Blog: The Eternal Aftermath

The Eternal Aftermath
The Eternal Aftermath
Date: 2018-Oct-13 21:44:15 EST

I keep thinking there are large defects in how I see the world in terms of my personal happiness - early in life I put off a lot of things for later that would make me happy, in the idea that I was setting the stage for happiness; I admittedly got a lot of benefit from this in some senses, but I think I was a lot less happy than I might have been, and years spent unhappy might not actually be that beneficial after all, even if the concrete and puritan measures of success smile upon it. I never really stopped, but instead as age crept in, and perhaps more pointedly, years of prolonged depression muddied my mind and personal narrative, now I'm also looking backwards for happiness, being nostalgic for times that were never happy, but in which I was more together. It's strange. I am left with a lot of emptiness, and yes when I am engaged in a good debate or discussion, online or not, I feel a little alive again, but that's just a fragment of life - the chase, and is missing out on a lot of dimensionality that I think I should have. There should be people around me, and duties, and things I care about in my life longer term outside of my job. And there are not. It's just neglect - a low self-detruction without an audence. Still, I carry these ideas forward as as another part of me. A duty to ideas.

I recently finished Crosscode, which was rather successful as a game - it made me feel things, but didn't feel quite as painful as LifeIsStrange. There was a spot of novelty in how the designers made the protagonist's facial expressions very emotive, and it worked very well. Probably time to take a break from gaming for awhile and catch up on reading. On that topic, I keep thinking back to Ubik, both the book, and the person (former coworker at Dropbox who left well before I did) who introduced me to it. And the uncaring politics tied to that. I am so glad to be outside of big tech for now. I know some people are proud when they climb high in that tower of arbitrary rules, incompetent managers, and political struggles. And that's after one gets in the door; something that I know firsthand and through my former students to be a highly shitty and random experience from the top-tier tech companies like Google and Dropbox down to smaller places. It's not awful in the same ways everywhere, but it is awful everywhere (and I think the efforts to make it more standard actually usually make it more awful). Anyhow, I have come to treasure the less-complex ties I have with former coworkers from those times now, absent the backdrop. And it's easier for me to be a relaxed and reasonably sane person outside there (even given that my emotional life is a well-hidden mess at the best of time).

An ex of mine from the Pittsburgh years is in town; good to see her again but it's also pretty complex. I am often struck by how different our mental worlds are ; things that she seems to think are very easy are very difficult for me, and often vice-versa. I've internalised this in theory, but in practice it's hard to know what, in broad areas of life, are the intrinsically difficult things versus things we either make difficult for ourselves or which touch on a personal weakness.

I'm sometimes weirded out at some kinds of remembering-things ; I don't know if a sequel to Mary Poppins, for example, was useful or necessary, but when I was thinking of the old series and lead character, the name "Julie Andrews" popped into my head; it seemed unlikely to me that I actually remembered the actress's name, but that's apparently what I did, despite not having remembered ever having taken an interest in her or having ever looked this up. Strange how this works. Were it boolean data, I would be tempted to dismiss it as statistics, but as a string? Not so much.

A few takes:

  • I'm pretty down on Vox as usually offering the most self-serving, unprincipled, and ugly takes on populist liberalism. Seeing this title: The Supreme Court: Should We Abolish It? - is pretty cringeworthy. Slate offers some of the same. Nevermind how recently the supreme court provided gay marriage (even though I would argue this was not the ideal route), and historically has provided much of the same. The beef I have is that the purpose of the Supreme Court is not to advance liberal values, and our support for it should not be contingent on that. It is a structurally necessary part of our system; removing it would leave us with a lot of new questions to answer, but before we consider its removal we still should have an idea why we'd remove it in the first place. Neither of these articles offer good answers, and at least the Slate article has the added ugliness of pretending that liberals alone can save democracy; I see this as naive. Our nation's political system mirrors its legal system in that it functions best when it's adversarial, burdened by norms, and civil. The only way I know to restore a broken sanity is to preserve that.
  • I keep going back and forth on whether to get a smart hub; I know I don't want Google's (dumb no-camera decision), and a reasonable alternative seems to be from Lenovo, but I face the usual problem of the old hardware not disappearing when I don't need it anymore. And it honestly works fine. While if I somehow lost all my stuff I might make different choices, I'm getting to be wary of buying for small improvements and ending up with tons of old hardware sitting around. Or throwing it away.
  • Peter Kogler has some pretty interesting "location" art. Unfortunately to visit most of it I'd have to make a trip to Europe. Perhaps worth it.
  • I've been thinking about visiting Argentina. I've never been to South America, and a number of people I've worked with from varied parts of my career are from there.
The cold is in the air again. Today was the first day where I felt I needed to wear clothes for warmth rather than just modesty. And so the end of this year too is coming in sight. No progress on my new year's resolution - still haven't been on a date. I guess maybe there's still time.