Tuesday, May 26

CarolAnn: that is an amazing comic

me: it's pretty darned great, yes.

me: and doesn't suffer from his usual "i'm pretending that this has some kind of meaningful continuity" problem.

CarolAnn: i think we all have this problem about everything?

p1k3 / 2009 / 5 / 26

Friday, May 22

Here is a list of songs I can't bring myself to hate even though I probably should (generally for reasons external to the songs):

  • Ohio — Damien Jurado
  • Thin Blue Flame — Josh Ritter
  • Blister in the Sun — The Violent Femmes
  • Heart of Gold — Neil Young
  • Wagon Wheel — Bob Dylan / Old Crow Medicine Show
  • Wayside / Back in Time — Gillian Welch
  • Hallelujah — Leonard Cohen

p1k3 / 2009 / 5 / 22

Monday, May 18

I bought some books the other weekend. Went into The Book Cellar in Louisville and was about to check out with just The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays when I noticed a box of SF paperbacks from the 1960s and 70s. The lady at the counter turned out to have two more in the back.

I managed to leave with only five items total, counting Albert C. + three volumes of Bester and one of Lovecraft. I'm sure it could have been worse. There was a time I would have tried to make a deal for all three boxes, minus the stuff I already have on a shelf in Nebraska. I'm not really on the fiction train these days. I can remember reading maybe half a dozen novels last year, and I think I'm sitting at three for 2009.

I don't feel much like writing fiction these days either. At least not anything more fictional than this.

— o —

I think the reddit comments on this piece are worth reading. Every once in a while you'll say something that seems to you fairly commonsensical and trip into a zone of prejudice for an entire field. The humanities, and literature specifically, are one of those zones for an awful lot of programmers.

On the other hand, I'd hate to reinforce this idea too much. Programming is a domain of language and literature — at least as much as it's one of mathematics and mechanics. You'd have to be a pretty dull programmer not to notice how often, and how directly, programming feels like an exercise in applied philosophy or an argument about problems of representation. And for all the knee-jerk contempt floating around in the field (often so bitter and reflexive that you start to wonder if somebody had his girlfriend stolen by an English major more than once), you find a lot of hackers with broad literary interests.

— o —

What if this turns out to be my life's work?

tags: topics/reading

p1k3 / 2009 / 5 / 18

Sunday, May 17

Filesystems are usefully thought of as a mechanism for avoiding quoting.

p1k3 / 2009 / 5 / 17

Wednesday, May 13

this is just going to alienate people isn't it

The difference between friendship & the romantic/erotic relationship might be this: Friendships have power dynamics, relationships are power dynamics.

— o —

Let's say you're an American male, and your girl leaves you. In the days, weeks, or months that follow, certain of your male friends or acquaintances will probably say to you "Bitches ain't shit."

They won't say this because they believe it to be true (though some of them may well be bitter misogynists). They will say it because it is so obviously untrue. Because it's a kind of watchword against the power of the person who just rejected you — a power which has become, perhaps, dangerously unmoored, unbound by the conventions and mutual ceasefires which accumulate in any relationship.

(Love and its formal arrangements end badly all the time. Suicide, murder, theft, general disgrace, John Cusack shouting at a closed apartment window through the pouring rain. They write songs about this. Your friends are worried for a reason, though they're also trying to tell you it's nothing that hasn't happened to just about everyone else you know.)

— o —

Eros isn't about kindness, though it might contain or express it. It is usually cruel, turbulent, willful, angry, and selfish. It's a kind of contest and struggle: both the most dramatic expression of ego in many lives, and the purest subjection of it.

You desire someone who has a certain kind of power over you, and you wish to exert a like power over them. The subjection to one another in desire might not be the end of the struggle through eros to mutuality, but it might just be its ground.

— o —

Like the man said, it's hard to love and not be loved.

p1k3 / 2009 / 5 / 13

Tuesday, May 12

a thought about technology

A population with sufficiently distributed general competence may tend to bootstrap itself into general incompetence.

p1k3 / 2009 / 5 / 12

Monday, May 11

Sitting at the Pub. Feeling dangerously like a young, upwardly mobile professional. Unable to write. Maybe I need to go knock over a bank or something.

p1k3 / 2009 / 5 / 11

Sunday, May 10

thoughts on killing people

Many practical objections to the death penalty for particularly heinous actions might be answered if the authorities and the general public alike could know with certainty that the accused were guilty. In practical terms, this is insufficient. Even a single justified execution might well be too costly, because it offers a precedent for and legitimation of the state's option to kill. Every state is corruptible, fallible, and subject to countless perverse incentives.

Practices which depend for their acceptability on the legitimacy of the power of the state should be subject to intense scrutiny. None more so than the execution of the death penalty and the prosecution of war.

Those who profess to favor both the death penalty and limited government as a general principle are usually expressing a contradiction.

It's possible to believe honestly and without contradiction that punitive killings should be encouraged outside of a framework like the rule of law. It's not especially easy to defend this view as a universal principle on historical grounds.

p1k3 / 2009 / 5 / 10

Sunday, May 3

transcription of an imaginary adventure game

It's Sunday afternoon. You've basically given up on cleaning the
house, and can't quite decide how to treat the remainder of the day.
You are sitting in your apartment. The blinds are open. Outside it
is mild and pleasant, an archetypal Spring day for this part of your
western state. Music spills tinnily out of your laptop's speakers.

> search apartment

You wander haphazardly around the apartment, mentally cataloguing
your available resources. A partial list includes:

  - A sink full of cold, dirty dishwater
  - $2.25 in quarters
  - A laptop
  - Sundry notebooks
  - Several ballpoint stick pens
  - A Leatherman multi-tool
  - Two low-sodium V8s (in refrigerator)
  - Half of last night's j
  - A disc
  - A bicycle, almost in working order
  - A helmet
  - A messenger bag
  - Some unpopped popcorn
  - A low-end cellphone
  - A paper bag

> take v8

You open the fridge and pull a V8 from its plastic wrapper,
wandering what ever became of those little plastic six-pack rings
that used to strangle curious marmots and baby sea turtles.

> open v8

You pause to shake the tiny can vigorously, then crack it open.

> drink v8

Suppressing a certain disgust at the concept of a cold, drinkable
vegetable puree, you down the entire can of V8 in a few swallows.
You feel a sort of perverse satisfaction as you toss the empty into
your overflowing recycle bin.

> z

Time passes...

You still aren't sure what to do with whatever's left of your time.

> listen to laptop

You seem to be playing Modest Mouse.

  "Our ideas held no water but we used 'em like a dam..."

> well ain't that the truth

I'm afraid I don't know what you mean.

> you lying bastard

If you're not satisfied with your present low estate, it's nobody's
fault but your own.

> that's not fair

Stop being such an entitled prick. You're acting like a child. 28
years old and too scared of life to walk out your own front door. 

> smoke remaining j and listen to modest mouse

You do just that, and, putting out the end in the dishwater, turn up
the laptop's volume and sit all the way through "Spitting Venom" and
"People As Places As People".

Which is about what I would have expected. Avoid the issue.

> still, this is a pretty good album

That's true. 

> pop the popcorn

The pan you use for that is still dirty. Are you forgetting about

> finish the dishes

It turns out that the dishwater is still lukewarm, and you manage to
get the last few dishes -- including the saucepan you rely on for
popcorn -- clean without too much suffering.

> pop the popcorn

You splash some oil in the bottom of the freshly cleaned saucepan,
turn a burner up to 8 or so, and let the oil heat for a bit before
tossing in a handful of (organic, bulk-purchased at Supplement
Hovel, you ridiculous hippie) kernels. Several minutes later you
have a pan full of fresh, fluffy popcorn. It smells delicious.
Unfortunately, you're kind of baked and not paying enough attention.
By the time you take the pan off the burner, the bottom layer of
popcorn has turned into a scorched, smoking mess.

You're able to salvage most of the popcorn by quickly pouring it
into a bowl and picking out some charred bits, but it's going to
take some serious elbow grease to get this pan clean again.

> wash pan

You turn on the faucet and start running water into the pan. It
instantly explodes into a column of hot steam, splashing you with
scalding water in the process. Swearing loudly, you drop the pan
into the sink.

Maybe you should just deal with this whole scene later.

> let's blow this popsicle stand


> take messenger bag


> put leatherman, disc, cellphone, notebook, and pens in messenger bag.

leatherman: You put the Leatherman tool in the messenger bag.
disc: You put the Discraft Ultra-Star 175 in the messenger bag.
cellphone: You put the lame-ass cellphone in the messenger bag.
notebook: Which notebook of the 42 you currently own?
pens: You put the pens in the messenger bag.

> examine notebooks

You begin rifling through the stacks of notebooks. They come in a
dozen shapes and sizes, but there's considerable evidence of a
certain brand loyalty. Not to say an outright fetishization of what
really should be a simple commodity, shouldn't it?

> examine notebooks

Eventually you locate a notebook which hasn't been entirely filled
with your inane scribbling and seems to contain recent entries.

> put recent notebook in messenger bag

You put the recent notebook in the messenger bag.

> wear messenger bag


> ride bike downtown

In your present addled state, you seem to have forgotten that you
accidentally wrecked the valve stem on your front tire last night.

I would also hasten to point out that you should be wearing your

> fix valve stem

You mess around with it for a while, but you know it's just no good.
You probably need to replace the whole tube, and you don't have any
spares on hand.

> weep bitterly

Hey. Hey now. Don't do that.


Hey. Look. I'm sorry I called you an entitled prick. Why don't we
just take the bus downtown? We can go sit out front at some random
coffeeshop and watch all the beautiful girls walk past. You might
even be stoned enough to talk to one of them.

> you really think so?

Really. C'mon. It's not so bad.

> ok

Bring a hat. I think it's starting to rain.

tags: topics/bikes

p1k3 / 2009 / 5 / 3