Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

Candle in an Inferno

I have now pretty much committed all the time I can to various things, and if they all bear through, I'll be a very busy person(!) for awhile. At least one of the higher-time-consumingness things relating to Wikipedia will probably not bear through (but there's a chance), and the other things are more certain. These commitments nontheless are interesting, satisfying, and possibly fun. Until I get a feel how things are going to work out, I'm probably not going to take anything more on my plate (apart from any chances at romance, if they present themself). This of course only covers things I have not yet heard about -- I am anticipating some of the possibilities I've discussed with people for projects and the like happening, and look forward to it. Some of them involve additional doing of things on the side (and being paid). That's usually a good thing. It's also nice to feel wanted and appreciated, and more importantly, that something important will be done, and done well, that would not be so done without me.

On that note, I suppose I've actually had ample opportunity to date a few people -- there have been some okcupid profiles that looked interesting, and some people who contacted me, but I haven't responded because right now I'm attracted to a few people I kind of know in RL in KGB, and it's easier for me to imagine dating someone who already would fit into my life in a few ways than meet someone completely out of the blue. It's kind of silly, really, but although KGB does engender a lot of stupid craziness, it also gathers together interesting people, and they're really the same thing, just different in scale (and perhaps maturity level). There are a few people I could easily imagine dating in that crowd. I suppose for a life priority, romance hasn't been that hot in my life recently -- one year ago today, I was being dumped in Switzerland (or Brussels, I don't remember) by the last person I dated, with not the slightest romance since her. I guess I can chalk it up to being both picky and shy. Recent events have kind of gotten me more interested in dating again though...

On Saturday, I went with J and R to construction junction (kind of near the Climbing Wall), and it was pretty awesome -- they had used stuff of all types .. perhaps vaguely classifiable as "house parts". I got three carpetmats for $2. I'd be careful when shopping there -- the place has the feel of a flea market, with plenty of things dirty, possibly broken, or needing work, but there are some good deals in there. For someone like J, who is much handier than I am (although I've been known to be fairly handy sometimes), the place is awesome. They do have a kind of kitschy thing at the checkout line -- every other saturday, people spin a wheel-of-fortune like wheel to determine what kind of discount of their entire purchase they get. My spin was fairly lucky -- it paid for my tax and then some.

I've been on another Bhangra kick, and I've noticed that it's the only music I have that sounds more natural when slowed down a bit from natural tempo. I am tempted to conclude that it normally is recorded at a non-natural speed.

Last night at Giant Eagle, I ran into a friend of mine, Kathy, who is a schoolteacher in Pittsburgh, and had a long conversation about university. Her experiences were almost wholly negative, partly because nobody was really interested in learning or teaching, both profs and students seeing the teaching as an ordeal to go through. I guess my experiences at university have been completely different, and I was stunned to hear this. Apparently, Ohio State, for all its faults, still has a large number of excellent teachers who love their work, and I often was around other students who were similarly interested in learning. If some universities have lost sight of this (in her case, Pitt), they need to be reminded of it. She seemed to think that it was a smaller symptom of an area where American culture is failing. She's seen more of that than I have, being presumably in her 50s, but I hope that that isn't true -- it isn't easy to fix an ailing culture. I have heard, though, from multiple sources that Pitt is plagued with bad process, bad teachers, and institutional issues (at least in many departments). UPMC in particular is supposed to be a den of corruption and mismanagement. CMU, relatively speaking, is doing quite well.

A wonderful quote from my Bioinformatics book (p77, to remind myself):

The examples given in the next section use the dot matrix feature of DNS Strider (version 1.3) on a Macintosh computer and the EMBOSS dotmatcher program on a Mac OS X or Linux machine. To the best of our knowledge, there are no MS Windows-based programs.

I am very amused. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Perl is the programming language of choice for bioinformatics though, and the richness of the BioPerl package for things that people do all the time is awesome. Also, for the first time in a technical field (outside of computer science), the formulae on a page actually tend to make sense. The class is a lot of work, and the field is very large, but I think I'm in love with Bioinformatics.

Recently, I've been thinking about why for my generation and younger, the mainstream people outside of the libertarian sphere proper, tend to be so attracted to capitalism as a doctrine (as opposed to a system), and are attempting to find ways to reconcile liberal ideas (like environmentalism) with it. Is it that they seek a principled stance (rather than a pragmatist semi-capitalist model like Europe and South America are doing), and see no other principled stances passing muster, or is it that capitalism is radical individualism's preferred economic model, and other cultural elements are pushing people towards radical individualism? I have had a number of discussions with other people over long term evaluations of society -- is society getting better or worse, and in which ways? While I may, in my personal life, tend towards emphasising the dark side of things, philosophically, I am cautiously optimistic, and thing that in many ways, society is progressing towards good things. We need to be careful to fight our individual and mass nature when it's harmful, and we haven't always been doing a good job, recently or historically, but I do not believe we have "fallen from grace" either in the religious sense or in the primitivist sense. A sufficiently broad understanding of history reveals many great leaps forward, things that despite the many atrocities we as humans have done to each other, make the entire journey of civilisation worth it.

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