Check out this link for pictures and a description of the crazy cow fights! These occur annually near my Swiss friend Brett’s home in Switzerland. They don’t have to force them to fight, it is just the annual jostling about amongst the females to see who is the boss as they head up the mountain for summer grazing.
We got talking about this as Brett described the way everyone keeps cows, and pays LOTS of money for them, even when they don’t use them for milk or anything – they just keep them because it’s nice, and because you’re ‘the man’ if your cow wins the cow fight each year.
And, don’t worry it – doesn’t seem to be that violent.
Another thing that Brett has helped me understand is computers. It’s been great to ask questions of about the web etc. as many of these technologies are profoundly impacting our society and will continue to do so. I am fascinated at the parallels between social, biological and computer networks and how they can each inform our understanding of the other.
I may blab later about the specific ways in which this knowledge is being used, and how intelligent characteristics and behaviour emerge from relatively simple processes and unintelligent components. Two great books to get you into these sorts of ideas are ‘Linked’ – by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, and ‘Emergence’ by Steven Johnson.
Anyway, Brett put in countless hours trying to get an old computer to work again. After my questions about Linux (which uses a penguin logo), he found a version called ‘Damn Small Linux’ that could be installed on the old computer I acquired. It is free, and takes very little power and space to help the whole thing run at a decent speed to check my email.
I had been excited about things like Linux for a long time: the idea of something that evolves through an open process of users all over the world making suggestions to improve the program. Much better than ol’ Microsoft owning the rights and having everyone over a barrel ’til the next version comes out. So, I am very happy to have it running on my little machine.
If you want to know more look at http://www.linux.org/ or http://www.opensource.org/ or look up more about open source software. What a lovely idea. The beauty is you can even get whole ‘MS office’ type programs like Open Office (http://www.openoffice.org/ ) Star Office for free or a fraction of the price of the MS product, and then, and then….it’s just all very facsinating in revealing an alternative to the way most people currently do things.
Or you could get a Mac…ohhhhhh so nice and white and funky…There are limitations to what I can do with a computer that is slower than my Pocket PC!