All entries for March 2007

March 28, 2007

Random Trivia

Incredibly random trivia notice, I’ve just been watching South Park season 2, episode 12 entitled “Clubhouses”and I noticed that one of the two girls that Cartman ends up with at his clubhouse is wearing a DVDA T-Shirt! Which as any dedicated fan will know is the name of the band of Matt Stone and Trey Parker.


March 26, 2007

Politicians and Journalists

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6155932.stm

I’ve just read a reasonably interesting article on the bbc website where Blair’s advisor on Political strategy offers his opinions about the nature of political discourse on the web:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6155932.stm

The article pushes a negative focus on this views, and I thought I’d just raise my not very humble opinion on the matter.

Firstly its certainly true that online people who post the most or make the most noise will get more coverage, regardless of the rationality, or factual basis of such thoughts. But frankly this is not really that different from print media, which is what we traditionally hold as the ‘gold standard’ of publications. I haven’t read a copy of the Daily Mail in a few years, but the last time I did it was structured hate mongering. Its not as though the (ex-) Broadsheet newspapers are any better. I recognised the Times as unreadable giberish 2 years ago. It seems to have become considerably less focussed on putting a valid point forward than it did when I actually read regularly (back when I was about 14). The independant has become incredibly critically weak in its editorial content, again I gave up on it about a year ago. Its essentially little better than something like the Mail, except instead of using race hate, and blind slogan populism to cloud one’s judgement it relies on sentimentality.

Finally (I’m just picking a newspaper from each group not enumerating every newspaper) we come to the Guardian. The problem with the guardian is that its primary criterion for becoming a writer is the extent to which one can wear oneself as a hat. Charlie Brooker being a prime example. Its more interesting articles are the kind of self important diatribes that I have exemplified in the past two paragraphs. Sure, out of the stand its the one paper I might consider buying, especially at a student outlet where its cheaper, but thats primarily because I’m a self important jackass, rather than because its providing inciteful commentary on the political zeitgeist. Lets face it most of the writers are also ex-marxists who have long since lost their principles and generated some confusing and internally inconsistent political positions, sometimes to the extent that they work for the Times. Yes I’m talking about that twat Aaronovitch.

The internet, on the other hand, provides a wealth of shallow and vapid analysis to counter the wealth of shallow and vapid analysis. The big difference here is that the vacuity is ill informed because its a populist distribution channel with people who are not professionals, rather than critically ill-reasoned because people are more interested in pushing their political agenda in editorials than providing analysis of the situation.

Hmm, there was going to be a serious of points before this turned into a rant, hmm…. Oh yes! Is it really wise for Mr Taylor to be criticising people’s irrational complaining on the internet? People, having read his opinion, might possible go to their blogs and complain about him! I’m not going to, he’s right, the government aren’t trying to screw us over, they are trying to make the world a better place. No, seriously, politicians (at the national level, councillors aren’t so good) tend to be intelligent and well spoken. The kind of people who could get far better paying jobs, sometimes with more influence, elsewhere. Perhaps a better strategy on his behalf would be to try and get people to recognise how hard working and effective MPs can be.

Ok, so its a bit rich for me to be giving Government’s chief political strategist advice on political strategy, but I’ve already criticised the only newspaper I’ve read in print in the last year for writing articles in too similar a style to my own (albeit doing a far better job of it). That covers the what, as to the how element of the strategy lets look into the internet. We already have several good role models:

1. Citeseer is a search engine for academic papers, which allows one to look up references between papers and does some neat things. It thus allows one to easily sift through a mass of high quality, peer reviewed source material.
2. Hansard is a government website that publishes information about House of Commons debates. This gives one an excellent source of raw information about whats going on. It is too voluminous to be of much use to the average joe.
3. My society is a charity that creates websites that allow people to access information about their politicians and other things. An incredibly useful resource and a genuine facilitator of political thought. Its also based on Free Software .

Perhaps if Mr. Taylor really wants produce an informed and critically aware debate on political issues he would be better off trying to promoted organisations like My Society, or push government funding towards independent researchers trying to evaluate the current state of the economy or governmental system, rather than simply proferring some kind of superficial analysis of the difference between print and electronic media thats frankly, very ‘September 10th’.


March 20, 2007

Its been a long time since I blogged…

... and without good reason. I look at planet compsoc and the top 4 entries are all by Tim, and very HURD orientated. Consequently I have to blog. A lot has happened sicne I last blogged too much that is compsoc related really. Holidays used to be a nice break and a time to reflect over the term, but that isn’t the case as a full time PhD student. Nonetheless a few thoughts spring to mind:

1. Subpixel Smoothing on font looks really good on TFTs.
2. RHEL 5 is out now – DCS have no excuse not to upgrade over the summer, which would allow me to use TomBoy and sync my notes up to home. Goodbye paper. Tomboy is a simply note taking program that allows you to do awesome things. Like embed Latex in your notes, or link them up like a desktop wiki.
3. Reseearch is progressing, albeit at a slower pace than I had hoped. I have discovered the wonders of machine checked theorem proving. I mean if you are doing anything maths related thats expressible in HOL/Isabelle – why not? The only problem is that I really want to fork someone else’s theorem and expand upon it, but its just not polite. And unlike a noted Venkman developer I can’t simply tell people to ‘rant and rave in ignorance’, because I’m not dealing with ignorant people.

This has been a boring blog post, but don’t worry, I’ll be back – and it’ll be more fun.

mullet


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