Those of you that follow my journal with even vague regularity will have noticed that many of the recent entries are short, mostly political, entries, and that there is little room for Perl, or even -- alas -- for proper answers to what comments are to be found there. I realize that this may not be considered appropriate by some, wish no quarrel with them, and will no doubt move my journal to some other place when time allows me to. However, there are varied assortments of reasons for this, and some of those follow.
First and least interesting is time. I post about what I notice most, have unfortunately very little time to address objections whether valid, invalid, interesting, or boring, and focus on pointing to other resources way much more than expressing my self. That being said, on to more interesting bits.
It is hard, even for people interested in politics as I am, to find right wing (some of you may prefer to say conservative) people to exchange views, even if briefly, with. Finding right wing people is easy. Finding ones that can articulate non-monosyllabic, in these parts, is hard. Beyond "welfare is evil", "all arabs are terrorists", or "you will burn in hell because you don't believe in <insert favourite fictitious entity>" there is little to be found in terms of "proper" right wing thought around Paris. Even though the current French government is from the right, I could easily pick any right wing economist and roast their actions to silliness. So having two or three right wing people that can finish a sentence without drooling close by is very interesting -- and tempting even when it may be considered off-topic. As a side-note, I realize that some of you may take offense at the equating of religion and right-wingedness that I express above. Simply please keep in mind that that is what I am given to see here. And at the very least, that those that are religious and remotely sane here would refuse in any way -- and probably fight in every way, possibly more than atheists -- any political leader engaging in something he calls a "crusade". And all things considered, unless you want Islam eradicated, for good reason.
So I find value in the opposition. Even when given, as recently, some arguments that I will in all understanding of the weight of words decidedly call delirious -- namely the idea that global warming may not happen, or if it does it is not proven that it is due to CO2 -- the difference is of interest. That particular argument is of course a special case since it is about as valid as the non-incidence of smoking on lung cancer defended by some cigarette companies (hey, it's been shown that over 40% of people that die from lung cancer have cats...), the centrality of the Earth in the Universe, or Elvis' abduction by aliens. It is of value because it is telling when even smart, educated, often science-loving people put forth such claims. And I am sure that they could find such "telling" things in my discourse, because precisely they are smart and educated and all, and we all have our blind spots.
So the take-away thing is, not taking into account the vanilla (is that the right expression?) stuff about understanding other cultures, that the opportunity to talk to people that disagree and can articulate it is interesting because any political belief requires blind spots, and theirs aren't the same ones.
Different cultures? Yes. I'm sure many that were (foolish|courageous) enough to read this far has pretty much pictured "those others" as Americans. Judging from the comments, they indeed seem to be, even if that is not my specific target at all. But do Americans count as a totally different culture from, say, the French? Even from, say, a french guy that writes better English overall than French, is half-Australian, and sometimes shows off his EU passport? Yes. I've lived in the US, and the single worst mistake to make if you're European is to think that it's the same culture, or even one as closely related as european cultures are to one another. It's not that there's that huge a gap, it's just that there are cultural faux-amis. The movies you've seen, the familiar languag, the politics you've at least heard about, and of course the clichés bandied about in many places trick you into behaving as if understanding the american culture was almost a given when really it is not. The false familiarity works as a wall whereas when confronted with a culture perceived as perhaps more "alien" one will make conscious efforts to understand.
Monstrous? Hmmm, tsssst. Yes, I've been accused of calling the Americans "monstrous" (hi jordan!). Was it deserved? I don't think so, at least I hope not. In my experience, it certainly is not true, far from it. What I will gladly admit to is calling the Bush administration monstrous, or rather I wouldn't since that's not a word I use I and think they're worse than that, but yes I'd use much worse words for them. The comparison of Bushists and Bathists is one that has come up before, and I am not foolish enough to put them in the same bag. The Bathist are worse. But by a matter of degree more than one of essence, both being on the same wrong side of the line [having voted for Bush, or being a "Republican", doesn't make one, in this argument, a Bushist. Thinking that Iraqi WMDs could kill more people than the pollution of industrial countries, and rejecting the Kyoto Treaty and at least part of the war in Iraq -- today -- does]. I do confess to not understanding the lack of social unrest in the US when several young Americans are killed almost daily for government lies (ok pudge, very very unproven statements). If democracy is the reason, which it wasn't until late, why is Afghanistan such a terrible mess today, with talibans still owning much of the place? (you'll note
Ah well, I've diatribed for a while if I may say so. And not on Perl. If you don't like it say so. If you like it but not here say so. Either way Perl bloody rocks, as it exemplified itself to me today when I could write a program that deduced an XML Schema from a large bunch of XML documents in under thirty minutes