Among the sage

ValleyFlowers.jpgAnother photo from Monday. Yes, I know that the closest blossoms are out of focus: I turned on macro and thrust the camera deep into the bush….


Searching for the perfect Linux laptop

Quite a few of my friends and colleagues are running Linux on their laptops, but it seems that each of them reports that something doesn’t work quite right – WiFi, or sleep mode, or power management. (And the Web seems to be filled with horror stories, hacks, and half-baked solutions.) I’m curious if this is a universal truth, or whether someone has managed to achieve The Perfect Linux Laptop configuration. I’m thinking of things like:

  • sleep to RAM works
  • everything works correctly after waking from sleep (even if you’ve unplugged a USB or FireWire device while sleeping)
  • WiFi automatically connects to known and public networks, and reconnects after sleep
  • power settings (screen brightness, CPU speed) automatically adjust when you unplug from the mains
  • able to play, read and write CDs and DVDs
  • automatically switch to mirrored or multiple screens if an external monitor or projector is plugged in
  • etc.

I can’t believe it’s really that hard – is it? (And does the Tecra M2 on CAMS fit the bill?)


50 years after Rosa Parks….

The Guardian reports that a ballot initiative in Alabama has failed (despite a recount), which means that the state constitution will still contain language such as: “Separate schools shall be provided for white and coloured children, and no child of either race shall be permitted to attend a school of the other race.” Since this racist claptrap has already been declared unconstitutional, why would Alabamians want to retain it? The mind boggles. But when I saw that former Alabama Chief Justice Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore was involved….

(Via Salon.)


"Play something sad"

The Guardian reports that an incident in which soldiers forced a violinist to play at a roadblock is causing an uproar within Israel. Recent IDF abuses such as the shooting of a young girl and the mutilation of corpses generated less angst than this: “If we allow Jewish soldiers to put an Arab violinist at a roadblock and laugh at him, we have succeeded in arriving at the lowest moral point possible. Our entire existence in this Arab region was justified, and is still justified, by our suffering; by Jewish violinists in the camps.”

(Via Juan Cole.)


Carmel Valley at dawn

Monday morning, just after dawn, click for 1600×1200 version.


Religious belief in the US

Thanks to Kate and Hannah, here’s a link to a detailed (and perhaps more than usually accurate) survey of religious belief in the US. The detailed tables are fascinating. One example: with respect to educational attainment, broad belief in God went from 82% for “High school or less” to 73% for “Post graduate”. However absolute certainty about God went from 72% to 53%. (Of course as Flanagan points out, many believers don’t actually care very much about whether their belief is well grounded, or strongly held, or even if it’s true….)


Heading home

It’s just after dawn here in Carmel Valley, CA. A cold night (around 30F), and a beautiful clear morning. Since Merry’s parents have sold the house and are moving soon, this will be my final Carmel Valley morning. We’re heading up to Santa Cruz (where Chris went to school at UCSC), then over 17 to San Jose to get a flight back to Boston. And (sigh) it looks as if the plane (AA 757) is going to be 100% full….


CD of the week: The Who Live at Leeds: Deluxe Edition

cover art

I was hunting through the bazillion tracks on my iPod looking for something, and I stumbled on Magic Bus by The Who. One thing led to another… I found myself with a long drive through holiday traffic, and I had a new iTrip which allowed me to listen to the iPod though the car radio, so I cued up the incomparable deluxe edition of Live at Leeds and let it rip.

I bought the original, single LP version of the album many moons ago when I was still a student. Of course the new version includes a complete live performance of Tommy, as well as several additional classic Who tracks. Definitely one of the great live albums, right up there with Live/Dead, disc 1 of Umma-Gumma, Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!, and Wheels of Fire.


Doxastic voluntarism

Thought for the day: Do humans have direct voluntary control over their beliefs? Per Michael Sudduth: “This is the so-called doxastic voluntarism thesis. According to this view, a cognitive attitude (belief, disbelief, or withholding of belief) is justified only if the cognitive attitude is within our direct voluntary control. However, there is good reason to suppose that this thesis is false…” This is intriguing: I had always assumed that we do not have voluntary control over our beliefs, and I was surprised to find the idea that we do was sufficiently respectable that it had acquired an impressively polysyllabic name….

I came across the term while reading a review by Jeff Wisdom of Owen Flanagan’s The Problem of the Soul: Two Visions of Mind and How to Reconcile Them. I bought the book this morning, anticipating a well-reasoned approach to reconciling humanistic expectations with scientific realities. Like Jeff, I have been disappointed that Flanagan has (so far) failed to address the deeper objections to his, fairly orthodox, views. Now I happen to share most of Flanagan’s ideas (though not his Buddhism), but this doesn’t mean that there are no arguments to be made. Oh well; even if it isn’t a rigorous treatment of the subject, it should be an enjoyable read on my flight back to Boston on Monday.


Tedium is…

Tedium is installing Windows XP SP2 over a dial-up link, on a machine that’s not up-to-date with security patches. Updating the Software Update libraries took an hour; downloading SP2 took five hours (overnight). Having 6 Mb/s cable modem service at home has spoiled me….