Centralia wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be, but it had its plusses. We arrived a little after noon, and spent probably an hour and a half there -- initially we walked on a closed section of a state route just outside of "town", and that was probably the highlight of the trip. A ways down it, the steam beneath the highway distorted much of it, ripping some holes and cracks out of which steam poured. We hiked up a hill on the side of the highway and found much larger areas of ripped land, with a lot of steam coming out.. one thing to note about the steam was that it was not safe, water vapour steam, but rather steam full of nasty gasses. D had a cold, and was less effected by it because he couldn't smell it, but I had to come down partway up that hill because of extreme nausea. Further down the highway, we started encountering people on four-wheel scooters -- apparently that's a local attraction, as we saw a number of them. Back in the car, we drove to the outskirts of town, driving through some mine areas and long gravel roads that had the largest and worst-breathing gas vents so far. There were a few other people in this part taking pictures, and occasional piles of rubble further up where there were presumably houses at one point. We then went into town proper, at the bottom of the hill, where things looked relatively normal. This part of town had a grid of streets with no houses in them, being primarily open grass with some larger plants here and there. We walked down a foottrail frm the area and found a shed where moonshine was made, and drove around a bit more, looking at a few deserted buildings. Centralia's type of emptiness wasn't a place noone goes, but rather a place noone stays -- the two major streets which intersect at the centre of town were still used as throughfare for the neighbouring communities. The large town next to Centralia had a feel that reminded me a bit of Boston or Brussels (having walked around in both, there's a certain similarity..). I don't know if Centralia was worth 8 hours in the car that day, but it wasn't a bad trip, and I did get some decent photos. Unfortunately, although I have two smartcard readers, I can't find either of them, so I can't post pictures until I do. Oh, I also got some blue glasses with circular rims that make me look like a hippie at one of the reststops we used on the way there.
Some time ago, I took down the philosophy pages on my website because I wasn't sure they were representative of my thought. I recently filled out the skeleton of the directions I'm going on there, and am working on the content again. Inspired by a friend, I'd like to reach towards having a broadly complete statement at some point, as philosophy is a big part of the meaning of my life.
Some friends of mine have noted that I may have what they call "yellow fever". I'm not sure if it exactly fits -- while at one point when I was much younger I was sure I would end up with a Japanese, I've been attracted to people of other ethnicity too, and the fact that I presently find two Oriental people I know to be attractive doesn't mean that I necessarily will end up with someone who of the Orient. Then again, I might. I think part of the idea of yellow fever is that, like a fetish, it precludes other attractions, and I don't think it does for me. I realise that the term might seem horribly racist, but as one of the people using it is, I think, mostly of races covered by the term, I don't feel too bad using it, and in any case, I don't want us to be abandoning terms left and right out of fear of offending someone. If I were directly using a term in a way that was *necessarily* offensive, e.g. equating in "that is so gay" the term gay with bad/stupid/etc, that would be worth getting upset about. In most other areas, including my joking comments about a Scottish love of sheep, I think playful use of language is a good thing. Of course, around people who will get offended, in most cases I'll excise that from my speech.
Recently on Wikipedia, on the Mediation committee (which I'm on, whereby we attempt to help people communicate better when they're having large conflicts), I dug out a seldom-used veto power to stop recruitment to the committee because there was a worry about the group becoming too large and discussion on the appropriate size had not occurred. The issue where we had no policy but had a slow-moving discussion about was whether there should be a limit on committee size, and because I wanted that resolved, I blocked a candicate from joining us while we had the discussion (mediators can veto other mediator applicants). The discussion occurred, and it appears that they're not going to institute limits on committee size as consensus was largely against my position. I think continuing in this direction will cause large problems down the line, especially if being on medcom becomes as meaningful as being an administrator. Still, I bowed to consensus and removed my veto. I think my use of the veto has prompted some upset among certain committee members, who want to remove the capacity for mediators to veto new applicants. I don't regret what I did -- I used the tools available to me to force the discussion on policy to occur before a continued lack of a policy led to a de facto policy. There are circumstances where that's a good thing to happen. It's true that the majority of opinions were not as I had hoped, but at least the discussion was held. Governance of the wikipedia project is probably going to grow more interesting over time as people continue to join it.
I find myself wondering, if I had enough money to live the rest of my life without employment, if I would do so or not. I like my job, and would probably still work it so long as I were in Pittsburgh, but I would look more urgently into buying a house or moving to another country. Would I be comfortable, ethically speaking, not working for my living? It would depend on what else I might do -- if I were to devote myself to my philosophy, I would consider that to be contributing to society in ways that would be kosher. I could see myself setting up to just write indefinitely, and I think I would enjoy that. I think it would be unethical to not contribute to society and live off of it in luxury though. I think most of the more involved kinds of investment are also ethically unsound, e.g. landlording or speculation. Recieving wealth and living off of it incurs a special responsibility, I think, to avoid being parasitical on society, and I would hope in such a circumstance I would be up to the task. It may be better, were I in such a circumstance, to give it all away (or at least the excess beyond needs that can be addressed in the short term) to worthwhile causes to avoid tainting.