Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

  • Music:


Product review: 2009 (may be mopey)

Overall rating: send it back, it's almost as rotten as 2008 was. My personal life sucks because of faults in myself, but the outside world remains interesting, continuing the prospect of leaving me alone in my intellectual and social wanderings as long as I can last that way or until I get the guts/energy to change it in some way.


  • Social: F. No new friendships, connections to others remain very distant, negligible hanging out, social ties, etc. Scored some points for a Columbus trip which involved a trip to the Creation Museum, but not enough to raise the grade.
  • Dating: F. Been years, no flirting, few new attractions, old attractions have faded a bit.
  • Intellectual growth: B-. About as good as I can expect doing this alone - all sorts of interesting things are happening in the world, things to analyse, chances to play with and overturn old ideas, frameworks, and convictions. Judgement continues to deepen.
  • Academic basics: B-. Brushed up a bit on calculus, DiffEq, and statistics. Refamiliarised myself with basic cell biology. I meant to continue teaching myself Russian and learn some basic Parsi or Arabic, but didn't get around to it.
  • Conversations: D. I had a few decent ones this year, some on philosophy, some on the sciences. Nowhere near as many as I'd like.
  • Entertainment: C. Videogames, books. Failed to see any Opera.
  • Programming: C. Didn't learn any cool new Perl/Scheme tricks or change my style much, decided Ruby sucks (same whitespace brokenness as Python), didn't learn any other languages.
  • Artsiness: D. Sketched a bit, drew a bit, not a lot of skill accumulation and anything with a story tends to be too navel-gazing - the same kind of stuff as my attempt at a webcomic.
  • Food and Tea: A. A lot of good food and tea experiences. Learned to make delicious sandwiches. Got new tea things that make making good tea very doable.
  • Moodiness: F. Things have not stabilised.
  • Health: C. A long time ago I noticed that I don't get sick, at least in the classical sense. This remains true, but I still get a lot of really terrible migraines, and this year I've noticed that my fingers and toes have lost most of their sensation. My heart condition hasn't triggered much though. I worry a bit that I'm gaining weight (not sure if I actually am).
  • Proximity to Insane People: C. I have had far too many encounters with crazy people this year, from hobos to people who are just really mentally off, and every time it has bugged me quite a bit. Argh.
  • Quit Facebook: A. W000t. Whenever I try to log in, it brings up a "you must accept this new EULA" (which I refuse to do) popup, which has changed my login frequency from once a month to never. No more stupid nagging from stupid apps, no more seeing pictures from events I wish I had been invited to, no more people from middle school wanting to be friends when I don't know them anymore. I don't remember why I ever signed up for that junk.
  • Music: C. I found a few new bits of music that are cool. Not a lot, but a few.
Looking outwards:
  • Iran has become very interesting this year, from the election mess around the middle of the year (and the slow and messy aftermath, including the capture, torture, brainwashing, and 9-year sentence of former Vice-President Mohammad Abtahi) up to the death of Ayatollah Montazeri so near to Ashura. A surprising amount of this was on Youtube and other internet venues.
  • Obama's optimism that we were moving past an age of "partisian bickering" have proven to be overly optimistic. FoxNews-led cultural movements have dogged his efforts at reform on every front, even as soft and inclusive as they were, while the party of "mavericks" has done its best to drive moderates away (and welcome .. special... people like Doug Hoffman) and galvanise its base. Manufactured controversies like "climategate", while easily debunked, provided a set of talking points to hamper ecological reform, while bald lies and dishonest comprimise disembowel health care reform efforts. China does its part as well to derail climate efforts..
    • The advantage/disadvantage to this is that the Republican party has placed all its cards in the uneducated populist anger basket, the kind that smiles on Palin and Beck. The old, elitist conservatives that valued restraint, had notions of nobility and integrity, and considered education a mark of identity are minimised in a way that they may never return. Oddly, the Paleoconservatives were hit harder than the Neoconservatives, which are skating on very thin ice to remain in the public view. The long-term results of this remain to be seen.
  • SCOGroup entered Chapter 11, and a month later fired Darl McBride.
  • Microsoft and Miguel de Icaza continued their love dance, attempting to help the rest of the world catch Mono. On Microsoft's side was a promise not to enforce their patents against people using or distributing other C-sharp implementations, which is not enough for people to really be safe. Fortunately, there are growing tensions between Miguel, GNOME, and the FSF - with luck, if there is a break, it will separate Miguel from the latter two, and the Java clone can be buried.
  • Taiwan seems to be moving solidly towards abandoning its claims of independence - it seems the Pan-Blue have beaten the Pan-Green (for good?). Whether this is because of China's rapid rise in power or internal Taiwan matters is unclear to me
    • I believe I was wrong to assume that China's internal corruption in the long term will act as a challenge to its continued growth. It will remain a challenge, but I was using an inadeqate metric for weighing its effects - to judge the relative success of nations, it is important to combine the specifics of each nation's institutional form as well as its deviation from that form (corruption) before considering the result as a basis for comparison. As a thought experiment, if we had two otherwise identical governments where in one, bribery was legal and institutionalised while in the other, it were illegal but widely practiced, given similar amounts of bribery in each we would consider the latter to be more corrupt, as it holds ideals to which it does not live up. Formal corruptness in this sense is inadequate, and we should either weigh it as part of some more abstract ideal corruption metric or consider its place as just part of the reality of a nation - certainly formal corruption means *something*, as in the first system a person could be "honest but malign" while in the second system, one must be dishonest to be malign (but such dishonesty is in effect pervasive and presumably spills into the culture), but it's not the whole story.
      • Personal aside: I have met many people, particularly CS and engineering geeks, who think that honesty is *the* most important thing, and that being malign is not such a big deal. I (perhaps unfairly) associate this with people whose style of romance is more "pragmatic" or "fun-oriented" than "romantic". I claim that people who are looking for a life partner (even as they may take less if and as it's offered) are more likely to be virtuous people who seek the public good, but I mark this claim as being based on intuition and personal experience.
  • Pakistan's political leadership (and candidates) remains utterly morally bankrupt, although fortunately President 10-percent's immunity from prosecution due to political corruption has been removed - with any luck both he and the Bhutto-Zardari family will be gone for good from Pakistani politics.
  • Afghanistan may be lost to the Taliban.
  • Google has done a lot of interesting things, but others are on to its game and are catching up in most areas of its core competencies. Much like the United States (where the technological lead that the US had for quite some time is pretty much gone now).
  • The newspaper industry had a .. special year. While the industry certainly isn't taking it lying down, newspapers continue to collapse, shrink, and huddle together for warmth, cannibalised by the internet and its culture, injured by a loss of journalistic integrity and too much consolidation, against a backdrop of great national financial hardship.

I think I slept through the transition - had a mild headache and attempt to sleep it off accidentally turned into evening sleep. Today's first (and last meal) is now, eating what is one of the most delicious pizzas I've ever had from Aiello's (cost me $28 and it's not that big, but ohhh so good).

Oh yes, because it's all the rage, top 9 songs that I think I might've heard about in 2009 (or at least near then):

  • Johan Soderqvist - 「Let the Right One In」 Soundtrack - 「The Father」 - Beautiful, touching, part of a wonderful soundtrack to a wonderful film made after a wonderful book. If you haven't seen, heard, or read this and live anywhere near me, let me know and I can fix one, some, or all of this.
  • Hillary Duff - 「Wake Up」 - Kind of embarassed to like something so pop, but...
  • Lady Gaga - 「Poker Face」 - Also embarassed to like this.. also, be sure to check out Molly Lewis's adorable cover of it (speaking of which, she's one of those great underground internet musicians like Jonathan Coulton who has lots of great stuff)
  • Gogol Bordello - 「Wanderlust King」 - Fun stuff
  • Gregory Brothers - 「Auto-tune the News」(volumes 2-8) - Funny, they pop into my head at inopportune times
  • Vienna Teng - 「The Tower」 - Personal meaning, really good music. I rather like her stuff in general, but had just one of her songs for the longest time and made an effort to hear more of it during 2009, which was well worth it.
  • Balkan Beat Box - 「Nu-Med」 - 「Habibi min Zaman」 - Heard about the group a long time ago, checked them out fairly late in the year, they have a lot of interesting music in a genre I'd be tempted to call pan-Klezmer. I'm not really into belly dancing (watching or performing), but apparently their stuff is fairly popular for that too.
  • Мумий Тролль - 「Молодость」 - Sad, probably this year's cousin to Сплин's 「Выхода Нет」.
  • David Arnold - Theme to the 2000 remake of 「Randal and Hopkirk」 - Another earworm, by a British composer who composed a lot of other famous TV and movie themes.

Maybe 2010 will be the year life stops sucking..? Although, it's really a fairly arbitrary marker based on gaps between harvests - it's funny how we divide time. We don't even know whether we'll be saying "two thousand ten" or "twenty-ten" more often to describe this year yet.


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