Archives, page 1

Mon Jul 2 19:21:13 2001
First Breath

How does one begin a netdiary? With a single entry, I guess. I was inspired to start one after reading a few other netdiaries that people I know have written.. They tend to amuse, and also to make the internet just a little bit more personal. It's easy to get the feeling that one is alone on the internet, and in a sense, one really *IS* alone, but... in another sense, how is the power of harnessed electrons and crafted metal any less real than the photons and vibrations that make up a face-to-face media? What really matters, I think, is the way that one can communicate, in a comparitive sense, the depth and broadness of the communication. In face-to-face communications, there is admittedly body language, and that, figuratively speaking, is the ghosts of our ancestors, chanting a certain richness into that manner of speech. But.. there is also a certain inadequacy there, and if we can free ourselves of our ties to the past, perhaps we can find a new ideal for ourselves. The old idea of humanity has its appeal, and my sketch of it is as follows:

A life, simple, without requiring any effort to keep the simplicity, with brief moments of exertion punctuating a life largely devoted to one's tribe. Life is short and occasionally cruel or violent, but with few regrets or angst that live past the next day.

What might the future bring? What is life now? That's a topic for future journal entries, if I'm still interested when I next make an entry. I suppose this will be a mix of my daily life, philosophical wanderings, and maybe a bit of a changelog for my website. *shrug*

Tue Jul 3 10:20:50 2001
Moonlight on the face

So, what could a nice future of humanity look like?

The answer, I think, comes down to a somewhat diluted form of asceticism, perhaps an extract of Buddhism. Although I find the religious portions of Buddhism to be nonsense, there's a lot of interesting Buddhist philosophy that is very insightful. Concerns about impermanence can perhaps wait for another entry -- interesting here is the dynamic of desire and happiness. Again, I am going to possibly dilute -- the actual Buddhist doctrine, I believe, tells us that all desire leads to unhappiness. I think that some desire is important, but do agree that controlling desire can lead to a more enjoyable life. For that reason, there's a certain flavour of asceticism that I advocate. This flavor is summed up as follows:

A person is an ascetic if they intentionally restrict their interactions with the world in order to maintain some sense of simplicity or purity in their life.

I believe that it is very difficult to find contentedness and happiness without adopting something at least as strong as that flavor. What in particular do I worry about? Society as I know it seems to be too busy, too fast moving, and too commercial. It additionally seems to parcel out time as a precious resource. With some people I know, one needs to make an appointment a week in advance just to hang out with them. The lack of spontinaeity (sp?) in such a life seems like it would crush them. Admittedly, once I find work (still unemployed, and now spending lots of time seeking work), it'll impose a degree of schedule on me again, but even when I was in school and also working 40 hours a week, I didn't parcel out my time like that. I simply meter out all free time to myself, don't make hard commitments (even if I lose on some opportunities), and that gives the the flexibility I want. I generally avoid TV and other forms of advertising to keep them from creating new desires in me. This seems to be something humanity has lost, sadly, from my idea above of early humanity -- now there's more of a possibility of being miserable. But with effort, we can become a different kind of creature. This is my idea of the good way to live life..

We keep our lives as loosely planned as possible, avoiding many commitments, and preserving a lot of spontinaeity (sp?). We avoid influences that try to make us want things, like advertisements, religion, patriotism, fannishness, etc. We decide on what values are important to us, and reshape ourselves for pushing those values.

I've always enjoyed the company of much older people. In general, they've managed to find a kind of peace and good lifestyle that a lot of younger people lack. A certain mellowness in one's approach to life. I still want to have an inner fire in pursuit of some things, but keeping the number of those things small, and keeping my life quiet in other areas is quite important to me.

Well, that's all for now... today I have some more job hunting to do, as soon as I can get in touch with Jason.

Tue Jul 3 10:42:33 2001
Some people I might mention in my life...

I could just let the reader (if any) piece together who I know from passing comments, but I don't mind spelling out who some people are and a bit about them to place things in context.


Met her at the local atheist group too. We had nice long conversations about everything. Lives a very busy/stressful life.
  • August Brunsman - Friend of Martha and Jason. A nice guy, also lives a very busy life. Was president of local atheist group some time back. I still occasionally see him around Columbus. Rather liberal.
  • Pat "Q" Quealy - Ran the campus libertarians. Another atheist, but not of the sort that went to SFF (as SFF had a liberal bent). I'm actually interacting with him more now that he's gone back home for the summer (over the internet). His netdiary was partially inspiration for me to start one.
  • Amanda Mosier - Jason's ex(?)-gf,

    Another intellectual, a nice person, we share a lot of interests but don't see each other that often.

    • Charles Cicirella - Was introduced to him by Martha, he also knows Jason and is attracted to Amanda. A good friend, has introduced me to a lot of other people in the Columbus art scene. We often go out to eat, I do his website. We've seen several interesting movies.
    • YF - He probably wouldn't like it if I mentioned his full name. My (only) ex-bf. Also no longer part of my life. Very cheery person, always happy.
    • My Mom - I don't see her very often, as I'm in Columbus (came here for college) and she's where the rest of my family lives in Brecksville. Has become more religious as time has passed, and this is intensely irritating.
    • My Dad - I don't see him very often either, for the same reason. He's not really religiously irritating. We've occasionally had good conversations, and both have an interest in computers.
    And that's really it for people that are or have played a big part or regular part of my life. Hopefully these descriptions won't get me in trouble with anyone :) *grumble* I wish that I could get in touch with Jason... yesterday we went to an employment agency but they were closed due to a power outage and they asked us to come back early morning today.

    Tue Jul 3 13:17:16 2001
    Gut Schmecken

    The clock was off on my computer, and I had to correct the netdiary dates... hopefully I got them right. I believe it was, for some reason, 13 hours slow. It's probably because I had to reboot this computer 12 days ago for a kernel upgrade, and didn't check the time then. It's irritating how often booting my computers messes up their clocks. Oh well. I don't really worry about it too much because my computers generally stay up for a very long time (thanks to UPS's). My main Alpha has been up 59 days. Bored because the recruiting agency didn't call me back yet regarding if they can fit me in today. Also, the local Cajun place isn't open because of the darned holidays. I hate holidays. Businesses close, and advertisements get more irritating telling one to buy stuff. Oh well. I might as well talk about what I think of Columbus. It's not as exciting as I like, but in the 5 years I've lived here for college, I've grown to kind of like it. There are plenty of pretty parks, there arn't really hard barriers between the neighborhoods, and there are plenty of good places to eat nearby. I also have grown to like an all-night coffeeshop called Insomnia. They generally don't mind if you stay there for 5 hours or so, so I often go there at nights to program or philosophise. Their food selection isn't as wide as it should be.. *shrug*. As for actual food, there's

    I'm really looking forward to getting a job. I've been in contact with some people in Brussels (Belgium), and so that might be fun. It might be a pain to bring my Iggies and my Cat with me though.

    Anyhow, I think I'll call back that job place, as I'm getting tired of waiting.

    Wed Jul 4 10:01:15 2001
    Pretensions to absolutism

    I have lost something some time ago, and yet belong to a group that in general holds on to it, wielding it like a weapon. And it seems to be fairly effective in their hands, as much of society has it in a fashion. It's moral absolutism, and the group is the Libertarian party. Most of the party literature assumes moral absolutism, and derives its politics from that, or a simpler form such as a non-agression principle. It might be said to be the sole instrument in their band. And, some time ago, maybe back in high school, I gave up the idea of a universal right or wrong. Why is this tool so effective in the LP's hands? Well, much of society is, or at least claims to be, Christian, a moralizing religion. It is simple to grab onto that element in the psychology of the masses. How am I still a Libertarian? In the values from which my moral/ethical frameworks are derived, liberty is high among the list. Does this make me a pseudo-libertarian? I don't know, it's an interesting concept. It seems that some of the people I know (e.g. Q) are Libertarians without the claims to moral absolutism, some are moral absolutist atheists (e.g. Woody). Q doesn't seem to be very aware of how his values fit together though, as he seems to prefer an absolute ranking, placing liberty on top. The net result of that is merely anarchy, without any concept of property, something dear to most libertarians (including me). I would love to press him on it to hear his argument, but it's a bit difficult doing that over ICQ. It'd be fun to actually have an on-campus debate on it, as too many debates on the topic are merely between Christians and Atheists, and end up legitimizing the Christians by bringing them to the table and marking their viewpoint as an important one.

    Hmm.... last night I was invited by an old friend from college to a cookout. It was fun, although I think I surprised them by eating 3 burgers. Today I'm going to need to do laundry, as I seriously have no clean shirts left. I'll probably get to walk across the street in my bathrobe to get it done. I'm really glad that Jason's house has the laundry shack behind it. It'd be amusing to actually live in such a place -- it's one room and has electricity. That reminds me of my ideal home -- a small abandoned warehouse somewhere, one big room. I don't like stairs much, and definitely like the idea of being able to create 'rooms' by placing neck-level barriers or furniture around, the rooms mainly being an illusion. Probably nothing will be open today, so I'll have to eat leftovers. Oh well. Anyhow, I'd best get my laundry started.

    Wed Jul 4 11:00:23 2001
    Dark Ice

    Hmm. Soon, I'll have clean shirts again. And it's a rainy day. I love rainy days. My iguanas... I have 3 iguanas and a cat.... and they all have distinct personalities. Wally, my cat, only wants to drink out of the bathtub, and so he follows me in whenever I go to use the toilet. If I turn on the stream of water just right, it goes right down the drain and doesn't splash, and wally will just go up and lick the water stream. He also has a thing for corn chips, and likes to sleep just out of easy hand reach from me. He also likes to lick ears. I read in a psychology class I took that there's a form of attachment between a mother and her baby called anxious (or nervous?) attachment, where the child still desires the company of the mother but still isn't happy with them around. I wonder if that's what wally feels towards me... or if maybe cats are disinclined to snuggle. He sometimes snuggles with me. Dr. Forrester is my biggest iguana, about 4 feet long. He's nice when it isn't mating season, but generally prefers just to wander around and try to attack my smaller iguanas. He has a thing for bananas and pizza, and is quite healthy. He probably won't grow any more due to mistreatment from his first owner. Frank is the middle iguana, and kind of a cripple. Some time back, Dr. Forrester bit off one of his toes, and he lost a lot of blood and fell, possibly hurting his back. He kind of hobbles now, and is clumsy. I'm not sure if he's going to live that long, but he seems happy. He lives with Yui, my youngest Iguana. She's incredibly spunky and happy, fast, loves to run around, etc. Frank is my friendliest, she's probably my healthiest. I think my favorite thing about having iguanas is watching them eat. Dr. Forrester takes the slow approach to eating, generally watching his food for quite some time before eating it. Yui approaches eating with something resembling genuine lust. ... Frank.. it's kind of sad to watch him eat -- he just nibbles for a very long time on his food. Occasionally he takes entire bites, but he's not really a very good eater anymore. I've been trying to get Frank to eat supplements, but it might be too late and he'll probably be crippled for the rest of his life. It's strange looking at my apartment with the knowledge that I'll be forced to move in a month or two when my lease expires. I hope I find a place to work so I won't need to move back in with my parents.

    Thu Jul 5 10:09:38 2001
    Sea Bridge

    After laundry, went out to eat dinner with August and some other ppl. I haven't seem him for quite some time... Afterwards, went along to see some fireworks. Fireworks arn't normally interesting to me, but this was -- apparently it was managed by incompetents this time, as they were both too close to the crowd, and too low to the ground. Some of the people in our group were hit by shrapnel, and a few of the fireworks exploded on the ground where they were being launched. Afterwards, some of us went out to TJs. It was kind of a fun night, but the walking tired me out. Currently, I was hoping to call the jobboard today to see if they could fit me in today, but again am thwarted by Jason being hard to contact, as he's to go with me. When I got back and was resting, Wally walked too close to a candle and burned some of his whiskers and paw while swatting at it. I've been having strange dreams about creatures that seem to be a mix between spiders and iguanas. It illustrates how dreams are, and that something need not have a definite shape to be percieved -- I have a feeling that the relevant perceptions of attributes were directly stimulated, rather than any kind of synthetic shape being produced. Oh well.

    Wrote the sketch for an essay on juries in the legal system, gathering ideas for a possible argument that would either eliminate lawyers or make them for both sides be court appointed, in response to bullying tactics by wealthy corporations.

    I also have hiccups right now -- kind of irritating. Digging out some music I haven't listened to for awhile. It's nice to have all my laundry done. Maybe I'll clean some stuff up or vaccuum today.

    It's odd sometimes, the shape of my loneliness. I don't really get lonely when I'm in my apartment, but whenever I leave, I hate to be alone. Until I started writing about this, I thought it was purely because I feel at home here, and hate car rides alone, but it just struck me that I have my pets here, and that may also be a factor.

    Thu Jul 5 21:28:55 2001
    Cultural differences and ignorance

    I recently was watching some anime, a particular series called Cardcaptor Sakura. It's a cute series, with no graphic violence, no sex, etc. In most concerns, it would probably rate a G, and be considered appropriate by most Americans to be suitable for 6-year olds or whatever. But, there's a particular element to it that you won't see on American television. In it, there's a boy who is attracted to a much older boy. Attitudes to attraction and relationships are interestingly different between cultures. American society, because it is largely based off of British society (fairly uptight group as is), and even worse was influenced by the Puritans (a very repressive religious sect that had a brief and very interesting heyday in Britain (look up Cromwell I if interested) but were fleeing Britain in droves during the colonization), is quite repressed about an awful lot of things. So, there's actually an 'americanized' dubbed version available on videocasette of this series, with all of that excised. Fortunately, on DVD you can get the series, subtitled, as it was meant to be seen. As is probably known to most people, in Greek and Roman times, sexual attitudes were different yet. For some reason, the campus preachers, and a lot of other religious freaks claim that their god put into humanity, as a hint to morality, intuitions on what is right or wrong as 'what is gross'. A stupidity: people used to consider interracial dating to be gross, and that's a good thing to bring up to such people. Behold the power of socialization. The religious freaks just don't have the education to have a broad understanding of history that would help dispel their intuitions. Most of what we are is from our upbringing.

    Oh well, eventually, I might work that out into an essay proper. For now, it's just part of tonight's netdiary topic. Hmm. Darkgod hasn't done any work on Pernband or showed up on IRC in the last 3 days. I wonder what happened to him.. he's never been gone this long before. To put this in perspective, Pernband is a project that I'm a developer on. The main developer, who lives in France, goes by the name of Darkgod (I don't know his real name). There are a few other developers, and we all hang out on IRC frequently.

    Mhh... Svalbard. It's an interesting country that's about 100 miles north of Finland, that's absolutely beautiful. I don't like cold weather, but it's on my (short) list of things to do in life to visit Svalbard. There's a spiffy website at Ideally, I'd visit during Winter, so best to see the Northern lights.

    Oh well, I'm probably ready to go to Insomnia tonight now. Got a few new books to read today at Borders.

    Fri Jul 6 00:26:04 2001
    Argument maps

    Just back from Insomnia. I got tired unexpectedly quickly, and so this is oddly early for me to be back. Maybe it's because I left for there around 10PM. Hmm.

    Was thinking about a book I've been reading -- The Crooked Timber of Humanity. It's a very good book, reading like a heavily annotated history of philosophical trends. It makes me worry a bit about a particular effect of the way the political landscape is laid out now -- it's anything but flat. Am I wasting time trying to enlighten the religious at all? Am I wasting time that could be spent on people who have already disposed of religion and are waiting for a good philosophy? How do I budget my philosophical time?

    Secondly, I suppose I've come to appreciate something I saw some time back on the wall of the AI lab I worked for as a student -- argument maps. It ties together summarized arguments on a topic, pairing responses after responses. I might produce the same thing sometime, and perhaps use that format exclusively for non ground-breaking philosophy, e.g. debunking christianity or religion in general. Argument maps look like a pretty cool way to explore an issue rationally, disallowing ad hominem and other bad tactics.

    I suppose finally, I've been mulling over ideas for a in-person semiformal debate format. I'm interested in mainly high-level (read: not talking about time limits and similar) rules.

    Anyhow, probably will take a hot bath, and maybe order some food -- my fridge, ever since I cleaned it recently, has been on the empty side (before I cleaned it, it was more full, but most of the food was rotten). Currently, I have absolutely zero food (except the collards and similar devoted to my iggies). I hate situations like that -- if I get really hungry, the only thing that I could eat right now would be rice. I like rice, but it's generally not that good as a sole component of a meal/snack.

    Fri Jul 6 01:49:02 2001
    Full Tower Chimes

    In a temporary moment of semi-nostalgia, I wrote and installed a little program that notes the time and plays a wave according to what hour o'clock it is. This, plus the right crontab entry, means that I now have a chiming clock. For some odd reason, this makes me deeply happy. Go figure.