Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

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Revived by Horticultural Rage

Various contries of Europe as well as Communists, Socialists, and other liberal factions recognise today as Labour day, a day to reflect upon and recognise the growth of organised labour and progress made by such movements. Among these are the 8 hour workday, the 5 day workweek, and many other legal protections for those who work against abuse by their employer (e.g. Henry Frick and Andrew Carnegie). Just as various factions aiming for more racial equality (from Malcolm X to MLK) together resulted in societal progress on that issue, a combination of unions and weaker labour advocacy groups (as well as a growing middle class) made possible progress in this country - labour unions frequently are the quiet butt of jokes among America's upper-middle classes for the inefficiencies they bring with their labour rules, but only rarely are the similar inefficiencies brought about by private/noncollective management, from income inequality to attitudes of servitude in many industries, seen as a systematic problem with this organisation of production. Likewise, we recognises that rather than being a complete victory for labour, better living standards as visible throughout the United States are partly a result of labour being shipped overseas, where instead of investments in technology leading improved efficiency, near-slavery in nations competing for the most business-friendly and worker-unfriendly environment drives low prices. It is our task to make this as visible as possible to all classes of society and ensure that it evokes the deep sense of shame in others that it does in us.

We have a second task, as well as a third. The second task is to deconstruct philosophical impediments to our cause. First, we must deconstruct the language that provides a paved path between understanding of modern economics and acceptance of the values tied to it. Notions such as "economic efficiency" in public dialogue need to be uprooted through questions such as "efficiency at doing what?", which opens the door to a deeper understanding of how academic studies of economics (which are fairly sound and do not overreach) tie into notions of "should" that many intellectuals have - that the market process has moral weight. Likewise, radical individualism, a position that spontaneously arises from the middle and upper classes (manifesting in Objectivism, libertarian thought, and various other forms) must see formidable competition from us in the intellectual sphere. This must take two forms - mere existance in dialogue of opposing ideas forces a certain humility in all, and we must emphasise societal ties/interdependence and obligation between all members of society.

The third task is to lay the theoretical and cultural groundwork for a better system. This can take many forms, with various platforms drawing interest of different people. Improvements to a relatively capitalist system can still aid the cause of workers and may pave the way to greater reforms - some of these changes, like those banning insider trading, are in line with both capitalist theory and our interests. Likewise, the recognition of flaws in the human spirit and promotion of socialist virtue and values throughout society makes possible changes that would be very difficult later. For those of us who set our sights on a noncapitalist system, achieving solidarity with others who want something similar while actually laying out specifics poses a similar challenge - whether existing movements (like L5i, the Spartacists, and the remnants of the 4th) belong in this or not is an open question. What the world needs is careful dreamers.

I have a (phone) job interview(ish thing) for a job in SB, California on Friday, with a company that does a lot of stuff with perl. I am a bit disappointed that UCSB never gave me so much as a phone call, as at least one of the jobs I applied for looks to be incredibly awesome, but doing stuff with Perl tends to make me happy too and this job would get my life moving again. It would be kind of weird doing for a job something technically close to some of my personal projects though - if I do get this job I'll have to make sure they never try to claim as their "property" things I have or will do on my own....

Misc:

  • Chased some bugs in gnumeric, learned about "array evaluation" and how it differs from standard evaluation, pushed developers to provide an "opt-out" of evaluation styles in 1.8 that broke spreadsheets from 1.6
  • Complained about pidgin UI changes to developers - they're as stubborn as ever, but I think they might've been listening to me later in the conversation
  • Found and reported a few other bugs in the preview of Fedora9 that should be fixed before release
  • Played more with Perl 5.10. I don't like say(), but would feel really silly arguing against it given how often I've argued for the philosophy embodied in Perl's unofficial motto of "there's more than one way to do it". I think that philosophy makes a lot more sense when it helps make the code flow like english (as in for and foreach both being kosher ways to iterate), and an entirely new function like print() but with a newline is instead gratuitous. Nuances... the new switch-like operator would be really cool in the general case, but the semantics of C's switch/case are particular to C and I don't really think that way anymore - note that I'm talking about with fallthrough and other things that made it differ from being nice syntactic sugar for a series of conditionals.
  • It seems that toasted Brie is a very delicate food to get right - Fuel and Fuddle screwed it up when I went there the other night - any burned portion is bad enough of a taste to make one queasy for the rest of the evening. I'm sure if I hadn't been there alone, someone would've seen me make an amusingly disgusted face :)
  • I've been feeling embarassed a bit by a question I asked a friend a long time ago that was very frank and about something that was none of my business. I got an answer, and was curious, which led to my asking the question, but it still bugs me to have asked.
  • A few years ago, I was very wrong about whether Apple would survive the PC transition. I've been thinking a bit as to my lines of reasoning then and whether it was more that I wasn't thinking clearly, wasn't thinking broadly enough, or missing information that led me to the conclusion I reached. I think it was a bit of each - I haven't been anti-Apple in the way some people get for a long time (having been PC-chauvenist during high school), so none of that went into it - I simply felt that Apple would've been safer/better off staying on PowerPC (or related architectures like POWER). I'm glad Apple survived the transition (even though I still don't think it was necessarily a good idea, and think even with the same general direction, AMD would've been a better partner than Intel).
  • With my Nintendo Wii, I got a free subscription to a gaming magazine called GameInformer. It's terrible. On the upside, I heard about a sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance in it, which will be awesome (I guess I'll have to buy a Nintendo DS when it comes out too). On the topic of Wii, Zelda: Twilight Princess is an incredible game. I still sometimes get mixed up on what buttons perform which function though.
  • While thinking about trying to explain the English rules for titlecase to someone for whom English is a second language, I found out that the rules that I learned are just one of many variants.
  • Although their songs on certain uncomfortable topics tend to mess me up emotionally for a bit, I've come to like "Fall Out Boy" as a music group. I've also been listening a lot to Debussy and Vivaldi recently.
  • Oogling 20" laptops. They're still unfortunately priced and equipped as luxury items, while what I want has fewer frills..

If I'm to leave the vaguely eastern part of the United States soon to take a job in CA, what should I do before I go, and what places should I visit?In Pittsburgh:

  • Maybe it's time to finally visit the Zoo
  • Or walk to West Virginia if I can get company
  • Or go out on the rivers in a boat
  • Get in touch with KateZ and others that I haven't seen for years whom I promised I'd say goodbye to before I leave town
Regional:
  • Parthenon in Tennessee
  • Visit Cowtown to go to Outland and hang with what people I know that are still there
  • Visit family in Texas
  • Consider that long driving trip through Canada to Halifax, Nova Scotia
I still need to figure out what to do about the cat situation. Like in many things in life, I wish I could manipulate time so as to have Beefalo for the rest of her life and then Tortfeasor at his current age for the rest of his life. As-is, nobody has come forth to offer to take him (or any of the computer stuff I tried to give away - like my occasionally open invites to grab food or do things never getting responses, apparently my blog is not in fact a good way to communicate with people I know)
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