Entries Tagged 'rant' ↓

Drugs and Internet Culture

I while ago I finished “What the Dormouse said” by John Markoff, subtitled “How the 60s counterculture shaped the computer revolution”. Although I was vaguely aware of the use of LSD in the development of the internet and personal computing, this book made it a lot clearer… particularly about how prolific it was. It was actually used as an enabler for team planning meetings of major businesses! Circuit designers would use it to visualise and solve logic problems (how exactly they did this with the other associated effects going on, I’m not sure, perhaps dose high enough for loss of consciousness of the external world?).

In reverse, the internet itself is a prolific source of drug information. Users (double meaning unintended) are essentially anonymous, there is a large amount of information available. Knowledge of new “research chemicals” can quickly be disseminated. Books that have been made difficult to obtain due to their possibly controversial nature (e.g. Pihkal) can be shared P2P. Suppliers of various substances can actually sell and ship research chemicals to people despite local drug laws, partly by luck of the substances getting through local customs (some suppliers will even try multiple times if the first attempt is intercepted), but often these research chemicals are too obscure for authorities to be aware of their usage in a recreational setting. This, however getting difficult to carry out, as the authorities are also becoming more aware of the internet as a source of knowledge on recreational substances.

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Vacant?

There’s currently a billboard up around the Basin Reserve that says “Vacant”, indicating that it’s for hire. It also has a picture of Paris Hilton, which I find mildly discomforting. It’s all very well having trashy magazines with Celebrity slander, even if it’s just fostering unhealthy human behaviour (where the only option for people envious of others lifestyles is to pick them apart so that they can say those celebrities don’t have it so great after all… instead of actually going out and doing something about changing their lives). It’s another thing to plaster a giant billboard with a celebrity face and suggestively indicate there is nothing going on in their head.

As much as some people might not like it, Paris Hilton is actually pretty intelligent with an IQ in the upper quartile from the last I read – although I’m missing references for it – she’s fostered the ditzy blond image because it caters to a greater section of society, and thus the better to sell her brand. People in general don’t like to feel inferior or dumb (see the above paragraph about picking apart celebrity lives) so why would Paris try to convince people otherwise? I wouldn’t be surprised if the billboard company was paying her to put her image on the billboard (otherwise that Wellington company is potentially in for a world of hurt). I’m not saying I’d personally sell my identity as stupid so that I could make money, but you’ve got to give it to the girl for convincing most the world of her visage of stupidity… so much so that she’s associated with the word “vacant” on billboards half way around the world.

Modafinil in Silicon Valley

Looks like I’m not the only one:

“Is someone you work with taking Provigil to give them an extra competitive edge? I’ve spoken with one executive who says he uses it regularly to work twenty hour days, and the buzz lately is that it’s the “entrepreneur’s drug of choice” around Silicon Valley. Over the last week two separate entrepreneurs have mentioned it casually in conversation, and one said he tried it once and loved it.”

An interesting conversation was had at a friend’s bday dinner about drug prohibition, and I meant to mention this kind of thing while dining. Another reason I think the whole recreational drug thing needs to change or be approached without a maxim of “drugs are bad” is because performance enhancement is going to become more common.

What’s so funny is that entrepreneurs apparently aren’t interested in typical drugs – instead they find the one that gives them a mental and stamina advantage.

“What’s so funny” about this statement is that I’m sure this is a completely false claim. It’s merely more socially accepted to take drugs to be a more productive member of society. Thus it’s easier to admit this to colleagues. Possibly it conveys “I’m a hard worker”, not that it really does (since you can still be unproductive even if you’re awake), but the dissonance between the reason behind taking drugs and the public’s perception of it is annoying.

I’ve personally talked to several entrepreneurs who’ve had the seeds of their business inspiration arrive while under the influence.

Note however I’m not saying innovation and new ideas can’t be arrived at without drugs, since that’s patently untrue.

You/Food/Exercise are the perfect drug

This is the first of a number of essays I’ve drafted out, but have left stagnating in my “to write” pile. They are distinctly without references, because I didn’t have the time to trawl for them, but I welcome critique and/or addendum from my readers.

Government’s seem to have a fascination with criminalising substances that change mental awareness, however there are so many things that do this, it’s strange that they intervene in some cases but not in others. Consistency and reliability are key components of trust, how does one trust a government with an erratic value system for experiencing our consciousness?

It’s been exclaimed in poetry and songs, love is a drug, a quintessential part of human experience. The euphoric highs when you meet someone special, planning how you might met with them again for a coffee in order to get another dose of those powerful attractants. Let alone all the other emotions which they themselves are based on a concoction of organic compounds. Being human, love is a strong attractor for the complex system of the human mind. If you get torn asunder from this attractor, it can feel like physical pain: severe withdrawal symptoms that can lead to anger, regret, and depression. In extreme cases murder (if other people are involved), and/or suicide. And yet the government allows it. This seemingly random experience that we cannot control – unlike substances that change our awareness, which we are free to control through our own will and determination in the universe (if you believe in free will of course, I chose to, even if I don’t really, because it’s leads to a much more effective life).

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Social dynamics and politics

I’ve been reading a little about social dynamics and what makes people attractive. There is the obvious and oft mentioned confidence, but another one is a lack of response to criticism or insult. Or rather, not being dramatic about things. If you respond, you give those people acknoledgement to whatever their frame was (a frame is basically a viewpoint), you are acknowledging their frame has value and thus are accepting whatever their insult/complaint was about. If you ignore it, by just not acknowledging it, or by acting as if what they said was just odd, then you are not buying into their frame.

What gets me, is that the opposition in political debates and in the media almost ALWAYS is complaining or reacting to something the incumbent does. This, in my opinion, lowers their value. Instead, I’d be immensely more impressed if they worked with the incumbent, subtley trying to mould policies to be more inline with their values. Or by offering alternatives, but not by blaming the incumbent for a problem. Just state “this is the way things are now” – don’t go down the path of blame, it’s pointless. Work together for change and improvement, demonstrate WHY you think something will be an improvement over current circumstances. Do all this, and you as a politician, and as a political party, will look like you have value, like you should be in power if you are not already, instead of a whiny little bitch.

New Zealand Customs ignores TSA locks

So yesterday, at the end of my journey from Vancouver, my luggage got left in Sydney, Australia. Whereas I went all the way through to Christchurch. “That’s fine” I thought, since Christchurch airport promised to deliver the luggage to my house the next day.

It just arrived. But one of the zippers is broken off, and my Travel Security Agency/Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs registered lock was removed. Now these locks are MEANT to be opened without damage by custom’s people. But it seems New Zealand Customs doesn’t do this, they just break the fuckers off. I rang them and they just laughed at the suggestion that they’d have a master key for them (which other countries do).

My advice: next time you go travelling don’t bother buying the expensive $30 TSA locks, just buy a few shitty $2 shop jobs. So much for buying something to last, instead it’s a disposable throwaway culture in New Zealand official-dom. Green and clean New Zealand? Whatever.

(I might be particularly pissed off since it was annoying enough to have my bag left behind, and this is just the thing that’s put me over the edge).

Media library database design

What I’d really like to see is a standard database design for media libraries.

I use different media players for different purposes, and also different media players across platforms. It’s annoying as hell to have to refresh the database for each whenever there is a change, especially when your music collection is pushing 280 gigs. Lets just say it takes more than a couple of hours.

It’s be really nice if someone came up with a database design that suited the needs of the different applications, and if the developers making the media players would support it. That’s assuming there isn’t already one…

My ideal set-up would be my server running a Postgres database which could be connected to from my laptop/workstation/PDA with concurrent users. It’d also support play-lists, fields for BPM and harmonic analysis, and album covers, all saved in the database. Also, personalised tagging systems and last.fm integrated tagging.

Anybody heard of any initiatives like that? I know there are client/server based media software, but DBMSs are already designed with that purpose in mind and most hi-end media players use some kind of SQL database to store results, even if it’s SQLite.

Desktop for linux needs to be more intuitive and actually work

This is all I’m saying. I spent ages trying to work out how to change the default application a file is opened with (in Gnome, for nautilus, Ubuntu fiesty).

You’d think system->preference->”preferred applications” would be the place to go. Or failing that, you’d go “right-click on a file”->”open with…” and then when you select an application it’d have a check box saying “always use this application for this type of file”. Maybe something similar to what Windows has. But no… instead, it’s under “right click”->properties for a file. Which makes no sense because it’s a global settings, not a setting for JUST that file, which is the only kind of thing that should be in a file’s properties window. I thought that lately, Gnome was all about usability?

And after wasting time on that, it turns out selecting from the list of applications doesn’t work. Just marvelous.

I actually stuck with the default Gnome setup for Ubuntu because I thought it’d be less bug prone then if I started using obscure software like I usually do. Turns out it doesn’t make any difference. I think I’ll go back to screwing around with Enlightenment, at least then I’m wasting my time doing something interesting.

I used to be very patient with linux. But as I have much less time to waste getting things working, I’m about ready to just stick with windows.

(I also spent 2 hours trying to get audio multiplexing working through alsa with dmix. It works alright, but 1. Multimedia Systems Selector has somehow disappeared from my Preferences menu, and 2. if I run gstreamer-properties manually, it doesn’t actually save any of the changes I make, and I can’t find the config file to edit it manually. Frankly I don’t know why dmix isn’t the default alsa device in a fresh install unless you’re one of the rare people that have a hw pcm-mixing audio device.)

I think people are still doing great work with linux, but it doesn’t seem any more usable then when I started using it in 1996. However, at least then I had the time to waste days playing with it.

Debian seemed to work much better, but perhaps I just expected it to require some setup? Whereas Ubuntu is touted as being ready for desktop users…