Skip to content

Vitamin Robot Will Mess You Up

I admire Michael Trapido. I simply can’t sustain that level of aggressiveness without chemical assistance. Last week was an exception, because I was adjusting to going back on Ritalin.

I have access to it because I was (re)diagnosed with ADD as an adult about a year ago. I tend to view such diagnoses with scepticism. I mean, back in school I was labelled with all variations of the alphabet soup. One guy even tried to convince me I had Tourettes. (Of course I told him to #$%@ OFF!)

However, I thought that I should at least try the treatment, to see if it significantly improved my quality of life. My conclusion? Most of the time the benefits aren’t worth the drawbacks.

I hate the stuff. I’m nauseous, everything tastes funny, my ears won’t stop ringing, and I’m angry all the time. I can’t daydream, I can’t think creatively, and my already precarious social skills are completely out of whack.

How out of whack? Last year, while experimenting with a dose of 80mg, I professed romantic love for one of my best friends. The only reason we’re still OK is because she’s intelligent, and realized that I was basically as high as a kite when I said it. I didn’t realize anything was wrong at the time because I was high as a kite.

I realized something was off when friends started telling me things like: “You seem really aggressive lately” or “Why are you talking like a line-printer?” or “Um, you don’t have to shout” or “Gustav, you are making the waiter uncomfortable. I’m sure they will get the order right the third time, OK? Natural selection? What do you mean… WATCH OUT! HE’S GOT A SPOON!”

Oh sure, as if you haven’t thought of killing to get some acceptable service. Ahem. Anyway.

It also affects my ability to think straight. I developed some really weird notions about the Monty Hall Problem. Something about the probability of winning when switching only being more if the game show host had a preference for picking one goat above the other. (I don’t know. It made sense at the time.)

That is the crux of why Ritalin is so dangerous. Everything seems fine at the time. You don’t notice how you change until someone points out that you just tried to strangle a telephone handset.

The ironic thing is that while I was turning psychotic in my personal life, they loved me at work. I was proactive! I remembered to do stuff without keeping a list! I followed orders to the letter! I didn’t question authority! Fantastic.

That is why I’m taking it now. I have an important project that needs to be finished in a week or two. So I’m very carefully taking my medication at the lowest dose, only on weekdays, and I’m limiting social interactions to weekends.

I still eat out during the week. So if you’re a waiter in Johannesburg, you better watch out. The Goodstuff is back on Vitamin Robot, and he’s not afraid to use The Spoon.

UPDATE (Sep 7): The last two weeks have disappeared into a 9:00 to 21:00 blur. This is no way to live. If Koos can stop the medication, then so can I. I’ll keep the spoon though.

Girl Killed For Choosing Celibacy

Nobuhle Khumalo was beat to death with knobkieries by her classmates for choosing celibacy.

I don’t have the words.

Girl killed for being a virgin (Via Chris Roper)

Big Business Wants To Dictate Your Morality

It’s not enough getting morality from religion, philosophy, peer pressure and law. Now business also wants to take the moral high ground.

Random House contractually requires young adult writers to behave. Cory Doctorow points out that they didn’t ask him to sign such a contract for Little Brother. This is probably because they realize just how badly he would react to that. Little Brother is, after all, the story of a fight for freedom.

Then there’s the case of Audacia Ray, who is basically a sexologist blogger. Citibank just told her that her money isn’t welcome any more, because she work in “Adult Business”. The slippery bastards tried to get her to keep her personal money in the bank, just not any of the money related to her business.

Who defines “Adult Business”? The bank does of course.

What really makes me suspicious is the abrupt manner in which her paid for blog Naked City was dropped by the Village Voice. Anyone want to take bets on who the Village Voice uses as a bank?

China Is Scary

I got the same feeling as Kevin Kelly while watching the Olympic opening ceremonies.

This is an alien culture. More than two thousand tai-chi masters moved like a single being. All with identical clothes. All with identical haircuts. If this is what their civilians are like… what is their army like?

Face of the Internet Police

Face of the Internet Police

While watching, I couldn’t stop thinking about how China behaves. I remembered Tiananmen, Tibet, arrested bloggers and journalists like Hu Jia and Shi Tao, and the Great Firewall of China.

The Olympic games represent peace and brotherhood. Being held in China is like Zimbabwe hosting a human rights conference.

So when read about the games, and you think of the cutesy smiley face fireworks, or the little children singing lip-synching, or the “Dancing China” logo - remember the army of tai-chi masters.

China is not friendly. China is not a free country. China is scary.

UPDATE: It’s not enough that they are terrorizing their own people, and small nearby countries. No, China is now detaining American Citizens too.

Why Are We Still Paying For SMS?

Twitter is ending SMS support in the UK, because it’s costing them too much.

This got me thinking. Most cellphones these days have internet connectivity. The data cost of an SMS is negligible. (You want to do the math? Think R 2.00 / 1,048,576 bytes * 200 chars). Yes, I know about IM, but it’s still very visibly bolted on. SMS is integrated with the phone book and interface. No install necessary.

So why isn’t SMS using TCP/IP yet? Why are we still paying up to 85c per SMS?

MIT Students Silenced About Subway Vulnerabilities

A restraining order was issued against three MIT students who were to make a presentation at Defcon. They were about to reveal security vulnerabilities that they discovered in the Massachusetts train fare system.

The EFF is appealing the decision on the grounds that the restraining order is a violation of the student’s free speech rights.

Ironically, the MBTA released a security report that reveals more than the presentation would have.

Frankly, I think this is worse than Diebold’s use of the DMCA to keep researchers from revealing vulnerabilities in their voting machines. (Diebold eventually lost their case.)

In the case of these students, they were effectively censored first, and now they have to sue to get their right to freedom of speech back. That’s the wrong way round, isn’t it?

UPDATE: The gag order was lifted. For Great Justice! Thanks for the heads up EveD.

I’m An Empty Cup

There’s a story about a Zen master and student drinking tea. The student keeps asking stupid questions until the master pours a cup of tea until it overflows. When the student stops the master, the master tells the student that he can’t learn anything until he empties his cup.

Descartes said that we first have to doubt everything we know, in order to determine whether there is anything we can know with certainty. Socrates said that “The unexamined life is not worth living”.

So I emptied my cup, I doubted everything I know, and I examined my life. In the process, I lost my faith. More than that, I became an atheist.

I told my parents this weekend. They didn’t disown me, or chase me away. I’m grateful for that. But how do I tell them that for the first time in my life I’m comfortable just being myself?

23 Free Social Media eBooks

I believe in open content, but I’d settle for open access until the collective consciousness catches up. This is why I love searching the net for free textbooks and ebooks.

I’ve found a couple of classics like the Cluetrain Manifesto, and New Rules for the New Economy, and by now everybody knows about Quirk’s eMarketing Textbook. I’ve also found about five free culture ebooks.

Chris Brogan however, has somehow managed to find 20 free social media ebooks, and I didn’t know about any of them. I’m a little bit jealous. (Thanks to Stii for twittering it.)

And of course, if you know of any other ebooks I’d be interested in, lemme know.

Snowl - Experimental Universal Aggregator Of Tomorrow

Someone finally understood that communication can be abstracted to streams. Obviously RSS and microblogs, but Email, IM and even SMS can fit into the stream model. If Google ever buys a cellphone service provider, you can bet on adding recorded voice and IP calls to the mix.

A couple of days ago, Mozilla announced Snowl, the first step towards this bright new universally aggregated future. The technoluddites at ReadWriteWeb and TechCrunch weren’t impressed, but what did they expect? This is just version 0.1 of the most exciting development since feeds. Give them time to figure it out.

Pirating Is OK, But Plagiarism Is Truly Evil

Danny O’Brien made the point that copying isn’t such a big deal any more, but that plagiarism is almost universally condemned.

One reason for this could be the environment that originated the open content ethos. In an academic environment, using someone else’s work to support your own conclusions is encouraged, but using it without attribution could get you expelled. There’s even a saying: “Attribution is the difference between plagiarism and research“.

However, I believe a more likely reason is that reputation is becoming vital to information producers. As I have said before:

There is a difference between selling information as a good, and selling the production of information. It’s the difference between getting paid to produce information, or getting paid to copy existing information. It turns out that the latter method is economically inefficient.

If you’re getting paid to do work like produce information goods (like the DJ friend mentioned in the article), then your reputation becomes your most valuable asset. If someone plagiarizes your work, then they gain reputation that should have gone to you. This means less potential work for you.

This could be the start of a true reputation economy.