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History &Language &Philosophy &Politics &Programming Languages &Science &Software 02 Jan 2008 08:23 pm

Reading List that Inspired Smalltalk

Squeakland has a list put together by Alan Kay for his students that gives background on the ideas behind Smalltalk.

It looks like quite an interesting list.

History &Philosophy &Politics 06 Oct 2007 12:05 pm

The Responsibility of Intellectuals, by Noam Chomsky

The Responsibility of Intellectuals, by Noam Chomsky, is a deep analysis of 1960’s hypocrisy by intellectuals, and a call to expose lies by all those trained to seek truth.

Chomsky does a brilliant job at critiquing power in this essay, particularly the power of intellectuals who have ensconced themselves in Western society. Ultimately though, as we, in America, all live in a democracy, we all have power to expose lies. He further states that ultimately we have to ask ourselves, “What have I done?”, when asked about our government’s actions.

It seems unavoidable that the American citizens as a whole are responsible for their government’s actions, either by intention or neglect. Obviously, no one talks about this on the news or on talk shows (I suppose, since I quit watching them. I am glad to learn otherwise).

So, how will a nation that does not recognize it’s own responsibility, let alone discuss the exigencies in fulfilling that responsibility, keep from being abused by a small minority intent on installing a kleptocracy?

(Via Wikipedia entry on Arthur Schlesinger, Jr..)

History &Miscellaneous &Philosophy &Politics 13 Jan 2007 12:10 am

“Live or Dead”, as Bush says

Today — this morning — something happened that I didn’t understand until tonight. I was doing my commute from the Santa Cruz Mountains to Mountain View. I was already over the hill and on 85. It was about 9:10 and I was listening to Democracy Now on KPFA. The news, delivered in Amy Goodman’s even voice, was of the 15 Republican congressmen standing with the new Democratic majority against Bush’s plan for escalation in Iraq– the “surge” as he spins it. I had, without much deep consideration, signed a petition the day before to congress expressing my feelings against the escalation. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, as I listened to the report, I started feeling happy, like it was going to be a good day. Normally, Democracy Now kills my mood, but this morning I felt some spirit. As I drove down 85 towards Moffett Field, I felt good, maybe even like I should have a funny joke to tell, or a prank to play at work. I wasn’t really sure why. I was glad that the Congress was finally standing up to the president, but I didn’t think too much about why I felt good.

When I got home tonight, it was kind of exciting. One, because it was Friday, and two, because the weather was getting really cold. So cold that the night sky becomes crystal clear and you can see twice the number of stars as usual. I watched the outside temperature reading on the Prius’ screen drop as I headed over the hill. 45 in Mountain View. 41 in Los gatos. 39 climbing the Summit. 37 coming down the hill. 41 in Scotts Valley. 39 in Felton. The second time it dropped to 37, the screen actually popped up a special message saying, “Outside temperature: 37 degrees.” It seemed to notice that something was unusual. Finally, it was 36 degrees on our street as I pulled up the driveway. It almost never gets that cold here.

When it does get that cold here, it’s an event. You build a big fire, drink warm drinks, and hang out close to the fire. It’s too cold and too rare an event to waste the evening watching TV. So, we made a good dinner, and then listened to the Simon and Garfunkel box set we got for Christmas. I realize now how little I knew Simon and Garfunkel’s work. The box set has 5 albums spanning the 60’s. The early stuff is pure folk, but with really rich harmonies and inventive songs. It seems also inspired by Bluegrass and gospel music. As they progressed into the 60’s the songs got more political and more edgy, sometimes even angry. The late 60’s songs were sometimes downright strange, but still beautiful.

While listening, I got the same feeling I had back in music appreciation class hearing chants from the middle ages. Though the music sounds really foreign, it speaks to something universal in you in a quiet, hallowed way. The composer is removed by centuries of history, yet, it comes through that at some level they had to deal with some of the same problems you have, and they might have even felt the same way about some of them.

Tonight, I realized that, for the first time in a couple of years, I have some renewed hope for the future. I hadn’t really realized it had departed; I knew something was wrong for the last several months, but I didn’t know what. I thought it was just the rigors of stretching myself trying to write good research papers, or getting ready for the holidays, but that wasn’t it. I realize I had come to feel that the government was beyond redress and that the powers that be were hell bent on destroying the world and that nothing could stop them.

Tonight, I realized that it might be possible, once again, to be heard. That, once again, getting involved might actually help things get better. I don’t know what the answers to Iraq are, but I think it might be possible to find something better. I don’t know what to do about our national debt, but surely with the riches we have we can find a way to become solvent again. For all the people without health insurance, this time we need to make it happen. For the masters of war, I hope your time will end soon.

The hope makes me want to get involved again. Tonight I wanted to call my friends and family and talk about the cold spell that we are sharing all over the western United States. Even the ones who aren’t out west, I wanted to call up and tell them about what was happening here. It felt important to share and talk, even about small events. It feels important to get involved in a way that it hasn’t felt in a long time. It’s a pretty good feeling that I didn’t even realize I was missing until tonight.

(Oh, I think there’s going to be an anti-war rally in San Francisco two weeks from tomorrow, to mirror the one scheduled for D.C. I can’t wait.)

History &Science 14 Sep 2006 10:13 am

Royal Society Archive Online

PhilosophicalTransactions.png
StartOfNewtonLetter.png

The Royal Society has put its full archive online for free for a few months to celebrate its opening. You can search and read articles all the way back to the mid 1600’s.

As a first search, I picked Isaac Newton, and found an article he submitted to Philosphical Transactions on his theory of Light and Color.

(Via Chasing Shadows)