Cancerboy revisited

Some years ago, in 1999, I was diagnosed with a mild form of skin cancer. It was treated with a then-newfangled method called PDT, with gaffa’d boxen and much interest (I wrote about it then). Since some time, oh maybe a few years, I’ve suspected that the cancer came back, and today I got that affirmed, causing immediate treatment. This is why I sit here at 4.30 PM drinking wine. Because the feeling of PDT is akin to being burned by a fat ass cigar, at least in my case. Like I wrote last time, small tiny fireworms move around under the skin, and although the pain isn’t flashing, it’s fucking unyielding. Hence the vino. Anyway, I’ll finalize this treatment next week, with another batch of laser & ointment. Yay! I still bless Sweden for being fairly cheap when it comes to medical care, though.

I have forgotten to write about The Conet Project, a highly scary 4 CD album, downloadable for free from hyperreal, those stalwarts. The Conet Project is a collection of recordings of so-called “numbers stations”, shortwave radio transmissions of – mostly synthetic – voices reading strings of numbers and letters accompanied by eerie squirks and distant music. Allegedly, those stations are spy transmissions. Noone has given any other feasible explanation.

These stations use very rigid schedules, and transmit in many different languages, employing male and female voices repeating strings of numbers or phonetic letters day and night, all year round. One might think that these espionage activities should have wound down considerably since the official “end of the cold war”, but nothing could be further from the truth. Numbers Stations (and by inference, spies) are as busy as ever, with many new and bizarre stations appearing since the fall of the Berlin wall.

At any rate, this is truly scary listening. Try it alone, in the dark. Things will feel cold and hostile and not like they seem to be…

What is it to be human?

It sounds like a very pretentious kind of title for a blog entry, but I just cried my ass of after having watched the docudrama Touching the Void on DVD. Partly, of course, because it’s an incredibly human story with so many levels of humanity, and partly because it’s about heroism in a way different from what is often showed in movies. It’s about pain, sacrifice, friendship, shame, love, life and what have you not.

But what also made me cry about it was the realization that we humans are stunningly complex and beautiful beings, and still we so rarely ARE these things. I’m thinking about every sad fucking thing humans do, like the Abu Ghraïb degradation scenes. The contrast of these things against this little story about 2 people in the Andes, struggling to survive, is staggering. I know it might be a childish thought, but to me it was an extremely emotional point.

Multilateral thinking

My friend Naffa told me a story yesterday, which I thought was brilliant: some years ago, Zanzibar had a huge problem with tsetse flies which affected the cattle. Now, this could have been “solved” like any typical development project, ie resulting in a massive loss of funds, lining the pockets of sundry officials. But in this case the solution was much different: First, economic control was removed from Tanzania, minimizing the risk for corruption. Secondly, total control of the project was demanded by the commission that solved the problem, namely IAEA.

What they did was this: instead of trying to kill all tsetse flies with pesticides and such, they directed their efforts directly toward the male flies. Since the males of the species has the distinct feature of only being able to mate once in their lifecycle, the scientists decided to lure the flies into shooting their wad in a sterilized female. So what they did was to build a “tsetse factory” in Tanzania, that produced 70 000 radioactively sterilized female tsetses, which were then let loose. True, there was a period when there were A LOT of tsetses flying around Tanzania, but very vey quickly, there were no more males with loads to spend, and thusly, all tsetses on Zanzibar died. To this day (the project took place in 1997), there are no tsetses on the island.

True, one might argue that using “mutated” flies is to meddle with the forces of nature, but it did get rid of the problem, and in a much more efficient and economic way than any normal pesticides would do. What would be a better method? Infesting the island with fly-eating lizards?

I think I wish I had a camera

Unmade bed
My friend Naffa, who lives on Zanzibar those days, is visiting me. Actually, he’s been living there for almost a decade now, running a small-ish cabinet making business, and a sawmill. I don’t know if the mill is up and running yet, though. Any which way, he’s in Sweden again for a combined vacation and machine-buying trip. Apparently, those old machines he bought when first moving there are a bit on the run-down side. Hence, he’s going to carpentry machinery auctions.

I’ve often been thinking of going to Zanzibar to visit him, but first, I was short of time, and now money. That’s the way things always seem to be. Having read Ryszard Kapuscinski’s brilliant The Shadow of the Sun, made me even more interested in going to Zanzibar. Or somewhere in Africa in general. As a westerner, I believe it’s the only part of the world that is still shrouded in a vast mysterious veil. Perhaps I’m just romanticising & exoticising, but think about it: how often does one read about the non-arab (I use the term loosely as all hell) Africa in the dailies? Heck, the Rwanda genocide had been going on for months before it gained any headlines in the West, and even then those headlines faded fast. In a Europe that lost part of its mystery with the decline of the East Bloc, I believe we are in dire need of places that feel like they belong in a story. Adventure. Mystery. Suspense. Danger. Perhaps it is only to be found in fantasy, but I’d like to experience that feeling some day again, much like I did when me and Naffa did our big Europe trip ’87 – ’88. But maybe I’m just too afraid, and too lazy. Fuck it.

Solid weather!

The weather is too nice. It is a bit on the chilly side, but the sun is shining like nobody’s business.

I added a new link to the left: my little icecasted radio station. Check it out, if you feel like it. It is what they call an “eclectic” selection, but I dunno. It is very mixed, to say the least. If you want to hear stuff that is different from empty V and commercial radio, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. No talk, no commercials, just a nifty 128 kbps feed that KICKS ASS. Mail me at radio[.AT.]sunnerdahl.org if you wonder anything about a track you heard. Recommended players are iTunes [mac & win], Whamb [mac], xmms [linux, X11] and winamp. But that should go without saying. But really, you should check out whamb!

Talking about checking out, about a month ago I reacquainted myself with the fire multiprotocol pager (multiprotocol meaning supporting several chat protocols, like AIM, ICQ and MSN). It’s still a fairly ugly app, compared to Proteus. The difference, apart from Proteus being super-slick, GUI-wise, is that a) Proteus is shareware, whereas fire is open source, and b) that fire supports GPG encrypted/signed messaging over any chat protocol! That, my friends, puts it apart from any other chat client I have ever seen. In fact, I don’t know of a GPG encrypted pager for Linux, even. Just like the brilliant GPGMail mail bundle for mail.app, Fire is a must-have if you ever feel like communicating truly in private! I’d hope for total GPG integration in OS X out of the box, but that may be a utopian sentiment.

At any rate, I’ve decided to totally dump PGP. Since it went commercial, it’s been going downhill, and downhill pretty fast too. If one checks the console log, one notices that PGP causes tons of warnings. It’s fairly expensive, too, and they have an ass-backward licencing system that prevents site licensing for, say, universities. So these days I rely on OS X “secure empty trash”, encrypted DMGs (128 bits, but still), File Vault, GPGMail, Fire, and GPG as a whole of course. Sorry, PGP, it was fun while it lasted (I used PGP since the mid 90s, I think, command line stylee on Sun OS. Possibly because it made me feel like a hotshot), but now I close the book on you.

This is just a test

This is a testposting, using “SmartyPants” and “Markdown”. I actually don’t know exactly what it will do, so this is going to be fun.

OK, then. It changes quotes to curly quotes and such fineries. I suppose it looks nicer, but there’s a whole helluva lot I should do with this page first. But if you’re interested in those two Movable Type/BBEdit plugs, go to daringfireball.net/projects. Daring Fireball rocks.

FFII does good work

FFII is one of those organizations I’m grateful towards. Their mission-statement is:

to make basic informational resources freely usable
to protect the creator against the plagiator and the public against monopolies
to give political weight to programmers, information-creating enterpreneurs and informationally literate citizens

and that is something I can but say “amen” to. This world, now, it’s so desperate to bend over for corporations and state it makes me feel ravaged all over. What the fuck happened to the idea of the state protecting and looking after the interests of citizens, not nameless entities? Fucking Cthulu, all of them. They say we get the leaders we deserve, and boyee if that’s true, we’ve surely been very very very bad children indeed…