Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

Schon Werdens

The gods are descending from Mount Olympus. They've beenwatching us for over two thousand years, the fruits ofPrometheus's theft having been used far more interestingly in humanhands than in its rightful hands. The idyllic life, thefamily arguments, all their domains, conquered by man. Zeus'sthunderbolds predicted, Poseidon's waves tapped for power,Gaia lays sick, Aries' sword hopelessly outmoded, Cupid's spark held by online dating boards. The old, gloriousbattles and conflicts just don't matter anymore. Fenrir andOdin eat dinner together. Yahweh and Belial end their battles.Ragnarok and the day of judgement have been called off --Wagner's heresy has become real.

They're all tired -- it's one thing to be the source of meaningto a few thousand, sparse people, and quite another to holdtogether the modern, distracted, dazed billions.

Only the Moirae remain.

Hmm... I don't really know what that meant. As a matter of fact,it's probably not as good as it could've been, but I lost interestpartway through. Oh well :)

Last night was pretty fun -- Zets meetings arn't always that big,apparently, but with sufficiently good company, one doesn't needto be in a big crowd. We met at the normal pizza place, talked forabout two (?) hours, and then went to a coffee place that Ihaven't been to before in Squirrel Hill, and talked until past midnight.Just the 4 of us. That's one really neat thing about Pittsburgh andthe new life I've built here -- I just don't seem to run into peoplewho arn't interesting and intellectual anymore. Maybe it's just part ofbeing around CMU/Pitt, and the college ambiance, but I love it. MaybeI'll stop being a cactus in time...

Anyhow, one of the interesting things we talked about, early in thenight, was genetic engineering of foods, humans, and the ethics ofthat. The conversation jumped all over the place, and anyone familiarwith me knows that I'm a transhumanist, but a cautious, somewhatskeptic one. Their position, which I might agree with, depending onmy mood (don't have a strong opinion yet), was that genetic engineeringof foods should be tightly controlled because the effects of saidengineering are unknown, and it's hard to constrain plant seed distributionshould modified foods be planted in somebody's garden. What I disagreed withwas the idea that those advances should never happen, as there's no realbenefit to society if they are to happen. They were especially unhappy withmy hopes for sentient machines. It was an interesting conversation, and thoseare almost always fun for me :)

Oh, a neat article:http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993750

I now have the current version of my webpage (the one that needs a lot of workto be finished) in CVS on my home system. Now I'll feel comfortabledoing more ambitious work on it -- I'm kind of a history packrat. I stillhave trinkets from when I was a child, and stuff spanning pretty much allperiods of my life. I've been thinking about it, and I've come to theconclusion that major aspects of the design of Subversion are really stupid. The most notable example is using Apache and WebDAV. Apache is afine program, great for running a webserver, doing CGI, and doing java stuff(with the help of tomcat). However, WebDAV is inefficient, requires a webserver,and was designed by one of those "one protocol to bind them all" types. It alsoneeds to be backwards compatible with HTTP, meaning that locking, for example,can't be done correctly. For programs that deal with large amountsof usually binary data where there's a fairly tight binding between clientsand servers, a verbose protocol like HTTP isn't appropriate. Somethingmore akin to SSH, that does everything as compact binary streams is far moreefficient. This, however, is minor compared to the second issue. RequiringApache to be present, with WebDAV installed, and it all to be configuredright is a very big and irritating requirement for someone who just wantsversion control software. Apache sometimes breaks during upgrades, and it'salso software that people are going to restart or alter the configurationof fairly often. People also might reasonably want more than one apache ontheir system, and to have it configured oddly. It really sucks to designyour version control system so it's all part of that too.

I've been having strange dreams of the "IODENT" and"Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile" parts of the musical Annie.I'm dreaming, and suddenly there they are, spelling out I-O-D, E-N-T,I-OH-DENT, DO-Dododododo... I don't really remember my dreams fromthis morning, but I think I enjoyed them, because I slept in again insteadof heading early to CMU. I guess my increased general activity has oftenreplaced my going to the gym, although I do that too sometimes.

I've been thinking about something someone in the philosophy group said theother day, that it's dangerous to be liberal nowadays, socially, asrepublicans are using more furor, and demanding people conform to their ways,ostracising people who are liberal, anti-war, and all that. It seems to fitwith a lot of what I've seen outside academia -- liberals kind of clustertogether, and whisper their positions to each other, while conservatives ownthe room, and spit on people who loathe BushJr. And yet, at least in areasI hang out, there are an awful lot of liberals out there too. What gives?Is there something pathological about liberals that makes them unwilling tobe bold declarers of social reality that conservatives are, or is theresomething ideological about liberalism, or most practitioners of it, that makesthem unwilling to 'rock the boat'? Either way, it's a recipe for disaster --when liberals flee from expressing themselves, they surrender the landscape,and they surrender it not just for now, but they stop moderates from joiningthem. I'm no great friend of the liberals -- I'm not centrist, but I certainlydon't fit with either camp, but I think that the conservatives, especiallythe fundamentalist nationalist flavour (who I wholeheartedly oppose), havestolen the cake. To put it more strongly, and to make the google godssmile on me, I hate Bush. I hate the religious fundimentalists who are outto bring society back to the dark ages. I hate the businessmen who thinkabout war, and can only see oil and government contracts. I hate the patriotswho think America should rule the world, that Europe is an irritating obstacle,and that everyone else is irrelevant. I'm irritated with the pathetic liberalswho play their word games, and attempt to say that they're being patriotic too,in their own way. Cheney's corporation should have its corporate licenserevoked. BushJr should spend years in a UN Prison. Billy Graham should havehis citizenship revoked and shipped off to Israel, and the people who thinkAmerica's all that should be forced to live in Europe for a year. I amproud not to be a patriot. I am an internationalist. I am an intellectual.I am an environmentalist. I believe in fiscal responsability, personalfreedom, and science. I believe that religion will wither in time as scienceprogresses. I believe that openness in society is a good thing, and thatEuropean society as a whole is closer to the American upper caste thanthe American lower caste. I believe that most Americans are incrediblyignorant about the world. I believe that there is a lot of danger inthe concentrations of wealth that some corporate entities have, and thatthe tree that is Capitalism often needs to be pruned, sometimes for itshealth, sometimes for ours. I believe that advertisements create a bad mentalenvironment, and that junk postal mail is one of the worst evils of the world,as it messes with people's mind, it is a senseless waste of trees, and thatthe ink and paper it produces generates enormous waste. I believe that there'svalue to philosophy. Hell, maybe I am some weird flavour of liberal. If I hadthe ability to add polls, you'd probably see that on the right right now --"Am I a Liberal, by these statements? Yes LINK No LINK". Alas, no colocationyet. Maybe when my finances have recovered from the cancelled vacation,the new apartment, the O'Reilly trip, and from some costs that no longer are..

Anyhow, here's what I'll say to the liberal person I was talking with, andto you, my (probably mostly liberal) audience. Get off your duff, and don'ttake shit from conservatives. If you're a coward, you're going to lose.If you might lose friendships, remember that they will too. You can't tiptoethrough the world, letting people do to you what you'd never do to them.If they complain that you're talking politics, remind them that they are too.A pro-bush rally and an anti-bush rally are both political. Take the highground, but make sure you reach the same place. Your mindshare cannot growif they're the only one talking. Arrogance, provided that it's moderate,self-aware, and tempered by reason, is a good thing. Don't be a victim, andmaybe you won't be treated by one.

Anyhow, I'm going to spend most of tonight packing and cleaning my currentplace. I'm going to see if I can do enough financial rearranging to getenough money together to pay the first month's rent before my paycheck, soI can actually get moving done. It might be possible. It'll be ugly, and willresult in my, at least temporarily, draining dry some of my accounts, butI really want to get started moving. I won't feel comfortable ordering DSL(probably going to switch to telerama) until Iat least have keys to the place. Probably the first thing to be moved willbe my books/CDs and TV, which can stay there alone for a couple days without mymissing them. I can probably move everything in my car, except maybe for myfuton, which is iffy. It'll be a lot of trips, but it's not that far.

Current music is "So Long Superman", by Firewater.

Tags: science, tech
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