Looks like I'll be writing an irregular column in Free Software Magazine
Note that's not freeware
- the free in Free Software refers to freedom
(to do what you want), not "doesn't cost you anything" (though that's usually true too). Free software is the original term for open source software
, more or less, but with a more ideological emphasis and generally a lot more zeal. Personally I tend to say "open source" because I'm pessimistic about the likelihood of people picking up the point about software freedom
. But "freedom" really is a valuable thing in this context, as is "openness".
My first column for FSM is "Saving Identica and StatusNet?
" - some suggestions for dealing with spam on open source improved version of Twitter. Future columns will vary from big picture stuff to specific software projects. For future reference: My posts on FSM
Now working on a post about climate, free software, and the Coalition of the Willing
Back in Jakarta. Planning to get out of town more though - the air is quite polluted here, and when indoors, there's generally either cigarette smoke or "air freshener" - and I have a low tolerance for chemical smells.
Just got back from the Sulawesi highlands, where my sister-in-law's father's burial took place. He died at 90-something, last year. The Toraja people wait a while for their burials, and save up for water buffalo to slaughter. It was fun and interesting to be a part of the ceremony, but I couldn't avoid walking past the poor, slaughtered buffalos.
I preferred the bit where they carried the coffin to the tomb, putting it on a bamboo frame which they "danced" (bouncing it up and down), pushed back and forth in a contest; ran it down the muddy hill to the road, stopping only for a mud fight.
In all we spent about a week in the countryside where the burial ceremony was held, and we stayed in one of the bamboo structures (a kind of longhouse) that were built for the occasion.
During the day people would dress up and engage in traditional ceremonies dating to animist times, and at night jostle for position at the few power outlets, charging Blackberries and Nokias (plus one iPhone, and my Android).
A friend asked on Facebook about identity theft, and how to respond to friend requests from people you don't know well. Here are my thoughts:
Limit the info you put out there. E.g. don't use your exact birthday or your banking address in a public place. (Downside: I once had someone go to a lot of trouble for my birthday, but they got my birthday from Skype, which at the time was more than a week out. We laughed though, and had a good time anyway.)
I gave up being very picky about FB friends - a long as there's some connection or common interest, I'll approve them. It's a social network, and I want to make new connections with likeminded people.
But I consider FB a very public place, and it's not for sensitive info, whether the gritty details of my personal life or info that an identity thief could use.
Posted via LjBeetle
Talking with my brother about power, politics and influence in Indonesia, I'm again reminded of Lord Acton's famous quote:
"All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men..."
Sydney is now represented by women at every level of government:
So - three levels of politicians, and two mostly symbolic figures. Does it matter?
- Mayor of Sydney
- NSW State premier
- Australian prime minister
- Governor General (technically the head of government, depending who you ask)
- The "Queen of Australia," the foreigner and welfare recipient, Queen Elizabeth II.
I think it matters less and less. I suspect it wouldn't even matter a whole lot in America, since they've seen women in other positions, and those who watch the international news would realize it's not a big deal.
Our new PM Gillard was elected not because of her biology, but because she's been performing the Number 2 job respectably well. (Nor was she given a "poisoned chalice" as has been suggested - she was appointed deputy leader of the party well before the 2007 election when they entered office, and stayed there while Labor rode high on popularity.)
One area of progress in the world does seem to be more acceptance of difference. I recall during the Pauline Hanson years of the late 90s, when she endorsed a fear-mongering book warning against the multicultural path Australia was treading (though she later stated she hadn't read it, IIUC). In 2050, in this xenophobic dystopian fantasy, the Australian Prime Minister was a Chinese lesbian.* Race, gender sexuality - it's all there. At the time it seemed funny that they were reaching for the most bizarre combination they could think of. Now I wonder what was bizarre, other than the irrational (yet so human) fear of the other. There's a Chinese lesbian in cabinet now, Penny Wong the Australian Minister for Climate Change, and she could yet be PM well before 2050. I don't know whether she's a good choice for PM - maybe now with the change of PM, we'll see whether she actually wants to act on climate change. But it now seems silly to think that her race, gender or orientation could ever have been an issue.
There are a lot of subtleties to this, related to whether one gender might on average be better in certain ways, or the value of this the example to young people (which is certainly a good point). But if I even start, this blog post will end up 4 times as long, and I won't get any other work done tonight. Suffice it to say, that when I vote, gender won't be a factor, either way.
* Actually it was a half Chinese / half Indian lesbian cyborg called Poona Li Hung, says this blogger
. Ms Wong doesn't quite qualify, AFAIK.
In the very early 2000s I looked up the NSW Greens policy on the Built Environment, and the version that I found was rabidly anti-developer, more from an activist perspective than a planner's perspective. Now, I agree that developers are a big problem, but saying developers must pay for so many different things (restricting their profit) and must not do (long list of things) makes the developer's role extremely difficult - and we really want good developers' rather than no developers.
I then met Lee Rhiannon (Greens MLC, that's equivalent to a senator, in the NSW state parliament) and told her my concerns. She acknowledged them and said a more balanced policy would be approved very soon. It was, and I was very impressed by the improvement, and the ditching of the anti-developer rhetoric. (I helped write the draft urban planning policy for the NSW Democrats around the same time - I think both policies had good points.)
To be fair, the early, underfunded Greens probably couldn't easily call on professional urban planners to write their policies, so I wouldn't judge them harshly for the early version, in hindsight.
I'm still concerned that their annual "Bad Developer Awards" don't have "Bad Council Awards" for NIMBYism and knocking back good designs, or good developer awards, for livable, intelligent medium and high density development. I mentioned this (or some of these award ideas) to Sylvia Hale (another MLC) - while I do respect Ms Hale, I was disappointed I didn't get a more enthusiastic response.
Related pages on Appropedia (sustainable policy wiki):
I expected to find that the researcher used really biased questions where someone with a left-wing perspective would be judged wrong. But looking at the questions, it sadly seems that the questions were fair, and the common lefty answers were simply wrong.
I'm not completely surprised - and for some of the same reasons that I don't identify as left-wing (even though others may consider me so).
Now, "left-wing" overlaps a lot with "progressive". I'd like to see progressive-minded people asking and answering hard questions about how to make a difference in the world. Basic economic literacy is essential to doing that.Edit:
A few big provisos here:
1. "Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree)."
Actually, Professor Klein is wrong here - they are indeed being exploited. The point, though - what I think Klein is getting at - is whether this working relationship benefits the worker. And it does. If you think being exploited is bad, not
being exploited is worse.
2. I suspect that if we chose different questions, we would find that right-wingers are just as misguided in their economic beliefs.
3. This is far from a rigorous study - the participants are described as "respondents." It seems like they were probably self-selected. Still, these misconceptions by lefties are consistent with my own observations. Edit #2:
I shouldn't read anything into "respondents" - turns out that term is widely used in studies. Still, without any info on methodology, this should be just regarded as an interesting informal study - better than a show of hands at the pub, but not by much.
Sydney was shocked recently by the murder of a young woman, 18 years old, after she met a man on Facebook. The man assumed an identity to appeal to her good nature and her aspiration of working in national parks.
That it's a tragedy is clear. But is it an avoidable tragedy? Was it simply a case of doing something stupid and dangerous? I've heard that said, but wWe all do stupid things, but usually we don't die as a result.
We all make judgements about who we trust and who we don't online. I know I do when I use CouchSurfing
, and when I've used rideshare on Craigslist. People meet strangers from internet dating sites every day, and usually we stay safe. How? Being sensible and meeting in public is one way, but the website that arranges the meeting has a key role to play. Facebook makes it easy to fake an identity, and give the impression of being friends with people whose judgement you trust. A manipulative and dishonest person can take advantage of this, and of people who don't operate from suspicion and cynicism. (I'd rather not operate from suspicion and cynicism either, but when you're using a dodgy platform that doesn't help you see if people are dodgy, then a bit of negativity may save you, sadly.)
CouchSurfing.org is very different - it gives you a much better idea of whether the person's for real, through:
- Verified identities (for those prepared to make a modest donation)
- A much more sophisticated friend function (rather than Facebook's simplistic "friend" or "not friend" model, CouchSurfing friends list how they met, when, and how well they know the user),
- References, that flesh out the picture of the person in question.
- A warning before you contact someone that has had a significant number of negative references.
CouchSurfing.org is not primarily a profit-oriented site like Facebook, and places the safety of its users above the tricks and gimmicks that Facebook uses to keep people engaged. On Craigslist there is no pretence of an established identity, which is possibly better than Facebook in that it doesn't lull us into a false sense of security.
While I described Facebook as profit-oriented
, it's not actually profitable, and there's a good chance it never will be. But the goal of enormous profits consistently leads Facebook to make choices that are not in the interests of users. Users are starting to wake up - let's make sure we don't get lulled back to sleep.