Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Linux Stuff

The Differences between linux and windows are quite vast, to the point that it is nearly impossible to sum them all up using a concise statement such as this one. It might be easier to look at their similiarities than their differences. But I shall start with differences nevertheless. You see, ignoring the internals of the operating system code, Windows is this giant behemoth of a user-interface, where everything is completely embedded in everything else. It's all integrated, and therefore, it's all a big sloppy mess of code.

Linux on the other hand, is a very modular system. There are components that are interchangable with other components, and thus there is no quintessential "Linux" system. But rather, you get various linux "builds" each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Now, if you wish to learn linux, then you really have to learn the Bash Shell. The Bash shell is a program that allows you to interface with other programs on system. The environment of the Bash Shell puts you, the user, in a home directory, of which you can interact with anything in that director, or even navigate away to a different directory.

Now, when using the bash shell, one must simply type the name of a program to execute that program. The Bash Shell will look in the current directory, and if it can not find the program in the current one, then it will look in a path of directories that are set in a file called .profile. An example of a program that can be used is ls, which lists the contents of the specified directory.

The more programs you know, the more control you have over what youc an do in the bash shell. And well, that's pretty much it. For a list of basic commands, you can type, simply enough, "help", "info", or "man [topic]". Where if the topic is available as a manual page, then it will appear in the screen.

The Reading Fruit

I currently sit in front of a computer screen, writing a blog. Not much there, but I am also in a library, and a library is an interesting place. A large rectangular room with white stucco walls and a roof that slants to the right. Window shades cover the left side of the library, and automatically move upwards so as to let in a large amount of light. In the center, two large brown tables sit with computers standing upon them. People in hoodies and sunglasses watch the little screens, and on the front of these tables, several bookcases filled with books of every type color and aspect one can imagine are there.

Large columns bisect the library, stretching from the carpeted floor to the tall roof.

And now, time for a poem:

The Reading Fruit

The devil's pet beseeched the garden fence,
"Dear Sir, I have some friends, they're penned inside,
who've yet to taste the reading fruit.
I tell the truth, 'tis not a lie,
so open wide, and let me slither throo't.

People are lazy, linguistically speaking.

Libraries are places where people go, not to read, but to enjoy internet access and watch videos online. As for the reading of books, this is done too, by some literary purists, but I wonder just how much of reading paper books is done these days. As far as communicating through the written word, it is much faster, and therefore easier, to log into a forum, or explain one's ideas through chat. And yet, the very speed with which one may continue their discourse results in a thinning of depth from which their thoughts emerge.

Realize, for example, that to write a book necessitates a maturation of a thought process through long periods of thinking, self-reflection, and self-analysis. And to reply to a book, one has the luxury of getting all of one's thoughts together, to the point that a well-written letter is often found easier to write than a well written blog post.

As a further example, one only has to see the countless idiotic messages attempting to reply to a well written blog post. A blogger might write an in-depth article, only to be responded to with some spam, advertisement, or a simple "wow! good post!".

As such as life would have it. Of course, that doesn't mean that people are less educated today. But it does mean that we are getting lazier. It's much easier to scribble off the top of one's head than it is to sit down, think about a meaningful response, and then relate it in meaningful discourse.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Fun Strategy Game

Go is a fascinating game. It consists of black and white stones placed, one after the other, on the intersections of a 19x19 grid. Whatever each color surrounds, be it stone or intersection, belongs to that color. Whoever surrounds more wins. And that's it. It's a simple game, so go try a few games with a buddy over drinks, if you wish. If you don't have a go board, the entire game can be played with graph paper and some pens.

If the game is taking too long, playing on a smaller size board speeds things up dramatically. Any odd-numbered size will work, but a 7x7 board tends to be the smallest board that is still fun to play on. Any smaller, and things quickly get stupid. Still, small boards are great when you're in a doctors waiting room, or when you just need something to pass the time.

After a while, you might be interested in a finer appreciation of the game. If that's the case, you can learn more about the game at this website, the American Go Association home page. Have fun. :D

To Marry a Beautiful Woman

Beautiful women grace the covers of these chinese calendars. They are in front of backdrops of famous places, like the Eiffel Tower, or the Great Wall of China. They have smooth, porcelain skin, and perfect body figures, and of course they smile with stunning sets of teeth.

Looking at these pictures ignites desire, a type of longing for the woman shown. The eye is drawn to her image, like a bee to honey, but these images can not satisfy. A woman may be an object of desire, with perfect hips and full red lips, but her body is mostly a distraction.

Women often have power over men. Their bodies are something that a man desires and craves to possess, and men will often do a woman's perfect bidding, just on the subconcious hope of possessing her. This presents a dangerous situation, which women often must bear the brunt of.

A woman is more than just a sex symbol. A woman is a companion for life, and like any good companion, may contribute to the relationship in a number of ways. Men, especially young men, often want the woman as sex-symbol first, and companion second, while women often wish for the companion first, and only then do they allow themselves to be possessed.

The longer a woman, then, waits before allowing a man to penetrate her, the more respect the man will have for her. This is why sex inside of marriage was so important. If a man can get sex early, and often, before making a complete commitment to a woman, then he never will. The sacrament of marriage, without sex beforehand, creates in the man a desire to have responsibility for his wife and his family. To get marries is to make a promise, to swear before one's god, that they will protect and cherish their wife and family, in exchange for the sex that they desire. And at that point, a man is transformed from a wolf who only wants a sexual relationship, to a man who needs companionship.

The man who must wait for marriage before entering a woman takes this decision much more seriously than a man who may penetrate a girl after a round of drinks and good times. He then considers his future wife with much more caution, and much more honesty and candor, than he ever would have before. This changes the dynamic. A woman who is simply a sultry seductress may hold a man's interest for a time, but will never make a man happy as a companion. And in marriage, a man suddenly grows the desire to seek a companion who he is also sexually attracted to, for in the years when appearance fades by the wayside, the companionship will remain, and will make for a happy marriage.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Why Wal-mart?

Why do people go to wal-mart? It's the only store around, and people know wal-mart. The big chains, everybody knows them. Little stores, not really. And then, there's a bunch of stuff at the big chains, while in the little guys, not so much. People complain, but still go, and still wait in line. What if there was a store that did not sell stuff, but held things that people ordered online? A consumer's warehouse. People buy stuff online, and distributors send that stuff to the "conhouse" chosen. Then, people can pick up the stuff whenever they want, take it home, leave it there, or put it in another "conhouse".

Conhouses might charge per item, per day, through storage time, etc. Who knows? The more the conhouses store, the more money they make. The longer they store them, the less room they have to store more things. They might charge per item, and per time.

Heck, regular warehouses might become conhouses, since they seem so good at storing stuff. And regular storage places might come up with distribution lines.

Hmmm... pretty cool!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Language, the internet, and Being Smart

People are generally using technological devices more than they are communicating face to face with others. For example, I am using this venue, the computer blog, to communicate my ideas with others all across the internet. Elsewhere, a mother and her child are in different rooms of the same house, chatting with each other on their mobile devices about what to have for dinner. And of course, each one will eat dinner alone, in each other's room.

This type of behavior confuses me. It seems much simpler, and certainly more rewarding and engaging, to talk to another person face to face, rather than through a textual medium that strips additional information from the conversation. And yet, when one thinks about it, talking face to face, or looking into another person's eyes, so to speak, is probably the most confrontational aspect of human behavior. Between animals, direct contact and body language is very visceral.

The thing is, natural contact might actually impede our ability to communicate. This is because as humans, we are more cerebral than most other animals, and therefore, our ability to express complex thoughts and concepts is also far above that of other animals. I don't believe that it is difficult to express concepts related to the field of confrontation and the like when talking face to face, but in situations where more intellectual ideas are needed, it would seem that the animalistic practices of confrontation and sexual selection get in the way.

This is an intriguing thought, though gathering evidence for such an idea might be difficult. One only needs to look at face-book to gather discouraging evidence to the contrary. But the question in focus remains whether the internet is making us smarter, or whether writing on the internet somehow enhances cognitive ability more than traditional textual information.

I am not entirely convinced. Language in itself is the ability to convey meaning. And the sum of all rules which are used to ensure meaningful interpretation between to communicants could serve as a valid interpretation of the meaning of linguistic grammar. Given this, it could be argued that there are additional "rules" of grammar concerning internet use, stemming from the aspect of interactivity in text.

But possibly no. I don't see any enhancement of cognitive ability with regards to internet activity. I do, however, perceive a corresponding decrease in face-to-face social skills between people. The result of such a decrease will most likely be a deepening reliance on computers and the internet to achieve the same level of social satisfaction that we previously achieved with face-to-face interactions.

This can be seen, of course, by the increased emotional tendencies between users of sites such as face-book and the like. A person's self esteem can be affected by things that people say online, a strange phenomenon given that most people online are strangers to each other.

It could be argued that speech patterns and communicative endeavors are becoming more simplistic in how they are used. This, of course worries me and a great deal of other people One doesn't like to think of the de-evolution of the human race into imbecilic simps.

What is more troubling might be that the concept of the human race becoming stupider and stupider is often celebrated and appreciated with a mild amusement and happy cynicism by a large amount of people who use the internet. i myself have nothing to say on this matter except that the intellect is directly dependent on the vocabulary and ability to exercise linguistic competency.

This is clear in that, the higher the amount of vocabulary one may appreciate, the more likely they are to understand and comprehend the meanings associated with those words. It could even be said that to lack a word for a concept is to lack that concept completely!

I don't believe that any unified "call to action" or anything of the sort is to be undertaken. There is a large appreciation for stupidity and randomness in today's internet culture. I don't suppose this will change any time soon, as long as a random video is easier to understand and appreciate than a well written poem.

Racism, Civil Rights, and Assimilation

Racism in america has changed from the belief of a general superiority in one's own race, to holding prejudices and beliefs about other cultures that those culture's might not like. Of course, in a country filled with differing people and creeds, a completely fair-minded person with regards to race is impossible. There will be prejudices between different cultures. I don't mean the typical stereotypes between races, but the little things that people believe about other cultures.

In today's poltically correct environment, a stereotype must always be false. One can not have an image of a black person as a thug without being labeled a racist, nevermind that this particular stereotype holds the kernel of truth that more black young men are uneducated and criminally viable. You see, it is easy to take the position that stereotypes make assocations with all races, and therefore, to hold a stereotype like this, one often is derided for believing that all black young men are criminals. The error in this is that stereotypes never do create an assumption that all members of their class are equivalent to the stereotype.

Stereotypes and prejudices are formed through experience which can never be said to be complete, and therefore, all stereotypes will only reflect the majority of experience one has with members of a class. Following this, it is easy to see why stereotypes of black men are of the thuggish and criminal variety. One should note, however, that these stereotypes can not be combated through any poltically correct means. Politicaly correct shaming does not change the experiences people have with any class.

It is sad, but in order for a class to change it's perception in the world, it has to change itself. Today, it is considered racist to believe that the majority of african americans are lesser educated and more likely to be associated with criminals, despite that in my experience, the majority of african american people I have had experience with has somewhat reinforced this stereotype.

Of course, there are those that do not reflect the sterotype. There are many that do not. However, it is the nature of a stereotype to reflect the general average, and not fully describe in exact detail an entire population. The results of this are that those members of a class that do not conform with the classes generally received image are met with surprise, befuddlement, and even hostility from others attempt to put the members "in their place".

And yet, there is hope, because behavior only has a loose causal connection with class. Therefore, the more outliers there are in a class, the more the general perception of that class starts to shift. We can already see this with the inclusion of african american people in media roles contrary to standard african american images.

Now, the roles that members of particular classes take in media usually represents the general stereotypes with which they are associated with, but the frequency with which certain classes appear in media gives an indication of the general importance that class has on society at large. Importance, of course, being simply the measure of how often general society as a whole considers, thinks of, or focuses on that class group. It is possible then, to find how much a certain group is on the general populace's "radar" by measuring the relative frequency with which that group appears in media consumed by the audience composing such a mental "radar." This is often due to the fact that creators of media generally wish to appeal to certain subsets of society, or society at large. These creators often intuit an approximation of their target audience's tastes and prejudices.

Given this, it is fair to say that an increase in educated african american youths will result in a general increase in educated african american's being represented in the general media. Of course, media often has the effect of reinforcing behavioral changes when viewed by the class that the media supposedly represents. The reasons for this are psychological and beyond the scope of this document.

In any case, my original point was that there seems to be a general consensus of media stereotypes as portraying racist images and prejudicial notions of that group. The prevailing method of attempting to combat these believed attacks on particular minority classes has been through fines and legislative action. It is my belief that the only thing this has achieved is the rise of the "angry black man" stereotype, simply through the new experiences people have of minority classes trying to oppose these media stereotypes.

I propose, then, that while preventing discrimination through legislative action has the positive effects of legal representation and general employment, it also has the decidedly negative effect of freezing ethnic stereotypes. This is because by enforcing the law of nondescrimination, pressure is taken off of the individual to inform their decisions regarding those from other cultures through personal experience, and thus ethnic classes are more encouraged to persist in their ethnic stereotypes and not adapt their ethnic behaviors to the advantage of other classes having a more positive view of them. It is through thus, that because different classes do not need to assimiliate in order to be accepted, they do not.

A prime example of this is the difference in assimilation between different european peoples, who were once considered quite distinct cultures, into the general category of "white". Naturally, the degree of difference between two cultures will translate into a longer amount of time transpiring before complete assimiliation. If memory serves, before the civil rights movement, there was a great consensus and appreciation for the american "melting pot", after which, ethnic diversity was suddenly more valued. And certainly it was that it should be more valued, for each citizen of a different ethnic circle had legal backing to preserve their own culture and heritage.

Now, the effects of the civil rights movements are notwithstanding with regards to whether enforcement of legal equivalence and rights is to be accepted as a laudatory achievement. The simple truth is that with the civil rights movement of the 1960's, america turned onto a path that divides citizens into ethnic groups much more than it unites them. This effect is well felt today, with the proliferation of census categories with which one can identify, ultimately resulting in a simple "write in your race here" option on the census.

It is of course, not possible to determine the trajectory of America's ethnic values if the civil rights movement had not occured. Much likely is the possibility that the more assimilated classes would have continued to dominate, and the less asasimilated classes would have been more forced to assimiliate to gain acceptance in wider culture, a procees that quite likely, would have been long and filled with strive for the classes seeking to assimilate, but not without residual effects on the more assimilated classes. Indeed, with each new group assimilating into an older, larger group, the entire consensus as a whole will take on characteristics of both. It is therefore reasonable to assume that white culture would not have been the same as it is today, given that qualities of other cultures would have "bled" into the mainstream.

This, of course, is very interesting to contemplate. I don't believe, however, that civil legislation regarding ethnic discrimination will be repealed, of course. Whether this sets a course for eventual assimilation, or the further shattering of our social structure remains to be seen. Through all this, one thing remains true: United we stand, Divided we fall.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep
is crickets chirping
through the whistling wind.
It is the fourteenth turn
of a plastic desktop fan.
Two dogs take barking
turns. And I turn
for the fourteenth time.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Love of Knowledge

Children, little more than tots,
tap with one finger on computer keys.
Fruity shapes and anime consume
the glowing screen. They share
the space with pop-up chats
and little smiley men, while I
type a fast ten fingered touch.

I comb the cyber sea for signs
of wreckage, and hope to find
survivors drift ashore a wisdom
tree. I find they frequent sites
of homework passed around
for all to see, for tidy fee.

Brother's Keeper

He smoked his last of cigarettes
while huddled on a winter bench.
He shot the smoke out with his snot,
before the filter whisked away.
That night he suckled from the teat
of bottles filled with gin. He stretched
his cotton jacket fibers thin.
The morning came and sleepy drool
peeled back the skin around his mouth.
A baby bluejay pecked his teeth,
for it had fallen from the nest,
and had no mother to despair,
or search it out with kindly care.
The two were brethren, of a kind,
and like good brothers, when one died,
the other ripped his cheek flesh out,
and sucked the marrow from his bones.

Reading Apprehension

Jane can run.
We can see.
But what, my god,
can these squiggles