Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Individualism in a collectivist society - from Wired

Momus at Wired shares some thoughts on the individual within a collectivist culture like Japan, and comes to some interesting conclusions.
I'm still not quite sure why collectivist cultures should cater better to the needs of individuals than individualistic societies do. Perhaps it's something to do with the fact that in a collectivist culture like Japan, you're never truly alone, even when you're alone. Or perhaps it's because Japan is such a group society that you need a break now and again, a place out in public where you can be alone for a few minutes between the group at the office and the group at home.

Recent Western Cape electrical outages were caused by sabotage

This is a hell of a thing. From the BBC report of this story:
Power cuts which have caused havoc in Cape Town are the result of sabotage possibly intended to influence South Africa's local polls, a minister says.
Minerals and Energy Minister Lindiwe Hendricks said there was a "curious coincidence" with Wednesday's polls.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Servers becoming fast outmoded

Nick Carr has a nice piece which predicts a decidedly unrosy future for the server industry. As he notes in the last paragraph: Ultimately, we may come to find that the server was simply a transitional technology, a stop-gap machine required as the network, or utility, model of computing matured.
The reasons, he notes, are consolidation and virtualization. As far as the latter goes, clustering (e.g. Google) would seem to be an especially attractive option for many companies.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

South African politics: DA vs ANC in Victoria West

This from allafrica.com:
...the town goes to the polls next week
with little to show for the first five years of democratic municipal
government. The Democratic Alliance (DA) won the 2000 local government
poll, but the power went to the African National Congress (ANC) as a
result of floor crossing in 2003.
Ah right, floor crossing. The mechanism whereby the electorate can elect an opposition party and yet find that they actually have an ANC representative.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Archbishop Paul Marcinkus dead

'God's banker,' Archibishop Paul Marcinkus, has died. He is, of course, best known for the rather dubious finances of the Vatican in the early 80s. From the BBC report: Marcinkus was head of the Vatican Bank at the time of
the fraudulent collapse of Banco Ambrosiano in 1982, with which it had
close ties.

He denied any wrongdoing. Although he was sought for questioning, he was granted immunity as a Vatican employee.
Recommended reading on Marcinkus, the P3 Masonic Lodge, Pope John Paul I, etc.: In God's Name, by David Yallop.

South Africa: power shortages

In brief: Business Day (via allafrica.com) has a short analysis on the electrical outages that have been plaguing Cape Town for a while.
There is no doubt that Eskom is running out of excess power, and
that has implications for everyone in the country. The main reason for
this is that economic growth has taken off far faster than anyone
expected... with the economy powering ahead at a growth rate of 5% last
year, demand for electricity has risen far faster than anticipated.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Man coughs up nail after 35 years

This appeared on boingboing, so everyone is no doubt aware of it already. From news10.net out of Sacramento, CA, we have this story.
In 1970, a bizarre gardening accident embedded a small nail deep inside Guy "Bud" Hart's body... More than 35 years later, the nail made an unexpected return, much to Hart's surprise... The
Placerville man was stunned earlier this month when a coughing fit
expelled the inch-long sliver of metal, completing its decades-long
trek inside the 84-year-old's body.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Wikipedia: the Nature article

I think that the wiki medium can be very useful. And I am in general a fan of wikipedia. But the unquestioning devotion that many pay to wikipedia and other 'Web 2.0' sites alarms me. Thus do I turn to Nick Carr for a bit of sanity.
His latest piece is an analysis of the Nature article contrasting Encyclopedia Brittanica and Wikipedia, an article which, as he writes, has become something of a get-out-of-jail-free card for Wikipedia and its fans. Today, whenever someone raises questions about the encyclopedia's quality, the readymade retort is: "Nature says it's as good as Britannica."

South African economic forecast good

It's looking good for our move to the Old Country. This from the Cape Argus (via allafrica.com):
Hailing the most promising economic outlook for 40 years, Finance
Minister Trevor Manuel doled out a fresh dollop of tax relief for
individuals and companies - and unveiled R156 billion of spending on
jobs creation and infrastructure spending in a steady-as-you-go Budget
on Wednesday.
Very nice indeed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Evansville - Gerst Bavarian Haus

I spent the last few days in Evansville, visiting a friend's Dad. It has some interesting restaurants and bars, but only a few.
I strongly recommend the Gerst Bavarian Haus. It has excellent beer, and some of the best damn sausage that I've tasted.

I took some photos of New Harmony, IN, and will be posting those sometime...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Massive call center for Cape Town

Well, I suppose that when I move back there are always jobs in the call center sweatshops: SA Wins Biggest UK Call Centre Yet - allafrica.com
South Africans have a reputation for strong empathy with UK callers and excellent customer skills...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Six degrees of wikipedia

Something to do while stuck in the cubicle farm:

Go to Six Degrees of Wikipedia.
Do a random Wikipedia search in a new browser window. Plug the subject into your Six Degrees of Wikipedia window.
Then do it again and see the links:

find path... from: Megaceryle to: Dragon Con
Science fiction
Dragon Con

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Cathedral at Bac, Arizona

Originally uploaded by Alhazred.

Swellendam Church

Originally uploaded by Alhazred.

Coquille mural

Coquille mural
Originally uploaded by Alhazred.

Zimbabwe twins give up their loincloths

Well, I try and post Zimbabwe articles here from time to time, depressing as they can be. This one at least doesn't involve politics. Two brothers started wearing traditional dress (goatskin loincloths) in an attempt to combat 'mental colonialism':
...the 22-year-olds said that they had received a calling from God to give up their western clothing when they were living in the UK.
Unfortunately they were arrested for their trouble.

Stuff I Collect - Militaria

Stuff I Collect - Militaria WW2 WWII First 1st Allied Airborne pin OPA ration token (1 blue) WW1 U.S. Shipyard Voluntee...