December 2011 on Earth, but it is eternal midmorning on the third layer of the Astral Plane. THOMAS OF AQUINO, NICHOLAS FLAMEL, and K'UNG FU-TZU sit at a card table, in that order clockwise around the table. At the fourth, otherwise unoccupied, spot sits an ominous blue-painted Chinese porcelain ginger jar.
I recently visited Seth Godin's Web log to dig out his item about yak shaving, and while I was there I saw this recent posting about being missed. He asks the question: if you didn't show up, if you suddenly went away, who would miss you? And he proposes that it might be a valuable goal to make it so that a lot of people would miss you. That's certainly an interesting and important question to ask, but I think it's really the wrong question to ask.
Imagine a young man nearing his 16th birthday, the day when he'll be eligible to get a driver's license. And let's imagine this is before graduated licensing was a big thing, or else imagine that he's maybe a little older and getting ready for the final level of the graduated system instead of the first level, or something like that. The point isn't exactly his age, just that he's about to get to the point where having a vehicle of his own would be a pretty good thing.
I don't ever want to care so strongly about my problems that I would - even for a moment - hesitate to accept a solution to them for fear of losing that investment.
I also don't ever want my friends to think "Matt is unhappy!" is the problem, and use that as a comfortable excuse for ignoring the reasons I'm unhappy, and my feelings as an easy target for non-solutions that explicitly ignore or even deny the real issues. That's a pretty good reason never to talk about being unhappy at all.
Hatred is not the same thing as fear, not even if they often occur at the same time to the same people. When you pretend that those two things are identical to each other, and attempt to build that pretense into the language instead of admitting that it is an activist position - for instance, when you use words like "homophobia" - you make the world a less good place and you harm those of your goals that are worth promoting.
This is important.
I spotted this buried deeply in an otherwise-boring discussion on tvtropes.org, and it has much wider application and deserves much wider distribution. I made a mental note to re-post the quote on my site, then couldn't remember exactly which page it was on, and spent many hours searching, over the course of a week. Now, I finally found it again.
Let me paraphrase the OP's point: "I have this opinion. I don't understand why people have differing opinions. But instead of genuinely asking why other people hold those opinions, I'm just going to say: you have those opinions because you are defective. Tell me why you are defective." Way to go, Ace.
While looking for something else I ended up on the site of the Titanic Inquiry Project, and it's fascinating. The Titanic sank in the Spring of 1912 after colliding with an iceberg. Very much can be said about the number of lifeboats there were, whether the procedures for filling them were followed correctly, whether other aspects of preventing and responding to what happened were as they should have been, to what extent the ship's design was or wasn't right, and so on. The British and American governments each launched inquiries into the disaster, and the linked Web site carries transcripts of those inquiries, thousands of pages of them. I forgot the time and spent hours reading the transcripts when I was supposed to be doing other things.
Expanded from a Twitter tweet, since there are important points here that won't fit in 140 characters.
Our text for the day is Achewood, 2010:5:9-24 (starts here). Andy Larson dares "Darin'" Darren Wilson to ride in an unsafe vehicle without a seatbelt and then leave a bowel movement on the math teacher's lawn. Darin' Darren does so, at great risk to his life both from Andy's reckless driving and from illegal chernchilla breeders Mayner and Lurquilla. He retaliates by daring Andy to have dinner at Denny's naked. And in the last panel, Andy smiles.
Andy doesn't give a crap, pun intended, about Darin' Darren's doings on the math teacher's lawn, and he knows dehrn well that neither Mayner nor Lurquilla is in fact a math teacher anyway. (The range of Mayner's scholarship suggests rather a career in law.) Andy only put Darren through the horrible experiences in the back of the van and on the lawn so that Darren would make a counter-dare of his own. But if Andy wanted Darren to make a dare, why not just say so? And, for that matter, why doesn't Andy just go to Denny's naked under his own power if that's what he wants to do, instead of hoping to be dared into it? Andy could show up naked at Denny's any time he wants to - they are, famously, open 24 hours a day.
I'm withdrawing from Facebook, and I'm probably not going to renew my paid account on Dreamwidth. This leaves Twitter as the only social-network type of site I expect to use regularly, though I'll continue lurking on several others. If you want to keep up with my doings you really should read my own Web site; of course, if you see this note that means you're already doing so. On my side, I'm going to make a little more effort to actually put updates here so there'll be something interesting to read. Some of that effort below the cut.
Okay, it's been about two months since I posted my piece about colourful bits, and I really should have posted a follow-up before now, but better late than never. First of all, here are ten other places that carried the story, in no particular order:
There's a classic adventure game called Paranoia which is
set in an extremely
repressive Utopian futuristic world
run by The Computer, who
is Your Friend. Looking at a recent LawMeme
posting and related discussion, it occurred to me that the concept of
colour-coded security clearances in Paranoia provides a good metaphor for
a lot of copyright and intellectual freedom issues, and it may illuminate
why we sometimes have difficulty communicating and understanding the
ideologies in these areas.
An article based on this one and its follow-ups, by me, Brett Bonfield, and Mary Fran Torpey, appeared in the 15 February 2008 issue of LJ, Library Journal.