Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

  • Music:

Living in a Microwave

Combination of migraines, now very-frequent immersive anxiety, and continuing major issues with depression have made the last few days very special. Fortunately, all three of them pretty much lead me in the same directon - spending very large amounts of time asleep. The first is lifting at the moment.

I broke mod_perl while doing some upgrades, (likely uninteresting Perl/Apache/Linux geekery follows):In order to get file uploads working nicely with mod_perl, I had to stop using CGI::Cookie to parse cookie data, because for multipart POSTs it mangles the request so the mod_perl utilities to parse file uploads can't work. Switching over to the appropriate APR/mod_perl modules fixed that, and was easy on my laptop (which I generally keep within one version of the current fedora release, sometimes playing with betas). Unfortunately.'s being many releases back meant that compiling APR::Request::Apache2 caused POUND to complain about missing symbols in the apache shared objects (hooray for good software testing). POUND was down for a day or two because of this.

I then decided to be clever and upgrade fedora in-place to avoid paying the upgrade fee with my virtual colo provider. This normally is only moderately rough - you start out with a
rpm -i http://wherever/fedora-release-9.rpm
and then upgrade glibc, then upgrade rpm, then upgrade yum, and then very delicately move through the other things that need upgrades, hoping that nothing hoses either the package system, the libraries that rpm/yum depends on, or openssh. It should be easier (some other distros do it rather well). Unfortunately, I forgot that rpm moved to using sqlite as a backend, and (much more surprising) it has some strange enganglement with libpopt (which my brain keeps tab-completing to libpoptart) - after one of these steps, rpm ignored all arguments I gave it and just returned immediately. After much grumbly copying of tarballs of i386 packages over from my laptop (one of the few times the i386/x86_64 coexistence infrastructure has proven handy) involving lots of guesswork (and comparitive straces) on what was going wrong, I eventually got it good to go, and after fighting with the CPAN module for a bit, it's all happy again.

Redhat would've saved me a lot of trouble if they had noted the dependency rpm has on sqlite and current versions of libpoptart, but in various places they do sternly warn people not to try doing what I did, so perhaps I can't complain too loudly. It's all working now anyhow.

I caught a bit of the economic "debate" tonight... a few thoughts:

  • Both of them carried themselves quite well - while Palin doesn't give much of an impression of intelligence or integrity, both Obama and McCain (as we've seen before) give an impression of being intelligent people.
  • I thought the direction McCain took the discussion was a bit irritating, in that in response to this set of economic problems (which had complex but understandable causes), he suggested freezing government spending combined with beginning cuts. The solution he suggests (as was pointed out by Obama, but taken in the wrong direction I think) is not closely related to the problem - some combination of harmful competition rewarding/making necessary/herding towards increasingly risky behaviour, with causes also partly rooted in deliberate humanitarian policy, all tied to a specific (albeit critical) industry is not directly affected by broad spending policy like that. It felt to me that instead of addressing the issue, McCain was using a talking point.
    • "Cut spending" in general is a phrase that tends to warm hearts of a lot of people, many of whom probably would consider being equally warmed by another intuition if it were part of our political discourse - value for taxpayer money. A big part of the debate covered wasteful spending, an issue that is largely one-sided/condemned in the political sphere. Personally, I am bothered by the idea of tax monies going for things that bring very little benefit to society, not because I really mind being taxed (I don't), but because a lot of the money spent could be better used elsewhere, in the public *or* the private sector. I actually want a large government that provides many services to people - I want free public transit nationwide, I want good comprehensive health and mental care for all citizens, I want social security, etc. I want all this to be run by the government and funded by general taxpayer dollars. What I am bothered by is money (public or private) being used for extreme levels of privilege for few people, projects of questionable value, and other types of waste. Accountability and openness are two ways to help push society towards better value for the societal resources we put into projects in general - we also must have a culture that rejects, exposes, and crusades against corruption whenever it turns up.
    • There is a certain common ground between the perspectives though - even as believers in lassiez-faire wish to dismantle (up to a point, depending on their particular perspective) institutions of society, there's a lot of possibility in focusing especially on inefficiencies and corruption, and while I dislike McCain's fiscally conservative bent (and other things not particularly relevant here), I do like his record of cooperating in cross-party efforts on the matter.
  • It's interesting (and comforting) to see that more active patrolling instititions are now broadly recognised as important - from what I understand, the SEC has been much more hands-off in the early years of BushJr's administration, and it's now recognised that even with a commitment to capitalism, work is needed to maintain appropriate conditions for markets. Public discourse doesn't seem to acknowledge this enough, making it unfortunately common that people have faith that invisible hands will solve everything.
    • That said, this is not a disproof of lassiez-faire positions - given a mixed-but-reasonably-lightly-regulated system like ours, when problems develop, it's easy for both socialists like myself and complete lassiez-faire advocates to say "Aha! All the problems are because they don't do things my way!", citing any problem as a call to move the status quo towards our preferred system. It takes careful, humble thought to avoid that tendency. Likewise, I find it a bit odd when I find people who argue for lassiez-faire capitalism who consider non-market mechanisms as both necessarily leading to disaster and morally wrong and refuse to detangle those assertions for separate investigation/discussion.
  • I liked that this debate had a strong topic and that it was so feisty - it felt like it had a lot more content than most presidental debates I can remember, and practically begged to be put into an argument map

Not much has been going on - work, programming, learning more Russian, and sleeping fill my time pretty much. Still kind of wondering what happened to my circle of peers, and maybe wondering if I ever really had one since leaving high school. I've been thinking a lot about what changed in me when I started to need social and personal contact -
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With the slow disintegration of social circles that comes with getting older and the small number of people I know who might be good potential pairings (none of which I can even say I have a proper friendship with), hope is hard to have. It's interesting to think about how habit, interaction style, and intent mix together in interpersonal events - how much of what we say is automatable versus naturally needing intent? Is it like driving a car where we try to map instincts onto complex knobs and levers? I think it's more complex yet because the motivations of any of us are potentially so multilayered and not globally coherent. It's bizarre on some level to say that we want anything given that there are usually parts of us that don't or might in fact really dislike said thing. It seems that construction of a "social self" with pretend-consistent desires/practices/etc is like building a black box (software concept, not airplane concept)..


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