Eyes open with a snap... a gasp, wheeze, sharp intake of breath, anda sitting up. A feeling of cold.. A shiver.. a thin coating of sweat overthe face, a panic sweat.. A memory of something moving incredibly fast..too fast, a black blur moving inwards... odd sensations, cold, but astrange warmth.. pulling one's self to one's feet, hop out of the container..dizziness.. and strength.. container? A brief glance down, skin is green,a hand over the heart, stillness.. a panic, confused jumble of images,calming... the body isn't human... wings? A thought, and then a human again..beginning to fall from the branch.. and not human again... careful motion, backinto the hut... and again a human... A thirst... for blood? Guilt, aversion..A vegetarian... and a vampire... what a fate... to live for eternity, tempted byone's vows.. Time to give up the vow? .. A moment of seduction, and then a no.
Debb and I recently rented a scary movie about a ghost ship... One thing I alwaysam interested in, with such movies, is the mechanics of ghosthood. In the film,the shop was being run by someone who's trying to collect souls, and so neededto kill people. He, and various other things end up trying to kill the salvagerswho are trying to loot the ship (and who are, the movie's choice of heroes).There was a little girl, who was the most unambiguously good ghost, and sheat one point immersed the main character into her memories, but could nottouch anything. There was a seductive lady who kissed one of the guys, and laterfaded out so he could fall through her into a pit. The main bad guy, who wasn'treally a ghost, was solid, could change his appearance, was shot once with onlya short-lived effect, and apparently had survived and managed the ship forhundreds of years. He apparently had returned from hell to collect more deadbodies. There were also some more or less neutral ghosts, like the captain ofthe ghost ship, who could be solid enough to move stuff around. All in all,a ghost never physically killed anyone -- it was all through deception, well,except for someone who got ground up by some gears, where no ghost was visible.
Some more thoughts -- I've been chewing on something Debb speculated on, thenature of arrogance.. In particular, she tossed out an idea that arroganceis perspective-bound, and that arrogance, or one kind of it, is the joltpeople feel over sufficiently different worldviews, or at least (my extension)those that differ on crucial issues. It's usually very difficult to see, butthere are some base assumptions, or common convictions, that underlie mostpeoples' worldview that, when people don't hold them, we tend to react to themoddly. For sufficiently different worldviews, we likely just dismiss them aswackos (unless they're in sufficient number), but there's likely an interestingarea between wackos and between what we're used to where we feel threatened andangry, naturally, when they're violated. We might imagine that these bordersdiffer between people, both in categorization tendency and in what precepts arepresent. One thing that we often are amused to learn, when talking with olderpeople, or even moreso, digging through diaries of the past, is how differenttheir perspective was. No doubt we would be amused to learn of their worldview,how they JUST DON'T CARE about things really fundamental to our worldview, andwe'd perhaps exclaim how they JUST DON'T GET IT. So, my dear reader, I leaveyou with an example of some things, designed to provoke both reactions. I thensuggest that you'd get a lot out of inspecting yourself, learn where these'buttons' are on you, and reflect on it.I suggest that someone who suggests that there is no continual self or externalreality, you'll likely dismiss them as weird. I further suggest that if youencounter someone who suggests that free will is nonsense will likely be metwith dismissal, but you might react to them with anger, and further suggest thatsomeone who suggests that other animals have rights to their forests will likelybe met with anger.
There is another aspect of this feeling that I'm on (or, rather, can understand)both sides on -- the notion that it's arrogant to interfere with the dominantscheme of things. Free-market folk (I was once in this group, and can thusunderstand the perspective) often suggest that intervention in the free marketis arrogant, because it puts the individual's judgement ahead of the system, andanyone who advocates intervention thus is daring to divert the natural order.This is, of course, only an argument if you either judge the natural order ofcapitalism to be sacred in some way -- if it is not a system which oneought to preserve (temporarily I borrow the word from moral absolutism),then there's no problem with such an intervention. There may be decent, generalor case-specific arguments on intervention in capitalism, but the paralyzingnotion that judging it to be short of a perfect system is hubris, that's notsuch a good argument.
I've recently been taking a look at the wiki software that wikipedia uses.I'd like to port it to talk to Postgres instead of MySQL.It might not be such an easy port, however, as some of the things MySQL does,as provided as an interface to PHP, are based on hacks that won't work in amore general database. One example is a function that returns the value ofthe sequence that corresponds to the row just inserted into the database.That works fine in MySQL, because MySQL is deficient in that a given table canonly have one sequence. In Postgres (and several other databases), you can havemultiple sequences in a table. This means that there's no general way to writesuch a function in Postgres. It may be possible to write a function that doesthat and returns the first sequence field in the record, and that'll work finefor when Postgres and MySQL are implementing the same schemas. However, writingsuch a function will be a horrible pain. I wish people would just stop usingMySQL -- Postgres is better, it's also free, it's more standards-compliant,and it's more extensible. Oh well.