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Monthly Archives: December 2009

Success in anything,  §

from painting to nuclear physics to terrorism to investing to golf to plumbing to surfing, is about 90 percent a matter of social skills, 9 percent a matter of discipline, and 1 percent to do with anything else at all.

Your social skills absolutely, entirely, completely, and fucking totally determine your success or failure in the world at anything, no matter what/where/when/why it is. Everything is social. Every . last . fucking . thing . in . heaven . and . on . Earth .

It is absolutely humanity’s loss, in a way, that the 99 percent of all that is great in some way but never championed by an agent with tremendous social skills will never see the light of day, forever trapped in a non-social-butterfly’s writing desk, bedroom, or car trunk. But it is also the nature of humanity, the thing that makes the development of the cognitive and resource infrastructures upon which these depend possible in the first place.

Without the social, none of this develops. With the social, most of what develops as a result of the social will be excluded because it is not sufficiently social. But that’s life.

What will happen to those of us that were (as I was) a “prodigy kid” lauded by all, but that never really developed the incredible set of social strategies, tactics, awareness, and comfort to carry it into the realm of the public and of the various social networks?

We will grow some potatoes in our gardens, put some magnets on our fridge, produce great stuff in our heads and on little notebooks that we keep in drawers and that will then be thrown away when we die.

Hollywood, Wall Street, and Washington are no accident. They are the very nature of humanity, in all their utterly corrupt, unfair, and highly social glory.

I am so stupid  §

How many times in my life do I have to learn this lesson?

Don’t think of other people.

How many times do I have to lovingly organize everything for someone else, only to have it thrown back in my face complete with insults and yelling, before I realize that this is the dumbest thing a person can possibly do?

Nobody will ever appreciate it.

Somehow they will find a way to decide that you did all that stuff for yourself, that you are beneath contempt, that you are an ass or a fool or a narcissist.

And at the end of the day, with your own stuff not taken care of because you were busy putting them first, they will point the finger at you (after yelling at you for everything you’ve done) and ridicule you for not having your own stuff done, too.

I will never, apparently, learn this lesson.

I’ve spend my whole life learning it over and over and over again and I will never learn it.

26-33-10  §

Every now and then the depth of certain influences on your life comes back to you. At such moments those radical inflection points that outline the particular geography of your life in relation to all others are drawn into relief.

When this happens, constellations and confluences of meaning can twist space and time into the wildest of N-space manifolds, mathematiconceptually weaving disparate threads of the miasma of human ontology into fabrics. The importance for your own nature and potentialities of context, environment, and the character of the social actors that surround you cannot be underestimated.

You are the mirror of your environs, nothing less, nothing more, and time is the space of that reflection, in which social production goes about its business of generating the mirage in which and as which we live, that of humanity and of the human.

In it, Christmas, atheism, mysticism, VHS, public education, polyethelene, dirty rainwater, childbearing and conception, iPhones, the common cold, the Incredible String Band, ginger cookies, victoriana, vision, crime, redemption, and strings and strings of hundreds of lights in an imagined town on the northern border of Mexico are the stuff that success, childhood, and sleep are made of.

Maybe there’s something to that “facile” meaning-making argument after all. Teach me, as it were, to flow.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Things  §

I am way behind on grading. This is not going to be pretty.

My wife and I have these refrigerator magnets that are actually little clips, to clip bunches of paper or things to your fridge. At least four to five times a day, I knock one or more of these things (and the paper they’re holding) onto the floor as I walk past.

Mac OS X is not panacea, despite my recent frustration with Linux and Windows. Turns out the keyboard layout and mouse click shortcuts are annoyingly different and much less useful, and there is actually rather a lot of shoddy third-party application work going on there.

Meanwhile, the Xorg radeon driver in Linux gets ever more unstable while the radeonhd driver crashes immediately when any compositing environment is launched.

I don’t take nearly enough photos anymore.

Though photos continue to sell and I find photography endlessly fulfilling.

Today I was mocked by several people trying to dig their cars out of the snow because they thought I was doing it wrong, or slowly, or something. I had the last laugh when I pulled away quickly while their mouths were aghast, despite their having started sooner. When I returned, it turns out they never managed to dig out and just gave up.

I really can’t stand PR people, marketing people, or strategy people.

I am determined to read more academic publications.

So far this determination has led essentially nowhere; there is far too little time and far too much else to do.

The other day at NYU I found a nice free book in the “free books” pile in Steinhardt: a German reader consisting of pop culture and comic book samples.

The strand of colored lights we have hanging along the base of our ceiling doesn’t evenly distribute the colors. The pattern isn’t Red-Blue-Green-Yellow-Red-Blue-etc. but is rather Red-Red-Blue-Green-Yellow-Red-Red-Blue-Green-etc. In other words, a red bias.

After 16 years  §

I’m thinking about leaving Linux, at least for a while. After finding myself fed up with Fedora 12 and the trajectories of change in both KDE and GNOME, I’m on the fence.

I recently started triple-booting Fedora 12, Windows 7, and Mac OS X Leopard. In Leopard, I’ve got the Linux filesystems auto-mounting and I’ve got OpenOffice and Chrome in place. Nice, frankly.

I’ve been a Linux user since pre-1.0 version kernels in 1993. I used TWM, then OpenLook, then FVWM, then AfterStep, then WindowMaker. I started using KDE with version 1.0, loved KDE 3.x and never thought I’d leave, and stuck with it until KDE 4, which was unstable and unusable. Then I switched to GNOME. With Fedora 12, GNOME is taking steps back also.

I am frustrated with the degree to which the Linux user experience is increasingly the Windows user experience. Opacity. Instability. Overcomplexity and undercomplexity in bewildering combinations.

And I am finding OS X very tempting. Especially since I can access all of my Linux filesystems from within it. It is a very nice, very fast, very stable operating system that is very, very thoughtfully designed.

Suddenly, after spending yet another unexpected block of time fighting with the fact that I adjusted my Compiz blur settings and it made Xorg crash and then prevented further logins by immediately crashing after that (requiring that I reboot into a non-X runlevel, log in, wade through .gconf by hand, edit the XML file with vi, all of which took a bit of time to figure out and work through), the “just log in and use it and it doesn’t seem like any settings need to be tweaked” thing in OS X seems really tempting.

One of those “gotcha” questions  §

“Will this inspiration compel me to sacrifice all of life’s other pleasures in my quest to perfect it? If the answer is no, find another idea… Why give your life to an idea that’s not worth your life?”

—Robert McKee, Screenwriter

Women trap men,  §

especially when they’re in groups.

It’s what they do.

Sometimes I think I’d like to start a new blog called “Passive Aggressive” in which I finally pretend to “open up” while in fact saying all of the same (generally non-open) things I’ve always said.

I often wonder whether other people dream of the “death bed moment,” that moment at which you can finally say (for a brief flash between life and death) all of the things you’ve always wanted to say to all of the people you’ve always wanted to say them to because all of the consequences (a word really synonymous with “future”) are gone and thus there’s nothing left but pure immediacy, the honesty of the instantaneous.

I imagine it to be a kind of paradise, though regrettably, one that last only for the most brief of moments before grim fate sets in.

I have had it with everybody  §

What is with people?

My dog things I’m absolutely great.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

resize2fsck and what not to do with your volumes  §

So I have a 2TB RAID with 1TB stored on it. I wanted to clear some space for a Windows-accessible NTFS backup partition, so I ran an fsck on the device and then decided I’d use resize2fs, which I’ve never used before, to resize the filesystem downward. I expected it to run for a few hours.

Instead, 12 hours later it was still cranking with intense disk activity. 24 Hours later, the disk activity had slowed to a smattering of flashes, but the process was pegging the CPU to full load. Sometime between 24 and 36 hours later, X hung rock solid, locking me out of my desktop (OOM? Who knows?) so I was forced to log in via SSH from my iPhone to monitor progress, and iostat and top together showed basically an overloaded CPU and very periodic (once every ten or fifteen minutes) bursts of 10k or 20k of reading or writing.

I sent SIGSTOP to the Xorg process to hopefully head off any crashing it was about to do (which would have taken my non-nohup’ed resize2fs process with it, and trashed the filesystem completely along with all of my data). I used vbetool over SSH to turn my LCD backlight off and finally give my display a break from showing a hung desktop (power management fled when X hung). Then there was nothing to do but wait until I just couldn’t wait any more for the resize2fs process to complete.

40 hours later when I woke up this morning, it was still in the same state, moving 5-10kb every 10-15 minutes and pegging at least one core all of the time. I didn’t know if it was spinning uselessly or what. The iostat statistics showed about two-thirds of a terabyte read from and about half a terabyte written to the device. I decided I’d wait until tonight at the latest (approaching 60 hours being ridiculous territory for a filesystem resize) before giving up.

About 10 minutes ago, I logged in again via SSH on my iPhone to find that the resize2fs process was finally gone and CPU load was nil. Crazy with an alternating mixture of relief and dread, I rebooted, immediately logged into my desktop, started a terminal, and tried to run e2fsck on /dev/sdc1. I got:

e2fsck 1.41.9 (22-Aug-2009)

/dev/sdc1 is mounted.

WARNING!!! Running e2fsck on a mounted filesystem may cause

SEVERE filesystem damage.

Do you really want to continue (y/n)? no

The damned thing had been automounted by the Fedora desktop and was apparently fine. Sure enough, all data appears to be there. I unmounted it an am running a forced e2fsck to make sure that all is well.


– A terabyte is still a hell of a lot of data, even at today’s speeds

– Fedora 12 and its X environment are far from stable, especially under load

– resize2fs is a resource hog

– Manpages should give use characteristics and tool behavior, not just instructions

– 48 hours is longer than I ever want to wait for a risky, critical process again

– Don’t be cheap and try to squeeze in more; just buy more drives

There’s no magic potion  §

to chase your anger, angst, and annoyance away.

I don’t blog as much as I used to,  §

and this failure is the direct result of the kind of hypocrisy that turns self-proclaimed ne’er-do-wells into climbers concerned with their (completely overestimated) public profile and it’s seriousness.

Problem: I know myself today less than I have at nearly any other time in my life. It turns out that looking at the highly personal, trite, and precious stuff that I have in the past been wont to post has been the primary method through which my conscious self acessed the contents of my mind.

What is the right thing to do?  §

What is it to “be supportive?” What is the value orientation that lies beneath this hollow placeholder for some normative universe?

Is “supportive” insisting that someone fulfill their “potential?” Which potential and/or potential for what? Everyone has multiple “potentialities,” many of which may well be mutually exclusive. Normativity trap one. Even if it makes them unhappy? And how do we define “potential?” Does it or does it not include constraints on consequences for finances or mental health? Normativity trap two.

Or does “supportive” mean assisting above and beyond all else in the defense and reinforcement of decisions already made, inclinations and feelings to be “indulged,” i.e. in the pursuit of happiness? But what is happiness? Are we talking immediate? Long-term? Deep? Shallow? Average/on balance or as a matter of the magnitudes of peaks without reference to the valleys? Normativity trap three.

Really, the very concept of support, like so many (all?) others immediately withers and disintegrates the moment it is moved from the relative darkness of ideal, traditional situations into the daylight of the postmodern, the global and multicultural, the hyperreal.

The question of giving “support” is a pivot around which two parties attempt to adjudicate power and to communicate hidden messages about their relative genres of cultural structure… as the anthropologists discovered long ago.

Thus obviating this post.

And as usual, only the completely ignorant have the luxury of knowledge, while the rest of us stumble about in tremendously humane incoherence.

The totalitarian is the home of all support and of all questions about it. I suppose at the end of the day, the totalitarian is the home of all that is, for there is no greater property of is-ness than the totalizer control of identity and it’s non-identity underbelly, the dictatorship of metaphysics, the dictatorial ruthlesness of properties endowed and/or not endowed as the ontological, of being, of it-ness.