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February 27, 2005

Long Absence

The ECMA week was long and busy, but went well. Since then, I've worked a little extra here in town, which has left me less time than usual to keep up with the old website. Over the last few days I finally cleared out the last problems from the server transition that happened two or three weeks ago, as well as fixed a bizarre little problem that had my home PC offline for 2 days.

February 09, 2005

Trackback Spam

Grr. Comment spam was bad enough, but I could deal with it with the MT-Blacklist plugin and diligent updating of my blocklist. Now I'm starting to see more trackback spam attempted on this, which is really irritating. Spammers are people too, I know, but sometimes I get a little bit of anger inside me and I almost wish somebody would do violence to those people so intentionally and obnoxiously being rude to the rest of us.

Ok, perspective. It's just bits on a computer hard drive somewhere... breath... relax...

February 06, 2005

Citizen Kane

I've been meaning to watch Citizen Kane for quite a while, since it's #1 on quite a few lists of the best movies of all time. While I was recovering from my recent dental surgery, I finally rented it.

Despite it's acclaim, I'm glad my expectations weren't too high. While the ending of the movie did redeem it a little, I just wasn't overwhelmed by it. Don't get me wrong, I did like it. It was well written and acted, with a neat little moral about how our work and wealth are ultimately meaningless. Still, I wouldn't tell my friends it's a must-see. Perhaps you need to be a film student to really appreciate it or something.

February 01, 2005

Why a liberal arts degree can be good

I saw a great quote in the comments on a story on metafilter.com today:

“The dogmatic propagandist must therefore be consistently dogmatic. All his statements are made without qualification. There are no grays in his picture of the world; everything is either diabolically black or celestially white... He must never admit that he might be wrong or that people with a different point of view might be even partially right. Opponents should not be argued with; they should be attacked, shouted down…”

-- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited

It seems particularly insightful today when so much media time, editorial opinion and political spin in the US is aimed at justifying the war in Iraq and ignoring mistakes made by the Bush administration. Of course, there's certainly propagandists on both sides, but it saddens me to see it. I'm most saddened to see it in people who's views I share, because in the long run, I believe those people are undermining the strength of their position. By not fairly and honestly dealing with mistakes, criticism and dissent for the sake of massaging public opinion in the short term, one gives away any moral high ground one may have.

Incidentally, I'm not referring directly to the content of the original story, which was about Ann Coulter being corrected on an clear factual error when interviews for The Fifth Estate, a Canadian television news magazine show. Apparently, Ann Coulter is an outspoken conservative columnist in the US who is popular with the right for reinforcing their views, and widely detested among liberals for alleged factual errors (among other reasons, I presume).

As a reference, here is a followup comment that I find credible, and I share the viewpoint of the author that the effectiveness of rhetoric to sway the general public without supporting facts is quite depressing.

Oops, lunch break is over, must run...