Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Sat May 29 16:52:13 2004
Earl Blue

Yesterday and today have been filled with unexpected work.. setting up some new systems for some new people coming in on Tuesday (apparently, there's a holiday on Monday). Unfortunately, the vendor, Las Alamos Computer, decided to ship with bleeding-edge hardware that only gained support recently, under Linux, so we need to use their custom media to re-install.. and one of those disks went bad, and one of the CD/DVD drives was bad. It's just been a comedy of errors and bad judgement, and so I had the joy of waking up in my office this morning and worked until 13:00. To top it off, the two other techies admin-types and the manager, a husband and wife and a close friend of them, who decided to go with this company don't see the problem, and would probably have preferred to go with the dinky toy Linux distro they like. There's a lot of cool things about my job, but dealing with stupid decisions some people make is a major irritant for people like me who get most of the pleasure in work from knowing things are being done right.

On the upside, while I hadn't been home since yesterday morning, I did go out for a bit -- there was an artsy film festival that I went to with two people from the techie group. Lots of strange and funny films were shown.. It's good to be back in the loop with these things -- in Columbus, I was partly in the right social circles to hear about these things, and if I can get into the local equivalent, that'd be quite enjoyable. After the fest, we went to N's apartment.. she has a nice downtown apartment, very well decorated. It's funny how just seeing the way different people decorate their place can be inspirational.. she's European, and it definitely shows from the briefest glance inside. I've seen, through various means, the home decor of various apartments of different cultures. I am curious as to what a few of the other cultures have as tradition -- in particular, I'm curious what kind of impression I'd get from seeing the inside of a number of Australian houses. Perhaps like how a bookshelf can tell you a lot about its owner, a house can tell you a lot about its Kultur.

It kind of flows with some thoughts I've been having recently -- being American is a state of mind, a state of mind I want nothing to do with.

I've seen a lot of these things around -- Squirrel Hill, the Jewish neighborhood of Pittsburgh in which I live, seems to now have its own magazine. Compared to Shadyside (snobbish upper-crust)'s magazine, it has a lot more content, but it's not all that interesting. I wonder why people see the need for a moderately large neighborhood to have a mag -- apart from occasional construction, nothing much happens here, and that's not a bad thing. Then again, I don't even read the newspaper, so my point of view is probably kind of rare.

Wikipedia has a new look. I like it.

Something else kind of relevant to work, and to research in universities in general -- research in universities tend to be partly results-centric, producing a "product", often associated with a grant. This seems to generally be ok.. and is a comprimise between the academic push for pure research and learning, and the need for funding. University research actually forms a kind of alternative/supplemental route that's very efficient for producing such results, as training progresses naturally to the state of the art and smoothly begins to push that. However, is it problematic for a research group when the focus seriously begins to shift from doing novel research for the sake of the art into being more of a company? What are the signs of such an attitude/goal shift? Perhaps the fear of this is why Universities often let professors spend a portion of their time on private pursuits fueled partly by their research -- it helps provide a means to keep the business and the knowledge gains seperate.

Some random stuff: Everybody loves math Dumb logic on a mostly interesting site -- you've got to love when people use arguments that are rooted in grammar and definitions to tackle problems that are much deeper than that. It's important to develop the ability to instantly smell when this style of argument is used. Tip to get one started -- when the term "by definition" is used, it's a bad sign. Because it's good to balance these things, reflect on what a wonderful life the folk who believe in this live.

There are two groups of clowns wandering around Squirrel Hill right now -- one group of people advertising some flavour of Ice Cream (a guy in a cow head handing out pencils), and a father-son pair preaching Christianity to the Judaists who apparently thought I look Jewish enough to hand me a pamphlet. This makes me wonder -- either Debb's claims that Hebrews have a *very* distinct ethnic look is exaggerated (other folk who should know support this thought), or most people don't have a very good idea what the ethnicity looks like. I think the first is more likely -- probably more than most ethnicities, all the wandering around that nomadic ethnicities have done introduce to them a lot more genetic diversity (as they intermarry -- I think the intermarrage rarity is as much a myth as the people who religiously insist that Hebrew is the parent of all languages on earth, as the Ashkenazi actually look not just divergent from the Sephardi, but also genuinely European). Anyhow, it's just ridiculous that the Christians waste their time preaching here -- no doubt the presence of a non-Christian religion, and the possibility of converting such folk, attracts them like bears to honey, but Judaists are, probably because of a mix of good genetics and a literary Kultur, among the least likely people to be converted by such trivial efforts. I'm certain they'll all be *really* impressed by Christians quoting their bible in a self-love fest. Believers, if any of you read my BLOG, would you be likely to be convinced to convert to, say, Zoroastrianism (or other suitably obscure religion) by arguments that are entirely based off of them quoting their holy book? It's almost tempting for me to write propoganda for these folks just to show them how it's done.

Ahh.. I'm at the Coffee Tree, and I just happened to look up at the sky.. Amusing thought -- the sky is there so we have something to look at. Perhaps an adaptation to help us stay sane -- the sky as the ultimate distractor, maintainer of sanity. It's hard to keep worries on one's mind when there's that vast .. creamy coffee, but blue.. with clouds floating through like swirls of dispersing milk. I think I'm going to stop futzing with the computer for a bit to watch the sky... Ahh...