2003

Couldn’t sleep last night, even without the thunderstorms we had on Monday morning. Feeling quite good after dancing so no obvious reason for it. I woke up to a fading dream, and thought “so that’s what it was about” (it was the obvious thing, for those that know me). The odd thing is I didn’t realise this during the time when I was lying there the previous night.

Someone I read recently (either Dawkins, or the Guns, Germs and Steel guy) suggested brains naturally do lots of things in parallel. This is as opposed to computers, which fake their ability to multi-task by switching between tasks very fast: computers pretend to be female but are actually male. Dawkins suggests consciousness is about picking out a consistent thread from all the things your brain is actually doing at the time. Everyone has the experience of the solution to a problem popping in to their head when they thought they’d stopped thinking about it. The little narrator in our heads is just surfing along on top of a sea of other things, occasionally noticing something that’s going on. Now I think of it, the idea of the sea as metaphor for the unconscious pops up in a lot of places, from the interpretation of the calming of the storm in The God of Surprises to Clive Barker’s Quiditty.

Enough. I was discussing with the Matrix Reloaded with the Drogon lot last night. They came up with some interesting links to interpretations of the story, which I’ll post when I get home. Dancing was fun. Finally getting the hang of the evil Paso Doble, and there was an easy but interesting Samba routine as well. Pub afterwards with the usual crowd, less those who had to run off to revise or some other such nonsense. Looks like we might get a gang together to go to Darwin Ball, where I hear there are pole dancers 😉

If you have a LiveJournal, you’re a blogger. It’s short for “web logger”, you see. The Register writes that most bloggers are teenage girls. “Teenage girls of all ages”, they add, pointing to examples of grown men throwing tantrums, dieting, experimenting with alcohol, and, for all I know, giggling and going gooey over that bloke from Alias.

The Register is a tabloid, and as such they love to build things up, buttercup baby, just to knock them down. Blogs never deliver what they say they will, the Register says, pointing to the exciteable speculation of the professional bloggers, who apparently think they’re the vanguard of a revolution in communication in which the centralised corporate meeja will be the first against the wall.

This is all pretty reasonable. The number of people on the Internet is very much larger than the number of people who care enough to read any given web log, and the number of people on the Internet is very much smaller than the number of people. So the revolution will not be blogged, fair enough. But then it all gets a bit nasty.

…blogging is a solitary activity that requires the blogger to spend less time reading a book, taking the dog for the walk, meeting friends in the pub, seeing a movie, or reading to the kids. The reason that 99.93 per cent of the world doesn’t blog, and never will, is because people make simple information choices in what they choose to ingest and produce, and most of this will be either personal and private, or truly social.

Maybe blogs are a way of keeping the truly antisocial out of harm’s way. So if you know a middle-aged sociopath, for heaven’s sake, point him to a computer and show him how to start a weblog.

At least it will keep him off the streets.

This is going away from the worthy task of pricking the pretensions of those blogging advocates and getting close to the old Saturday Night Live sketch about how some people need to “get a life”. The Register’s problem is that it fails to differentiate between people trying to get attention for their revolution and friends who are just quietly doing their thing. No-one thinks any step away from talking face to face is an absolute improvement. But given the constraints of distance and free time, alternatives like the telephone, email, instant messenger, and even a LiveJournal might be the next best thing. Every time some new way of taking that step turns up, people regard it as slightly odd. Back in 1994, it used to be that knowing email addresses off by heart was “sad”, but knowing telephone numbers wasn’t.

Letters, phone calls, email, Drogon, and this blog thingy are useful as long as there are friends using them. It’s not a revolution, it’s more of the same. Blog like no-one’s watching, because to a first approximation, you’re right.

I had a barbeque yesterday. The weather was ideal: hot and sunny. Lots of people made the trek out here to lie in my back garden and eat food. It did separate into the dancing lot and the Churchill lot a bit, but I think everyone enjoyed themselves. So that was nice. I’m very lucky to have so many friends.

The plan for today is more mundane: washing, emailing people and possibly cranking up Powerpoint to write a lunchtime talk on one of the tools I’ve written (the company has talks on a Monday lunchtime, which people can go along to if they feel like it). I’ve got an appraisal goal to do the talk and my next appraisal is coming up. Might also do one based on the article I wrote for Kuro5hin on spam filtering, if I have time.

I put myself into this LJ Match thing which Thom was on about and found I am 90-something percent compatible with him (sadly he’s the wrong sex and taken, but so it goes). The questions seem to be partly borrowed from the Meyers Briggs test.

Jung apparently thought people would go for their opposite type (presumably this was part of his big “wholeness” thing), which sometimes seems to be true (at least, it was in my last relationship). It’s not clear whether the LJ Match site picks your opposite or just people like you, but I bet it’s the latter.

It’s interesting to see who I’m most like. The whole dating aspect of the site is a bit overplayed for UK LiveJournalers as they want a US zip code. There was only one which sprang to mind immediately, so I’m going to find lots of people near Beverly Hills. Oh yes, Shannon Docherty, here I come. The geek in me wants to tell them they should allow people to supply latitude and longitude and work out distances that way 🙂

Trying out the Charm LiveJournal client, as it’ll let me edit postings locally rather than using a web browser, so I can use Vim to edit them. And it’s written in Python, which earns it geek credibility. I suppose I should find something to say while I’m here.

The controversial Drogon sex discussion featured this rather good version of a Madonna song (perfectly safe for work, viewers, but needs Flash and sound).

Should male Cambridge Dancers’ Club members have perse-girl on their list of interests, I wonder?

The news from Drogon land:

Please be aware that some people come from an oppressed background and culture and may not appreciate open and frank discussions on subjects such as sex in a public place in Drogon. But you can’t win, as even if you then took those conversations into private, some individuals would then whinge that they were being excluded. Life sucks.

I knew I shouldn’t have suggested Mild Green Fairy liquid as a hand lubricant.

Vernon Schyrver is being typically acerbic in news.admin.net-abuse.email about whether this Anti Spam Research Group is ever going to go anywhere. Given Vernon’s annoying habit of being clever and right, it seems likely that non-techies are doomed to get spam until their mailbox collapses under the weight. When I work up the courage, I’ll ask him whether he thinks the hashcash idea might work if there were some way for people on slow machines to pay their ISP to do the computation for them. This seems more likely to work than the mythical micropayments systems which people always suggest, since you’re dealing with an organisation with which you already have some kind of billing arrangement.

Danny O’Brien (of NTK fame) linked to a posting by someone who gets why I write stuff to filter the crap that works on Windows for people who aren’t very technical: This time we said it would be different, remember? If I can manage to concentrate this evening, might do some more work on another Spampal plugin.

Seeing as a few friends seem to be getting into LiveJournal, I’ll mention that Friendster seems to be the new SixDegrees (anyone remember that). I’m tempted.