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):
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.
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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.
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What if this turns out to be my life's work?
The difference between friendship & the romantic/erotic relationship might be this: Friendships have power dynamics, relationships are power dynamics.
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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.)
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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.
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Like the man said, it's hard to love and not be loved.
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.
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 something? > 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 Word. > take messenger bag Taken. > 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 Worn. > 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 helmet. > 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. Look... 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.