Yay, almost was run over this morning on the way to work - was pretty spaced out and wandered out right in front of a fast-moving car (that tested its breaks). I think I was daydreaming. Also, apparently houseguest GooglePgh is moving out and getting its own place. Huh.
Today: Stumbled across Indo-European Ablaut, which is one of the most fascinating things in the world. I'm skeptical about the ability to recreate ancient languages based on quirks of modern ones, but even though it's slightly sketchy, we don't have a better means. Particularly interesting is that features like this point at a theoretical reason why and how we (or at least I) are tempted to irregularise words with vowel shifts, and how people often come to agreement about such conjugations when they're not explicitly used in modern society. It's a kind of 「linguistic primality」, which is itself an amusing idea.
One of the few things more interesting than the early-middle stages of when a thought-framework begins to form to approach a new problem domain is setting aside enough of oneself to watch that happen (somewhat less interesting is taking it meta one more level). The base-level moment of insight and then the working out the basic new framework and its implications are sweet, but monitoring the shifts in mental gears while wondering about the nature of insight, problems, and frameworks is delicious. (new programming languages, a video game of sufficient complexity (this is why games like Civ, RPGs, and the like tend to be more engaging than other game types - the more complex the better), carpentry, etc).
As is traditional for this time of year, I ponder happiness, but then conclude that I'm treading Freud's ground too much and stop partway through and mark the section as private. Yay.
(section not shown)
- Gay marriage and rights seem to have faceplanted across the nation.
- The environment is fucked. Shortsighted people who understand this still say "it would cost our business too much to fix it". Infuriating. Worshippers of lassiez-faire insist we don't need to try to steer away from disaster because the invisible hand will solve the problem when it starts to impact markets. Fail! Bumpkins who never recieved a good education scream like rebellious children whenever anyone says "you need to restrain yourself". Cap-and-trade is not good enough, and we don't even have the ability to get that.
- We're not going to fix our health care system in a meaningful way. Some subset of Democrats stood up against the financial interests supporting our current trainwreck, but their efforts were blocked by Dems who did not (die in a fire, Lieberman!) and Republicans who got concessions into a bill they would vote against anyhow(!)
What went wrong?
- We have a culture where people can just make stuff up and repeat it enough and it's treated as truth. The lifting of emails in a single climate research institute became a manufactured controversy based on a complete misunderstanding, willful ignorance, and an intent to snark as much as possible (the tendency for this is why I tend to regard more than occasional/mild snarkiness as a character flaw). When people discuss it in politics, how about they bring some qualified scientists from various institutions in to discuss it? Likewise, health care is met with talk of death camps and comparisons to the third Reich. (just as broken as those who insist that BushJr planned the 9/11 attacks)
- The stakes are high and the waters are murky, and Obama severely miscalculated on healthcare. By leaving it to the legislative branch and saying "whatever they do is fine with me", he theoretically was not betting his presidency on it because it's not his bill, but he neglected the fact that our largest news agency is badly misbehaving and can rewrite public perception pretty effectively. Maybe it's right on some level to let the most likely cause of failure bear the blame if failure happens (the legislature), but the problem is a very large one and needs to be fixed. Without someone like Pelosi, the efforts would've failed far earlier than now, but a lot more muscle would've been needed to make the bill still worth passing.
- A combination of poor education, a rotting culture, and a generally poor state of journalism with the largest entity actively malign
- All sorts of intellectual baggage that have long given the US a tradition of unbalanced growth and resistance to fix things
I have not seen another person for many hours, here in my office. This is probably because of a combination of the elevator being quirky (not wanting to go up to floors 6-9) and the holidays. I've some things I really want to get done for work today, but I'm tempted to head to a coffeeshop to do them (maybe the Beehive or T'd'O - I need to have more landscapes in my life than home, office, Té Café, and random long hikes outside)
On the upside, it looks like Té Café may start having tea tastings events (maybe once a month), which are equally awesome in most of the same ways as wine tastings (not having those is one of the few downsides of having most alcohol in PA go through state liquor stores).
It is absolutely adorable how many websites go to great effort to try to prevent people from downloading music they're sending to them in full.