October 2004

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I upgraded Movable Type to their stellar new version, and reactivated comments, now that the engine enables me to review them before they post. (It also has a nifty feature that allows anyone who’s registered at TypeKey.)

Read all about the lovely new engine here:
Movable Type Publishing Platform

Installation isn’t for the novice, however. If you just want to crank up a blog without having to worry about cgi scripts and web hosting, try the excellent TypePad a Movable Type spinoff. Or the venerable (and gloriously now-owned-by Google) Blogger

Arthur Schlesinger Jr. explains how the Bush White House is the first to use religion in its particular way.

The White House Wasn’t Always God’s House

George Washington was a nominal Anglican who rarely stayed for Communion. John Adams was a Unitarian, which Trinitarians abhorred as heresy. Thomas Jefferson, denounced as an atheist, was actually a deist who detested organized religion and who produced an expurgated version of the New Testament with the miracles eliminated. Jefferson and James Madison, a nominal Episcopalian, were the architects of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. James Monroe was another Virginia Episcopalian. John Quincy Adams was another Massachusetts Unitarian. Andrew Jackson, pressed by clergy members to proclaim a national day of fasting to seek God’s help in combating a cholera epidemic, replied that he could not do as they wished “without feeling that I might in some degree disturb the security which religion now enjoys in this country in its complete separation from the political concerns of the general government.”

This particular statement should be proclaimed far and wide:

“The most dangerous people in the world today are those who persuade themselves that they are executing the will of the Almighty.”

(Note: I disagree a bit, however, about Reagan and Carter and others never using their faith to get support or votes… I recall Carter’s being a Sunday-school teacher being used in his favor by his campaign, to say ‘here’s an honest God-fearing guy who isn’t going to lie like Nixon’ … but still, when it came to making actual decisions about the nation, none of these others openly proclaimed that they were doing whatever came to them in prayer.)

The editors of the grand old magazine have, for the first time in its history, endorsed a candidate. And they manage to write the best single statement I’ve yet seen explaining why we need a regime change of our own. Check it out at The New Yorker.

I’ve been pondering lately how complex something can be with only a few facets of adjustment. How very simple choices or factors can render near-infinite sophistication. And then I see this:

Wired News: Humans Aren’t So Complicated

A refined map of the human genome shows that humans have even fewer genes than previously thought — less than 25,000, about the same as a mustard green.

Everybody needs to read this.

NYTimes Magazine article on Bush’s fanaticism

”Just in the past few months,” Bartlett said, ”I think a light has gone off for people who’ve spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he’s always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.” Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush’s governance, went on to say: ”This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them. . . .

And my favorite line…

Faith heals the heart and the spirit, but it doesn’t do much for analytical skills.

If you’ve ever wondered why companies and other organizations and communities end up with their own jargon, take a look here:

See this article at CNN…
Deaf children thrown together in a school in Nicaragua without any type of formal instruction invented their own sign language — a sophisticated system that has evolved and grown, researchers reported on Friday.

I think this throws a lot of light on how powerfully gathered humans can come to shared understandings with some kind of language, even if they have to invent it themselves.



I went back to this recently, to get my head back in the right groove when working out how to model complex relationship structures. It still makes me gasp.

RUDI: Bookshelf: Classics: Christopher Alexander: A city is not a tree part 1

Here’s how it ends:

For the human mind, the tree is the easiest vehicle for complex thoughts. But the city is not, cannot and must not be a tree. The city is a receptacle for life. If the receptacle severs the overlap of the strands of life within it, because it is a tree, it will be like a bowl full of razor blades on edge, ready to cut up whatever is entrusted to it. In such a receptacle life will be cut to pieces. If we make cities which are trees, they will cut our life within to pieces.