About five or six years ago, I read a book by Ted Chiang. An anthology of his collected works (eight shortstories, all of them brilliant). This particular blogpost is a reference to the short story Understand, which everyone should read because it is truly a masterpiece and deserves every bit of attention it can get.
I had a comment the other day about people not finding out enough about what Samir Allioui does. I do quite a lot with Samir, well, quite often. I don’t really like writing so much about what I do with Samir (stop smirking). He is also boyfriend. But we do do a lot together, like, go around all over the place, sit around using laptops, have coffee and talk or reach conclusions (which, surprisingly often, are along the same lines). Demonstrating however, is not something we do together.
I’ve been abandoned three or four times last autumn for demonstrations and manifestations outdoors. Personally, I don’t like them. It is cold, wet, your socks adapt accordingly and the wind whips your frozen hair against your cracked cheeks. For some reason Samir likes going to these events and always comes back having had a good time. I’m technically happy for him, but I’m admittedly equally puzzled.
We went together to an E-Commons conference in Amsterdam in… October? We listened to a lot of seminars and people, he met the people behind dyndy.net and talked to them for a bit. I am sure that he’s read up on the entire project by now and knows everything by heart because he’s… Like that. I can’t remember what I read this afternoon. It was something about giant magnetoresistance but I can’t remember what separates it from normal MR, or colossal MR. Two hours ago I was introduced to nuclear MR, which, again, is a thing I need to read up on (this relates to something I talked about with S once: superconductivity at room temperature – apparently you can get quite close to this with dysprosium and antiferromagnetization and the effects of this on the microness of microchips (quite micro). The original Lord Kelvin conductivity experiment with iron should not be too difficult to set up, although it is obviously not as efficient).
There was a seminar about the origins of property and a number of other seminars. One was about film remixing and an archive for films set up in the Netherlands. I liked the film archives (because the tedious paperwork involved in finding copyright holders to a large number of films is – as a friend of mine expressed it – not a pain you would expose a bureaucrat to if you are a friend of bureaucrats, which, after 2.5 years at Lund University, I am).
At around the first Anonymous protests against Visa and Mastercard, Samir participated in a debate in Amsterdam along with a person he knows but I don’t but whose first name is Arnoud. They both have experiences running servers and ISPs. To the extent these things are not a mystery to me, it is probably because of Samir (f*kn TCP/IP-stack).
Anyway, I was later the recipient of a compliment on his performance, albeit with the reservation that Samir knows too much and his debates hold a level far higher than is normally viable. The exact wording was ”He is ten years ahead of his time.” I forwarded this. He did not really accept so well. But ten years ahead? I can believe that. I have always imagined Samir as a background mastermind who pulls strings with huge knowledge and understanding and so manages to thwart the entire debate to his advantage. In Sweden, a comparable individual would be Per Schlingmann, whose greatest achievement so far is turning the previously very unpopular conservative party (Moderaterna) into the currently largest political party in Sweden (35% of voters in polls as opposed to 25% support for Socialdemokraterna. In the land of perpetual social democracy!! As much as I dislike conservative politics, I do admire Schlingmann). Anyway, Samir would be like that except definitely not conservative (bearing in mind that one conservative swede was previously against net neutrality, and that another conservative swede is now condoning extra-territorial application of European union trademark law).
He is also doing paperwork for people running for local elections. He helps filling in small charts of questions about pirate policies in various local issues (how do we feel about motorways? building houses? new industrial areas?). This once ate about an hour of my visiting time at his house on a day we were going to go for a walk.
I wont mention the stuff he did around Tunisia again, I guess. Anyway, despite me, he organised a demonstration in The Hague outside the Peace Palace for Dutch Tunisians. He was invited as a speaker. So was Marietje Schaake from D66. Marietje attended the event, Samir did not. I suspect this is very much because of me (I couldn’t really afford going to the Hague and I was at his house and coupled with my suspicions of demonstrations you can see where it goes…), but probably a bit for other reasons as well..
He achieves disturbingly much for being a person whose comrade in arms can say that nobody really knows how much he’s doing. When I sit around and try to accomplish things in general, he threatens me with testing me on the OSI-model at a later date (this date has not yet occured, which is probably good because I can’t remember what the the layer between the session layer and the application layer is called (alternatively it’s the one that’s below both of them). The bottom of a TCP/IP stack is the link layer). Also, we barely ever have time for walks (I sound really cheesy now).
Anyway. I am still impressed, and perplexed, sometimes even annoyed, by the amount of times he has went towards demonstrations and wet socks. Also I haven’t mentioned the amount of people he manages to meet every week at meet-ups for member of Piratenpartij. He reminds me of Rick Falkvinge in that respect and I remember with guilt (given, not very much guilt) that I had problems going to any meeting further away from me than 30 minutes with public transport.
PS. If you made it this far, surely you also have the time to read the short story Understand by Ted Chiang as I adviced you to do at the beginning of the blogpost.