Not just labour.

I’m not particularly wise. I haven’t got a lot of sage words that will twist you around and give your solar plexus a good smack. But I do know what I know, having thought about it quite a lot.

Look, dude. If it’s that difficult, something is wrong.

Can you go on like that for ever? I doubt it. No-one can face the same problems day in and day out, never resolving them or accepting them, without going crazy. No-one should ask themselves — or especially someone else — to do that.

I’m not saying you should drop it at the first sign of trouble. I’m not saying that God can’t stick a finger in an swirl things about. What I am saying is this: don’t actively seek to martyr yourself on a cross of love.

It isn’t worth it.

Your friends can provide you some perspective on this. I’m on the periphery of your acquaintance: I don’t expect you to listen to me. But ask yourself, ask them to be brave, ask them to say what they’re surely thinking.

They’ll probably say that it’s not supposed to be totally easy, but it’s not supposed to be that difficult. It should be a labour of love… not just labour.

You need to decide that for yourself: I could be dead wrong.

Am I?

One last thought before I go home…

In viewing popular culture’s recent drift toward considering all religions isotropic, I can’t help an involuntary shudder. If Nietzsche was right, if God is dead and we killed him, then this must be his hell.

I’m no egalitarian. I’m a snob!

I’ve stopped trying to make people speak and write properly. Or at least I’ve stopped expending the effort with strangers. I still annoy my friends with the difference between “well” and “good”, between “number” and “amount”, even though I think continual exposure has brought about in them a special immunity.

For one thing, it’s not worth the amount of time and effort. I’m not an educator. No-one is paying me to increase literacy. I haven’t, that I can remember, volunteered to do so.

For another, there needs to be a divide between the people who can speak well, and the people who cannot. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Badly educated people generally speak badly educated language, and vice versa. Only some sort of misguided egalitarianism would try to force stupid people to speak smart English: you have to understand that these people don’t want to speak good English. They don’t care about speaking well.

I’m not saying that these people are worthless. Far from it. Everyone has his place in society. But let’s not pretend that all people are the same; there are smart people and stupid people, rich people and poor people, well-spoken people and the almost-illiterate.

When I speak and when I write like I know the English language, I display something about myself. Is it a bad thing to say that I’m in a different class from rednecks, hillbillies, gang members, street people, and the sorts of people that r1t3 <3 71k3 tHiS u n0? I don’t think so.

You’re the problem.

There’s this action no-one likes taking, and I mean no-one. It’s not a hard thing, really, but it stings.

Admit you’re the problem, see how that feels, see if I’m right. Look at yourself as clearly as you can — and let’s be honest, not particularly clearly even then — and you will notice this. You’re the problem.

You’re not always the problem, of course: there are genuine instances where you’ve been acted upon and had no fault in it. I’d guess that those instances are rare.

If you call it fault, or blame, or something like that, fine. Call it that. But in doing so, don’t reduce everything to a set of sums, to percentages, to balances and counter-balances. Have you found a way to rightly apportion that force of will that entangles us all? Congratulations; in thinking flawed so deeply, you’re the problem.

But what came before? How did you get to this place? And even, if you could see all the connections, tenuous or otherwise, would your trifling intellect begin to comprehend the permutations? The primaries, the secondaries, the tertiaries (or the framework of numbers forces upon them)?

Sometimes I imagine the world like strings, every man and woman trailing them wherever they walk. Like marionettes with countless hands pulling in countless directions. Like a fabric, maybe, shifting in the present, reaching hesitantly into the near future, somewhere into the far, being laid down in the past.

Can you control the things that come before, that determine what comes after? Can you identify them and disentangle yourself?

Do you have free will?

Sometime in the future you may admit — privately, publicly, it matters not — that you’re the problem. That there’s an answer you need to find to yourself. That you are the only thing you can change. And that when you change you, you change the future.

Or do you?

Maybe you’ll admit you’re the problem and see a tiny gossamer strand reaching back to these words.

But you probably won’t.

On pride.

It happens that I sometimes find myself in a dialogue with someone who seems to be utterly — and willingly — ignorant of life’s subtleties. Of its… permutations. Of how a thing is different here than it is there. Of how a word shifts meanings as it shifts contexts.

There are so few things that exist as stone cold fact. Those that are remain precious, peculiar in their rarity: they scream, “Are we not breathtaking?”

The rest are immersed in the muddy process of simply being alive. As if these things can be wrestled into the strictures of a particular set of chains or made to move along a certain track! As if to say, life is my film and must follow my script; or, life is my model train set and must follow my carefully-thought-out tracks.

Have you ever thought about how much there is to think about? Have you? Take a moment and gather as many different areas of thought into the hand of your mind and count them. Go deeper: dissect each area into smaller areas and each smaller area into yet smaller areas. Have you begun to understand the sheer complexity of all the things there are to discover, or to decide, or to dissect, or to differentiate, or to delve into?

If you cannot begin to grasp the immensity of the number of things you could think about if you so wished, what makes you think you can effortlessly boil them down and extract the pith? That you can find the over-riding principles that under-gird all things? If the below is endlessly complex, the product of a dazzling intellect far grander than your own, what makes you think you can begin to bundle together the above, as if that magnificent, ponderous intellect would make it that easy?

There’s no easier way to proclaim oneself God than to act as if you are not simply a mute puppet in the hands of all things, including the True God. Or to put a different way: what comes before determines what comes after. And a man can never truly come before himself, or even fully determine the thing that comes before.

You are not the prime mover, or even a major in the myriad minor movers. You, simply, do not deserve your pride. And when you have finally grown old in the midst of trying to grasp the thread of God in everything, when you have finally shouted out at a baffling world, “Look how much I understand!” might the world not shout back, “But do you understand yourself?”

If it did, would you even hear it?

These are some things I really love.

It’s been brought to my attention that I use this blog to complain about things a lot. Oh, okay, it wasn’t brought to my attention: I noticed as I was reading that there were a lot of posts essentially bitching about things. The remedy, I think, is to post something positive right now. And in order to do that, I’m going to make a list.

Things I Like

  • CBC Radio 1: For those of you in the US, there’s NPR. For us in Canada, there’s CBC Radio 1. All the stuff the other stations won’t play goes here. No commercial pressure leads, I think, to much better programming. Insightful commentary, excellent in-depth news, and radio documentaries (why have I heard so few radio documentaries in my lifetime?) When I get in my car in the morning CBC Radio 1 is the default station.
  • Zeugma: If you haven’t already heard, Laura and I adopted a cat. Not just any cat, mind you, but the cutest cat in the whole wide world. I’m usually a fan of short-haired cats, but Zeugma is a medium-hair grey, and still in the kitten stage of running-around-and-playing-with-everything. If it moves, Zeugma will bat a paw at it.
  • Nasi Goreng: Best food in the world. Really. Easy to make, painless to store, and spiced with curry. How could I not love a dish so fine?
  • Wordplay: I like puns. I like good puns and bad puns and puns that make you groan. Puns, however, aren’t all. I like other kinds of wordplay, like double meanings, irony, sarcasm, that sort of thing.
  • Kretek cigarettes: Yum. That’s all I have to say. There are quite a few good things in this world, and Kretek cigarettes are definitely one of the top.
  • Friends who give me espresso machines: Best gift ever. Period. I am now well on my way to being an Italian coffee expert. Coming up soon: latte art courtesy of WikiHow.
  • WikiHow: Now that I mention it, WikiHow is — after Wikipedia — the wiki I most often visit. You should, too.
  • My sister Becca: She does a great job at work. And is delightful to work with.
  • And last, but not least, Laura: If there’s ever a moment I say to myself, “Why did I marry you?”, you should hit me with a bear or something, because that’s crazy talk.

Early morning frustrations.

After not getting much sleep last night — and not for any good reason, I just couldn’t sleep for the longest time — I got in to work this morning to find our webserver completely out of space.

Eventually I worked out that the transaction log was, well, gargantuan. Enormous. And even though we have 2TB of storage just sitting around, we can’t use any of that because it’s a perfectly good Debian RAID server that came along after the initial investment in… Windows 2000, MSSQL 2000, a commercial mail server, ISS, Visual Studio and who knows what else.

This is why you don’t let your bosses make technology decisions for you. We’re not doing rocket science here. This isn’t a high-load database context, or some complex thing that needs a heavy-duty solution. What we need is a hang-glider. What we have is the Deathstar.

What really bothers me is we could have, with a tiny bit more investment in personnel, and a lot less invested in buying software, have done this all for, essentially, free. Apache is used around the world, as is Postfix, as is MySql or Postgre, as is PHP (or any of the other up-and-comers). We could have done it for an up-front cost of zero dollars in software and used the money saved to hire a competent person to administer the servers and do some simple web programming.

But no, we went the comfortable, half-assed route, and instead of creating a site that just works, we have a site that half-works, sometimes, and is tied in to proprietary programs that will chain us to an upgrade cycle that we either submit to and pay the price over the long term, or escape and pay the price in the short term.

At least you can say, if you’re chained to Linux or BSD or Solaris, that your upgrade cycle is essentially free, barring hardware costs. You can, at least, say that.

This morning, to get back to the original thing, I had to wade through a tide of screens, logins, and all that sort of thing, and figure out a horrible GUI just to manage a database. And then figure out the command syntax, which makes no sense whatsoever. And then finally, after two hours of research, the entire task took five minutes to execute.

Insultandinjury.

And, to top it off, the beyond-ridiculous antipathy of some of my former compatriots to body modification has reared its head again, if only on my periphery. Still, I won’t say anything about that, lest I say something stupid.

Hey hey hey…

Iron & Wine’s song Boy With a Coin is so amazingly addictive, I’m trying to boil it down right now so as to make some sort of pill I can swallow or snort or something.

You can download it here; I’m not going to keep this sort of thing to myself.

I’m back.

So, I’m married. I just thought the entire world should be aware of that, as my blog screams into the abyss that is the internet at large, a place where all small voices are lost to but an attentive few.