eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Friday, October 28

Election - Proposition 2 and the rest

I got an email this morning reminding me to vote for Proposition 2:

"The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

I have been meaning to vote early against it, but I've been putting it off until I could read the other propositions and develop some sort of informed opinion about them. Sometimes I get out to vote and there are propositions that I'm pretty clueless about.

In the past, I've just done my best to muddle through reading them and vote. I think it might be better to just skip those. I think more people should consider skipping items they don't know much about. Of course, it would be better if more people informed themselves before voting, but at the least, it seems right to leave making those decisions to people who have more knowledge about them.

In the email, there was some additional stuff about the opposition planning to defraud the election by having people come in from out of state and register. I was skeptical, but I replied that I appreciated the reminder, intend to vote against it, am concerned that someone would attempt to defraud the election, and that although there are some unscrupulous people on both sides, hopefully the majority aren't like that. As it turns out, a little research quickly revealed that the fraud attempts were a rumor (according to representatives of both sides). Like I said, hopefully the majority of people aren't so unscrupulous. If only they'd be a bit more skeptical before passing along information...

Tuesday, October 25

Thought and Action

I've noticed two aspects lately to writing consistently. One, of course, is actually writing out thoughts. The other is reading or more generally "exploring and information gathering". It seems like I have tended to do lots of one or the other at any particular time. In the last few months, I was trying to do a bit of each, but I think the balance went toward more writing and less research or just less good research. I've been too busy to do much of either for the last few weeks, so I feel particularly lacking in inspiration.

I have plenty of questions as usual. They seem to be the best way of getting my thinking going. I'll attempt some answers as well...

Why do some people get into criticizing idealism and come out sounding like pragmatists?

I'm guessing that the people aren't actually "pragmatists". By pragmatist, I tend to mean a person who has no regard for ideas, intelligence. So-called pragmatists do believe in some "ideas", just also a lot of physical action or "testing" of those ideas as opposed to analyzing and criticizing them without so much testing.

What does "action" mean?
I associate action with physical movement. I don't think it's just "any" kind of movement though. I think acting presupposes having some idea as to what one wants to accomplish. It also involves having some idea as to how to accomplish it.

I think there are few true idealists. Very few people survive without taking some action. Even breathing is an action. Eating is a conscious action. I'm thinking a pragmatist would mean the latter and not be generally concerned with remembering to breathe.

I think people can't really escape thinking or acting, and it's really a matter of each individual thinking and acting as well as possible.

An action might involve talking or writing out ideas. Moving ones lips and tongue and breathing are actions. Using a pen or touching the keys of a typewriter are actions. By themselves, they might not be enough to survive on, but other people may find the ideas useful and even be willing to act to support people who come up with those useful ideas. It's a matter of specialization - hopefully an optimal arrangement of specialization.

Human kind benefits overall from people specializing in different areas - whether actions, ideas, or just particular kinds of actions and ideas. I could go on exploring about this a lot longer - especially exploring the subject of "testing" and "creativity", but then I'd be neglecting the keyboarding type actions which tend to result in my making money...

Wednesday, October 12

The Egg Came First

For a long time I've thought this was a misleading question:
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

It implies that first there was "nothing" and then an egg or a chicken just appeared out of nowhere. I believed some "almost chickens" got together and through some sort of mutation created an egg that then produced a chicken. I didn't think very carefully about it, so I confused the question with how the first bird came to be. I think that was from some "almost birds" mating and mutating and producing the first bird egg. The thing I wonder is how did the first egg come to be?

Friday, October 7

What good is fiction? Comments

Art (including music and fiction) isn't just a luxury. You can't live on it forever, but it can make you want to keep living even when there's no food or shelter or you are missing other important things in your life. Art can inspire.

In response to my post on the good of fiction.

Todfox said...
A short story by Theodore Sturgeon convinced a young Spider Robinson (also destined to write science fiction) not to commit suicide. If fiction can have that kind of impact it has a place in the world. 3:39 AM

MC said...
The fine arts give me a sense of enrichment to my life. If there was no literature, no music, no dramatic arts, no paintings to admire etc., my life would consist of work and little else.

I don't particularly like the idea that my purpose in life is to survive from one day to the next, and pass my genes from one generation to the next.

I appreciate the finer things in life. I enjoy the few moments I have when I might be on a peaceful walk, and I can admire how wonderful the world is.

I like this last part. I like being alone (or with people) at times and just enjoying the moment. I don't know whether that translates to art or fiction.

Maybe the arts are an elaborate way of enjoying the moment. It seems like it can also be, when taken to extreme, a way of avoiding reality. Sometimes reality is so bad that temporary or even long-term avoidance can be a good thing. Sometimes avoiding it, though, can keep one from taking actions to make things better.

Sadly, I don't think many people have an appreaciation for the finer arts. My employer has no idea what consitutes good art, or good music. I might be putting my foot in my mouth when I postulate that his feelings on the fine arts are that they are a waste of time and effort. All he sees is the bottom line, and if he took five minutes of his time to listen to a song, that would be five minutes that he could have been making money.
I often think this way. It's not about money for me, exactly, beyond an amount to have some basic comforts but just the feeling that there's lots to do and not much time. If I spend a lot of time reading a novel, I haven't spent time playing with my kids, interacting with other people I care about or doing practical, useful things for them or myself. There are a lot of things that are important, and I'm wondering how high on the list fiction and art should really be.

It could be entirely possible that greed has squashed the public's appreciation of the finer things in life. It also doesn't help that commodities such as food, fuel, and other items neccessary for survival, cost more than they ever have in history. 1:57 PM
I don't know whether appreciation is squashed or not developed in the first place. I must admit, I fall asleep listening to classical music. I enjoy playing it ok, but if I'm working or playing, I'd much prefer to hear a song that I can sing along to. The words don't have to mean much as long as they don't offend me and the melody is good. A bonus is if it has some meaning for me. I might listen to a classical piece to relax and sleep. Occasionally, I'll enjoy reading about and listening to a piece. Knowing something about the background of the artist and development of the piece makes it more interesting. Often I don't want to take time to do that, though. I've got too much else I want to do.

The same tends to be the case for fiction. I like stories I can relate to well and get through quickly most of the time. Occasionally, I'll want something heavier and more thought provoking. Most of the time, though, by the time I'm engaging with art, I'm tired and want something that doesn't take a lot of mental effort to appreciate.

Leonor said...
If it wasn't my passion for some works of fiction I would literaly be dead by now. I gadly sacrifice eating to be able to pay for art and technology.

In my view Creativity is not a luxury. It's Survival on its own that is pointless. 11:04 AM

Wednesday, October 5

FPGA Part IV - Boolean Logic

It's been a while since I've thought about this Boolean Logic, so I browsed a bit looking for information for my review. Of course, I immediately found it it on one of my favorite sites - How Stuff Works

I'm just going to write it out for my reference:
(sorry for the formatting, having difficulty with blogger and tables)

0 0 00 0 00 0 0
0 1 00 1 10 1 1
1 0 01 0 11 0 1
1 1 11 1 11 1 10

I had a bit of fun writing all this out long form. I don't know if anyone else would appreciate the humor in it.
0 or 0 is 0, 0 or 1 is 1, 1 or 0 is 1, 1 or 1 is 1
0 and 0 is 0, 0 and 1 is 0, 1 and 0 is 0, 1 and 1 is 1
0 plus 1 is 1, 1 plus 1 is 10

AND is often substituted with plus in everday usage. Get it? (Ok, I know, to a geek it's probably not new information, to anybody else it doesn't matter. I think I must be in that weird middle ground - geeky enough to understand it and not geeky enough to find it old news.)

FPGA Part III - Obvious Obscurity and Spartan 3

After consulting with my favorite geek as to his FPGA requirements, I have a bit better idea about what I should be looking for.

I had been thinking about the Spartan 3 as a starting point when the author of Obvious Obscurity kindly left me a comment with a link to FPGA information on his site.

It has a nice review of the Spartan 3. I wasn't sure what some of it meant (due to my lack of background knowledge), but I understood enough for it to be useful. The comparison of the Diligent with the XESS board really helped me start getting a feel for what different features there might be (beyond the FPGA itself) and which might be more or less useful.

*I have several favorite geeks. He knows which one he is.

Jewish New Year - Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah
...occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year."

The article has more detail about common practices for observing the holiday. I'm summarizing them here for my reference:

- Reflecting on the past year
- Making plans or resolutions to change and improve
- No work is permitted
- The day is spent in the synagogue
- Eating apples and/or bread dipped in honey - a symbol of hope for a sweet new year
- Casting off of sins -
We walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins.
- Greeting: L'shanah tovah "for a good year"

Days of Awe - more about the holiday and the ten days before Yom Kippur.

Monday, October 3

Community rights

"The failure of this administration to nominate a Hispanic judge to the Supreme Court is a slap in the face to all those highly qualified Hispanic judges that dutifully serve on our federal courts across the nation," said Raul Yzaguirre, former president of the National Council of La Raza. "Our community continues to contribute to the greatness of this nation and yet, we are ignored for a vital role on our third branch of governance."

If there's something wrong with the current nominee's qualifications, why not just say so? Why not list some people who are better qualified and compare their qualifications to the nominee? Vague generalities about being ignored don't really make a compelling argument.

A "community" (Hispanic or otherwise) truly interested in justice wouldn't be worrying about the color of the nominees' skin but the quality of the nominee's character and her qualifications.