Blog: Procrastination and Fulfillment

Procrastination and Fulfillment
Procrastination and Fulfillment
Date: 2019-Jan-01 04:29:02 EST

Finally I can be pretty sure this is the last blogentry for the year. The migraine is mostly cleared. Still not feeling great, and in a better world I would have at least went to the Brooklyn Bridge, but at least there's this.

I feel a shared negative experience in having watched the horrors of American misgovernance this year. I keep feeling weird given how unhappy I was with BushJr's presidency, and again being in a state where I'm aghast, but I both misjudged that man and didn't appreciate that we could ever elect a Berlusconi-like figure (and that people I know would support that). Watching things run this way has been exhausting, and I get the feeling that it's been like that for a lot of people. And unlike a number of people I've known, there isn't a hero narrative running against this in that I absolutely loathe a lot of the noiser voices on the left that have continued with their culture wars, largely over trans issues and other excuses to restrict speech. I don't want them to win either, either on the sly (through sneaking codes of conduct and IBT crud into workplaces) or directly (through dominating mainstream politics, which right now I don't think they have the strength to do). I live in a world with no heroes, very few robust liberals who are also deeply committed to free speech, the battlefield of ideas, and mocking everything. That makes this period harder for me, I think. Even though fewer of my values are trampled on.

But I'm still very happy to have coworkers that I largely get along with, people I respect, and people to mentor. And I'm glad to have a mission that I believe in and a loose leash and trust to pursue it. My personal life really sucks, but my work life is fulfilling. I also like having family nearby-enough to visit.

I've been thinking a bit about counterfactural morals - some years back I was kinda-sorta into a TV series called Once Upon a Time (that started good, and a few seasons in kinda got bad). Family is a strong theme in the series, and in the backstory, there were parents that, it having been foretold that their daughter could be a great saviour or a great blight upon the world, found a way to shunt the latter possibility off into another young child (whose mother was already a nominal villain) to guarantee their daughter a great fate. I am intrigued now to step back and reflect how that shunting seems so obviously morally wrong, despite it being based on a number of things that are not real. Should that be possible? There are some areas of counterfactual (or at least have-not-done-it-yet) like time travel that would require a deep rethinking of a lot of morality if the capability became commonplace, but this isn't one of them. Maybe because even though that alter-your-childs-fate-and-doom-another thing is counterfactual, it's similar enough to either existing systems of moral reasoning that it invites easy reasoning-through-analogy. Although I think were I to need to explain this sufficiently clearly to be predictive to a non-human AI, I might have a tough time of it. That's often the bar I use - explain to an imaginary AI or to an entity that has lots of data but little deep comprehension why we believe something. In this case though, the start of the journey comes from understanding one's journey through life as being a tension between self-determination and a societal fabric of mutual responsibility.

A final quick take of the year:

  • When is it OK for archaeologists to dig up the dead? - My answer: Absent any explicit permission, when everyone who directly knew them in life is deceased. This is one of my standard metrics for when a number of concerns become irrelevant - I reject a lot of claims of historical injuries when all the direct victims are no longer alive, even when there are downstream effects. Time washes everything away, from interests to regrets.
And that's all. It's time to get used to writing 2019.