Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Thu Jun 10 13:21:42 2004
Straw Swords Growing

It is a fact of government that people are rotten to each other. Much effort in politics and law is the struggle between the rotten and the less rotten. This fact has, however, been true across all times and all governments. How secure we feel, however, in that modern times, instead of people oppressing people, we live instead in a state where the system itself oppresses people. How much it is like shaking a fist at the sky, to fight such a system, and how, when we come to celebrate selfishness, any striving for a better system necessarily involves treading upon the shattered lands caressed by one's neighbor, the fruits of an unholy trade for dignity due.

The second deed is done. I've quit my job (yesterday), and taken a new one doing MRI research, programming, and being the sysadmin in a group in the psych department. It's an amicable split though, and I'm in my two weeks, and will likely stop by when needed to help out with things which I haven't yet done a brain dump to someone yet. I'm really looking forward to doing actual research, and na klar actually working with the kind of equipment that I'll likely be working with for the rest of my life. Also, finally I'll have the level of responsability I want, and will be teaching people useful things. It's really important to me to feel happy with my work, and this new job appears to promise that. w00t!

Also yesterday, I ran into my until-recently-russian-prof, and he flagged me down and told me he misses me in the class, and wishes I hadn't dropped it. He suggested I take it again in the second mini-semester. I still think it was right to drop it -- my life was full of pain and insane, and I needed some breathing space, but I would like to take it again. I'll need to see how the being very fresh in the new job will work with my taking classes -- they might want me to wait for a bit until I start taking classes, but I do want to take it again -- Russian is a fun language, and Dr Kats is a really cool professor.

In the CS department, apparently their network printer spooling software is really clever -- I was going through one of the regular Unix rituals to get network printing setup right -- print-and-futz until you get it right, and in the meantime, 15+ pages of paper are filled with garbage. Apparently, someone was very clever, and wrote a script to work with the 'foomatic' software so instead of getting garbage while trying a configuration, I got this: The file that someone asked me to print really looked like a binary file. So I printed this page instead. Since printing a binary file is usually a waste of paper and other resources, the spooling software refuses to honor your request. That's very clever -- I'm going to have to ask for their scripts, as I'm curious how exactly they did it. If they're willing to mandate that everything is postscript, concievably they could run it through a postscript interpreter and if it spits out fatal errors, they could produce that, but I suspect they're being more clever than that. Also, while backing up a number of systems, I found that scp isn't happy copying files bigger than 2 gigs. Presumably it doesn't use the large files API.. Well, no problem. I'll just use STDIO to do it...

    scp foo.tar pgunn@morose:~/
foo.tar: File too large
    cat foo.tar | (ssh pgunn@morose "cat > foo.tar")
The thing I previously wondered about if it was a good idea never materialized, so that's one less thing to wonder about -- it might've been fun, but it could also have wreaked emotional harm on me.

Tonight I'm going to have dinner with someone who's rather cute and also a good chef. She's already taken, but I'll be happy to call her a friend, if I can develop it into a friendship. It's interesting though, being in a situation where one learns to set and keep boundaries. In a sense, I think my window-into-sunni-islam and window-into-orthodox-judaism, are highlighting a definite difficulty in how people live, or at least a tricky thing to navigate, and their approaches, while rather conservative, are indeed viable ways to do things. It is interesting that, in political theories, they rarely delve into topics like this. I think they tend to have, built-in, a consensus that these are not areas where laws should intervene, leaving advice to be given by Kultur or religion. Perhaps a fault with the atheist movement that I'm a part of is that we've dropped the ball on providing advice in these areas, and don't even have anyone who can provide advice on these topics, as Imam/Rabbi/Priest do in mainstream society. Not exactly drop the ball, note, but refused it. Friends can fill that gap, as can family, but one of the advantages of the traditional lifestyle is that the gap really needs to be filled, and if there are no local friends or family, then it doesn't. Sometimes it's not desirable to talk to friends or family about some things anyhow. Of course, there are psychologists, but I think there's a difference that's been glossed over too much between what psychologists provide and what is often needed (psychologists have a purpose too, mind you, but it's different) .. in a way, the process of therapy with a shrink is more ritualistic than the guidance someone else can provide. The secular world's advocates, which includes me, say that meaning in life can be found outside of religion, and that's certainly true, but we need to do better at providing it. The secular humanists, the faction that's driving the liberal bus of atheism (the objectivists and libertarians jointly driving the conservative bus) are too shy about their values, I think, to provide the priest/counselor equivalent who is bold enough to tell people what to do to build a sustainable society within the tradition they're building. That's a damned shame -- every once in awhile, even those strong enough to avoid religion might need some help, and some people need a lot more help than that. I'm not a secular humanist, but I certainly am willing to offer advice and listen when people want to talk, and I can offer my own external-holding-of-value position to help people find ways to live that are, by my standards, fair to other parties involved. We need more of that.