Sunday Morning Reading Material Third Sunday in November 2011- Northern California Coast edition

It’s Sunday Morning. Sundays are for being with your loved one on trip to the countryside for her birthday. Sundays are for… Why don’t you tell me?

This week: The cities of San Francisco and New York called out their police departments to brutally crush peaceful protests against the rapidly worsening US political and economic system. Also this week: the newly-installed Italian government faced it’s second vote of confidence. Also also: The Yahoo! billboard that graces the San Francisco skyline will be coming down as soon as someone can afford to rent the current space.

One of the weird conceits of modern journalism is that truth, as such, cannot be objective. Rather, in an attempt to describe reality, opposing views must be quoted by a reporter. The Washington Post can’t simply say that a racist politician has written a book which contains factual errors which tend to be pro-confederacy. Rather, the Post has to be “objective”– which means finding someone willing to make those claims, and then giving equal time to the racist to defend the indefensible. And readers of modern American newspapers need to scrutinize their papers the way readers of Pravada had to read theirs.

One of the weird things about the state of the modern feminist movement: it’s still necessary. The US very plausibly could have elected a female President in 2008 (and instead got a black man), and so the temptation is to think that the barriers are down, job’s done. Time to go home. At the same time, powerful women are profiled in the style section of newspapers– and men are not. Women are taken seriously in a way that womanhood is not. It’s a tricky thing to combat. I’m not sure our language is capable of describing the struggle, let alone conceptualizing the next steps.

One of the weird things about racism- at least in the black/white manifestations thereof- is the way African Americans are allowed to be so much cooler then White Americans. I would much rather go into the “black” Burger King. I’m not sure I even want to know the person who would prefer the “white” Burger King. Alas, being the creators of the culture that America actually wants to show the world doesn’t seem to translate into actually better living standards.

One of the weird things about Electronic Arts is that they started out as a scrappy upstart, dedicated to fair play. Today… today they’re a huge corporate entity that can’t quite understand why keeping customers from using purchased products might be bad PR. I suppose it’s sort of the apotheosis of modern capitalism, right? Collect money, fail to deliver product, hide behind laws which prevent effective legal recourse to what might otherwise be termed “fraud”.

One of the weird things about video games is how revalatory they can be of the real you. given infinite possibilities, and no real-life consequences, we learn exactly how strong the small voice of conscience might be. Having said that, I loved Fallout New Vegas, and I learned that I am a society builder. So there’s that.

One of the weird things about transparency is the way that illuminates power relationships. Our government has been demanding more and greater access to our lives. Skirting the edges of the 4th Amendment, insisting that our every public moment be broadcast. And yet, when presented with “Freedom of Information” requests, they lie, cheat and act unaccountable.

One of the weird things about having made the point above is that I’m going to show you video proof. watch as armed members of the State target journalists. The first Amendment is, in large part, answer to the old Latin question “Who watches the Watchmen”. By attacking members of the press, the police keep their actions from being held to account. Under the cover of undocumented actions, they allow themselves to commit enormities on the body politic. Disgusting.

One of the weird things about working in the video game industry is that it’s often a pretty shitty industry.

The weird thing about binary is how open ended it can be.

The weird thing about the Republican party is the disconnect between their rhetoric about believing in the American dream, and them being caught standing over the corpse of the American dream with a bloody knife. Not everyone has parents who can afford to send them to college, and the alternative to grants seems to be indentured servitude.

One of the weird things about getting into Ivy League schools is that it creates the impression that you really are better than everyone else. After all: those kids had to legitimately work hard in high school to avoid embarrassing their parents when they were allowed into Princeton as a legacy student. It is very easy to simply not realize that nearly every other student on the planet was literally born needing to work harder- and be smarter- than you to get into not-quite as prestigious a school. Is he an entitled asshole? Yes. But it’s not really his fault. American society is built to create his sense of entitlement. Part of the Occupy [city] movement has been an attempt to tear down that preconception.

One of the weird things about having a weird brain is that everyone thinks they know what it means. Very few people do. Earlier today, I forgot a guy’s name a minute after asking for it. Forgot that I’d even had that part of the conversation with him. Ironically, the biggest problem with ADD medication (for people who need it) is that we often forget to take it.

The weird thing about Moore’s Law is that no one is working on AI. That’s not, strictly speaking, true. For instance, spam detection uses some rather sophisticated artificial intelligence. But the large percentage of raw processing power seems to be dumped into either graphical output or in less heat-intensive computers. Somewhere along the line, we seem to have decided that a dual 1.1 ghz processor was “good enough”, and now we’re just shoving that much power into smaller and smaller things. In 2030, we may be able to design a computer that would be able to run a program that was as smart as a human. But right now, the software wouldn’t be there. And the people who would write that software aren’t doing it. Not to mention that we seem to prefer better phones to smarter desktops. And thus we defeat Skynet.

One of the weird things abut science is the way it doesn’t. A couple months back, CERN released preliminary findings to the scientific community stating that they’d seen particles traveling faster than light. Those scientists at CERN were fairly sure they couldn’t possibly have actually disproved most of modern physics, and so were looking for people to tell them what they’d done wrong. It seems they may not be. I want my starships and I want them yesterday.

The weird thing about writing this post on a Thursday? I get to do whatever the hell I want on Sunday Morning– and Saturday night. Since I’m going to be gone, I’ll ask that you share this post with your friends, family members, and frenemies. I’d really appreciate it if you use ( that link, so that I can track how many visitors I’m getting. In the comments section, let me know how you would spend a birthday weekend with your significant other.

Science can’t be wrong, it’s a process. It allows for corrections. Occasionally, it allows for awesome songs.

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