Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Tue Aug 3 21:25:43 2004
Suits and Salamanders

"In my day-to-day life, 30% of the people wearing suits are Mormons, the rest are corporate types. Neither speaks well to character"

I made some more steps towards getting the next version of my BLOG to the barely-functional stage. It's up to the point where once I do some of the database code, it'll be able to begin to display BLOG entries. I'm stopping for tonight, though, because I left the piece of paper on which I designed the database at home. I am, however, happy with how things are coming along. The code appears to be segmenting moderately cleanly into seperate files, and while I'm not really using objects for anything (presently), I can later go back and OO-ify the interfaces where it makes sense. I realize that I could use objects for everything, but I don't exactly belong to that programming camp. Objects are nice when they represent something self-contained enough that things fit together that way, but 'instantiating' light singleton objects just to call one of their methods is a pain that I'm not keen to pay.

I had a pleasant, but slightly pressuring conversation with a businesswoman who walked by and saw me programming -- she apparently wanted to hire me as a developer of some kind, and was disappointed at how intent I am at staying in academia. She seemed pretty nice though.

I get the feeling that ID3 tags are even more complex than I thought -- I found out the hard way that there are at least two tag types -- version 1 and version 2, and a given mp3 can have both, either, or none. However, having spent some time writing scripts to retag all my mp3s on the hard drive, and using the java sync software I have to view them and send them over, I've come across two snafus -- first, some files have tags that the tagging software I'm calling with my scripts cannot edit. I found another piece of software that can strip these files of all their tags, after which I can then tag them with the first piece of software. However, there are also some files I have which might have a third type of tag in them that overrides both the v1 and the v2 tags, causing them to have info on my neuros that does not corrispond with the data any software I have on my computer can see. To top it off, the software that can strip tags, which is kind of flakey to begin with, segfaults when trying to edit these files (although the first piece of software is quite happy to tweak them). This is frustrating.

Anyhow, back to my previous brief analysis of Marx.. The Marxist premise that labour put into a work and its value are the same seems rather narrow to me -- in particular, while we can see where it comes from -- if you have the labour to re-input, you can recreate the work, it fails to take into account that said creation may grow in value over time, and that further investment may be most valuable with certain time schedules. We may, for example, imagine a person as a good created by their parents as a simple example of how the labour put into a system can be less than the value of the good produced. Marx's equality there certainly has an ideological usefulness -- it provides grounds for dismissing the value of investment and management in value creation, but we must reject it. While we can see that little value is added by the system to the value of goods, there is not no value added, and we should be content without the absolute. Next, in an age of increased material wealth, humanity has come to expect new types of goods that rewrite the formerly clean lines between the working class and the bourgeois. Entertainment, news, secretaries, these compose a large portion of society, with the portion that produces actual items increasingly small as automation continues. It seems reasonable to me to reseat Marx's class analysis into recognizing five primary classes, the Investors/Capitalists, the Managers, the Workers (who focus on the primary function of the company), the Bureaucrats (who might mirror in some ways the managers and workers, except with public funds) and the Academes (who largely sit outside the normal labour relations). Said framework provides a basis for rebuilding Marxist analysis on modern society. In said reanalysis, however, we must give up certain interpretations of the predictions of his historical dialectic. Many of his intuitions remain valid in a nonuniversal form. There remains the question, however, do we choose to identify with the working class? Accepting the notion that the value of a product may be, but is often not largely, greater than the work put into it, and the increasing automation possible, we can take one of Marx's hypotheses to an interesting conclusion -- in the final stages of Communism, as socialism and technological advance produces ever greater efficiency of labour, the collective effort needed to produce the base goods needed for society will become low enough that people will no longer need an external push to do their share, and the market can come to an end. In this case, the class system will, presumably, become unnecessary. An alternate, dystopian future remains if population continues to grow to meet the slack possible by social and technological advance, and so I believe population controls will be needed to prevent this. However, it remains unclear how society can transition to such a state, as well as what society will do once this state of being is achieved. Further, at the risk of being declared more idealist than Marx, I don't believe material wealth is the highest pursuit of man, and while the inequalities between the classes bother me, pursuit of wealth beyond quality of life is a caustic desire, for the individual and for society. Instead, beyond certain necessities and quality of life standards, production of culture and science are higher goods. I would suggest that the societal structure that best meets this, while providing a noncapitalist set of values to capture hearts, is the University, home of the academe class. An alternate path to a classless society, or as near as we're likely to achieve, and one that provides a more clear postcapitalist set of values, is to concentrate power and organization into universities, eventually having them supplant capitalism. In the end, we should hope that Universities completely manage (and replace) the economy, in the production of arts, science, and goods, and that they inspire people to focus on these ends instead of selfish pursuit of advantage or necessary pursuit of security. It is possible that such a system may satisfy the goals of Marx, although of course his vision would be compromised. In light of societal changes since the writing of his works, however, I think his original vision has become blurry.

Aha! In the time I've been writing this, I appear to have found a utility that is both a better ID3 manager than the tool I was using, and can handle all the kinds of tags that I have. Hurrah. I hope there will be no more speed bumps in my quest to get all my music nicely categorized.

Finally, I found out that Bobby Fischer, well-known chessmaster, is apparently an anti-semite. Apparently this was pretty much public knowledge. I am embarassed to have not known this, and no longer give a damn about his problems overseas. Amusingly, if it's true that his mother is Jewish, he could apply for Israeli citizenship and possibly avoid being deported to the United States.. Strange..