April 30th, 2008

The state of governing

In the last 5, 6 years, the political situation in my country has rapidly deteriorated.

The traditional left (“PvdA”) has lost most of it’s supporters due to invisible leadership and too many compromises to join the latest administration. All of this of course to the joy of more hardcore socialists (“SP”) who, even if you vigorously disagree with them, have a consistent strong and coherent message.

The Christian-oriented middle-to-right (“CDA”) is doing ok-ish.

The liberal, as in free market proponents right wing (“VVD”) is shattered by two newcomers and, again, a nasty leadership crisis. One is an anti-islam party about who I kinda not-wrote earlier, one is led by an ousted VVD parliament member, who will by current polls scoop up more than 20 seats if there were elections. What is most staggering is that

  • unlike the other parties, this newcomer is run like a business;
  • the party has NO program, no principles at all.

While the party will probably has to wait another 3 years to try it’s merits, it is an un-comforting thought that  a newcomer without ANY principle or choice gains the hearts of so many countrymen. It tells a tale of both the non-acceptance of our political leadership as well as the intelligence of “the people”, I am sorry to say.

Oh I have to make one correction. Told newcomer did state that she’s in favor of creating a jury-based judicial system; we have a independent, professional judiciary system now. I am not doing any US-bashing here, but I dare to say that jury-courts are about the one-but worst imaginable.

“The people” get what they deserve right? I mean, that is what I have always been screaming about you guys re-electing Bush. I think it’s time for me to slowly start “looking around”.

April 27th, 2008

The cognitive surplus

I don’t repost from Boing Boing, assuming most of you follow it, but this entry is straight from my heart. Clay Shirky should be invited to TED if you ask me.

For the first time, society forced onto an enormous number of its citizens the requirement to manage something they had never had to manage before–free time.

And what did we do with that free time? Well, mostly we spent it watching TV.

We did that for decades. We watched I Love Lucy. We watched Gilligan’s Island. We watch Malcolm in the Middle. We watch Desperate Housewives. Desperate Housewives essentially functioned as a kind of cognitive heat sink, dissipating thinking that might otherwise have built up and caused society to overheat.

(…) So I tell her all this stuff [about WIkipedia]. She heard this story and she shook her head and said, “Where do people find the time?” That was her question. And I just kind of snapped. And I said, “No one who works in TV gets to ask that question. You know where the time comes from. It comes from the cognitive surplus you’ve been masking for 50 years.”

So how big is that surplus? So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project–every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in–that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin Wattenberg at IBM; it’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it’s the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of thought.

And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that’s 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television.

(…) I could sort of see what she was thinking: “Losers. Grown men sitting in their basement pretending to be elves.” At least they’re doing something. (…) However lousy it is to sit in your basement and pretend to be an elf, I can tell you from personal experience it’s worse to sit in your basement and try to figure if Ginger or Mary Ann is cuter.

Disclaimer: I almost completely quit watching TV a couple of years ago. My weekly average is under one hour. The one single reason is it’s brain-mushing stupidity drives me bonkers. Try it for a week. Set some goals, like 8PM news only. You might not regret it.

April 26th, 2008

The upgrade 2.5.1

We are upgrading this to WordPress 2.5.1. Bear with me please while we’re offline on and off and while things might look “wrong”.

Update: Done. Please report issues in the comment section. For me here and now, things run insanely slowly on the nest, but that might have  nothing to do with the upgrade.

April 22nd, 2008

The copying of playlists

My el-cheapo car radio takes a usb stick or sd card. I couldn’t even tell if the cd player is functional as I haven’t used ever since. One tiny annoyance though. The order it plays is kinda random, probably something like how it’s physically sequenced in the file system. Rather annoying when i.e. copying a classical concert. But I think I got the perfect helper now. Empty the stick, then use Amok Playlist Copy to create or load a playlist and hit copy. It will copy the files the playlist points to to the destination (stick). Simple. One of these (free) have-to-have’s.

Added: And while we’re at it. Used streamripper yesterday to record a very special concert, and a nice small program called mp3DirectCut to chop it up neatly.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Laeszhalle Hamburg

April 22nd, 2008

The travel

Kiddo flew to Alaska and is having a ball @ great grey & co, for which I am unspeakably grateful. I bow to great grey.

April 21st, 2008

The sun and the poems

No words

Experimental Typography

Added: seem their website is a bit overloaded. Above picture doesn’t load either. Try later pls.

April 21st, 2008

The cantatas

First: Go here and hit play or choose one of the other formats just under the flash player, see if you can get the audio streaming. If so, great, and leave me a comment please. I sometimes cannot get streams running due to rights restrictions. If it does not work, you’re in bad, bad luck. Do not read on. Thank you.

Ok, so you made it. Next Friday, April 25th. 8 PM (or 20:00 as we call it) Central European Time, 11 AM Pacific time, 10 AM Alaskan time (AKDT), 2 PM Eastern Daylight time (EDT) and whatever else you can figure time wise. Start that stream. Sit back. Just take my word for it. Really. Enjoy.

April 20th, 2008

The upgrade 2.5

We are upgrading this to WordPress 2.5. Bear with me please while we’re offline on and off and while things might look “wrong”.

Update: Ok done, but it seems Akismet needs some maintenance too. That shouldn’t affect you dear reader, other than some comment spam maybe.Идея за подарък

April 19th, 2008

The capital

Factual world tidbit. Amsterdam is the capital of my country, but is neither the city where the administration is located, nor where the head of state (here and now: the Queen) lives. This is called the residence, and is The Hague (in Dutch: Den Haag). It seems that we share this weirdo property with (only?) Bolivia, where Sucre is the capital, but La Paz is the residence.

Amsterdam’s Vondelpark:

Vondelpark

April 18th, 2008

The European Court of Human Rights

The ECHR is an interesting court. It is not an appeal court above national or even European institutes, as one might think. It is not part of the European Union, but an institute of the Council of Europe, of which 47 countries are member. It’s goal is to spread democracy and human rights.

The court only adheres to one single “law”, the The European Convention on Human Rights. The convention states ethical and human rights guidelines. Every citizen of the member states can individually appeal on this convention, first at the national courts, but appealing all the way up to the ECHR in Strassbourg (which is located in North-Eastern France). In fact the only defendant is ones own country.

The ECHR has a backlog of about 80.000 cases. A serious restructuring has to be done, but Russia is the only country blocking that. It is believed this is the result of convictions by the ECHR in several cases revolving issues in Chechen (Tsjetsjen).

(…) Considering the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10th December 1948;

Considering that this Declaration aims at securing the universal and effective recognition and observance of the Rights therein declared;

Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is the achievement of greater unity between its members and that one of the methods by which that aim is to be pursued is the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

Reaffirming their profound belief in those fundamental freedoms which are the foundation of justice and peace in the world and are best maintained on the one hand by an effective political democracy and on the other by a common understanding and observance of the human rights upon which they depend;

Being resolved, as the governments of European countries which are like-minded and have a common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom and the rule of law, to take the first steps for the collective enforcement of certain of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration, (…)