June 26th, 2008


Programming In Haskalah

Given the opportunity for experimentation in living given being jobless and otherwise not particularly attached to anything, I decided to try living a day effectively blind. Ideally this would've been done using one of those sleeping eyecovers, but I lost mine years ago and don't know where to buy them (nor a bunch of other basics for that article of "clothing" -- how often they're washed, etc). So I used socks. The experiment was a success in that I learned a lot about how my life would be different if I were blind (except, of course if I were blind I would prepare for these things with TTS, learning Braille, and similar), but I gave up about half a day in when I got bored with being unable to use my computers, read, sensibly jot things down, watch films, etc. Showering in complete darkness is actually quite awesome though. One thing I'd like to do is get better at writing without needing to look at the process - it'd be handy to not need to turn the light on when writing down ideas that come to me as I sleep. I'm curious as to the systematic differences between attempts at night writing and normal writing - what manœuvres are more difficult/misdone without feedback? Is it just a positional sense that's lacking? Perhaps vision makes us lazy with spatial reasoning.

Also light-related, I replaced the light bulbs in my bathroom, and got the wrong bulbs, and now my bathroom is incredibly bright with the lights on, much brighter than the sun on the brightest days. Another interesting human "limit"? I wonder what the effects would be on people who regularly work/live in environments much brighter than the sun, both in terms of having that light on the skin and in vision. Likewise, are there studies on the effects of office lighting (restricted wavelengths) in the long-term on the human body? It would be awesome to work in an office dedicated to full-spectrum lighting (as much as it ever can be awesome to work in an office). I would not be totally surprised if there were no significant effect of working/living in really bright environments, but it would be interesting to know.

Also light-related, figuratively, I've been wondering what the best way is to gently correct people who have terribly wrong ideas about things in the sciences. Occasionally some people I know have opinions based on bad science, the science ranging from high-school level to university level, and I'd prefer to have some gentler way to nudge them to learn more about a field than simply say "you're wrong, look it up". I tend to be much more frank with people already well-versed in the sciences, both because I think they'll take it better and because they'll be more enriched by it - it still bugs me that there's a lot of pseudoscience and mistaken ideas in a lot of people's understandings of the world, seeing this from family to friends. I guess I also don't want to engage their pride to the extent that they have to back down in an embarassing way when they read up on things, both because that'd discourage them from actually reading up and because I've learned that people tend to dislike people who do that. People whose pride isn't injured much (or at all) by being shown to be wrong are wonderful in that regard, but they seem to be a minority. In past discussions on this topic, some people have said that I treat some people like children in how gently I treat them over these matters. Maybe that's a fair accusation - is it worse to patronise or to offend? Is there a good way to get more people to that (highly desirable, imo) state of not being much ego-injured by being shown wrong?

I am large. I contain platitudes.