. And, to be honest, with such a well-documented piece like this, It's likely most if not all of it is true. What is so horrible?
Well, his title reads "Hegemony or Survival : America's Quest for Global Dominance", and is a book that tells you a lot of things you already knew, and puts together an all-encompassing view we all suspected but didn't dare to think was true. This book doesn't speculate; it points out bluntly how it is. A well-written, intelligent and frightening read. After this you understand a lot more about US foreign policies and internal politics. Even if these subjects don't interest you much, they should.
If you haven't read it yet, please do. If not for simply agreeing with it, then at least for knowing just why others might disagree with you.Permalink (Tue, 3 Feb 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (0) | Opinions
Sun, 13 Feb 2003 13:00:00 GMT
Axel Jensen has died
Axel Jensen died today after a long time being bed-ridden with the horrible ALS disease. The man that couldn't die, did.
This man has had a great impact on my life, and I was shocked and saddend by the news. I wrote this piece as a response.
Read the full story at < Axel Jensen has died >Permalink (Sun, 13 Feb 2003 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (0) | Opinions
Opinions can be found in a variety of categories, but sometimes fragments of opiniated content deserves a special notion.