Sunday, September 24, 2006

To every disgruntled pedestrian telling me to get off the sidewalk : "Bike's don't kill, cars do"

Yesterday my room mate Gwen recieved a call that threw the day into a storm of anger and sorrow. One of our mutual friends Mitch (I was not as close to him as she was) got hit by a drunk driver on his bike. He had to get surgery in his neck, and his chances of ever walking again are 1%. What is even more upsetting is that this happened almost 2 weeks ago, and friends that we have encountered several times did not let us know of his condition.

I hate automobiles. They are weapons of mass destruction. Not only are they responsible for massive environmental degradation, they are a power that anyone, no matter how irresponsible, can take into their hands. Seeing my room mate in such pain was very difficult. I'm saying a prayer for the well-being of our dear friend.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

On the reception and delivery of information

I'm pleased to be taking my COMP 3007 course with Tony White because it is his favourite undergraduate course to teach, and it shows. He makes a real effort to entertain the class as well as impart the knowledge, something I really appreciate. Professor White described our textbook, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs as "THE best book on Computer Science I have ever read". The Forward of the book is a marvellous passage that I think any lay person should read if the want to understand the philosophy of computer programming. I have made note of some of my favourite quotes from the book so far, including:

The source of the exhilaration associated with computer programming is the continual unfolding within the mind and on the computer of mechanisms expressed as programs and the explosion of perception they generate. If art interprets our dreams, the computer executes them in the guise of programs!

Every reader should ask himself periodically ``Toward what end, toward what end?'' -- but do not ask it too often lest you pass up the fun of programming for the constipation of bittersweet philosophy.

Pascal is for building pyramids -- imposing, breathtaking, static structures built by armies pushing heavy blocks into place. Lisp is for building organisms -- imposing, breathtaking, dynamic structures built by squads fitting fluctuating myriads of simpler organisms into place.

Invent and fit; have fits and reinvent! We toast the Lisp programmer who pens his thoughts within nests of parentheses.

In effect, we conjure the spirits of the computer with our spells... A computational process is indeed much like a sorcerer's idea of a spirit. It cannot be seen or touched. It is not composed of matter at all. However, it is very real. ... The programs we use to conjure processes are like a sorcerer's spells. They are carefully composed from symbolic expressions in arcane and esoteric programming languages that prescribe the tasks we want our processes to perform.

It's a goal of mine to make my university experience fun this year. I already laughed heartily about 3 times in class today :) I think I should go visit my prof in his office hours and share my enthousiam for this book, and the course. I'm particularly motivated to do so after reading a chapter of Inge Bell's book This Book is not Required entitled "Support your local professor". I decided that if I want to become a teacher (I'm considering it), a good way to practice would be to present the information in this chapter to my professors. It's occured to me that a good way to learn how to give good massages would be to practice on a masseuse because they know how to give good feedback. Well, I bet it's similar with teaching. I haven't commited to doing this yet, but I wrote out some notes...

I'm considering dropping in on a Toastmasters meeting one of these days so I can get better at public presentations. For the first time ever, my room mate Mark Tovey interviewed me about Free Culture and how it relates to his most recent paper, and he gave me some nice comments on my delivery of answers, which I found to be rather encouraging. I know I've got it in me to be a good speaker, but I need some refinement. That being said, there's value in being silent in voice and mind, so on that note...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Well, right now I'm at Carleton doing Free Culture communications because I don't yet have an internet connection at home. I left off Thursday, just before attending my COMP 3007 course. I'm pleased to have Tony White as a professor for this course because it's one of his favorite undergraduate courses to teach. Often in the beginning of a semester I find myself thinking along the lines of "if I'm to maintain an interest in this course, I'll have to do some self-study/work on things that relate to this ciriculum, because on it's own, it's just so dry". Often I don't. But when I left the course in which we will be learning the Scheme programming language, I felt compeled to read Douglas Hoffstader's analysis of Lisp, the mother language of Scheme in his "Metamagical Thema". Another fun self-directed learning task would be to fool around with Nyquist, a "sound synthesis and composition language based on a Lisp syntax". I just wish I was working in an organization that fostered this type of exploration. It's very hard for me to keep on track with my self-directed learning without some kind of support.

Speaking of extraciricular learning, that same day I participated in the RadFrosh filmfest, and despite my ADD tendencies, managed to sit through two films, The Take, and Battle Ground: 21 Days on the Empire's Edge, both very compelling works.

Yesterday I mostly just tried to make my home more habitable. Later I went to the GOSLING meeting for the first time in ages (when I was working at The Wild Oat, I always would have to work Friday evenings) with my room mate Mark Tovey. I invited Mark so he could meet some people involved in Open Source activism in government because he is currently seeking interviews with people concerning the paper he recently co-wrote Given enough minds...bridging the ingenuity gap (which I blogged about on the Free Culture Carleton site). It was great to be back in the Free Culture-related discourse; recently, I haven't been very socially engaged in the conversation. I know that I haven't made use of the mailing lists, discussion groups, blogs, and other digital communications available to me as much as I could, but there's something about live dialog you just can't beat. That's why I'm hoping that people will come join the Free Culture Carleton meetings. It just occured to me that it would be nice for the weekly Free Culture Carleton meeting to have alternating weeks of organizing meetings and chat and drink meetings.

That brings me up to today. Like I say, I'm just trying to do as much Free Culture Carleton internet organizing that I can before I head off to a volunteer appreciation party hosted by OPIRG. I look forward to dancing with my fellow activists.

alterlabel sampler volume1 : Tasty beats

This album is rather catchy. It reminds me of Ghislain Poirier and Sage Francis at times. I will always remember it as the album I listened to while applying for a CopyCamp ( subsidy. I look forward to checking out the alterlabel. I hope you folk will consider releasing your tracks in ogg format as well as mp3 (better quality, open standard/format). A reminder: by putting a No Derivatives condition on your music, you prevent DJs and podcasters from mixing your songs under Creative Commons license (and they're the ones who will help you promote your label).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Currently reading ....

The book I am currently reading is called "Fighting For Hope: Organizing to Realize Our Dreams"(a review here). I am about half-way through it. The last book I was reading was "The Glass Bead Game" aka "Magister Ludi" by Herman Hesse, but I didn't finish it yet despite it being an intensely insightful book. Maybe now that I'm back in university I should read it to gear me up for the game, but one thing at a time. Just thought I'd let you know; I may have something more interesting to say about this when I finish this/these books.

I've been exposed !

Ahhhh ! I'm out there ! Creative Commons Canada has made my rinky-dinky poem about "Getting wikified" their feature content, and has linked to this poorly maintained blog. When I visited the site to fetch the web link to my Best of the CC-ca Web project (still in progress), I found this poem that I intended to make my footer. The fact that this poem became the featured content shows just how much Creative Commons Canada needs your contributions. When first noticed the homepage, I erupted in laughter. But then the harshness of exposure kicked in, and I realized "I gotta get my act together". So, here I am facing all you Commoners and sharing my life as of late.

Today is the first day of classes at Carleton University. Right now I am only taking 2 courses, COMP 3007, a course I dropped after failing the midterm, and COMP 4004 . To be honest, I have little interest in the game that is acedemics, but I'm determined to complete my degree anyway. I'm more interested in learning to organize that learning to absorb information that I will probably never use and doing work that has no practical use. That's why I'm staring up Free Culture Carleton.

The funy thing about this is that I am probably in the most unorganized state that I have ever been. I just moved to a new home (the details of which I'll get to shortly), and all of my belongings are still in boxes. You'd think a week would be enough time to get settled, but I decided (maybe unwisely) to become a mentor for RadFrosh, OPIRG-Carleton's alternative frosh. That ocupied a lot of my time in the last week. For a week I have had neither phone nor internet, which has made it difficult to co-ordinate. Also, just before moving I lost my PalmPilot with all of my todo, contact and scheduling info in it (luckily some of it was synched to my PC). Yet somehow things seem alright... one of the reasons being that I live in a good home.

The location of the home I live in is near Preston and Elm St. The neighbours in the area are quite friendly; it really feels like a neighbourhood. I quote one of my room mates "I've talked to more people in one week here than the whole year living in the Glebe [Holmwood & O'Connor]". The rent on the 4-bedroom unit we ocupy is very reasonable. The location is very close to the OTrain Bayview stop, which is very convienient for getting to school. But the best part is that I have great room mates. I don't have permission to blog them up yet, but I'm going to ask permission and hopefully I'll get to blogging them soon. It suffices to say that all 3 of my room mates are both interested in Free/Libre Open Source Software, and also interested in environmental sustainability and other issues affecting the public interest. Thus, we're considering calling the house "The Green Penguin house" (the penguin being the mascot for Linux), but we haven't reached a consensus on that yet. Oh, and that brings me to another wonderful thing about our house: we're organizing ! We will be having regular meetings with food, and agenda, a minutes-keeper, a facilitator, and consensus-based decision making. I am beginning to recognize the importance of social self-determinination. It all starts in the home, they say, so here's wishing "power-with" with every day.

Well, I hope that gives a broader window to my world. I imagine my life will be opening up more and more with every day. I'm getting heavy with creativity, so I hope to be sharing more in the Commons soon. I'll be sure to let the community know of any new displays.