Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Wed Nov 12 09:18:08 2003
Everything boils down

I'm a bit broiled right now.. (beyond fried).. apart from an hour of sleep I snuck in, I've been up since yesterday morning, redesigning a database where feeping creaturism has made some features unwieldy, for work. Spit and glue only goes so far, eventually it's good to tear that down and do it right. I think I have the new design down pretty well, and I can use the opportunity to remake the servlets in my own image, now that I know what I'm doing, and now that my Java/Servlet mentor is long gone from the project. There comes a time, with every inherited project, for the student to reshape things in their own style. The new database design is done, and the new servlet design is still in my head, but is fairly concrete at this point. Ahh, computer stuff, where one can leave the workplace, having at most twiddled some bits on a computer, and sometimes just on paper or even just forced an idea into brutal clarity in one's head, and work is indeed done. Unfortunately, while the idea is clear, I've fallen out of deep hack mode, and won't likely fall back in on this sleep cycle :)

Grabbed some more goodies on the internet while programming over the night.. some more episodes of a TV show I find funny, and an absolutely amazing video of someone playing Super Mario Brothers 1.. Either it's doctored, or they're absolutely incredible. SMB1 was a pretty buggy game (although it does deserve its reputation as being one of the best and most important video games of all time), and this player taped themselves going from 1-1 to 8-4, showing off at ever step, and dancing close enough to death at every go that it's actually kind of stressful to watch. The next time I have free time (likely the weekend, unless I sacrifice some time I should be sleeping). At least that blasted paper is done -- just one more (philosophy, a term paper) to go for this semester.

And now, the news: Kasparov vs Fritz, another human-chess match.. Another electronic-voting mess.. It would be very nice if they could replace the old ways of voting, but it looks like they're probably not testing their systems enough if they're getting bugs like this. The phrase "lengthy collaboration" is worrying -- it's presumably no simple bug. Go, Microvote! Woo! Of course, it doesn't hold a candle to the internal memos that leaked from Diebold's election services. It's a good thing that the Americans are bringing free speech to Iraq. Also nice that we're getting good, honest media coverage. Kudos to Reid of Nevada, for his bold steps to keep wackos out of our Judiciary. I guess maybe I'm judging a bit too soon -- I don't know who BushJr and friends have lined up for the seats, but I suspect they're scarily conservative folk who will do their very best to undo what progress has been made in our government over the last century. Here's another analysis of the recent Al Qæda attacks in Saudi Arabia. Finally, looks like more information has been liberated. Cool! I won't be able to use it (I like my 3-year old cellphone, and until it can't be repaired anymore, I'm likely to stick with it), but the less effective people are at controlling information, the better off we all are. Isn't this a pretty picture? And in the 'related stories' section, we see she'd like a third child. Umm.. NO PLEASE! (heh)

Omission of important data in news stories is frustrating.. Here's something that helped me understand a rather complex and ugly particular instance in the Yugoslav breakup (incidentally, although he might not've been a nice guy, it's a pity that Tito couldn't've kept going forever). The new information doesn't excuse what happened, but it does provide necessary perspective. This should be a guiding principle in life -- it's much more common that one doesn't have all the information or understand a perspective then that people are malevolent for the heck of it. People who don't make a decent effort at reading news critically with this in mind risk being manipulated. Yet.. I see it happen all the time.

That reminds me, last night, I took a break from work to attend a gathering of the CMU computer club. We saw Real Genius and Swordfish. Real Genius was amusing, in that campy 80s way... kind of like Goonies or Weird Science. Swordfish was a terrible, stupid movie. Imagine a helicopter flying a bus around a city, interrupting board meetings. Yeah, it's that dumb. AVOID! AVOID! (but it's probably too late -- you've either seen it or you won't) It was fun to get a break from classes and work for a bit..

Yesterday in Philosophy class, the professor made a reference to H. Evertt's relative-state interpretation of quantum mechanics. I might try to chew on it, but I suspect that it, while interesting, will be way over my head. In psych class, we briefly touched on language synthesis, and I dug up an article that I had seen previously on the topic, to show the prof. Surprisingly, she had worked with the person who the article, more or less, was about. While browsing around the server, I found this 'parent area' of that article. I might need to add it to my 'often visited' section of my bookmarks :)

Also in philosophy, we're currently reading academic arguments over empiricism.. In academic philosophy, things that are checkboxes and rough categories in other philosophy become rather tight schools of thought. I've learned that a number of terms I've applied to myself and other that are accurate in the 'lay philosophy' are not accurate in academic philosophy, and while I have little desire to enter academic philosophy, I would like to be able to speak both languages, so much as is possible. In general, I think that the interesting areas of philosophy are the less formal areas -- formal logic is really uninteresting to me, and I think formal accounts of scientific discovery are often too complex and, to use a computer metaphor, mix program and data too much. There are some philosophers we've read that agree with me on this, having written papers not too far from things I might've written. To me, the fundamental basis of science is that it works, producing real predictions with statistical significance stronger than randomness. Everything else is heuristics we've learned in that task. Notions of verification and all that can all be chosen and evaluated based on performance. This classifies me into the academic meaning of "philosophic naturalism".

I really don't like this time of year very much. Darkness, sure, I'm ok with that.. actually, 24-hour darkness, with rain and thunder all the time, that'd be really cool.. but the cold, dry air, that really bugs me. Winter is my least favourite time of the year..

Yup, time for some sleep soon. Fortunately, I think with this jaunt I've made up for about 3/4 of a friday I took off a few weeks ago. Soon: Zuruch nach Heim!

But, I'll end on a song... It has the same pain and struggling that I enjoy in good Russian music, but it's a different way of reacting to it.. If the Russian music is marching ahead, resolute and tragic, the Gaelic music is still marching ahead, but looking back with a wistful expression..

o/~ If I ever leave this world alive I'll take on all the sadness I've left behind.. ..

She says I'm OK, I'm alright Though you have gone from my life You said that it would, Now everything should .. be alright o/~

Flogging Molly -- "If I ever leave this world alive"