December 21st, 2011


The Dream we Put on Syntax

I was just asked by a random person itting next to me at this coffeeshop what the zip code is for where we were, and I was going to pop on Google Maps to look that up when I realised I couldn't remember the name of the coffeeshop. The experience of being united in a kind of cluelessness (mine a bit more profound) was kind of amusing (I eventually did find the name of the place because I could spatially remember where in the city it is). Names generally don't stick well in my head. I am also sleepy enough that I probably should not be so far away from my apartment right now; the near-constant darkness makes it hard for me to stay awake. On the upside (personally, at least), at least it's only really cold rather than terribly cold.

Earlier today I had a daydream continued from last night's dream, where I was some kind of sentient virtual world and some people I knew were inside (kind of; this is part of one of the elaborate dreamworlds I've had) and I was trying to entertain them with futuristic technology despite some of my agents not (yet) speaking English. I was hoping to entertain one of them with futuristic maths (in the dream I was some kind of ancient alien intelligence with millions of years of civilisations in my head), and synthesised something like a kindle with crazy maths stuff on it but was trying to design the kindle-like device myself, specifically how to label the buttons, and the daydream then dissolved into philosophy.Collapse )

I recently heard a webcast of the author of 「The Binding of Isaac」 on the Roguelike News podcast. It was pretty interesting; I particularly liked a quip that went something like "whenever I find myself about to self-censor because I might offend someone, I instead turn around and push harder, because that's how I know I'm onto something interesting". Collapse )

And a bit more on philosophical discourse:

  • In philosophy, you are not arguing with a person, and you cannot make deals with them. You are arguing with your opponent's perspective, and with all possible variants. The words you speak will be borrowed by allies and opponents and repeated in many places you will not be. The argument will be reincarnated many times after the last breath has left your body.
And because I'm trying to make headway on shrinking my list of things to write about:
  • I sometimes dream of advocates among the religious who specialise in converting people whose self-identity is bound to their lack of faith; reworking their personality into a compatible analogue of its self-perception, but with a religious inclination built in. The rebellious atheist might become a rebellious heretic who rarely attends church, etc. Self-image is mostly maintained with a bit of reworking, or at least the flavour is maintained. I sometimes see hints of conversion-programmes that might do this in all of the religious mailing lists I've anonymously subscribed to, but generally the specific tactics of conversion are not trumpeted very loudly.

End of Roads

I was thinking about making an end-of-year push to learn Perl6, and if things went well to start to port all my existing projects (that are in Perl; a few are in other languages) to it. Unfortunately, the Perl6 compiler/interpreter that ships with Fedora is terribly slow and can't run a lot of the sample code (that was written to the Perl6 spec; nobody has a compliant compiler/interpreter for it yet). This is the many-th year that Perl6 has been in this state. I popped onto IRC, and found some terribly defensive people with shaky responses like "we don't believe in a crossing-the-finish-line release cycle". After a bit of calming discourse, eventually they (implementers of the leading implementation) admitted that they thought Perl6 was probably not going to go anywhere and that it was likely a waste of time at this point.


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I'm also deeply frustrated at the direction Redhat is taking Fedora Linux. Redhat's engineers are, outside of the GNOME Foundation, the biggest source of bad ideas for Linux in recent times. I want a distribution that still uses RPMs, that wholeheartedly rejects abandoning X11 for Wayland, that doesn't treat traditional Unix policy as a joke (referring to the let-users-install-anything-in-a-registered-repository-without-sysadmin-choice mess), that don't decide to radically rework the filesystem hierarchy, that rejects GNOME3 for being the awful mess it is, that doesn't have Windows-envy (referring to the abandon-dotfiles-for-a-registry bs), and that doesn't have a dev community where I need to worry about the next dumb idea of the month.

So I'm halfheartedly looking for a new distro (or cousin OS) and a new programming language. I am of course very picky about these things.


Dancing in the Shadow

Beginning search for the specifics of Chinese food and a movie on the 25th. In years past I've usually worked on this day, but not actually having more than a sliver of a CMU-job left makes that difficult!

I'm also considering making a trip to another city for First Night celebrations. The city would have to be someplace where I would know people who would want to hang out. Columbus? Pittsburgh? San Francisco? DC?

It's possible I'll stay home both nights and be boring. Hard to say.