Blog: Lectures we Learn From

Lectures we Learn From
Lectures we Learn From
Date: 2019-Mar-28 03:45:49 EST

Today I:

  • Finally got around to playing a bit of the Telltale games Batman series. It's good. Pity Telltale is kaput.
  • Had a Twitter argument about the Trump Tower meeting and how calling Trump campaign collaboration a witchhunt is not accurate. Person I was arguing with eventually went into conspiracy theories, but also got distracted on motivations of the Russian lawyer they met with
  • Had another argument on Twitter on the role of expertise in economics. I'm guessing this was a vaguely liberal populist I was arguing with, but it was hard to be sure
  • Went to a great lecture at my workplace (invited a former mentor of mine, as it was a public lecture) on ties between computational compression, patterns in data, and various areas of physics. Was interesting to see these topics convincingly tied together. It mostly stayed within range of things I could understand.
  • Had a very productive videoconference early in the morning with our scientific collaborators in Russia
Been feeling sad recently. Loneliness again. I still sometimes wonder about people where I wish they had wanted to be part of my life, and separately about the people where I was either scared to let them in, or not in any state to let them in at the time. Also have been thinking a bit about differences in ethics between a coworker and I; I think there are areas where we both see each other as at least a bit unethical. Or at least in my case, areas where I expect if he knew my perspectives he'd find them unethical but I haven't brought any of those topics up. And this gets me thinking again about the way values change in society, and how mainstreams and movements change. I think I didn't really notice these things until my late 20s, when a number of new "shoulds" rolled up and I said no to most of them and remained both unconvinced and hostile when people tried to push them. Maybe I wasn't old enough or lacked the perspective to spot these things in my 20s. Or perhaps this kind of angst is what inspires reflection about one's position in society. I've long suspected that pain creates depth in us, and perhaps a version of me that acquired and kept happiness at a younger age would not have had reason to think these thoughts.

There are times when I wonder whether the difference between preventing consensus from closing around ideas that I think are harmful is really that large from trolling. I hope I'm doing these things for the right reasons. I believe that I actually am standing up for free speech, and comfortable diversity of views, and that a lot of current activism is harmful. What I'm not always sure about is whether I chase these things for the right reasons, or if I'm chasing them the right distance. And there are some things that I do where I know that at least some of the reasons are veiled - long term strategic thought to aid my values that I still wouldn't want the sun to shine on right now. And that bothers me. I don't think I'd deny these things if someone guessed. Although I think nobody actually cares enough to guess at my motives for anything because I've kept people at such a distance.

Been thinking a bit more about having left SRE. In particular, the feeling that I had learned most of what there is to learn about those practices. I'm coming to feel as well that a lot of the talks I'm seeing about particular practices in SRE are fairly predictable too. I think any sufficiently intelligent person entering the field will eventually come out on the other side, knowing everything important there is to know, having the technical judgement and skills needed to do everything, and capable of presenting on it. I've been to a lot of meetups where I felt that if I had sat down for a day I could reconstruct almost their entire talk (with slightly different specifics and points). And that a lot of the time, many people there gather around and applaud these things without really learning anything new. The young'uns get things out of it, but that's all. When that's done, it's harder to find meaning in work. I'm happy to be in academia again because nature provides endless mysteries. Industry? Not so much.

I wish it were easier to find meaning in life. My habits and what I need to respect myself are the biggest barriers I face now.