As usual the week is winding down into its “end” and the news feeds are getting a bit out of the ordinary, not that the sangfroid of Congress critters denying sexual (as opposed to reproductive) inclinations isn’t ordinary although a bit tawdry compared to the “free love” novels and movies of the second half of the “60’s.
I observe that a mutual attribution game is being played out in Jerusalem – the original one and not the modern American comic representation in Gotham and Metropolis – between Jewish and Muslim groups over the preservation/damage of Temple Mount/Haram as-Sharif. [Link] Apparently the two are once more demonstrating their excellence as role models for the political parties of the Yankee republic may accusing each other of grievous damage to historical sites while declaiming their own stewardship. What clearly emerges, as it does in the Yankee Congress, is that bashing each other is infinitely more important than achieving anything substantive except possibly war or genocide – if I may use both words rather loosely.
In a related but domestic matter, the Computer and Communications Industry Association has stood up against misrepresentation of fair use under the Yankee republic’s joke of copyright law. [Link][Link] Apparently they have found that some of their competitors have misrepresented what is permitted under the fair use doctrine and have not only complained to the Yankee government’s Federal Trade Commission, but have started a web site on Fair Use. Somehow one questions whether this is even as altruistic as folks like the Freedom Foundation, Could it be that these folks are seeing their own business diminished by excessively tight controls of things that should be in the public domain – like people’s names and the spoken/written language? Or is it just envy that they don’t have that control themselves?
Anyway, as the old Mongol supposedly once said, “the next best thing to dead enemies are enemies fighting among themselves.” That’s a crude translation, of course, but the sentiment comes through.
Another piece of such altruistic behavior is being displayed by the Yankee government’s Homeland Security Apparat who have finally gotten around to demanding that all employees of the Yankee government sign away their rights as citizens. [Link] Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have taken legal action.
While I have to cheer these folks, I am more surprised by their taking the action than by the latest version of jackbooted fascist goonery in Amerika. Those who have worked for the Yankee government know well its classical Hellerish “Catch-22″ (and yes, this is fair use!) that you don’t have to sign away your right as a citizen to work there but if you don’t your employment will be terminated sine die. What is advertised to the citizenry and what is practiced on those in the service of the nation are about as diametrically opposite as possible although I do have to admit that I was never physically tortured by the Yankee government except when I had to provide a urine sample for drug testing and the physical aspect of that torture was insignificant compared to the mental or intellectual side.
This is nothing more that what we are not taught in management science class, that most large organizations treat their members as chattel slaves whose only rights are to do what the organization tells them to do and nothing else.
Of course, these same folks, since they reside in California, will not have to worry about the government implanting, at least overtly, RFID devices in their bodies, courtesy of State Senator Joe Simitian. [Link] Of course, there is always that matter of whether local authority applies to Yankee government bureaucrats. I am reminded of the furor that periodically erupts over the ticketing of Yankee government automobiles in the large cities. All we seem to ever learn from these instances is that “rank counts” and its usually judicial rank. All, except for the inability of large or small organizations to coexist, much less cooperate. We may make claims to being a democracy but somehow all organizations are totalitarian by nature.
And speaking of totalitarian, there is an article [Link] on geeks saving the planet. One can’t help but wonder if this is a demonstration of a fundamental difference between geeks and nerds, at least within the space of the differences blogged on previously. Nerds, possessing both skills and knowledge, will either proceed to do things, or if opposed strongly enough, just leave. Geeks, on the other hand being insecure in their skills and knowledge, seek social cohesion and action.
Now this think tank psychologist has conducted social experiments that indicate that the amount of money donated to some worthy cause depends on how many people are the victims of misfortune in the cause. One of the interesting parts of the experiment was to collect money for a single misfortunate and for two misfortunates. Supposedly the second amount was only 0.85 for the first.
Neglecting the obvious question of the independence of the measurements and the representativeness of the populations, the thing that immediately bubbles to the top is that this is a datum and that’s all. How about getting some information on larger populations of misfortunates? Let’s get enough data that some meaningful maths analysis is possible rather than a beer story.
Also, does no one read any more. I know I saw something a few days ago about 0.25 of the American citizenate not reading any books last year, but if you’re going to yammer on altruism the do a bit of homework. A couple of good articles have been published this year on the subject and they might have some relevance here. Like the idea that one misfortunate may be an event and worthy of largess but a wider population is welfare. Which puts us in mind of the old saw about fishing.
Nonetheless, we have to hope the geeks will be successful because the planet certainly needs help and it patently isn’t going to get it from religionists, governments, or politicians.