Ming the Mechanic:
Tuesday, October 15, 2002

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Tuesday, October 15, 20022002-10-16 01:54
pictureby Flemming Funch

  • The Royal Society: Earth depends on creepy-crawlies. Important thoughts on biodiversity. "We don't know, possibly to a factor of ten, how many species there are on Earth," says professor John Lawton of the Natural Environment Research Council. "But if the better-known ones are reasonably typical, we're looking at an extinction rate a thousand times faster than in the fossil record -- and it's accelerating." Lord May says "Arguably it's the little things that run the world, things like soil microbes. They're the least-known species of all."

  • Thanksgiving Coffee is now the first private company in California to commit to using 100% bio-diesel in their fleet of trucks. Apparently more than 200 public and government agencies already use biodiesel in their cars and trucks, but this is the first private company.

  • Kevin Barbieux is homeless. He sleeps in abandoned buildings and shelters. He is also an articulate person who maintains a weblog from the public library.

  • The Free State Project calls for 20,000 activists to move to one of the U.S. states and peacefully liberate it. I.e. take over its government, through normal elections, and then systematically restore the personal freedoms that gradually have been eroded.

  • Tinderbox is a program that keeps track of notes in clever ways. One can link them together and assign attributes to them in various ways, and 'agents' are maintaining certain queries on the data. I've gotta try it. Runs in MacOSX.

  • And somebody mentioned Lotus Agenda. It was a Personal Information Manager from the days of DOS. Which I guess I hadn't paid much attention to at the time. But I was just reading an overview written by its design team. And, wow, it is absolutely brilliant. To me in particular. I've thought long and hard about many of the same things, and those guess express it very clearly. Brilliant people. It was primarily Mitch Kapor's baby, but a large team of people worked on it for 2 1/2 years to create the first release. And it didn't sell much more than 100,000 copies, because people had a hard time understanding what it did. But still today there are enthusiasts who keep it alive. Because it seems that nobody else has been quite able to create a program that lives up to what Agenda's vision was. Anyway, I just downloaded the old program, so let's see if I can get it to work.

  • I still think that the answer to the question of how to store information with an arbitrary number of categorizations or dimensions, must be inherently simple. There has gotta be some basic form of data structure that is so flexible and universal that all other ways of organizing data - hierarchies, networks, mind maps, relational databases, spreadsheets - will just be subsets or special cases of it. Isn't there some branch of mathematics that has principles that fits the bill? Graph Theory?

    "Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful." -- Joshua J. Marine

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    16 Oct 2002 @ 04:39 by istvan : Sacred geometry?
    Ming, your search for the Mother of all Communications fascinates and intersts me more than just a curiosity. As i review my life i am fascinated by the fact that most of my younger years have gone by without any conscientious signs of organisation whatsoever. I must have been on automatic pilot of a natural brain function that directed me to survive. Now as the years go by i have a desire to somehow organize all that i have learned and experienced into easily accessible databases for my own and the benefit of others who are searching for information.
    I have tried file cabinets.got all exited about the computer age,psychic transmission of info. and on and on.Nothing really works as well as i feel even close to perfection.
    I too, like you have piles of books, printouts,instructions, how to info,and fascinating interst files on numerous zip disks and hard drives all over my room, but when it comes to finding what i need at any time i need it, in reality i am just as bevildered as a man lost in the jungle.
    Perhaps the statements that we only use 10% of our brains at any time is true, i don't know for shure, but what i know is that we use even less of a percentige for efficient communication between individual manifestations of whatever we are.
    The computer age is not an accident. It is a manifestation of a desire to connect more efficiently.We are still searching for afficient methods of doing this and emerging from the bewildered mind of a simpleton who only sees and experiences "unexplained phenomena".
    I too feel like that at times, altough all the answers are somewhwre in my "piles of Wisdom", if icould only accees them.

    In the process of organisation we perhaps have to use more of available tools than we think is useful.
    The computer is a tool,so is a hammer.Right discriomination is obviously needed to know when and where to use them. To turn the computer into a true tool of communication we have to know its capabilities and limitations equally. A hammer can be improoved only so much, but a computer has almost no limits for that. I know you are doing this with software. So are many others. Would not be wise to have a permanent database available on the most efficient, time saving methods of "being efficient".
    We need to incorporate Geometry, colors, graphs,eventually sounds into our methods of communications, so the search should include experiments with these.
    Example: Recently Jazzlog experienced to him bevildering plumbing problems.
    I could have diagnosed and solved his problem in less than an hour, bit we would have had to be able to draw graphics, including colors in an efficient bit of communication. He would have to send me a simple layout of his property, and i would respond with overlays of how to solve the problem. Since most of us have older computers, pictures are out, and not really as good as graphics.The whole problem could have been solved within 15 minutes of my time and about 1-2 hours of his for the repairs and at the expense of $10-25. To explain all this by words on the site wiuld have taken days.
    If only we had a an information database at NCN of a list of Masters of different expertise.
    What is fixing Jazzlogs plumbing have to do with New Civilisation? A lot.
    Helping each other in all facets of life is what to me a User Friendly Civilisation entails.
    I am also wondering weather i should change my newslog to Zendancer the Plumber.  

    16 Oct 2002 @ 05:09 by ming : ZenPlumber
    Lots of good thoughts there.

    I'm talking with several people about how we might develop a much bigger and more useful database of useful information. And, yeah, if we could just know who's an expert on what, that would make a big difference.

    Even though a lot of information and communication passes through our hands, we often don't have a big enough pipe (hey, there's the plumbing again) to really convey what we know. We probably each know things that is no big deal to us, but that would solve a big problem for somebody else. If we just had a good way of knowing that, and a good way of transferring the knowledge.  

    16 Oct 2002 @ 05:18 by istvan : To check out.
    Maybe these people crated somethig useful:
    [ http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=74&e=4&cid=74&u=/cmp/20021015/tc_cmp/iwk20021015s0005 ]
    but i can not handle th$29.00 monthly fee.  

    16 Oct 2002 @ 08:14 by istvan : Homeless and the eccess home thing
    I am glad you posted the link to Kevin's site.
    Almost finished reading the whole blog, but have to stop frequently to process emotions popping up from my homeless days.
    Hes writings are more significant in any consideration for envisionong new ways os civilisations and even just understanding basic knowledge of social intreactions, problems that these or lack of interactions create is all within his blog.
    Now , i do not know if newer being homeless is a prevents one from understanding of what he is saying, but i sure am hearing him.
    His descriptions clearly (perhaps more clearly than any scientific studies of society), describe this social condition of many people. Gives numerous insights into the problem and suggests solutions within its context.
    For those who are really serious about creating healing environments for the human soul, the reading, understanding and discussing this problem should be a required study and field work, as well as within the study of capitalism.
    Someday i will post my own experiences, but this is not the time.
    His quote to ponder for now:

    "I believe some people fear this web page may legitimize homelessness as an acceptable lifestyle, but this is not my intention. Rather, my intention is to legitamize homeless people, to show them as worthy of being treated like human beings, with compassion, acceptance, and assistance.

    Who among the non-homeless is willing to take a homeless person into their home, to provide a homeless person with all the help necessary for recovery from homelessness? In today's hedonistic society, where immediate gratification is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, such a charitable notion is considered unrealistic."
    ""The Good Samaritan - Luke 10:30
    It’s Time to get a little preachy

    For those who are not familiar, the Good Samaritan story goes like this:

    A man was robbed and beaten, and left by the side of the road. Several people passed the injured man before the Samaritan came by and stopped to help him. The Samaritan bandaged the man’s wounds and carried him to an Inn. The Samaritan then paid the inn-keeper enough to cover this man’s care until he was well enough to continue on his way.

    This Bible scripture, along with others, is considered to be God’s instruction to Christians, as to how they should deal with those in need. Sadly, many Christians do not take this scripture at face value; they add so much to the story, and it’s meaning, that they lose sight of its real significance.

    Sometimes, what is not said can be as important as what is said. And this holds true for this story.

    One can easily make analogies between the man in need in the Good Samaritan story, and homeless people today. On the road of life, people can be attacked, robbed and injured to the point they can no longer continue. For them to recover from their injuries they require the help of others. Of course, what the injured man needed was to recover from his injuries, but Christians today assume that any man who becomes injured, on his journey through life, becomes that way because God is trying to teach the man a lesson. I believe this may be true in some cases, but from what I’ve seen it is certainly not true in most cases. But, even if this was God’s intention, there is nothing in the Bible that I know of that indicates the proper cure for the man’s ills is for him to be preached at.

    The majority of shelters for homeless people are run by fundamentalist Christian organizations. And it is their belief that every problem a man faces can be cured by getting the man to consume mass quantities of fundamentalist biblical doctrine. The focus of these shelters is to force preach their version of the Gospel, while they pay very little attention to the more mundane needs of the man. They purposely take a man at his most vulnerable point, when he is inclined to comply with any request, in hopes of receiving help for his problem, and they coerce him into Salvation.

    And this coercion is a sticking point for me. Such homeless shelters promise to help homeless people, but only on the condition that the homeless person worships their god. Food and shelter is often denied to people who do not attend the shelter’s Christian church services.

    Now, lets look at the story of the Good Samaritan. Nowhere in this story does the Samaritan require the injured man to repay him in any way. The Samaritan did not tell the injured man, “I’ll help you if you promise to study my bible and attend my church services.” The Samarian did not say, “You must worship my god before I will help you.” Still, this is exactly what so many homeless shelters do.

    Now, Christians may say, and rightly so, that studying the Bible and worshiping God can improve a person’s life. I agree. But it is not required. Saul did not study Christianity, or pray to God and Jesus, before Jesus came along and converted him – inspiring him to become the father of the first Christian Churches. And look at Job’s children. God let the devil kill Job’s children to prove a point that had nothing to do with them. Being Job’s children, they were as blessed and favored by God as anyone. Still, God allowed them to be killed. The mind of God is not easily understood. For all we know, God may allow homelessness, so to teach non-homeless people something. But then, people who work and run shelters, especially missions, have a tendency to believe that they were sent into this kind of work by God to teach. They assume there is nothing a homeless person can teach them.

    Christians should focus on helping a person by addressing his/her immediate needs. In doing this good work, the person will be appreciative, and they may ask why people were so kind. This is when the Christian should say, I did this for you as my Lord commands, for as he loves and forgives me, I should love and forgive others. Surely this approach toward mankind will bring many more to real acceptance of Jesus as Christ, than by any means of coercion.

    posted by kevin @ Monday, September 23, 2002 Comment (42)"


    16 Oct 2002 @ 10:11 by bushman : Idea
    Would it be posable to maybe use a color code, for the news logs, like say green to show that something was added since the last time I was there. If I was to go on vacation, and then come back those news logs that had things added would be green. I mean like missing one day is enough to move the updated logs to the top, but if a few have been updated then the one that was at the top may be 4 logs down by the end of the day or it may have been to the top 3 times that day, even the chat rooms as well like when a person posts in there you still have to remember the number of posts to notice change, basicly when I come in and there was a conversation and I saw a name there, and didnt notice that the number of posts had changed , I usualy think that, that last person that posted, is the same post I saw earlier. Say I come into a room and the last post was kay, but then I come in later and see its still kay I may think there was no new post and may not enter the room thinking there was no change, Ive been doing the odd even thing but that only works 1/2 the time , lol. A color code would work to show change better than the number thing.  

    16 Oct 2002 @ 14:23 by ming : Color codes
    Yes, I'll think of something that will solve that problem.  

    17 Oct 2002 @ 08:58 by paquetse : Personal news aggregation
    Ming, I'm going further than what bushman is talking about, but have you looked into RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and personal news aggregators? Most weblogs are jumping into it because it's much more convenient.

    You subscribe to the sources you like and the aggregator collects whatever new stuff there is out there and feeds it to you in a nice single, personalized page. I couldn't live without my aggregator, and am more likely to establish a lasting relationship with RSS-able blogs because I don't have to think about them once I'm subscribed. They come knocking on my door without invitation, just like a good friend would.

    See this page in my personal wiki for starting points: http://www2.iro.umontreal.ca/~paquetse/cgi-bin/om.cgi?Personal_News_Aggregator  

    17 Oct 2002 @ 14:18 by ming : RSS
    I love RSS as well. I've implemented RSS for the newslogs here at NCN as well. Like, my feed is at http://www.newciv.org/nl/newslog.php/__xml_rss/_v10. I have in mind creating a news aggregator as well, so that people more easily can get feeds from other places. I use FeedReader myself on my desktop.  

    Other stories in
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    2012-01-02 13:52: 2011 Accomplishments and 2012 Aims
    2011-11-17 02:20: Your inner piece
    2011-02-01 00:05: Slow Mo Flow
    2011-01-22 18:40: Recognition
    2010-08-23 00:36: Where's Ming?
    2010-07-20 14:24: Getting other people to do stuff
    2010-06-22 00:27: Inventory
    2010-06-19 23:10: Conversations
    2009-10-28 12:31: Then a miracle occurs

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