polemicist: a writer who argues in opposition to others
have noticed that amongst the people that I make acquaintance there are
a growing contingent whom are apparently very sickly. By this I mean
that they manifest all kinds of life-threatening allergies. You notice
this for example when you go out to dinner with them whilst they are
ordering their food. All the allergies come out then, because that's
when things could get random I suppose... Not knowing what goes on in
the kitchen I mean. You find out that people can't eat all kinds of
things - allergies you've never even heard of before.
Another thing I've noticed alongside this is that when these same people are drunk, the quirky little allergy seems to disappear completely. An hour and several rounds of drinks into the meal, these same people are reaching over and stealing from your plate whatever it is that they only moments ago savagely harassed the wait-staff about specifically not bringing them.
seems to me that alcohol then must be some pretty powerful medicine,
because I wouldn't want to think that the people I hang around with
are, well, full of it. I'd like to think you could just ask for no
walnuts on the sundae rather than hanging a potential liability
insurance premium hike over their head, just because you're trying to
make sure they don't forget. Because if that isn't the case then I
think I'm suddenly developing an allergy to glitter.
I have been trying out a new toy from AOL: AIM Pro
It's really not all that bad in terms of being actually useful. It is very obviously stripped down - fun things are gone like buddy icons/emoticons, and in their place are integrations with M$-Outlook & WebEx.
This was immediately useful to me since it displayed a list of my upcoming events for the day - reminding me of an important meeting coming up that I should have been prepping for.
There is also audio & video communications. I've yet to get those
working though & I suspect that it's very much like everyone else
in that you'll likely only be able to speak to other people using the
The WebEx portion is the Sleeping Giant there. Since I do a lot of training & troubleshooting in my job - this has the potential to become really really useful. This I would categorize as using it for Good. OTOH, if used for Evil then this has the potential for becoming very very bad very very quickly.
It becomes a question of whether
or not it's a "Good Idea" to let someone else be able to control your
computer via Instant Messenger - ever. If you let one person do it,
then theoretically someone else could use that to take control
of your system as though they were in the same room as you were, while
you were logged in.
Fun stuff! I will be outrageously amazed if this thing isn't instantly reined in by network security.
It's not like I'm insecure about the subject, but I do sometimes feel as though I am shoveling against the tide of common misconception... (And when there's so many common misconceptions, life can be tiring and frustrating) Not everyone who is formally educated is smart nor well informed. Conversely, not every autodidact is doomed to failure and perpetual cluelessness. Everyone's different & deserving to be measured on their own merits, not those of some institution they paid money to and lurked in for some time. The tendency is to assume that people "rise" or "fall" to find their own levels. This rests faith in institutional learning in general as the only way to enrich a student's mind, where it is truly the mind itself that must do the learning.
All I'm saying is that it works for some people, but
not for everyone. Keeping an open mind - all the time - is a challenge
that everyone has to rise to face.
That being said, here's a list of Autodidacts of Note.
I like science as much as the next guy... (If the next guy is Neil Armstrong) so I've thought long and hard about the idea of 'deflector shields'. Why it's so hard for writers today to convey simple concepts & make them interesting without cloaking it all in some pop-culture reference I really don't understand. Is it so much to ask that writers take an interest in the space program? I mean I can see why they'd miss discussing faraday cages. But what about the rest of the details? Where's the beef?
- on a somber note - everyone who wasn't at Virginia Tech and who
doesn't have any ties there still takes away something from what
happened there. It ripples through our society at the speed of our
technology, which is not slight. Myself, I was deeply moved by the
story of Dr. Liviu Librescu whom I wish to honor here as a Man of Science.
I think that I've been nice enough to Google for now. Yes, I appreciate the freebie blog space. That's nice, but eventually I plan to move off of their service & onto my own web server.
This should really
be the objective of anyone who does anything online. You should be
running your own servers. This is not for the joy of rotating server
logs & performing nightly backups. This is for the CONTROL it
provides you. Owning your own content, getting paid for ads that run
next to it, and having the ability to post something that Disney's
focus-groups might find offensive are just some of the perks.
But actually Google has been the perfect host thus far. I've not tried to push the envelope, for any number of reasons...
But as for being the perfect Search Engine - they're far from that - regardless of the fact that they seem to have their own verb now. The point was brought up in a conversation with friends recently that we remember the good-old-days when Search Engines actually did what they're supposed to - find the thing you're looking for.
They were rendered obsolete by the flood of people who wanted a Search Engine to be a free-advertising machine. People who don't care if you end up at their site for the wrong reasons - just so long as they got their "hit counters" to ring up visits - then they could convince their investors that it was all working and ask for more money. (i.e. the Dot-Bombers) These are the same maggots who flood your mailbox with unsolicited spam, trying to sell you things. That anyone EVER buys things from them is the only reason they continue to exist.
Google basically cut out the middle-man. You used to hire someone who would publicize your site for you. It would be their job to register you with all the leading Search Engines & they'd all have their own little hacks for getting you listed at the top of a search results page based on a few key terms. Google correctly worked out that they could collect that money themselves, which is how we got the Sponsored Links at the top of the results page.
OK so? Business as usual - ruin a public service for personal gain... Nothing new there, it's the natural results of human nature and a free market society combined.
What my gripe with Google is about has to do with Thought Control. The results that you get back are being tailored in other ways besides by commerce. There are "questionable topics" that are being filtered for political reasons. The Chinese Government has laws in place that enforce censorship. Since Google does business in China, they self-censor. They hide this practice behind a corporate PR smokescreen of being "law-abiding", which explains the behavior. (It doesn't JUSTIFY it, but it explains it.)
However, there are other topics
that are handled by something more than simply spiderbot-crawling
autonomous agents. If you look up terms like "anorexia", "bulimia", or
punch in the code found on the side of a Vicodin tablet - you will find
that the results that bubble up to the top of the list are geared
around "treatment". Now, is that the effect of commerce pushing
services on people, or is it a result of Google intentionally filtering
it's content towards a politically motivated agenda? I'm not saying
that I disagree nor agree with that agenda, merely that it exists &
is exerting influence. This is not something that is mandated by law
either, but rather it is a proactive process. That it exists is
unquestionable - some simple experiments will verify what I'm talking
about. The troubling thing about it is the WHY aspect...