You don't realize how much you need a vacation until after you come back and notice the difference. I learned this over the long weekend. Rest and relaxation is not a luxury but a necessity.
May 30, 2003
You know how publications often come out with their "best of" lists and you feel validated upon mentally checking off all the items you've read/watched/listened to? Well, Lists of Bests is compiling all those lists for you and will keep track of what you've consumed. For anyone who's ever wanted to read all the best books or see all the best movies (check and check), this is an incredible resource. Unfortunately, for now it just serves as a sad reminder of how little I've accomplished in that department. That will all change in time.
Kudos to Bill for all his excellent work.
After finishing Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way and two weeks of a Bradley method® course, I am totally sold on the Bradley method. The basic idea behind Bradley is that childbirth is a natural process that has been occurring for thousands of years and we're overcomplicating it with our modern medicine intervention. Plus it stresses the importance of the parents' education in all aspects of pregnancy and labor and advocates the strong involvement of the husband as a coach, which I like.
I could tell you all about how it makes sense and recite all the advantages, but I figure that I'm no kind of salesman until I've gone through it at least once. Check back in July for the final verdict.
Philosopher of the moment Slavoj Zizek has a riveting essay on bioethics in the latest London Review of Books. I agree with only a portion of what he says but he asks the important questions and plays out the implications well. He's from a magical place called Europe where philosophers not only exist but actually engage real issues.
After you read that, check out this watch: 128MB of memory with a USB interface. The integration of man and machine is upon us.
Also: pictures of modern philosophers.
Since I offered my initial thoughts on The Matrix: Reloaded, I have spent a good amount of time reading and pondering other people's interpretations, amateur and professional alike, none of which has helped to clear the haze in my head surrounding it. I will concede that my initial frustration may have clouded my ability to find deeper meaning in the themes and plot of the film, but I'm still no advocate of its greatness. It seems to be that piece of the puzzle that makes little sense until the surrounding pieces are in place. There are a million theories, all of which will be tested in November. All I can offer for now is what I've read:
In Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton says, "A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live." These are the only words I know of that sufficiently explain why I got married (at twenty, no less!), and for that matter why we are having children. These "decisions" are only possible because they are not decisions at all. I am one of the best of all worriers and can make myself sick over decisions, but when it comes to these matters there is no need: I just know.
I can imagine that marriage can be a very difficult and trying thing but I have no such experience. There is no "relationship," no effort, just us, as if that's how it's always been. I have spent three years with her and I'll take another eighty in a heartbeat.
Happy anniversary Dinka.
May 19, 2003
So of course I saw Matrix: Reloaded today and I'm trying to work out exactly what it was that bothered me about it. I don't plan to include any spoilers but if you'd like to see it with a clear mind, you don't have to read this.
I think what made the first Matrix so compelling was the mysterious way in which several layers of complexity were unfolded. As Neo's world falls apart and the new, "real" one is constructed, we're given just enough detail to fuel allegorical and philosophical speculation that boggles the mind. The story references such a wide range of ideas that the possibilities seem endless and therein lies the excitement.
As far as I can tell, this is exactly what I was missing in the sequel. It would have been easy to overlook the other shortcomings (just remembering the Zion scenes makes me cringe) if the film had been charged with the same kind of complexity as the first, but it just falls flat in that department. I'm beginning to wonder whether the ideas that I so loved are just playthings for the brothers Wachowski, thrown in as necessary to attract a certain crowd, much like action scenes. Perhaps this is the nature of the beast with the second part of a trilogy (it does do a good job of giving you enough information to sufficiently set up the third part). I will postpone final judgment until November, when Matrix: Revolutions is released.
And yes, the fight scenes are cool, although sometimes unnecessarily long and failing to advance the plot or develop the characters.
Additional reading: Adam Gopnik's "The Unreal Thing", a decent critique that's smug and condescending in that characteristic New Yorker way.
After only delaying a couple days, I present for your consideration my entry to the 2003 May Day Project. Full-size version here, smaller version below. I put my annoying captions in the alt tags to spare you (for those not proficient in HTML, this means you have to hover over the picture with your mouse for a couple of seconds to see the caption).
Paul Graham has written a terrific essay called "Hackers and Painters" on hacking as a creative process, like painting, as opposed to a science. In it, he carefully outlines the strong connections between hackers and other "makers" and refutes the institutional ideas on the nature and classification of programming. A lot of his ideas had been vaguely present in my mind for a while but I never had the elucidative ability to put them into an essay. One choice quote:
"I've never liked the term 'computer science.' The main reason I don't like it is that there's no such thing. Computer science is a grab bag of tenuously related areas thrown together by an accident of history, like Yugoslavia."I recommend this article not only for programmers but also for their friends and family, that we all may come to a better understanding of exactly what it is that we programmers do [via kottke's remaindered links]. May 13, 2003
The aforementioned camera has arrived and so has spring in the Souzek garden. Below is the best picture I've managed to take so far, of one of three large and newly blossoming lilac bushes in our yard. I hope you can recall the wonderful smell that accompanies it.
As an additional exercise in digital photography, I will be participating in the May Day Project [via brilliant corners], which requires the taking and posting of one photo per hour for the entire day of Saturday, May 10th. It sounds like an interesting way of presenting a day in my shoes. We shall see. May 09, 2003
Over the past weekend I was plunged headfirst into the world (and accompanying economy) of baby goods at our local, giant warehouse of a Babies R Us. We were feeling entirely too prepared for having children so we thought it would be best to visit a store that would go out of its way to make us feel completely unprepared and overwhelmed. Job done.
We traversed the endless aisles of miniature (safe!) things for miniature people, scanning the barcodes of items to add them to the baby registry. It is quite remarkable how manipulative the manufacturers and stores can be while putting forth such an innocent and caring face. Being a good parent is not cheap, being a great parent is downright expensive and you might as well give up on being the best parent in the world because you'll never attain that kind of wealth. Nonetheless we fought off these shameful, guilt-inspiring attempts and chose some wonderful things for our baby. We decided to pick only the more practical items for now and leave the cutesy-clothes-choosing to the imagination of our family and friends. I'm sure that by August I'll be waist-deep in onesies and pajamas with the feet in, all decorated in patterns of Pooh and the like.
Since it was decided that the baby shower would be an exclusively female event, there have been some rumblings about a more masculine "baby storm" to take its place for the men. Details to follow as they become available.
This entry over at stonefishspine is one of the most personal, honest and moving pieces I've ever read. In a couple thousand words, it asks and works through a few of the most fundamental questions in life. You can't help but to live every step of the journey with the writer: frustration, apathy, despair, hope and bliss. It tears you down but leaves you full. Beautiful, remarkable.
This is the first time I've read that site (thanks to george) so I can't speak for the rest of the content, but to me that piece is what personal publishing is all about.