The boring rants of a lazy nerd

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Life - A hug

An only child raised in a family with a practical approach to showing affection (we sacrifice a lot to pay for you, you know we love you), after the age of, say, twelve, I shied away from being hugged. I can't seem to remember why. For this and other reasons I presently know nothing about proper hugs. I know I'm too analytical and socially inexperienced, and I believe my concerns for propriety are misplaced, but nevertheless…

Recently I've met a trainee (our equivalent to freshman chicks). She, well, seems interested in me, or is a very friendly person, because she seeks me out in crowds like the dining hall. The other day she hugged me on the main square, as a greeting, when she saw me. That startled me so much my thoughts keep getting back to it. I was pretty uncomfortable with people around and suddenly forced to decide whether I'm interested or not, because till now, we've only been casually friendly, and here is an invitation to hug her back. Do I take it? A coward like me — of course not. And she does seem to be rather squishy…

Do I have a point? I don't think so.

Movies - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

After reading R.'s book, I'm going to see the movie tomtoday.

A week later: There is an observation I can't remember, I think made by Emperor Hirohito, about the distance between plans and execution. Well, maybe today.

Two weeks after that: I've seen it the previous weekend (half empty theater, mostly kids). I think it's the first movie I've seen where there's more detail in the movie than in the book. The movie is faithful to the source, though expectedly over dramatized, too pretty, and tries to look like LoTR.

The beaver family, as comic relief for the adults, was a bit much. Nobody laughed.

Why does the older girl (Susan) have to be pretty? Isn't the story about average kids? Like movie!Hermione, I think it's OOC.

They say LoTR is very Christian, but it never bothered me. This story does. I think it's because it's a bit more pushy with the evangelism. It's too short, too simplistic, too black-and-white, and the loss of the narrator in the movie hurts: I don't think Peter's development as a character really gets through the silver screen. I've been spoiled by more complicated plots, grayer characters, and less obvious than Sunday-school preaching of morals.

C.S. Lewis < J.K. Rowling < Lois McMaster Bujold

Life/Work - Cobol

This week I've accidentally bumped into G.D. on a bus. Actually, I woke him up when I got too loud at some point in my chat with P.D. on the way back to work. You know how those quiet introverts totally geek out when they talk about their interests? Like that. :-)

I've quizzed him about his new job at BigBankCorp. They are in the process of rewriting their entire IT infrastructure on IBM MF. They've recently switched from Unisys MF, and this costly move was explained as an opportunity to replace their unmaintainable mess of spaghetti COBOL with... brand spanking new unmaintainable mess of spaghetti COBOL. Apparently they don't like Java because they don't like the OO overhead.
Progress in VM and JIT compiler design over the last decade? Never heard of it.
COBOL workforce are getting old, scarce and expensive? No problem!

Apparently, there's a company that signs up comp.sci. grads with no experience (or friends, apparently), gives them three months of training in MF use / applications programming, and then whores them out to banks for two years for very little pay. The people sign up because it's the only way to get MF experience, if you've missed the opportunity to slave for the government during your military service. Thus, my friend is the second most experienced coder on his team, with two whole years in the air force behind him.

So basically, not only are there new installations of IBM z-series, they actually use the legacy environment (none of that Linux stuff for us!), and develop in COBOL (despite thirty five years of progress in software engineering disciplines, Dijkstra and Wirth be damned), but they ruin perfectly good young people along the way. My heart goes out to every one of those misguided souls!
This is not really sarcasm. I love computers, and I pity the people who get into the industry, in these days, to work on that, instead of on something that is, you know, less than 45 years old.

The node on E2 has lots of info (including Dijkstra's excellent quote), but the best is this piece by John Cowan. *shudder*

Friday, December 16, 2005

HP fandom - GoF

The movie opened on Thursday, December 8th. I was beat, and was only able to watch it after the Sabbath. The cinema is located near/in an area with many observant people, so they have to adhere or lose much of their clientele, but I'd really like to be able to go the movies on the weekend. First time I feel that way, as far as I can remember.

The cinema was packed full of kids. I forgot how skewed my thinking of the fandom demographics is. Also, junior-high aged girls wear too much makeup and look disturbingly attractive.

The decorations were good, most of the characters were the way I pictured them. Dombledore was OOC, and Flitwick was made into a sort of mascot or something. The kids' acting wasn't top notch. I enjoyed it through and through, but that is because my expectations were intentionally set very low. It was too dang short and I've missed all the detail from the book. I've read and heard people say the movie was too long and they needed more restroom breaks. Well, don't drink so much overpriced sugar-water!

Voldemort and Moody were good. I need to see it again to say anything more.

Computers - Compiler & Architecture Seminar 2005

Here I'll post about my attendance there, when I stop being lazy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Computers - Mom

My technophobic mother asked me today how come her work email has two different addresses that both get delivered to the same inbox. She wanted the real answer, not the usual "just some computer stuff, trust me it works" crap. So I've explained about IP and DNS, and explained i-nodes and hardlinking for comparison (including the benefits for caching scenarios). Without using a single technical term, I was able to make it all make sense. Mom rocks.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Life - Three years of my life

Three years ago I was conscripted into service, for a period of three years. Today I was supposed to be discharged. But of course, since I became a code monkey, I have signed a contract obligating me to work for the government for a period of up to two and a half years more. Starting from tomorrow, I'm an NCO. Nothing at all has changed, but now I'll be getting paid (about minimum wage, I've been told).

It should have been a happy day, but it has been completely ruined by the most horrid display of bureaucracy I have seen in my life. I'll be on leave tomorrow to try and salvage what's left of this unique opportunity to celebrate. The clerks cut their day short because of their commander's absence, so I was unable to finish some paperwork, and I was threatened with a court marshal if I don't come to work tomorrow to finish it. I said that if that's the best use of my time the system can imagine, I'll oblige, when I'm back on the day after tomorrow.

I was a very patriotic young man three years ago. Very eager to serve. I was discouraged by the drafting and sorting process, but still believed in the system to volunteer for the training and extra service. Three years of service have led me to the conclusion that the public sector sucks, and every non-combat position in the armed forces should be cut back and privatized. Men and women in service should be paid volunteers, who can be replaced.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Art - Roses in December

Tim Bray frequently plugs University of British Columbia's botanical gardens' Photo of the Day. This time, a beautiful scan of a rose. Notice it's a scan, not a photo.

The fic's not too shabby either, and it even has a quote to attribute the name to Peter Pan's creator. Wasn't the author once a member of a certain thankfully long dead HP community many of my readers are familiar with? I think that penname rings a bell.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Life - Work

This week, this happened. It wasn't that bad. Three hours on buses for a one minute interview and a signature on a piece of paper. But I've seen girls from Shevah-Mofet* on the bus trip back, which mitigates the enormous waste of time, at least a little bit. I figure in a few years, such a statement would label me a pedophile, but I like to watch highschoolers and see if there's any hope of some of them becoming decent adults. By the time I meet them on guard duty, it appears it's usually too late for them to change.

At work, I'm simultaneously being treated like a misbehaving child (I don't like military discipline for the sake of military discipline, and my new project lead takes offence) and pushed into a position of responsibility without too much support. This whole "we can't treat you any differently than any other soldier, but we can demand ten times the output because we've seen you perform" is making me crazy. I've donated three years of my life, now I'm expected to take on more work for the privilege of minimum wage, while the people I'm supposed to train and delegate work to (with no authority whatsoever) are basically laughing at me for being a pushover.

In other new, I've finished "Paladin of Souls". Bujold is very good, but I just don't like romance novels. 4/5

* - supposedly a good high school in Tel Aviv, formed by immigrant Soviet prep school teachers, frustrated of Israeli public education and unable to penetrate the elite to get access to private schools. In Russia, Jews were pressured to excel because of surrounding anti-Semitism, and the state-enforced ethnic quotas on admittance to good higher education. In Israel, where there is no pressure, the liberal/populist "let the kids be" crap has won and education is as bad as in the US.

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