Monday, 27 October 2008

State of Indignance

I'm still around. I haven't been doing anything particularly interesting of late and the copious news and blog reading I've been doing has made me too angry and aghast to feel like posting much.

Recently one of my uncles died - at 98. Very impressive feat, he had a large family and strong ties to his community and was an all-round nice bloke. Not that I've seen him for a long time, but the family used to visit when I was a kid. I hadn't quite realised how tied into the church his family was. It was interesting to see the role that the Church played in forming and bonding his community together. It got me thinking that maybe this church thing isn't such a bad idea after-all. But then during the sermon it veered off into dreaming about him enjoying his after-life, and it just felt sad, all of these good people believing in a silly fantasy. Although they did celebrate his wonderful life as well, the emphasis on the after-life seemed both unnecessary and childish.

But apart from that, it got me thinking about how church and community goes together. He was part of a small country town in a productive part of the country (even drought years aren't so bad there generally). In such a setting where most of the community knows each other, I can see a church as being a quality way to help people socialise, and provide some common ground to bind people together. But does this work in a larger town or city? I suspect it does not scale very well. And like many other things, the scale of humanity has out-grown these ideas, and it is probably time we moved on. Which society is doing anyway, as reflected by census results.

The US election. Wow. That's been quite an interesting one to follow. Normally I am not to fussed about American politics, at least to the level of following an election campaign (even when I was in the USA in 2000, or was it 2004), but this year something has been different. Certainly there's no shortage of `character' in the players this time around. Which makes for some interesting opinion pieces out there. The hate and racists fuelled republicans really seem to be coming out of the wood-work, encouraged in large part by the divisive wedge politics the right loves to play with. And I think like many, the prospect of an educated and thoughtful new face running the USA for once (during my life-time) is an intriguing prospect. And really, for the sake of humanity, I think all the rest of the world is hoping for an Obama victory; McCain is one angry, grumpy old man who is likely to do anything in a fit of rage, or just die of old age, and Palin just wants to estabilish a fascist theological state and probably help accelerate the apocolypse (and all that before dinner with the family). Of course, with the (world) economy in such a mess, victory may be a bit of a poison pill, but there isn't much choice. Another point of interest is how voter-disenfranchising activity is even remotely legal or tolerated or even considered in the first place. What sort of a fucked up `democracy' is that?

Ahhh the world ecomony. Hasn't affected me at all yet -- apart probably, from a bit of super which didn't make money even when things were going well. So again, fascinating to follow the ups and downs of the stocks and whatnot. I can't really add much to the teeming cesspools of comment already out there -- much of which I have read -- only that how much it sucks that at the end of the day, the rich will get richer and the poor and middle will pay for it -- again. A few new regulations and some hardship for a few years -- until the cycle repeats itself. But while capitalism reigns there is little choice -- not everyone can be rich, so plenty have to be poor. At least while the rich get unfair electoral representation (i.e. can bribe officials).

Where is the world headed I wonder? It is easy to get pessimistic. Even without the threat of global warming things are not looking terribly rosey. With the world population continuing to rise unabated, with land continuing to be degraded beyond use, the sea over-fished, toxins and contaminants continuing to build up in the food chain, water being poisoned or hoarded, personal greed continuing to trump national welfare, is there really a bright future for humanity? I think an area to watch in the next few decades may be India -- as a representation of the problems to be faced by the entire world, particularly over population, pollution, religion fueld ignorance, wealth disparity.

Add global warming and things could really get nasty. I read a few sceptic and science blogs, and it is surprising how many of them are overly sceptical of global warming (sceptical should mean require hard proof, not just being universally cynical), or don't see it as an issue to be concerned with to the point of regulation or spending money. Maybe in England some nicer weather isn't seen as such a bad thing, even if it means wilder and more frequent storms occasionally. But there are going to be some pretty nasty consequences even for them (disease spread, costlier food), and the risk and cost that we are trying to fix something we had nothing to do with pales into utter insignificance against the risk and cost of not fixing something we actually caused.

And the more mundane. Work continues to be pretty dull. Mostly writing little data importers, and doing a lot of manual data verification and manipulation. I haven't had to write any really new code for months. I tell you what though, Microsoft products and their proprietary file formats have meant a lot more work for me, and a lot more frustration. Where I can, i've moved to using simple CSV files for most data files. Apart from being trivial to read and write, they are also bloody fast! But excel has to make using any `non-native' file format a right pain in the arse. To just save a file in CSV format takes 4 extra clicks, and it still warns you when you close the file that you haven't saved all changes -- even if you have. So a big F.U. goes out to B.G. the big C for helping to make life more difficult for all of us with your crappy tools and shitty file formats.

Haven't bee playing many games either. I got to the last battle in Rogue Galaxy but can't be bothered finishing it (lack of save points). I'm pretty pissed off LBP got delayed, particularly as it certainly looks on the surface to be pandering to irrational beliefs of a random internet poster, but i'll keep those thoughts to myself, at least for now. I just hope this doesn't indicate a predisposition to censor `offensive' content once the service goes live. And speaking of censorship, that idiot Conroy should go for trying to bully Mark Newton for stating the obvious about the ludicrous scheme to filter the entire Australian internet.


Sankar said...

Your quoting of India as the collective representation is absolutely spot-on.

If you have group festivals, I believe church is a needless one for socializing and people networking.

What is LBP ?

And: One minor hting: From your blogger settings, can you set blogger to give full posts for RSS readers ? There are a lot of lazy people who are lazy to to click and read ;-)

NotZed said...

LBP = LittleBigPlanet. A physics based 2-d platform game but created with in-game tools available to players, and an integrated on-line networking component something like youtube or facebook for playing, sharing, and rating content.

I think I set the RSS thing that way on purpose, but i'll consider changing it.