Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

blindness

Today I finished reading Ensayo sobre la ceguera (Blindness) by José Saramago. It was excellent. An metaphor about the world we live in, and "the responsibility to have eyes when others have lost them." The white blindness ins the book is, in my opinion, the overload of information that blinds us today, something that brings out the worst, and sometimes (although not often enough) the best in us.

The prose is close to perfection, often weaving images, feelings and meaning with the context and composition of the text itself. For example, When the only woman that is not blind is told that she is beautiful by three of her friends, women who have never seen her, she is "reduced to tears because of a personal pronoun, an adverb, a verb, an adjective, mere grammatical categories, mere labels, just like the two women, the others, indefinite pronouns, they too are crying, they embrace the woman of the whole sentence, three graces beneath the falling rain."

I think the closest thing to it that I can remember is Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch, which I read about a year and a half ago. Similar both in its intensity and its insights into the human condition.

A paragraph stays with me:

"I think we didn't become blind, I think we are blind. Blind people who see. Blind people who, seeing, don't see."

What Ursula K. Le Guin said of Camp Concentration applies just as well to Saramago's book: "It is a work of art, and if you read it, you will be changed."

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on July 23, 2002 at 11:13 PM

Mideast violence

Strike kills Hamas leader, 14 others says the headline. Now, I might be wrong, or from a different planet, but in presenting the news, I'd worry first about the 14 innocent people (including 9 children) that were killed for no reason. By the way, the Israeli government called the operation "a success", although it is just pointless punishment. Hamas vowed to retaliate. Another day, no surprises.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on July 23, 2002 at 7:30 PM

why work

This morning I was reading yet more news about the brouhaha over the bubble collapse, the fall of share prices, and how they are affecting "normal" people (i.e. not bazillionaires or CEOs).

I was wondering exactly what all the fuss was about, since the main discussion centered around money (less money, more money, etc.) and therefore simply the power to buy or not buy that yacht that they wanted (since it's not as if the fall in mutual funds is going to affect the people that make $7.95/hr at McDonald's).

If the discussion is about money, it all goes back to the idea of people doing things they don't like so they can buy stuff they don't need. Yachts are nice, but not necessarily a survival item.

Then I thought, what does this say about work itself?

And I suddenly remembered a scene from the Simpsons, when Homer became smart (his IQ shot up to 105), and he sent a report on safety at the nuclear plant to the NRC, which resulted in the plant being closed and everybody fired until the place could be brought up to code. After Mr. Burns announces the layoffs, the following conversation happens:

Lenny (at Homer): Thanks a lot, Brainiac. You cost us our jobs. Which we need for working.

Carl: Yeah, not to mention driving to.

Enough said.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on July 23, 2002 at 5:06 PM

the politics of open source

There is an interesting discussion going on in Slashdot regarding the politics of open source. It deals with questions like how to manage unwanted submissions, or things that deviate from the "mission" of the project.

I've asked myself similar questions often, in somewhat different contexts (i.e., for personal projects, company projects, etc), and I always come to a similar conclusion: when you open source a project, the genie is out of the bottle, and with it, your ability to maintain tight control over it. Certainly, some level of control can be achieved, as in the Linux Kernel for example. A good example of what happens with open source is Gnutella, which was created (and swiftly killed) within AOL by the Winamp group, but since it was open sourced it didn't die (and indeed, thrived). In all cases, an "antidote" to the project going astray from its 'vision' is to release working code (beta quality or higher), since when the program is already running the discussions over what it should or should not do would be much more specific.

As an alternative, somebody proposed: "Just add a line to the GPL that states that 'contributors who violate my 'vision' will be attacked by electric weasels'. "
Now that's a good idea.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on July 23, 2002 at 12:46 PM

on blogging

Yet another article on blogging, yet another moot argument as far as I'm concerned. Blogging might be growing, but it can't grow forever. At the same time, news organizations embrace it as one more tool. And by its nature, blogging can't be co-opted by the news organizations, it emerged precisely as an alternative. Even if news organizations use or link to blogs, they will remain blogs.

Now, a university course on blogging (in UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism no less), that's a truly stupid idea. Maybe the course is on how to use a web browser?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on July 23, 2002 at 10:09 AM

animals with human DNA

From today's New York Times: Interview with a humanoid, on cloned animals whose DNA has been modified to include human components.

Now, since animals appear to be more in balance with their surroundings, maybe at some point we could "import" some of the genes responsible for that into us. Unless we also remove the human gene that loves money, though, it probably won't work.
Or maybe a monkey tail would be useful. For weekend trips to the woods, you know.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on July 23, 2002 at 9:57 AM

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