motto lotto

Thursday, July 23, 2009

great article on computer security

A french hacker collected a lot of information about Twitter from Twitter employee accounts and sent it to TechCrunch. I especially liked the hacker's extreme but appropriate advice (in an apology letter translated from French):
I did not do this to profit from the information. Security is an area that fascinated me for many years and I want to do my job. In my everyday life, I help people to guard against the dangers of the Internet. I learned the basic rules .. For example: Be careful where you click the files that you download and what you type on the keyboard. Ensure that the computer is equipped with effective protection against viruses, external attacks, spam, phishing … Upgrading the operating system, software commonly used … Remember to use passwords without any similarity between them. Remember to change them regularly … Never store confidential information on the computer

The Anatomy of the Twitter Attack (h/t Schneier)
There's a takeaway at the end of the article that's good advice too. I'm not sure this guy shares the hacker ethic but TechCrunch also has to deal with the ethical question.

surprising cure for whooping cough

I was looking for 3 letter names of supernatural entities that I could use for server hostnames. I like to keep my hostnames under 5 characters wherever possible. Anyhow, I came across a Hob (a type of small household spirit) on wikipedia. Apparently one particular hob (that lives near Runswick Bay) can cure whooping cough. Good to know.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

in case you missed it

Amazon goes all big brothery on Orwell's books for Kindle.
This morning [July 17, 2009], hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.

But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people’s Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.

Some E-Books Are More Equal Than Others
Here's what the FSF recommends people do in response.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Emerson on skepticism (Montaigne)

Skepticism is the attitude assumed by the student in relation to the particulars which society adores, but which he sees to be reverend only in their tendency and spirit. The ground occupied by the skeptic is the vestibule of the temple. Society does not like to have any breath of question blown on the existing order. But the interrogation of custom at all points is an inevitable stage in the growth of every superior mind, and is the evidence of its perception of the flowing power which remains itself in all changes.

The superior mind will find itself equally at odds with the evils of society and with the projects that are offered to relieve them. The wise skeptic is a bad citizen; no conservative, he sees the selfishness of property and the drowsiness of institutions. But neither is he fit to work with any democratic party that ever was constituted; for parties wish every one committed, and he penetrates the popular patriotism. His politics are those of the "Soul's Errand" of Sir Walter Raleigh; or of Krishna, in the Bhagavat, "There is none who is worthy of my love or hatred"; whilst he sentences law, physic, divinity, commerce and custom. He is a reformer; yet he is no better member of the philanthropic association. It turns out that he is not the champion of the operative, the pauper, the prisoner, the slave. It stands in his mind that our life in this world is not of quite so easy interpretation as churches and schoolbooks say. He does not wish to take ground against these benevolences, to play the part of devil's attorney, and blazon every doubt and sneer that darkens the sun for him. But he says, There are doubts.

Ralph Waldo Emerson - Montaigne; or, the Skeptic

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

starting my own company

Today I quit my job in order to start my own company. It sounds like I'll have two clients on board to begin with. I'll mostly be building web applications and helping determine internet strategies for small businesses.

I would start writing about becoming an entrepreneur but I think Paul Graham has already taken care of that.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nietzsche on sympathy

Not that I'm ready to tackle his discussions of pity and generosity of spirit but Kaufmann's note in The Gay Science (p. 249) was really intriguing to me.
Nietzsche's letter to Gast, August 20, 1880: "... To this day, my whole philosophy totters after an hour's conversation with total strangers: it seems so foolish to me to wish to be right at the price of love, and not be able to communicate what one considers most valuable lest one destroy the sympathy. Hinc meae lacrimae [hence my tears]."

Monday, July 13, 2009

the legitimate purposes of philosophy

  • the pursuit of truth - too boring/exhaustive for one person's lifetime, delegated to the sciences as a collective enterprise
  • unearthing prejudices - especially by looking at the prevailing wisdom of our time and tracing its development but also by carefully attempting to understand other disciplines, people, cultures and ages (ways of being)
  • delineating between phenomenal and epiphenomenal beliefs - to better target beliefs that need changing and also to better determine how to change oneself (specifically I think it's best to target/understand beliefs that impact your MO and even at times to work backwards from behavior to understand beliefs)
  • untying a knotted understanding - personal therapy to avoid spending mental energy on things that don't really matter
  • reframing - tweaking our perceptions and stories to achieve different ends, gaining new eyes
  • "know thyself" "become who you are"
  • means to explore an arbitrary literary/artistic drive
Anything I'm missing?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jaspers' short take on "God is Dead"

Nietzsche does not say, "There is no God," or "I do not believe in God," but "God is dead." He believes that he is ascertaining a fact of present-day reality when he peers clairvoyantly into his age and his own nature.
In other words, "we're all atheists now". Or as Nz puts it "atheism is the only honest air we breathe, we more spiritual men of today"*.

I've been dipping in and out of Karl Jaspers' book on Nietzsche. Why God died is a more difficult question and Jaspers takes a number of pages to explore it.

true generosity

True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the "rejects of life," to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands--whether of individuals or of entire peoples--need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world.

Paulo Freire - Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Friday, July 10, 2009

interesting aside on "God is Dead"

Nz was here
One occasionally sees the following graffiti: "'God is dead.' Nietzsche. 'Nietzsche is dead.' God." Rarely, someone adds a third line; e.g., "'Nietsche is spelled wrong.' Kaufmann." The best third line I have seen is: "'Some are born posthumously.' Nietzsche."
That's Kaufmann in reference to The Gay Science §364 --
The last is the trick of posthumous people par excellence. ("What did you think?" one of them once asked impatiently; "would we feel like enduring the estrangement, the cold and quiet of the grave around us--this whole subterranean, concealed, mute, undiscovered solitude that among us is called life but might just as well be called death--if we did not know what will become of us, and that it is only after death that we shall enter our life and become alive, oh, very much alive, we posthumous people!") [bold emphasis mine]

the philosopher as traveler - Nietzsche

These go along with my other philosopher as traveler posts.
Always at home.— One day we reach our goal and now point with pride to the long travels we undertook to reach it. In fact, we were not even aware of traveling. But we got so far because we fancied at every point that we were at home.

Brief habits.— I love brief habits and consider them an inestimable means for getting to know many things and states, down to the bottom of their sweetness and bitternesses; my nature is designed entirely for brief habits, even in the needs of my physical health and altogether as far as I can see at all— from the lowest to the highest. I always believe that here is something that will give me lasting satisfaction—brief habits, too, have this faith of passion, this faith in eternity—and that I am to be envied for having found and recognized it; and now it nourishes me at noon and in the evening and spreads a deep contentment all around itself and deep into me so that I desire nothing else, without having any need for comparisons, contempt or hatred. But one day its time is up; the good things part from me, not as something that has come to nauseate me but peacefully and sated with me as I am with it—as if we had reason to be grateful to each other as we shook hands to say farewell. Even then something new is waiting at the door, along with my faith—this indestructible fool and sage!—that this new discovery will be just right, and that this will be the last time. That is what happens to me with dishes, ideas, human beings, cities, poems, music, doctrines, ways of arranging the day, and life styles.

Enduring habits I hate, and I feel as if a tyrant had come near me and as if the air I breathe had thickened when events take such a turn that it appears that they will inevitably give rise to enduring habits; for example, owing to an official position, constant association with the same people, a permanent domicile, or unique good health. Yes, at the very bottom of my soul I feel grateful to all my misery and bouts of sickness and everything about me that is imperfect, because this sort of thing leaves me with a hundred backdoors through which I can escape from enduring habits.

Most intolerable, to be sure, and the terrible par excellence would be for me a life entirely devoid of habits, a life that would demand perpetual improvisation. That would be my exile and my Siberia.

Nietzsche The Gay Science §253, §295
I also like Kaufmann's note on §295
This conclusion qualifies the resolve to live dangerously. But some stability and temporary equilibrium are needed to permit the concentration of all mental and emotional resources on the most important problems. One simply cannot question everything at once. The most one can do is to grant nothing permanent immunity.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nz with Dumas on happiness

[T]here is neither happiness nor unhappiness in this world; there is only the comparison of one state with another. Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss. It is necessary to have wished for death, Maximilien, in order to know how good it is to live.

Alexander Dumas (Edmund Dantés - The Count of Monte Cristo)
How little you know of human happiness you comfortable and benevolent people, for happiness and unhappiness are sisters and even twins that either grow up together or, as in your case, remain small together.

Nietzsche The Gay Science §270

blues guy in DC

We saw this guy playing the blues on the National Mall.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

back from DC

While walking up to the Washington monument,

we came upon a street preacher.

He had a translator.

I made sure to get a copy of their tract. The guy who handed me the pamphlet asked me, "Are you from around here?" I answered "I'm an American if that's what you mean" and we walked away.

The tract tells an interesting story about Johnny.

The tract had a destiny.

I have a new bookmark.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

shared history

Talking with others who share our personal history provides respite. It allows for saying more with less.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Nz defends Church of Mike

Too Jewish.-- If God wished to become an object of love, he should have given up on judging and justice first of all; a judge, even a merciful judge, is no object of love. The founder of Christianity was not refined enough in his feelings at this point --being a Jew.

Nietzsche GS §140
Indeed. Luckily, the founder of Church of Mike dodged that bullet.

a question of taste

Against Christianity.-- What is now decisive against Christianity is our taste, no longer our reasons.

Nietzsche GS §132
I don't generally like wheat beers but once in a while a wheat beer comes along that's exceptional and my taste is won over.

Christianity, an ideal, does not exist. There are only this and that instantiation of the ideal which are often contradictory with each other, sometimes with themselves.

It would be odd to survey the breadth of Christian (mis)interpretations and existences and not find a few exceptions that were pleasing to one's taste. Especially for one with such a sublime taste for error.