Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

The Cost of False Revelations

Those moments when we say "Aha!", and think we've learned somethingabout ourselves, the universe, or a situation are quite gratifying.Depending on the thought, and our attitudes, these moments can changeeverything, sending us down an entirely new path in life. Sometimesthese revelations are, alas, wrong, either taking us away from truthand/or good paths in life, or taking us in another nonproductivedirection from our original bad path. A big part of intellectualmaturity is to take life with a certain humility, realizing when ourconclusions may be based on wishful thinking, an urge to act, badjudgement, or bad data. Having this attitude is in some ways moreimportant than being right -- it forms a support for a certain kind ofintellectual integrity.

Sadly, some kinds of virtue can be barriers for success in a varietyof endeavors. It's sometimes been said that virtue often requires givingthings up. A lot of interpersonal relations work better without certainkinds of virtue. Of course, there are a lot of things apart from virtue thatcan get in the way.

Recently, I've noticed people saying things to me in one place anonymously,and repeating them in other nonanoymous ways, sort of like a puzzle withcoordinates on the back. It's strange to see those kinds of things.

I'm thinking of completely restarting my website from scratch. My philosophyhas changed a lot over time, and in many ways has changed focus -- I'm moreinterested in what constitutes my idea of personal virtue than how societyshould be structured. Specifically, I have an idea of the philosophical lifethat I'd like to explore in depth. A fair amount of my old philosophy doesn'trepresent who I am or what I think anymore. The change in focus is moresignificant though. Even outside of philosophy, I'd like to move everything toa CSS-centric design.

Based on my earlier conclusions that Verizon is a bad company, I am working tobe rid of them, and today I accidentally moved much closer. About two weeks ago,I lost DSL, and after some recent investigation, it turned out that Verizonwasn't sending me phone bills for some time, so I had stopped paying them,and in response they cut off my service. I called yesterday to have them turnit back on, and called Speakeasy to ask about having them reactivate the DSL ontheir end, and they mentioned that they offer DSL over raw phonelines, notrequiring me to keep phone service. I arranged that and called back Verizontoday to cancel my phone service order. As of now, my only tie to Verizon ismy cellphone, which I hope to fix as soon as I can afford a Treo 650 and topay off my remaining contract to them for the service. This pleases me.

I ran into Debb today on my way to work, and we chatted for a bit. She'sapparently thinking of moving back to Columbus after she graduates. It somehowwasn't that weird -- new relationships can clear some of the oddness from old,failed ones. It's also strange how people change over time. Later on the wayto work, I stopped on one of the bridges and looked out over the valley andthought about life. I thought what it would be like to have children, andhave them asked what their father and mother do at work, and if there being agood answer should change how I live my life. I don't think so -- I don't thinkI've ever been into having a typical career, and while I really want kids atsome point, I'm starting to wonder if I'm getting a bit too old for that.Many of my friends are well on their way to marrage, and while until the lastfew weeks, I thought things were progressing towards that for me and Nicole too,I'm back a bit below ground zero again. I would want to date someone for abouttwo years before getting married to them, I think, and I'm almost 27 now. Atearliest, I imagine kids being born when I'm 31. That's not much of a margin.If I don't meet the right person in a few years, I'm likely to never have kids.The Qatar thing would make things even less likely for that prospect if I do it.It's further made more difficult by the way that the male mind is programmed tofind young women attractive, but as I get older, the people who I'm attractedto would become more of a perversion and a mental mismatch to pursue. I wouldn'tmind growing old with someone, but I at least want a good slice of time wherethere's a lot of physical attraction to go with the rest of the attraction.Some of my friends and family suggest that I shouldn't mark off all religiouspeople from consideration. I can't see that changing about me, but who knowswhere the future may bring me. Right now, I'm far too much still in love tobe looking for someone new.

Today, I used eval() for the first time seriously in my Perl programming days.In many ways, eval() can be seen as a failure of the programming language it'sused in to make something easy enough, or alternatively a failure of theprogrammer to come up with an appropriate way to encapsulate something. In thiscase, I do know how to program what I want in C, and could've done theequivalent in Perl, but it would've been a pain -- I was building an occurancememorizer into a multilevel hash, and the occurances (and hence the level depth)were not knowable until runtime. If, for example, an occurance were


I wanted to do:


The non-eval way to do it would be to yank apart the hash at each level,create new anonymous hashes and play games with references in order to buildthe whole structure as we get more occurances. To attempt to see if we'veseen an occurance, we'd of course need to do the opposite (although it'ssimpler to test than to memorize). That's ugly.

My solution:

sub memorize_permut($@){my ($par, @fields) = @_;if(! defined eval('$$par' . join(, map {"{$_}" } @fields) . ' = 1;') )
die $@;

sub recall_permut{my($par, @fields) = @_;my $returner = eval('defined($$par' . join(, map{"{$_}" } @fields) . ')' );if(! defined($returner))
die $@;
return $returner;}

Simpler, but much less legible.

There's a lot of interesting news to catch up on, and because I'm likely to beto Columbus and back before I make another entry, let's get it all out..

Some researchers are working on implanting human neurons into nonhumanembryos. Cool, and naturally upsetting to the usual folk.

Saudis are taking steps towards democracy. Hmm.They still don't want women to lead services, and are oh-so-impressivein other ways.The Palestinians have a number of people with western education in theirnew cabinet.

Recently, someone found a way to trick google to manipulate pageranks.A lot of people who obsess over pagerank are upset because to them, the skyis falling. I'm amused -- they're silly to care so much. It's just a ranking ona search engine, and it's not like they're entitled to high rankings on it.Of course, some companies are available for hire that do dirty tricks to makepagerank higher for their clients, and they often promise better pageranks.That's what they get though, for offering something that's not theirs topromise.

Paul Graham has an interesting essay on Japanese versusAmerican design philosophy. I think it's overall premise is correct, andwonder further if America will doom the world to its style in the name ofcapitalism. What room is there for pride and quality when everyone's obsessedwith money?

The book Wicked by Gregory Maguire, came in from Amazon a few days ago.I'm about a quarter of the way into it, and it seems quite amusing.

Gay marrage continues to be fought, with the latest move in California.It's interesting that in the period of the most regressive political arenawe've had for a long time, there are people who have the guts to push againstthem so strongly. I admire that. It's probably another sign of increasingpolarization between the Two Americas we live in.

This is a cool idea -- embed cement dust in fabric, and you have aninstant building when you need it. China is testing a vaccine forHIV.

Apparently, BushJr prefers Texas to DC for diplomacy.

Bobby Fischer evaded deportation to the United States by gettingIcelandic citizenship as a gift. It's cool that the U.S. didn't get him fortheir stated purpose -- he played chess in a country the United States wasboycotting because of the Cold War, but unfortunate that he's such a schmuckso we can't call it a overall happy story.

There's been a lot of fuss over some corpse that's being kept alive by machinesin Florida. Politics being what they are, a single flatliner body gets a lotmore attention than people who are unambiguously alive and soon to dieelsewhere in the world. Just end the charade of life support, and give some ofthat attention to real people who need it! Geez!

Putin sometimes makes mistakes, like now. Sigh.I'm disappointed that the USSR didn't embrace glasnost and perestroika withoutfalling apart, and even more disappointed that the selling of state assetsinstantly created a new capitalist class of plutocrats. Alas, that's what thebusiness world wants.

Scientists found some dinosaur fleshy bits inside a bone.This is very cool!

You might enjoy this interview with Donahue.

One of the more difficult things about making a decision on Qatar is that I'vehad a lot of things happen at work and in my friendships recently that make meappreciate what I have here more. I've generally been leaning towards going,because with the way the financials work out there, I could come back andbuy a house with the money I'd make, or otherwise feel quite secure,financially, but recently I've been less sure. A big part of me thinks thatall this thinking about status and moving doesn't matter so much becausebuilding close personal connections to people might be more important thanhaving these life experiences. Parts of me have a lot of wanderlust, andother parts really want to settle down. Sigh. I could make myself go, I knowthat much, or I could make myself stay -- nothing is set in stone. Perhaps I'llbe more sure in time.

So, Outland is gone, but Columbus beckons. Time to head home and do laundry andget ready.


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