Let's talk about perspective

A rant about the US response to terrorism this morning. I am sure this is going to be a downvote magnet, but I really could care less. This needs to be said.

I heard about the "attacks on terrorism" (Oh! the delicious irony!) broadcast on the radio on the way in to work this morning. My first thought was a simple affirmation that it must be a requirment of the position of President of the United States of America that war must be declared on someone as soon as possible. Diplomacy? What the fuck is that?. I head Dubya talking about how he "gave Afghanistan a series of clear demands". I'm sorry, George, but who the fuck are you to demand anything? Let's get some perspective.

I've just read and heard the response to the attacks by Osama Bin Laden. I have to say, from where I sit he has a point. Think about that, mull it over. No, I refuse to water that down with the inevitable "Of course what happened on September 11th was terrible, I'm not justifying it, yada yada yada, I'm not a terrorist, or even a muslim, please don't shoot me!".

(Don't worry, If you've not hit the - yet, I'm sure you will soon)

Nice touch, dropping food & supplies, though. Could you perhaps have done that a year ago? Two? Three?

So who the fuck is anyone to stand up to the USA and say "Listen, George, you really ought to tone down the aggression a little bit until you have some proof that Afghanistan or even Osama Bin Laden are indeed responsible". And therein lies the problem. The US military machine rolls on, obliterating everything in its path. The masses are appeased, people are happy. Hooray!

Hip, hip hooray for freedom and democracy.

Back to perspective. I'm in the lift (that's an elevator for our US friends) on the way up to work this morning. Now I've spent the weekend here at the office, and I'm back again this morning to catch the fallout from the work I was doing, put out the fires, give everyone that warm and fuzzy feeling they need about stuff that matters precisely fuck all in the grand scheme of things. 31 floors is a short trip, but I hear people making chit-chat. "How was your weekend?" asks someone who could care less how this person's weekend was. "Fine, a bit too short" she responds. Typical bullshit idle banter. Perspective. I didn't have a weekend. Does any of this matter? no

Perspective. Would I be as pissed as I am at the moment if I'd left the CD playing instead of wanting to catch the news this morning at 8:00am? Had I not heard about the attack? Of course not. My primary concern this morning would be how the fuck I get my hands on a copy of Sun Workshop Compiler 5.1 before 30 or so developers start screaming blue murder at me.

No, instead I feel uneasy. Australia has an election coming up on November 10, 2001. I fear that the pressing issues for Australians will be ignored because the two parties will be falling over themseves to swear undying allegiance to the USA. The GST? The Tampa crisis? The misapropriation of federal funds by the Liberal party? What have we heard of this in the lead up? Nothing. John Howard is going to ride back into office on the back of a war, and when the war is over, the country will be no better off. This is not to say Kim Beazley is a better choice by any means. This election will not be fought on the issues (are they ever?) but on who waves the most American flags. The voting public have a vested interest in the status quo at a time like this.

Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave, That I, the son of a dear father murther'd, prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, must (like a whore) unpack my heart with words and fall a-cursing like a very drab, a scullion!

What a boring day. Scary, though, too, because America has just started a real war, and because I realize how different things are (and how different I am) this semester, becuse of how much that I need to do during this next week. Joining everything certainly has not helped all thing, although it is by no means at fault.

Today was a lazy day. After staying up until six in the morning noding and reading E2, I slept till noon, got up for brunch, went back to bed until three in the afternoon. It is cold here, as this is Cleveland, and Hiram College, in an effort to save money, and because it may get warm again, has not yet turned on the heat. It may be a bit cool for noding, but for sleeping it is marvelous. Turned on the computer, went to E2, was surprised to see the reaction my daylog from yesterday had caused, both positve and negative. At 5:30, I went to dinner, sat in the cafeteria where it was also cold, ate some food, talked a little to some other people. Went back to my room, noded, checked my email, realized all the things I have to do this week, and started working on them. Also noded a bunch. Heard that the USA is going to war, and have been unable to concentrate on studying since then.

Noded some things from the Encyclopædia Britannica, as usual to mixed reviews. I know that these are not the most interesting nodes, but the material is in the public domain, and to the best of my knowledge, they are factual. If there is a problem with the facts, let me know rather than just downvoting. People want factual material on E2, but downvote people who write on things other than sex, drugs and rock and roll. Sigh. Geez. Cut and Past Writeups will die because they are copyright violations. If the material is in the public domain, what's the issue? Then again, after some consideration, I have been noding some really obscure stuff. There are more important things that need to be noded right now, and the little detail things can be done later.

So much to do this week. Must list some of those wonderful books on ebay, as I can't afford to keep them all. Must talk with some people in residence life tomorrow about my alleged violation of policy (I was talking in a normal conversational tone with some other people in a residence hall that is supposed to be 24 hour quiet. Evidently they had been warned about this previously, before I arrived. I, along with four others were written up for, essentially, talking in a normal conversational tone, at 12:05 AM.) I heard of things like that happening in that hall the year before I lived there, and I did move out after a year, but it does seem ridiculous to me. Sigh. Hiram College.

Homecoming football game this Saturday vs. Earlham College. Am going with my grandfather, because I have to - the details of why I have to are long and drawn out, and not much fun. Perhaps in the daylog for Saturday. Hiram, most likely, will lose. Last year, the won a game, breaking a couple year losing streak. Yes, this is division III athletics at its best. However, the tickets are free, and good seats are always available. Must find someplace nice to go to eat afterwards - someplace that I could not afford otherwise. This is somewhat difficult, because as a college student, I am used to finding the cheapest possible place to eat. Saturday will be difficult.

Test in C++ on Friday. Have not studied nearly enough this semester, due to various things detailed below. Must study like mad for that (less E2!).

Have not been making nearly enough art, either. Spent the summer having fun in Shoshone National Forest and Yellowstone National Park, and didn't spend that much time on art. Must catch up now. It's the only thing that I am really good at, and I need to spend more time doing it. I also have not been being so social with the other students who are interested in art, because I have not been spending that much time in the art building. This should all change soon, now that I have realized this.

I also need to find a job or internship for this summer, and if I am to do anything related to computers, it must happen soon. So much to learn.

It has been an intersting semester. For the first time, I have been actively involved in things outside the college community. Early in the semester, I has begun to get heavily involved in the anti-globalization movement. I was going to attend the World Bank and International Monetary Fund protests in Washington on September 30. I was really excited about that, I devoted a lot of energy to it. Then it fell apart after the events of September 11. I was considering staying involved, and I am still to some degree. But nothing like before. At the same time, I found E2. I have spent way too much time noding and reading. But I like it. And I look forward to the next gathering in this area - I would go to Maryland this weekend, but I cannot (note the football game as stated above).

Many things have changed, some for the better, some for the worse. I have grown some, and I know that E2 has helped some in that respect. Now, though, I must go work on art - it is important.

I sit and read E2, and the fact hits home once again that I have nothing interesting to say, no valuable knowledge to impart, and no opinions to articulate to others. So I guess I'll just daylog instead.

My weekend was great. It amazes me how Anna and I are becoming so close, understanding each other better, and generally moving towards a perfect relationship. Lying in bed the other night, she told me how she couldn't envision a future without me in it anymore. I was half asleep, and I think I made some sort of comment, but it wasn't till the next day when I remembered what she'd said that it hit me, and a big smile appeared on my face, while the good kind of butterflies fluttered in my stomach.

I stayed at her house Friday night, after helping her type up some of her uni work and seeing Rush Hour 2 at the cinemas (Jackie Chan is God); we slept on the couch, as we often do, because her parents wouldn't like it if I slept in her bed. Her mother usually wakes us up early, before her Dad gets up, telling Anna that 'he wouldn't like it' if he knew we were sleeping there. We slept in on Saturday morning, her mother didn't wake us up, and at one stage, her Dad came into the room. We pretended to still be asleep, and he walked out without saying anything. Anna opens her eyes 'You know, I don't know my Dad very well, but I don't think he cares' (that we were sleeping together). We came to the conclusion that it's quite possibly her mother that doesn't approve of us sleeping together, and is using Anna's Dad as an excuse. Which actually makes a lot more sense, heh.

We stayed up late Saturday night, watching DVDs, then slept in Sunday morning, making the most of being able to be close and warm without parents looking over our shoulders (my parents are a lot less protective). We were hoping to play tennis at a club near Anna's house, but slept in too late and took too long to get there, so we ended up going to her old Primary School and hitting a tennis ball around anyway, with Janine, a friend of hers from high school. We played with her dog, and attempted to do back flips off the miniature play equipment, to see if we still could; I haven't had that much fun in a long time. I love the fact that I can be my stupid, goofy self without worrying about what anybody is going to think, without worrying about impressing anybody. (Not that I do things to impress people usually, but I'm more conscious of it, I think).

Back to my area that night to watch A Knight's Tale at the local cinemas, then again to my house and my room out the back, to sit and watch TV, then hold each other whilst we had a strange philosophical discussion regarding the existence of a 'universal truth'; one of the most interesting conversations we've ever had.

And so, now, at work, reading E2 when I should probably be working. Looking at the photo I have of Anna, and smiling, looking forward to seeing her tomorrow night, whatever we end up doing. Life is good.

back to September 23, 2001 | on to October 11, 2001
When we went out to Juan's last night, Ken told me that I take a lot of pride in "getting shit done on the weekends." And I guess I do. There's always something I've put off for weeks, like doing laundry or washing my car, that I save for the weekends when I don't (yet) have anything better to occupy my time.

It's amazing to me the unifying conditions it seems humans have with regard to memory and time. Time goes by so fast and so unnoticed until we're given time to breathe and look back. We calibrate so much with time. I thought about it during my errands yesterday that I know a lot of people who do not seem, outwardly, to have many goals they are able/willing to nail down, including myself. There's that dialogue from The Matrix:

Morpheus: Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Neo: No.
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my own life.
Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean.

Ok, so if we believe that we are in charge of our own lives, how come so many of us can waste expansive amount of time before we acknowledge our own dreams? We can say that we are pitted against the circumstances of not having control over the rest of the world. Maybe the fact that while many of us have dreams or aspirations, the world provides paths of lesser resistance. Your survival instincts may not allow for your personal joy. These are some of the things I am discovering about myself.

I tried to stay away from the apartment for as long as possible, so after dinner last night, I called over to Suzy and Bryan's and we went down to Monahan's. They both work at the 735 Club on Bourbon and we went over there for a while. The doorman looked familiar to me. He had a shaved head, goatie, piercings in lobes, nose bridge, septum, three is his lower lip and several in his eyebrows, which were shaved and tattooed. I asked him how long he'd lived here and if he ever worked at Bongo, a clothing store on Decatur that closed down years ago. He said he managed there for 5 years. He didn't have quite as many piercings then as he does now, but I knew he looked familiar. I remember having a small crush on him when I when into Bongo to look at shoes more than 4 years ago. I have a weirdly specific memory for random occurances.

After I got back from the Quarter last night, I laid in bed and tried desparately to clear my mind. I have all these thoughts, things I want to do or see myself doing: attending that gym, attending classes for teacher certification. I thought over doing the classes in Mississippi instead of Louisiana, because if I moved to Mississippi around the time Carson does, it won't really help that I have certification in LA, as I will need to be certified in that state. I could save money that way now for the potential move, but the move gets me nervous too, as it would be a big deal for me, a leap into the unknown. I tried to clear my mind again. You never realize how hard this is to do until you try it, until you want a clear mind. I am embarrassed to say that different scenes in movies kept popping in. The scene in My Girl where she reads a poem aloud for her now dead friend, who died from an allergic reaction to bee stings he got while out looking for her lost mood ring. Then the scene in Nightmare on Elm Street where Nancy confronts her mother about how Fred Krueger's hat mysteriously appears in a dream clinic.

I ran my hand over the place where my head would usually be, since I am now sleeping on Carson's side of the bed. I have not yet figured out the little gas heater in his place and the room is cold except for the place where I have warmed myself.

The following was nuked several days ago, but I still feel it represents a couple of ideas that need to be kicked around.
Everything Statistics - September 29, 2001 (3)

The XP/Level system on E2 suffers from one major inherent problem; we are limited to +1 or -1 votes (or we can choose to not vote and ignore it). This means that I must rate a well-written 1500 word biography of a major historical figure the same as an interesting two paragraph factual node about a species of snail.

A comparison from my own WUs; I chose these without much thought but for the fact they had the same overall reputation and were written within a week of each other.

Richard Ira Bong Rep: +8, 0
A nearly 700 word biography on America's leading World War II ace, with several interesting anecdotes. This WU took almost three hours to put together.

drain the swamp Rep: +9, -1
Two short paragraphs requiring no research and maybe three minutes of my time to write.
Now, we can choose any flavor of node-fu you want, but a system that calls these two nodes equal is flawed. Remember, this is not a flagrant comparison, it's merely the first one I looked at. I'm sure I have nodes worse than both of these, yet with higher reputation; and better nodes than both, but with a lower reputation. And I'm sure that every noder could look within his or her own WUs and document a similar story.

Good WUs stand a better chance of being rewarded - but not sufficiently so to make the time invested worthwhile. At least not if gaining XP and levels is your goal.

I think the point here I'm trying to make, if there is a point, is that there needs to be significantly more reward for writing good nodes - as opposed to interesting little factoids.

For this to happen, voting needs to be on a scale with more options; votes need to be audited to eliminate serial downvoters; and voters who completely defy logic need to justify their downvotes (the +27, -1 node).

"The administration does not take the voting and experience point system all that seriously."

The glib answer is, "perhaps they should." Really, I find this a bit hard to swallow. If this is truly the case, then why are noders rewarded for accumulating gobs of XP? Why are there lists of the people with the most of it? If we don't take XP seriously, then we're not taking voting seriously. If we're not taking voting seriously, then dispense with levels and voting altogether. I'm not being flippant.

Finally, the one statistic that bothers me most is that "only 17.4% of all noders with one or more writeups eventually make it to Level 2". We're doing something wrong. Our support system for new noders has to be better. We need to find ways to encourage people to stay and contribute.

But most of the talk seems to be towards raising the bar - making it more difficult to advance within the E2 level system. I can only see that decreasing the retention rate. We're having a difficult enough time getting people from 1 to 2, and 2 to 3; so we're going to make it harder? The argument must be extremely counter-intuitive - 'cuz I fails to see it.

So lately I've been becoming increasinly pissed off about how intrusive television networks are getting. Animated logos (Toon Disney, Nickelodeon, Discovery Channel), big black bars across the bottom of the screen with nothing but the title of the program (TNN), and reminders about upcoming programming (pretty much all of them) have taken over. I say "Taken Over" because the moment a logo become animated, it's almost impossible to ignore or tune out.

Soon, television will be completely worthless (it's already mostly worthless) and the only remaining choices will be to buy everything on DVD. Hmm. That's probably what the producers want.

Life sucks.

Broke up with Angela today. I just can't really handle a poly relationship right now. Her life is already defined by another relationship with her husband. I know I'll get over it, hell, I may eventually be able to see her again in some way, I don't know. I've already detached from the idea of us, which will never fucking happen in a million years anyway. And I certainly wouldn't want to break up her marriage.

Lessons I've Learned: only one - I can't control anything in my life, and any idea that I ever could is just a fucking illusion. I certainly didn't plan on falling in love with this woman! I just wanted to hang out, have fun, get laid.


She wants to go to the burn with me. (See www.playadelfuego.org if you want to have fun outside in Delaware in October.) She wants to do karaoke with me. She wants to spend the night with me. In short, she wants to have some sort of relationship with me!! Like I don't. Sigh. I told her to come on - I guess I'm a masochist, or something. It's hard to say goodbye when you really don't want to.

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