August 23rd, 2004

Building 'n Me

Random Morning Links

Just two this morning. First, from BoingBoing, OnStar Conversations that didn't make it into commercials.

And from metaphorge points us to the Godchecker, an online database of dieties and folklore. Pretty schway.

[Edit to avoid spamming your friends page]
Iran is learning its foreign policy from Bush. They're prepared to launchpre-emptive strikes to protect their nuclear facilities. Good job making the world safe for democracy guys. You keep doing what you're doing, and I'll make sure that my three-eyed radioactive children participate in the phony elections that simply exist to provide an illusion of democracy in twenty years.

And this is just silly.

Flaws of Premise : Capitalism

As of late, I've been noting the systemic flaws in capitalism, most specifically the Rich-to-Rich/Poor-to-Poor positive feedback loop. There are however, other flaws with capitalism.

There is a flaw of premise- a conceptual failing in the very conception of the system. Specifically, the idea that the economics of supply and demand will accurately represent the value of a product. Capitalism depends on this premise- at least, most interpretations do. There are several classes of product however, where this does not hold.

First, there are Cultural Products. Most books published to do not make back their publishing costs. Most independant art languishes in obscurity. There is no direct economic gain from Cultural Products- there is no economic advantage to revitalize an old building versus razing it and erecting a "Disposable Building"- a styrofoam and steel concoction that has a fixed lifespan of ten years before it needs to be torn down itself.

There is, however, a gain to these that would make a Randian cry. While capitalism ensures that we have an economy that works, it makes no provision to ensure that we have a culture left when we do it. Since there is no profit in restoring an old building, it should not be done- except that we do not want to surrender our history. There's no reason to produce art that makes no profit, that is not salable- except that it adds to the trove of history that defines our culture.

There is a corralary to this- and it is the same flaw that attacks reputation systems (at some point, expect an essay that's actually researched and not stream-of-consciousness) showing how capitalism is just a mature reputation system)- specifically, just because it's popular doesn't mean it's good. And the inverse- just because it's unpopular doesn't mean it's bad.

For example, someone writes a scathing critique of American Culture, Government and Economy, one in which they offend every group, from the conservatives to the liberals to the minorities and the monied. Every point they make, however, is well founded and raises an honest objection. While this book may not sell- it certainly should be read.

A less hypothetical version of this example would be the modern news media. The modern media writes what sells; they cover stories that sell ad time or newspapers, not stories of importance. Oh, there's crossover, but a story that offends- even one that is right to do so, exposing the hubris of the middle class for example, will not get covered.

There's more on this, but it's a good set of morning thoughts. Take them and mutate them as you need.

Mmm... Computer Porn

CG Porn isn't terribly new- you can find it on the web without trying. It's uniformly bad, done with the most amatuer of software for the task.

Suddenly however, it hits mainstream, as Playboy picks up a video game character to be in their magazine.

*snicker snort*

My New Best Friend

I have a new best friend, and it is named The Internet Archive. Now, it's not really new, and it's not even new to me- but I've only recently started enjoying it.

It's a fantastic idea, visionary, compelling- dare I say- brilliant. They've even recieved special dispensation under the DMCA to copy old software and archive it.

Go them.

Had lunch with ellie today, who I haven't seen in... well, a fuck-of-a-long time. She's a sweetheart, and seeing as she _works_ in Albany, and I _live_ in Albany, you can see how this goes. There shall be more of these such get togethers.

Meanwhile, I recently played around on an iBook, and discovered that my Linux themes looked like the _old_ OSX look, not the new one with the brushed metal thing. So I just took some time this afternoon and fixed that.

Free-Desktop's gtk-qt-theme-engine, which allows a linux user to use QT (KDE type) themes with GTK applications (they're just two different graphics libraries, don't worry your pretty little head over this section if you have _fuckall_ of an idea what I'm talking about) has come a long way since I last tried it out. It still doesn't match transparency terribly well, and for some reason, it refuses to skin the menu-bar section.

Even so, my Desktop is looking _dead_ sexay.