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Voting: or how I learned to stop worrying and love the database

Perhaps the title should read "how I learned to spell like someone with half a brain instead of spelling 'learning' wrong three times"

This is in a daylog because it's a touch random, and it's more of a ramble than anything else.

What's the point of the voting system? It's what makes E2 semi-democratic: people upvote what they like and they downvote what they think is a steaming pile of crud. At least that's the idea, and it's a nice idea in practice. We get a chance to shape the database into what we want it to look like. Assuming low-rep nodes are deleted and high-rep nodes are given attention than if each individual casts his vote on every single node at some point, E2 will inevitably become what the majority of people want it to become and that’s A Good Thing.

E2 therefore works like the market system where “consumer sovereignty prevails,” my A-Level economics textbook tells me. You know, say a producer makes a good. If people want it then they buy it. Demand goes up. The producer realises this and makes more of the good. So price signals tell producers what to produce. We get what’s called allocative efficiency. That means resources are allocated in the way that consumers like. This is why capitalism is meant to be good, if you’ll allow me to simplify the situation a bit too much.

E2 noding works much in the same way. Just as price signals are “the lifeblood of the market system,” vote signals are the lifeblood of E2 – think about it – in real life you don’t get prizes if you spend all your money by the end of the day. If you did things would get crazy and no one would know what products to make. People, in a frenzy of getting rid of cash, would start buying the first thing they saw. They would rush into supermarkets and start buying tins of corned beef and tofu. Producers would think that they obviously like tofu and start making more of it. But get this – we don’t like tofu! We just bought it because it was lying there in front of us. What would happen is that people would drive to supermarkets and buy stuff in bulk since that would naturally be retail therapythe easiest way to spend money. Why would you visit small out of town stores and little specialist shops? Why would you go out of your way to spend money when you can get rid of all in one go?

Day logs are the hypothetical supermarkets of E2. When you vote randomly on a day log you damage the database making people think that you actually enjoyed that angst filled, sentimental three page long story. You mess up the system and you make E2 worse for everyone, but more importantly you make it worse for yourself.

But of course you’ll have noticed a flaw in my reasoning: votes aren’t like money. People wouldn’t dump money like they dump votes because votes get them something they like. You give money to someone who has something you want and you get what you want. On the other hand when you vote for anything you get something. You get XP for voting. So naturally, people start dumping votes on monster day logs and huge nodes in a frantic quest for XP.

Solution? Well I don’t know. You can’t get rid of the reward because it’s there to promote interaction with the database. You can’t make people read a whole node before voting on it. Or can you? Maybe you could have a time limit – that is, you only enable the voting option after a page has been up on the screen for say, 5 minutes or after a certain amount of time (the amount of time being dependent on the length of the writeup). This would eliminate the problem of people voting for anything – so you can’t vote, but the screen is up there for some time. You really want that XP. OK, you think, I might as well read the fucking story/poem/existential-angst/factual. And you read it. Then you vote it up if you like it and down if you hate it. If you were indifferent to it, then you would already have quit without voting. So we’ve achieved our objective of interaction with the database without compromising the quality of that interaction – vote signals will become more accurate since votes will truly reflect voter opinion. They will not reflect the ease with which that node can be accessed.

OK, but what if I don’t care about voting? What if I think that an obligatory time limit will get in my way? Then we could add another option – for people who want to vote but don’t want the timer that only lets them vote after some time, just make it so that they get no XP for voting. I think that’s fair – after all, most high-level users have shit loads of XP. They don’t care about XP, they got so much it’s coming out of their ass. So they get the privilege of voting without time limits, and they’re happy. They don’t need that XP reward. We’re all happy.

Another idea

Maybe you aren’t a free market advocate: do you think that the votes of a Level 1 initiate are as important as those of someone who has shaped the database far more? Well let’s turn to capitalism for that one: an E2 currency is an idea. Take the rep of your node. Say you get E2 Dollars (the symbol of which, I propose, should be an upside down lesbian monkey) equivalent to the rep of your node, and it costs a certain amount of money (say 3 E2Ds – E2 Dollars) to cast a vote. Say you get a reward for voting – this would be necessary to encourage interaction – but make sure the reward is something worth having and something that doesn’t give you more votes. Maybe you get more space on your homenode for each vote you cast.

Of course you’d need to fine-tune the system: if you got too much space you’d need fewer votes and we’d have an E2 recession. Or if it took too many votes to get homenode space than we’d have hyperinflation with people spending votes like mad. Of course the important thing is that the balance is right – make sure that people who work hard and cast a decent amount of votes can get a decent amount of space on their homenode, yet still making sure that you need to vote a fair amount and you can’t just cats a few votes and then sit back.

On second thoughts this system would get a bit hard to manage.

More stuff

XP needs to matter more. Yeah XP stoicism is all well and good and apparently:

XP is an imaginary number granted to you by an
anonymous stranger. Treat it as such.

I don’t mean we should start worrying about XP, just that I’ve got too much of it: what holds most people back is the number of writeups they need. For example I need another 60 or writeups to hit Level 4, the XP isn’t a big problem. What that means is the Honour Roll should have a bigger impact and the rep of you r nodes should be taken into account. Of course this would have a big impact on the sort of writeups E2 gets. We’d get more long factuals that tend to attract C!ings and we’d get far fewer little definitions writeups as well as fewer jokes and debated. That could be seen as a bad thing given that this place is more than a hunk of facts.

You see XP stoicism is easy enough when you’re a Level 10000 noder with a bazillion writeups. At that stage you can already go and C! stuff. You can already go and nuke writeups. You can have homenode pictures. You can get that nice cosy spot right on to the other users nodelet. It’s not so much about earning your bullshit, it’s much more about being able to lose a bit of XP but retaining your cool powers. That’s why XP doesn’t matter for many users – not because they’ve achieved a state of nirvana and become one with the database. I don’t mind, I just think no one should go around saying to people “Hey XP doesn’t matter” if they already have plenty of the stuff. Of course there are some users who really don’t care about XP – I however am not one of them. It’s just because like everyone else, I like a little attention. I like a bit of recognition and I love to see someone enjoying what I’ve written. That’s why I like XP. In a way it reassures me that I’m not writing junk and I’m writing stuff that some people are reading at least.

Oh this is getting complicated. Fuck it. I like E2 the way it is.

Final note: please don’t get the wrong idea – the purpose of this isn’t to whinge. I just wanted to throw up some ideas. In fact I am continually amazed by the dedication of the editors and management. Like the other day when I saw the note from nate on the front page. He actually apologised for the server being down! I mean they pay for the server and all that stuff, they code the whole thing, they go and manage the whole thing and they actually apologise for not being able to provide a free service! That’s dedication. Thank you for doing a great job.

Words you say never seem
To live up to the ones inside your head
The lives we make never seem
To ever get us anywhere but dead

This is playing through my speakers, an intermediary to the receptors in my head. Fuck it. I'm tired of realizing that I'm so thoroughly to blame. And yet, to let it go seems like a pussy-ass escape, because I am very much to blame.

The day I tried to live
I wallowed in the blood and mud with
All the other pigs

You don't get the image, fuck, the smell of a Los Baños prison cell out of your head all that easily. And to add to the alien wretchedness of it all, I didn't hear a word of english all night. Gringo loco. Demasiado mucha cerveza. At that point, I could really have done without any comprehension of spanish. But all that was just window dressing. The true mindfuck is that sick unsettling bit of guilt, rage and frustration that has just taken up permanent residence in your stomach. You know it's not leaving anytime soon.

I woke the same as any other day you know
I should have stayed in bed

Right about now my lawyer is addressing the court. I feel guilty for that. Shouldn't I be there with him, facing the music as they say? Right now the only music I'm facing is Chris Cornell's attempt to make the bile rise in my throat. Los Baños. Jesus, the place is called the fucking bathrooms. That's a clever one, god. Right now my life is in the process of being flushed down the toilet in some backwater town along a lonely stretch of I5 in the armpit of California.

The day I tried to win
I wallowed in the blood and mud with
All the other pigs

But of course I don't want to face the music. I want to get off. I want the judge to realize that I wasn't driving at the time. I was trying to do the right thing by sleeping it off. Yeah, I was fucking wrong and I know it. I deserve all the worst that the California Penal system has to throw at me. Still, I want to get off. That part of me, I try to suppress it, whispers in my ear: you're just the one that got caught. If you had kept driving, you wouldn't be sitting here trying to retain what little stomach lining you have left. Shuttup, I try to say, but I can't muster much force for my thoughts. Happy Birthday, it taunts me. Oh yeah. Today is my birthday. Whoopdee-fucking-doo.

And I learned that I was a liar

Fuck it. I've learned my lesson like a good little pavlovian dog. You can spew all kinds of morality at me, with all the power of right to back it up, but I'll probably never be able to drink within sight of a vehicle, and not because of the persuasiveness of said arguments. The memory will always be too fresh; the taste of bile in my throat too keen. Ahhh, well. Time to blow out the candles, I guess.

Just like you


The Day I Tried to Live - Soundgarden

Boyfriend sense tingling

And next thing you know, it's just over a week until your girlfriend fiance's birthday, and you have no money left because you spent mad dime on an engagement ring. Damn. But worry not fellow noders and nodettes, I have a plan. Although I could use some help on it. For a long time now, about 3-4 months, my girl has been begging for me to write her some poetry. I haven't written poetry since I was depressed and angsty in high school. I am now 22.

She's wanted poetry ever since she realized I was published in a poetry collection. I entered on a whim, mostly because I saw an advertisement in the Sunday comics and had just finished venting from said depression and angst. Somehow, someone liked what I wrote, despite the angst, and it appears somewhere in the midst of this volumous collection.

The reason I bring all this up is that I want to write a love poem for my girl, and there are several issues with this. The first being the time since I've written poetry. It's been a while, and I'm rusty. Second, the fact it's a love poem. I listen to metal and hip hop music, so I get no love there. I need a source to draw from to inspire me. While I plan on posting rough drafts here on occasion, I want something to start from. I'm currently thinking of penning a sonnet and a free form poem. I would like any ideas for inspiration, love songs/poems that have moved you, or any other advice you might have about poetry, which I understand is a concept a tad foreign to E2. They don't have to be noded, feel free to send me links to web collections, or titles of books I might be able to find in my local library, I know I have a card or two somewhere. So for all you bookworms, bards and poets, help me ... please?

"...and when you speak of me, speak well."
Crash Davis

Today I asked my cat for a favor. I'm not sure why. Probably because I was in the middle of besotting my drug-short self with Neil Gaiman (whom I don't even really like much), and at that moment, he was staring at me with that extremely self-satisfied expression cats get. You know the one; lids perhaps 20% closed, one paw regally stretched out in front, the purr buried so deep that the best way to find it is either to place a mirror on his stomach and watch the vibration burr the reflections or just bury your head in his tummy and let him lick your ear.

This, I think, is why I have cats; so that there is someone to pay attention to me when I'm not looking directly at them. The way I might imagine a lover would. The way I have, at times, concentrated on someone I was curious about, or just plain enjoying the sight of, when they're not watching. Cats do that. They make great show and sport of explaining to you (using small words so you'll understand) that you, Pathetic Brachiator, are far, far beneath worthy of their scrutiny. But then, once in a while, you'll turn from having your head stuffed in a book for twenty minutes and happen to look directly at them before they can glance away, and they'll just have to brazen it out by looking mighty, haughty, and rather gloriously vacuous; they'll just keep looking at you. Sometimes in wide-eyed trembling concentration, a serious look on their pointy faces; sometimes, as now, a lazy, half-asleep look that just might even be genuine. But they are paying attention to you, even though you didn't ask them to by feeding them, or petting them, or even talking to them.

So anyway, I turned to catch my cat staring at me in that manner, and just grinned at him while he experimentally curled his paws, one after the other, hoping I'd just take his stare for vapidity. I felt the words come out, without knowing from where.

Emo, if they ever ask you, speak well of me.

One eye half closed, a slow-motion wink that promised nothing more than he'd think about it.

Then he rolled over, ears against the bed, to show off his magnificently plump, furred tummy, and purred to beat the band.

Ah well. Hopefully I'll be saved.

An Open Letter to My Insurance Company:

Dear Company,

This is Jairus. You may remember me from a claim I filed over two months ago. As you may recall, I injured my leg while I was at work, and although I am not seeking workman's comp related damages for this claim, I had asked for coverage under the 'Short Term Disability' coverage that I have with your organization.

This is taking some time. In the interests of resolving this situation quickly, allow me explain my situation to you.

As you may know, I earn twelve dollars an hour. After deductions for EI, CPP, taxes, insurance premiums, and various other costs, I receive an average of twelve hundred dollars take-home pay. I don't know if you are familiar with the costs of living in Ottawa, but this income rate puts me beneath the poverty line, meaning I live month to month, or am 'poor'. Having been without pay for over two months, therefore, is a problem to me. Not having any money would be my first problem, most of my other problems follow directly from that.

I cannot afford to take a cab to my doctor's for continued monitoring of my injury. I cannot afford to purchase a leg brace which I have been prescribed by said doctor for treatment of my injury. Food supplies are reaching critical levels, and most of the food I own I cannot eat due to a pressing dental surgery need, for which I have no money. I am receiving threatening notices from my utility companies in a variety of colours which state in no uncertain terms that I must remit hundreds of dollars. This, although quite threatening indeed, is overshadowed by the fact that I owe my landlord a sum that is an order of magnitude larger, which if left unresolved will eliminate any need for paying future utilities, as I will not have a house to live in.

In short, this knee injury is ruining my life. If this pattern continues, it is not unreasonable to expect that I will eventually end up homeless, without the ability to receive the medical attention I require to recover fully.

The fear of a chain of events of this nature is what led me to purchase insurance coverage, some many months ago. In the event that I was unable to work, I thought to myself, an insurance policy will take care of my immediate financial needs, while allowing me to take care of my injury, so that I am able to return to work.

Listen.

This cannot be allowed to continue. Every day that you stall for more information, hoping that my claim is frivolous or without grounds, hoping that I'll tire of endless calls, faxes, forms, and touch-tone telephone prompts, my chances of permanent damage rise to approach certainty. Perhaps worse, every day that passes is another day where I lose access to critical resources, and accrue unreasonable and unnecessary debt.

This has to end. Soon.

...

I hear my bones grinding, the sound of dead wood escaping my skin. My reflection isn't who I think I am, eyeballs looking out from grey, boney sockets, and a week's worth of growth when I swear I shaved yesterday.

Seven in the morning, and another night without sleep.

Students are bad, mmkay.


At cash machines, why do you have to stare at your bank balance for so long? You're broke, deal with it.

The pub/bar opens at 11am. Every day. No need to queue.

Last orders MEANS last orders. No, you can't sleep in the pub/bar. Get out.

When viewing student accomodation why do you believe anything the landlord/viewing agent says? They're agents of Satan. Do not believe them.

When you do eventually get your degree, the world DOES NOT owe you a living. Get off your arse, out of your parents house, and find yourself a job.

If you're lucky enough to be asked to an interview, put a suit on you monkey! DON'T turn up in jeans and a t-shirt.

If you've gotta chew gum, put it in a bin when you're done instead of spitting on the pavement or slapping it on the bus seat.

Why do you think you're always right? Your degree DOES NOT make you right. Shuttup and listen to the voice of experience.

I like fun. Students like fun. I like beer. Students like beer. I do not like loud obnoxious students having fun drinking beer. Students like being loud and obnoxious drinking beer and call it fun. Gits.

Do you think the world laughs along with your stupid college pranks? Do ya? Punk.

"Oh, you've got a degree...in...The Rise and Fall of Hats circa 1932." Brilliant.

On buses, why do you need to call your friend and spend the rest of the bus journey telling them about how poor you are and how your best friend cheated on you while you were throwing up on your £300 dress at a party. And then play all your ring tones - just incase your mobile phone manufacturor has secretly added one whilst you were on the phone. Do it at home.

You think you've got life hard? Try a job. A house. Kids. And a wife! 9 hours of lectures a week? That's gotta hurt!


Jealous now I've graduated? Me? Pfff :p ...never ;)
Inspired by my journey to work this morning.

The I'm Chimes MS.

I cough and the strings of my guitar chime with it. I turn the television on to watch the weather. I own the cd that is playing to the local forecast. The television chimes like I forecast a cough. I think a future, like the band, all the band playing to the local weather I think I'm on. The guitar strings and I turn to watch my own future, the cd that is with all of it.

Last night a telemarketer called up and kicked off the conversation by asking how I was doing. "I'm sick," I said, having resolved to either be totally honest with telemarketers or lie outright.

"You don't have SARS, do you?" he asked. Ha ha ha ha ha. You've certainly got your own "comedy stylings" there, kid. So of course today, having called in sick to work because I feel like something a dog threw up, I checked out the SARS FAQ. I do in fact have the symptoms; they're just in reverse order. I now have a fever and physical discomfort which was preceded by a couple of weeks of a dry, "unproductive" cough. (I'm not sure I've ever had a wholly productive cough.) I could hardly get out of bed, which for all I know could be a symptom of not enough oxygen getting to my blood. OMG I TOTALLY HAVE SARS! Damn you, young telemarketer man!

I'm always fascinated by the way my dreaming mind interprets the things that are happening to my body when I'm ill. Before I fell asleep last night I read a few pages of The Three Musketeers, and was visited all night long by fever dreams in which my sore throat and sneezing were translated into events in the rivalry between King and Cardinal. Look, it made sense at the time. I hate being sick so I'll take whatever entertainment I can from it.

I watched a couple of episodes of Blind Date while eating lunch. I'd never seen it before. What a great show! (Or it is when you're in my slightly delirious state of mind.) Maybe some people watch it to see the dates crash and burn, but I was mentally comparing myself to the guys on the dates and wondering if I could do better. I'm pretty sure I would have had a shot with the beautiful neuroscience major. I mean, in some reality where I'm not married. Or in my mid-30s. And a contestant on Blind Date.

If one good thing can come out of this unpleasant weather pattern, it's the fact that it seems about perfect, for listening to Time Out Of Mind. The chilly, damp weather once again triggers those sorts of moods. Listening to Bob feels comfortable, though, like an old leather jacket, in it all.

The cherry and Bradford pear trees betray these feelings, however. They line the roads like all too many blushing brides, standing, waiting, not realizant of the fact that their groom isn't coming, at least not yet. Their hopeful petals continue to fall as this last gasp of wintry, windy drizzle takes advantage of them.

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