I, too, find it troubling the effect that programming languages and American (or Western) language has had on the world via the Internet. I think often about what sort of effect having non-english speaking people learn english through (in the case of perl) constructs like if/elsif/else, for, while, do, map, print, and so on. It occurred to me some years ago that these people were in fact being forced to learn english. I still don't think english is anywhere near as attractive as some of the other extant languages, especially some of the more modern amalgams of language (such as Hawaiian Pidgin, which has a rugged charm about it). If I were to pick a language to subjugate the world with, english wouldn't be it. The same is true for Western culture. I wouldn't want to quash other culture in favor for the big-mac sort of cultural veneer we have here in the States.
What I find more worrisome by far, however, is the notion that languages and cultures may go extinct as this sweeping homogeneity gains hold in places where the internet has not quite become so dominant. Romansh being one example. I think we're close to losing a lot of languages and cultures from Africa and the south Pacific.
The problem seems to be one that is kind of intractable. Aside from cataloging and documenting such cultures and languages, what can we do? A common language seems a requirement for a global community, or at the most two or three. Most of the world speaks two or three languages, right? I mean, Americans don't really figure into the scale of the entire planet. I'd be interested in hearing if there was some solution that is eluding me.
I haven't ever been to London. I don't even know a lot of people from London. For what it is worth, the lot of you have my deepest sympathies. I suspect that some of the things that happened here in 2001 may now be coming your way, and for that, no amount of regret can really compensate. As in 2001, we now have police on the subways (in DC) with machine guns. The "threat level" is again raised. And we've all been reminded, again, that for whatever reason, people who are just going to work are in fact targets.
I will say that I have been surprised to gain empathy with the remarks made by many people outside the US (in my case, such remarks were heard largely from europeans) immediately after the tragedy. I think that it is quite easy to remain detached and speculate that somehow the victim is part of the cause, when one does not live next door to the site of an explosion.
This, too, seems an intractable problem. We can't simply "kill enough of them," for there will always be more. We also can't remake them in our (or whatever) image, for we would lose what made them distinct from us to begin with. I don't favor the withdrawal of american troops, because I don't honestly believe it would end with that. But I fear that more attacks like Madrid, London, New York, and Arlington will happen with increasing frequency as the perpetrators realize there is political favor to be gained in the doing. Sigh.
Travel has finally caught up with me at work. I'll be gone the entire week, every other week, for the foreseeable future, and probably more. I look forward to seeing San Diego again, and Boston will probably be fun. I am also going to Seattle (many times), and will probably hit Maui and New York, with a possible trip to Arizona. And that's just before September. This is all really for work, which means I can't just run around taking pictures or seeing what the local food and flora is like. That's really quite a bummer. I'll also be getting a lot of frequent flier miles, so that we'll probably be able to take a vacation gratis when I poke my head out of the workosphere. We're thinking Scotland or Hawaii, or possibly Fiji. I had been thinking it would be more rewarding to go to Guam than Fiji. If we do Scotland, I'd love to see Edinburgh (since everyone I'm reading is from that area), and tour the distilleries. See Bowmore, Talisker, Aberlour, and the sadly-its-now-a-museum Dallas Dhu.
Speaking of cameras, at Arlington on the fourth, as I was about to capitalize on the absolutely great light we were having, I looked through the viewfinder to see two dust mites. I couldn't believe it. I took off the lens, had a look inside, and they were on the back surface of a refracting lens. Blowing on it didn't help, thwacking it didn't help, and when I finally became so frustrated I tapped it with the earpiece of my sunglasses (plastic!), I managed to scuff the refractor. So now the EOS is in the shop getting that repaired, and my AE-1 is also in the shop, getting a cleaning. And I leave for Seattle on Tuesday. Without either of my film cameras. Dammit!
My installation of Fedora Core 4 did not go particularly well. I did eventually get it online. I would say that the distribution is overall fairly good quality software. However, I think the QA process needs a lot of help. QA, like documentation, is one of those un-sexy tasks that always get left behind in software projects, especially FOSS projects. I actually had a dialogue pop up during the install that told me cheerfully that it had properly detected my sound card, but that it wasn't working, so just click "ah, fuck it" and be done with it. Come on people. You can do better than that. My laptop now has a staggering 370gb of storage (120 of which is internal!), and I'll be installing Longhorn along with my work-required XP and several distributions of Linux (probably Debian, SuSE, and of course Fedora). My hope is to have a linux-on-a-1gb-SD-card, as well. However, Linux doesn't seem to be supporting it. More on the whole Linux thing when I get my thoughts composed into something useful.
I may actually release parts of the talk I'm giving on Linux if it turns out well enough and legal says it's okay.