June 10th, 2004

Semiformalishmaybe

Straw Swords Growing

It is a fact of government that people are rotten to each other. Mucheffort in politics and law is the struggle between the rotten and theless rotten. This fact has, however, been true across all times and allgovernments. How secure we feel, however, in that modern times, insteadof people oppressing people, we live instead in a state where the systemitself oppresses people. How much it is like shaking a fist at the sky,to fight such a system, and how, when we come to celebrate selfishness,any striving for a better system necessarily involves treading upon theshattered lands caressed by one's neighbor, the fruits of an unholy tradefor dignity due.

The second deed is done. I've quit my job (yesterday), and taken a new onedoing MRI research, programming, and being the sysadmin in a group in the psychdepartment. It's an amicable split though, and I'm in my two weeks, andwill likely stop by when needed to help out with things which I haven'tyet done a brain dump to someone yet. I'm really looking forward to doingactual research, and na klar actually working with the kind of equipment thatI'll likely be working with for the rest of my life. Also, finally I'll havethe level of responsability I want, and will be teaching people useful things.It's really important to me to feel happy with my work, and this new jobappears to promise that. w00t!

Also yesterday, I ran into my until-recently-russian-prof, and he flagged medown and told me he misses me in the class, and wishes I hadn't dropped it.He suggested I take it again in the second mini-semester. I still think itwas right to drop it -- my life was full of pain and insane, and I needed somebreathing space, but I would like to take it again. I'll need to see how thebeing very fresh in the new job will work with my taking classes -- they mightwant me to wait for a bit until I start taking classes, but I do want to takeit again -- Russian is a fun language, and Dr Kats is a really cool professor.

In the CS department, apparently their network printer spooling software isreally clever -- I was going through one of the regular Unix rituals to getnetwork printing setup right -- print-and-futz until you get it right, and inthe meantime, 15+ pages of paper are filled with garbage. Apparently, someonewas very clever, and wrote a script to work with the 'foomatic' software soinstead of getting garbage while trying a configuration, I got this:The file that someone asked me to printreally looked like a binary file.So I printed this page instead.Since printing a binary file is usually a wasteof paper and other resources, the spoolingsoftware refuses to honor your request.That's very clever -- I'm going to have to ask for their scripts, as I'mcurious how exactly they did it. If they're willing to mandate that everythingis postscript, concievably they could run it through a postscript interpreterand if it spits out fatal errors, they could produce that, but I suspectthey're being more clever than that. Also, while backing up a number of systems,I found that scp isn't happy copying files bigger than 2 gigs. Presumably itdoesn't use the large files API.. Well, no problem. I'll just use STDIO todo it...


    scp foo.tar pgunn@morose:~/
foo.tar: File too large

    cat foo.tar | (ssh pgunn@morose "cat > foo.tar")
The thing I previously wondered about if it was a good idea never materialized,so that's one less thing to wonder about -- it might've been fun, but it couldalso have wreaked emotional harm on me.

Tonight I'm going to have dinner with someone who's rather cute and also agood chef. She's already taken, but I'll be happy to call her a friend, ifI can develop it into a friendship. It's interesting though, being in asituation where one learns to set and keep boundaries. In a sense, I thinkmy window-into-sunni-islam and window-into-orthodox-judaism,are highlighting a definite difficulty in how people live, or at least a trickything to navigate, and their approaches, while rather conservative, are indeedviable ways to do things. It is interesting that, in political theories, theyrarely delve into topics like this. I think they tend to have, built-in, aconsensus that these are not areas where laws should intervene, leavingadvice to be given by Kultur or religion. Perhaps a fault with the atheistmovement that I'm a part of is that we've dropped the ball on providingadvice in these areas, and don't even have anyone who can provide advice onthese topics, as Imam/Rabbi/Priest do in mainstream society. Not exactly dropthe ball, note, but refused it. Friends can fill that gap, as can family, butone of the advantages of the traditional lifestyle is that the gap really needsto be filled, and if there are no local friends or family, then it doesn't.Sometimes it's not desirable to talk to friends or family about some thingsanyhow. Of course, there are psychologists, but I think there's a differencethat's been glossed over too much between what psychologists provide and whatis often needed (psychologists have a purpose too, mind you, but it's different).. in a way, the process of therapy with a shrink is more ritualistic thanthe guidance someone else can provide. The secular world's advocates, whichincludes me, say that meaning in life can be found outside of religion, andthat's certainly true, but we need to do better at providing it. The secularhumanists, the faction that's driving the liberal bus of atheism (theobjectivists and libertarians jointly driving the conservative bus) are tooshy about their values, I think, to provide the priest/counselor equivalentwho is bold enough to tell people what to do to build a sustainable societywithin the tradition they're building. That's a damned shame -- every oncein awhile, even those strong enough to avoid religion might need some help,and some people need a lot more help than that. I'm not a secular humanist,but I certainly am willing to offer advice and listen when people want to talk,and I can offer my own external-holding-of-value position to help people findways to live that are, by my standards, fair to other parties involved.We need more of that.

Semiformalishmaybe

yum update stomach

That was incredible. We first went to the local health-food supermarket,and she showed me the sane way to eat a healthy diet that's still gourmet.Like Debb, she's careful what she eats, and counts calories, but unlikeDebb, she does it right, enjoys food and maintains a healthy weight, ableto scoot it a few pounds up or down as she wants. We had really goodconversation about the field she's in, food, social psychology, and a numberof other things. She's an incredibly good cook, and showed me how to cook tofuand other foods into a very tasty, healthy dinner. As much as it irritates meto drive, I might brave the trip to Whole Foods more often toget ingredients. I got a chunk of Soy with some curry spices mixed in thatpromises to be good, some more Saag Paneer, some Chaumes, and other tastythings.

I keep thinking about trying to go back to eating meat, and I don't thinkit's going to happen -- I can eat pretty well the way I am now; if I eatenough soy, I'll sustain myself, and with enough protein, I can even presumablybuild muscle and get into shape, in time. I think partly I've just had thestereotypical attitude problem that geeks have, an anti-health attitude thatwas dumb. I'm free of that now, and I'm now free to indulge the .. yes, thepleasures of a more healthy life.. I once enjoyed running. I think I'm startingto enjoy it again. Paradoxically, the very thing that cured me of the attitudeproblem was keeping me from enacting the changes in my life to the extent thatI wanted, but I've emerged from that, and I'm cleared of all that stagnant setof ideas. It's kind of funny -- I can actually see and fully understand, giventhe way I used to think, that my typical geek dislike of exercise actuallystemmed from something entirely different -- my inability to accept a fact aboutmyself that I've long sinced learned to accept, actually thanks to Martha. So,as much as other aspects of me were twisted and hurt by aspects of my firstand second chosen, I owe both Debb and Martha a lot for untangling two aspectsof my psyche that were making my life less good than it can be. I find myselfwondering if there are other similar entanglements that I have yet to becured of. I guess I'm going to need to think about that for awhile.

Oh, today at work, the entire Computer Science network went down for quite sometime. As I got impatient and left for home, I saw an unusual number of geekswalking the halls of the buildings. Some of them looked like they really didn'tleave their offices very often. Yeh, we're a strange lot.