Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Recursive acronym. There is hope for humanity still.
Please follow the links. This is a story that needs all the context it can get.
*Can I just note that their bios sound so...nice?
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
There was the part I spent talking to people who are developing really exciting, really cutting edge stuff in the field. There was also the part that was spent talking with my favourite christian fundamentalist and an employee of the Corporation I used to work for. It was a deeply interesting conversation, and a mostly pleasant one, since I like both the christian fundamentalist and the Corporate Employee.
One of the things which came up in the conversation was a piece of information I didn't have about my employer (though it does not surprise me) - their effective Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. The fairly brutal way in which they treat any attempt to change this. The Corporate Employee, who, though straight, is passionate about this, and moreover works for a company with a truly magnificent diversity policy, was pointing out that some day this would have to go, and things would have to change.
Afterwards, talking to the FCF, the expected stuff came up - how she certainly wasn't going to stick up for these gay people, and how she could not believe that there were some (covert ones, of course, no names were given) on staff. I pointed out that statistically it was extremely improbable that there should be none at all, and that, while I would not expect her as a "conservative" to be really into the issue, it is, and will be an issue. I said that I felt that these people needed to be respected, much as anybody else. We talked some more and I did my best to refute the usual strange prejudices.
I think it is the best I can do - I don't start topics, because I don't want to spend my working life defending evolution, or gay rights, or Harry Potter. When talked to, I give my straight opinion, and it is much to the FCF's credit that she is not put out by this. I wish I could say the same, and quietly keep having the discussions that need to be had. Because I believe that it is important, for example, for me as an undoubtedly straight and happily newlywed (ie conventional) person to speak up for gay rights. She may actually listen to some of it, coming from someone she sees as at least partly from her camp.
It upsets me. This discussion particularly upsets me, because this time it is not a personal opinion, but my employer's. That the organisation is conservative is no surprise; but things like these make me wonder if I should even work there at all. Should I be giving my time to a homophobe organisation? Or is it important for there to be divergent opinions so that perhaps someday they will change? Or should I do as the Spouse says and keep it in mind, and when I decide it is time to move on, tell them calmly that these things are what makes good employees leave?
How the hell would I know.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Enough whining, things are really going well. It just I was hoping for some quiet time.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I should look up some statistics as to how effective therapy is, but am having a hard time, and also no time. I am tempted to see what other people have said on this topic, but really should finish the chapter first. Sometime when I have time. Either way, he cites the effectiveness of treatment of mental illnesses with drugs (which I do not at all take issue with), but does not give any information on how well/badly therapy works.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
**By the way, the fonts on this post a playing up. Sodding new Blogger
Thursday, March 08, 2007
But Bill has a disability of his own: he's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs out with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of -- big surprise -- murder. And when one of Sookie's co-workers is killed, she fears she's next."
Anyway, much as it can't be Saturday every day (more's the pity), I don't always read High Literature. In fact, I read very little literature proper these days, I think it is because it is so hard for me to find things that are really worthwhile. If a book is going to appeal to me on other grounds than sheer craftsmanship, it had better be pretty damn good at whatever else it is doing.
Now that I have more headspace again, I am picking up my love of popular science again. It does a good job of exercising my brain, like doing stairs or going running for my body. Literature...well, after five years of intensive study you develop a routine, and besides, you realise that analysis only goes so far. Literature, for me, is all about instinct, about simply loving something, some style or character. Why you do so is, essentially, less important. Popular science, on the other hand, while not without its use of instinct and fascination, is more disciplined. I am tempted to say "more demanding" but that really depends on what you're going for and where your experience lies. I am, then, excellent at theorising about literature. By contrast, I am terrible at all things scientific, but deeply enjoy exploring science. Hence popular science. The idiot's guide principle - I will never actually explore the actual theory behind chaos theory, but you can get me to read a popular science book about it any day of the week. James Gleick, Ian Stewart, been there, done that. Do I understand any of it? Hell no, that stuff is too complicated for me. Can I explain the Lorenz attractor to you? Not at all. Can I draw it? Sure! I enjoy the challenge of trying to understand; and by extension, of trying to explain to the Scientific and Highly Intelligent Spouse.*
Do I understand physics? Not at all. I am, in fact, a notable failure at all things physics. Have I read A Brief History of Time? Twice. It is a credit to science (and Hawking), I think, that scientific idiots like me can enjoy such books. With some self-discipline, and by re-reading some pages three times. Huzzah for science. Maybe I have just worn out the initial wonder in literature, and am now going for new kicks in science. Enthusiasm, rather than persistence, is my strong point, and I always did have a weakness for disciplines I failed in and the people who were good at them**.
Science seems more of a battlefield here in the US, more disputed, more controversial, more beleaguered. This has made me even more interested in reading popular science; as people become less knowledgeable, it becomes more important to be, at least, aware, and to know the scientific issues at stake a little better (I am now reading Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World, can you tell?) It's a good excuse for me to enjoy a good book***, which is really all I want.
*"well, it's like this...graph thing...it's kind of shaped like a butterfly and it describes...well...who knows...something about weather...does it plot the outcomes of a simplified computer model of the weather? or was that something else...anyway, it had something to do with weather. so the point is, this person lorenz was doing some computer simulation thing and he discovered that even small differences in initial conditions (even in his simple model) made for...big differences. in outcome i mean. in weather. and then everybody ignored him for ten years or so...and then suddenly they thought hey this meteorologist isn't so crazy..."
**Like that random Australian person with music - I suck at music - anything for a musical snob with a guitar - completely batty he was - but in a great way. Or the Spouse, who had that whole vague physics-astronomy thing going on when I met him. Hmmm.
***Like Ulysses, only easier to read, and not so long, and more coherent, and not so obnoxious.