Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
<Previous Next>
Tue Mar 30 15:04:53 2004
Pumpkin dance

Eyes open with a snap... a gasp, wheeze, sharp intake of breath, and a sitting up. A feeling of cold.. A shiver.. a thin coating of sweat over the face, a panic sweat.. A memory of something moving incredibly fast.. too fast, a black blur moving inwards... odd sensations, cold, but a strange warmth.. pulling one's self to one's feet, hop out of the container.. dizziness.. and strength.. container? A brief glance down, skin is green, a hand over the heart, stillness.. a panic, confused jumble of images, calming... the body isn't human... wings? A thought, and then a human again.. beginning to fall from the branch.. and not human again... careful motion, back into the hut... and again a human... A thirst... for blood? Guilt, aversion.. A vegetarian... and a vampire... what a fate... to live for eternity, tempted by one's vows.. Time to give up the vow? .. A moment of seduction, and then a no.

Debb and I recently rented a scary movie about a ghost ship... One thing I always am interested in, with such movies, is the mechanics of ghosthood. In the film, the shop was being run by someone who's trying to collect souls, and so needed to kill people. He, and various other things end up trying to kill the salvagers who are trying to loot the ship (and who are, the movie's choice of heroes). There was a little girl, who was the most unambiguously good ghost, and she at one point immersed the main character into her memories, but could not touch anything. There was a seductive lady who kissed one of the guys, and later faded out so he could fall through her into a pit. The main bad guy, who wasn't really a ghost, was solid, could change his appearance, was shot once with only a short-lived effect, and apparently had survived and managed the ship for hundreds of years. He apparently had returned from hell to collect more dead bodies. There were also some more or less neutral ghosts, like the captain of the ghost ship, who could be solid enough to move stuff around. All in all, a ghost never physically killed anyone -- it was all through deception, well, except for someone who got ground up by some gears, where no ghost was visible.

Some more thoughts -- I've been chewing on something Debb speculated on, the nature of arrogance.. In particular, she tossed out an idea that arrogance is perspective-bound, and that arrogance, or one kind of it, is the jolt people feel over sufficiently different worldviews, or at least (my extension) those that differ on crucial issues. It's usually very difficult to see, but there are some base assumptions, or common convictions, that underlie most peoples' worldview that, when people don't hold them, we tend to react to them oddly. For sufficiently different worldviews, we likely just dismiss them as wackos (unless they're in sufficient number), but there's likely an interesting area between wackos and between what we're used to where we feel threatened and angry, naturally, when they're violated. We might imagine that these borders differ between people, both in categorization tendency and in what precepts are present. One thing that we often are amused to learn, when talking with older people, or even moreso, digging through diaries of the past, is how different their perspective was. No doubt we would be amused to learn of their worldview, how they JUST DON'T CARE about things really fundamental to our worldview, and we'd perhaps exclaim how they JUST DON'T GET IT. So, my dear reader, I leave you with an example of some things, designed to provoke both reactions. I then suggest that you'd get a lot out of inspecting yourself, learn where these 'buttons' are on you, and reflect on it. I suggest that someone who suggests that there is no continual self or external reality, you'll likely dismiss them as weird. I further suggest that if you encounter someone who suggests that free will is nonsense will likely be met with dismissal, but you might react to them with anger, and further suggest that someone who suggests that other animals have rights to their forests will likely be met with anger.

There is another aspect of this feeling that I'm on (or, rather, can understand) both sides on -- the notion that it's arrogant to interfere with the dominant scheme of things. Free-market folk (I was once in this group, and can thus understand the perspective) often suggest that intervention in the free market is arrogant, because it puts the individual's judgement ahead of the system, and anyone who advocates intervention thus is daring to divert the natural order. This is, of course, only an argument if you either judge the natural order of capitalism to be sacred in some way -- if it is not a system which one ought to preserve (temporarily I borrow the word from moral absolutism), then there's no problem with such an intervention. There may be decent, general or case-specific arguments on intervention in capitalism, but the paralyzing notion that judging it to be short of a perfect system is hubris, that's not such a good argument.

I've recently been taking a look at the wiki software that wikipedia uses. I'd like to port it to talk to Postgres instead of MySQL. It might not be such an easy port, however, as some of the things MySQL does, as provided as an interface to PHP, are based on hacks that won't work in a more general database. One example is a function that returns the value of the sequence that corresponds to the row just inserted into the database. That works fine in MySQL, because MySQL is deficient in that a given table can only have one sequence. In Postgres (and several other databases), you can have multiple sequences in a table. This means that there's no general way to write such a function in Postgres. It may be possible to write a function that does that and returns the first sequence field in the record, and that'll work fine for when Postgres and MySQL are implementing the same schemas. However, writing such a function will be a horrible pain. I wish people would just stop using MySQL -- Postgres is better, it's also free, it's more standards-compliant, and it's more extensible. Oh well.