18 Nov 2002 mbp   » (Master)

Seth Schoen makes a doubleplusgood point

"Trying to design a limited-purpose computer is like trying to design a limited-purpose spoken language. Imagine trying to design a language that can express only some thoughts but not others."

Seth replies with a worthy comparison of this approach to manipulation of language in Orwell's 1984.

Jem Berkes wrote a good essay about 1984 a while ago.

I entered the Shell / Economist Essay competition earlier in the year. I didn't win, but the winners are so well written that I can't feel bad about it. I think the copyright on my entry now returns to me, so I will put it up later. In particular, the gold prize winner Milksop Nation is just brilliant.

In the entire state of California there is no saloon with a clientele so reckless and depraved that the law will avert its eyes and permit them to take the insane risk of drinking a beer in a building occupied by a person who might smoke a cigarette.

(Good rhetoric is slightly exagerated and simplistic.)

We went to the California Academy of Sciences to see the skull exhibit, fish roundabout, and Eames Powers of Ten exhibit. (Didn't you watch Powers of Ten at school? Don't you have nerdy nostalgia too?). Very cool. mjs says that the Academy of California Sciences ought to have reiki, dolphin telepathy and homeopathy.

I've been listening to the BBC Radio Play of The Lord of the Rings while driving around California. I like it as a story, but I find the underlying philosophy a bit strange. The bad guys are evil in their bones -- there is no possibility of even a single orc joining the other side, or any question that there might be fault on both sides. Whereas in the real world, given sufficient perspective (say, a thousand years), it often seems that there is fault on both sides, or at least that evil is not so easily apportioned by race.

A war without death, but not what you might think:

Armored Combat Earth Movers came behind the armored burial brigade, leveling the ground and smoothing away projecting Iraqi arms, legs and equipment.

(I expect enthusiastic praise for US Army landscape gardening from mglazer.)

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