Yesterday and today have been filled with unexpected work.. setting up somenew systems for some new people coming in on Tuesday (apparently, there's aholiday on Monday). Unfortunately, the vendor, Las Alamos Computer,decided to ship with bleeding-edge hardware that only gained support recently,under Linux, so we need to use their custom media to re-install.. and one ofthose disks went bad, and one of the CD/DVD drives was bad. It's just been acomedy of errors and bad judgement, and so I had the joy of waking up in myoffice this morning and worked until 13:00. To top it off, the two othertechies admin-types and the manager, a husband and wife and a close friend ofthem, who decided to go with this company don't see the problem, and wouldprobably have preferred to go with the dinky toy Linux distro they like. There's a lotof cool things about my job, but dealing with stupid decisions some peoplemake is a major irritant for people like me who get most of the pleasure inwork from knowing things are being done right.
On the upside, while I hadn't been home since yesterday morning, I did go outfor a bit -- there was an artsy film festival that I went to with two peoplefrom the techie group. Lots of strange and funny films wereshown.. It's good to be back in the loop with these things -- in Columbus, Iwas partly in the right social circles to hear about these things, and if I canget into the local equivalent, that'd be quite enjoyable. After the fest, wewent to N's apartment.. she has a nice downtown apartment, very well decorated.It's funny how just seeing the way different people decorate their place canbe inspirational.. she's European, and it definitely shows from the briefestglance inside. I've seen, through various means, the home decor of variousapartments of different cultures. I am curious as to what a few of the othercultures have as tradition -- in particular, I'm curious what kind of impressionI'd get from seeing the inside of a number of Australian houses. Perhaps likehow a bookshelf can tell you a lot about its owner, a house can tell you alot about its Kultur.
It kind of flows with some thoughts I've been having recently -- beingAmerican is a state of mind, a state of mind I want nothing to do with.
I've seen a lot of these things around -- Squirrel Hill, the Jewish neighborhoodof Pittsburgh in which I live, seems to now have its own magazine.Compared to Shadyside (snobbish upper-crust)'s magazine, it has a lot morecontent, but it's not all that interesting. I wonder why people see the needfor a moderately large neighborhood to have a mag -- apart from occasionalconstruction, nothing much happens here, and that's not a bad thing. Then again,I don't even read the newspaper, so my point of view is probably kind ofrare.
Wikipedia has a new look. I like it.
Something else kind of relevant to work, and to research in universities ingeneral -- research in universities tend to be partly results-centric,producing a "product", often associated with a grant. This seems to generallybe ok.. and is a comprimise between the academic push for pure research andlearning, and the need for funding. University research actually forms akind of alternative/supplemental route that's very efficient for producingsuch results, as training progresses naturally to the state of the art andsmoothly begins to push that. However, is it problematic for a researchgroup when the focus seriously begins to shift from doing novel research forthe sake of the art into being more of a company? What are the signs of such anattitude/goal shift? Perhaps the fear of this is why Universities often letprofessors spend a portion of their time on private pursuits fueled partly bytheir research -- it helps provide a means to keep the business and theknowledge gains seperate.
Some random stuff:Everybody loves mathDumb logic on a mostly interesting site -- you've got to love when peopleuse arguments that are rooted in grammar and definitions to tackle problems thatare much deeper than that. It's important to develop the ability to instantlysmell when this style of argument is used. Tip to get one started -- when theterm "by definition" is used, it's a bad sign.Because it's good to balance these things, reflect on what a wonderful lifethe folk who believe in this live.
There are two groups of clowns wandering around Squirrel Hill right now --one group of people advertising some flavour of Ice Cream (a guy in a cow headhanding out pencils), and a father-son pair preaching Christianity to theJudaists who apparently thought I look Jewish enough to hand me a pamphlet.This makes me wonder -- either Debb's claims that Hebrews have a *very* distinctethnic look is exaggerated (other folk who should know support this thought),or most people don't have a very good idea what the ethnicity looks like. Ithink the first is more likely -- probably more than most ethnicities, all thewandering around that nomadic ethnicities have done introduce to them a lotmore genetic diversity (as they intermarry -- I think the intermarrage rarityis as much a myth as the people who religiously insist that Hebrew is theparent of all languages on earth, as the Ashkenazi actually look not justdivergent from the Sephardi, but also genuinely European). Anyhow, it's justridiculous that the Christians waste their time preaching here -- no doubtthe presence of a non-Christian religion, and the possibility of convertingsuch folk, attracts them like bears to honey, but Judaists are, probablybecause of a mix of good genetics and a literary Kultur, among the leastlikely people to be converted by such trivial efforts. I'm certain they'llall be *really* impressed by Christians quoting their bible in a self-love fest.Believers, if any of you read my BLOG, would you be likely to be convinced toconvert to, say, Zoroastrianism (or other suitably obscure religion) byarguments that are entirely based off of them quoting their holy book?It's almost tempting for me to write propoganda for these folks just to showthem how it's done.
Ahh.. I'm at the Coffee Tree, and I just happened to look up at the sky..Amusing thought -- the sky is there so we have something to look at.Perhaps an adaptation to help us stay sane -- the sky as the ultimatedistractor, maintainer of sanity. It's hard to keep worries on one's mindwhen there's that vast .. creamy coffee, but blue.. with clouds floating throughlike swirls of dispersing milk. I think I'm going to stop futzing with thecomputer for a bit to watch the sky... Ahh...